Occupational therapists change the lives of those they work with and have excellent career satisfaction and job security.
Selecting one of our top 30 occupational therapy accredited programs may be a game-changer for you and your family, getting you into a fulfilling career that makes lasting impacts on the people with whom you work.
An occupational therapist helps people solve problems of everyday living and improve the ability to perform daily activities for those dealing with illness, injury, or disabilities. If you’re looking for a vocation that is not only a job but also a passion, then keep reading to learn more about becoming an occupational therapist.
What Will You Learn With This Degree?
To obtain a license to practice occupational therapy, you’ll need at least a master’s degree (e.g., a master of science in occupational therapy) from an accredited school. While working toward a degree in occupational therapy, you’ll take many science courses, including classes in human anatomy, neuroscience, and research methods, among others. These classes give you the foundation necessary to comprehend and integrate more advanced knowledge you’ll use every day as an occupational therapist.
OT accredited programs include other classes that teach you skills you’ll use daily in the profession. These might consist of health and wellness promotion, neurorehabilitation, and occupational assessment. You’re also likely to take classes that address problems commonly encountered in specific stages of an individual’s life.
These classes, along with the extensive practical experiences integrated into each school’s curriculum, prepare you to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam. Passing this exam is required for licensing in each state.
Accredited online occupational therapy programs that offer a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy typically require that you have already completed a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. You usually must be licensed to practice in your state as well. More details about licensure can be found below.
Doctorate programs focus on teaching you research, writing, and leadership skills. These programs are for occupational therapists who want to learn advanced techniques and become a leader in their professional community.
What are the Best Online Accredited Occupational Therapy Programs?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics to rank the best online degrees for occupational therapy. Each program has an individual score. That score is compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking.
Accredited Online College considers multiple factors when determining each school’s ranking. This includes the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online.
See our methodology page for more information about how the rankings for the best occupational therapy online schools were devised.
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) from Boston University is for post-professional occupational therapy students. This is an ideal program for you if you’re already a practicing occupational therapist and want to gain additional knowledge and skills.
You must complete 33-37 credits to graduate. Courses are taken two at a time, each lasting seven weeks. These courses are divided between foundational classes and core classes. This includes:
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Contemporary Trends in Occupational Therapy
- Health Care Management
- Social Policy and Disability
- Health Promotion and Wellness
This program also includes practicum and capstone components, both of which are completed entirely online. Likewise, you’ll complete a doctoral project before graduation. You’ll begin the project in your first semester of studies and continue to work on it throughout the program. The project includes multiple qualifying tasks, each of which you must master before moving to the next component.
Depending on your current educational level, you might be able to complete this program in as little as 18 months. With three start dates throughout the year, you can begin your studies at a convenient time.
The University of Kansas offers a variety of occupational therapy degrees, including an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD), a Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate, and a Ph.D. in Therapeutic Science.
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) is an entry-level program occupational therapy degree program. You might be eligible for admission if you have a bachelor’s degree and complete the prerequisite coursework. The OTD program consists of 112 credit hours and must be completed within four and a half years of starting the program. Once in this program, you’re required complete a capstone experience.
Additionally, the OTD program at Kansas requires extensive fieldwork, including practicum and internship experiences. Among accredited OTD programs, KU’s is among the best in the nation.
The Post-Professional OTD program at KU is an ideal option if you’re already a practicing occupational therapist. This 36-credit program allows you to hone your skills, learn new ones, and put your learning into practice in a practicum experience.
The Ph.D. in Therapeutic Science prepares you for academic research work in this field. Applicants usually have a research-based master’s degree and/or a professional license. If you choose this path, you are encouraged to continue working in your field while you get the degree.
Eastern Kentucky University has two programs in Occupational Therapy. The first is a Bachelor’s-to-Occupational-Therapy-Doctorate (OTD), while the second is a Master’s-to-OTD program.
The Bachelor’s-to-OTD program requires the completion of 40-43 credit hours, 12 of which can be transferred from another program. Additionally, you must have a license to practice occupational therapy to be eligible for this program.
The Bachelor’s-to-OTD program has three start dates per year, and classes are held in accelerated, eight-week terms. With the Bachelor’s-to-OTD program, you will earn both a master’s and a doctorate degree in occupational therapy at the conclusion of the program.
The Master’s-to-OTD program is 40 credit hours long, and the school allows 12 transfer credit hours from another university. This degree can be completed in as little as two years of full-time study with no on-campus visits required. Just like the Bachelor’s-to-OTD program, the Master’s-to-OTD program has three yearly start dates and proceeds in an accelerated eight-week format.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has educated occupational therapists for over 75 years, so you can bet they know what they’re doing when it comes to providing a top-notch education.
Wisconsin offers an entry-level OTD program that focuses on four core areas of instruction:
To gain proficiency in these areas, you’ll complete 97 credits over a three-year program. Coursework includes studies in evidence-based practice, designing occupation-based wellness programs, and promoting health and wellness, to name a few.
Fieldwork is also a large component of this program. You’ll complete level one and level two field assignments as well as a final capstone project.
If you already have a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, the 33-credit-hour Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Towson University is for you. This is a part-time program in which you take two courses per semester. You can complete this program in as little as six consecutive semesters.
To complete the Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, you have to participate in a capstone research project that spans two courses. Some of the courses through this university require that you attend classes synchronously, which may make completing this program a challenge if you have other obligations, such as work.
Nevertheless, this Post-Professional program allows you to develop new skills while refining your existing skills, which will help you provide improved care to your patients.
To apply, you need a graduate GPA of 3.25. However, if you have a 3.0 graduate GPA, you might be conditionally admitted to the program.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy specifically for experienced occupational therapists. This program is the only one of its kind in the state and allows you to select one of three tracks:
- Low Vision Rehabilitation
- Healthcare Quality and Safety
Each track consists of 15 credit hours of coursework over the course of four to seven classes.
The core curriculum, no matter the track selected, consists of 25 credit hours of coursework among eight courses. These courses ensure you have mastery of critical occupational therapy skills, including:
- The ability to provide advanced occupational therapy services
- Professional leadership skills for enhancing practice as an OT
- The ability to advance research in occupational therapy
- The ability to educate others about OT
- The ability to provide consultative services to enhance OT education programs
If you take two classes per semester, you can finish this program in just two years. You can take up to four years to complete the program, though.
Whether you just graduated high school and want to pursue a career as an occupational therapist or you already have your Bachelor’s in Occupational Therapy and want to get your master’s, Concordia University-Wisconsin has a program to fit your needs.
The accelerated Master of Occupational Therapy program allows high school graduates to earn both a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science and a Master of Occupational Therapy in as little as four and a half years of full-time study.
The Blended Master of Occupational Therapy program is a unique program if you’re finishing a bachelor degree in occupational therapy online and want to cut some time off earning your master’s. The Blended Master of Occupational Therapy program takes two and a half years. However, the program is relatively selective, admitting only 24 students into a cohort.
The Transitional Master of Occupational Therapy program is for certified occupational therapy assistants who have professional experience and an associate’s degree. The program allows you to complete the Master of Occupational Therapy program and your bachelor’s degree in four years.
Samuel Merritt University offers two degrees in occupational therapy: a master’s degree and a doctorate. Both options are entry-level programs and are available online. To apply, you should have at least a 3.0 GPA over the course of your last 60 credits. You must also complete at least 60 observation hours in occupational therapy settings before applying, among other requirements.
If you gain admission to the master’s program, you’ll proceed with a seven-semester course of study. You’ll take courses in functional neuroscience, kinesiology, and biomechanics, to name a few. You’ll also take part in simulation-based learning and get field experience in community participant labs.
If you choose the occupational therapy doctoral program, you’ll need three years of full-time study to finish the requirements. This includes taking courses during the summer, as well as a six-month internship. Coursework includes psychopathology, foundations of occupational therapy practice, and advanced research methods.
The doctoral program also has a capstone project. This nine-credit experience allows you to conduct research on an occupational therapy topic, which you then use to identify solutions to occupational therapy problems.
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Shenandoah University will give you everything you need to become an evidenced-based scholar and leader in your community. The program is held asynchronously, so there is no need to rearrange your schedule. You can take the classes and learn the information on your own schedule.
The program has one start time per year, which is during the summer semester. Shenandoah University offers one- and two-year tracks, allowing you to tailor the program to a pace that’s right for you. Either way, you’ll take courses in:
- Advanced Practice and Writing in OT
- Leadership in Action
- Occupational Science
- Advanced Quantitative Methods
The Post-Professional Doctorate program is 30 credit hours in length, with 21 credit hours taken through the school, and nine hours transferred from your master’s program. Like many other programs on this list, you must also complete a field experience before graduating.
If you choose the one-year track, you’ll take two to three classes each semester. If you choose the two-year option, you can expect to take one class per semester, except in the first semester, which features two classes.
Bay Path University offers a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program for those with either a Bachelor’s in Occupational Therapy or a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. The Bachelor’s-to-OTD program features only 54 credit hours, including six classes of master’s-level coursework and the traditional 36 credit hours that make up the Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
The Master’s-to-Post-Professional OTD program comprises eight core courses and four elective courses for a total of 36 credits. You can concentrate your studies in six areas, which include options in:
- Advanced General Practice
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Mental Health
- Productive Aging
Regardless of the area of concentration, you’ll take courses in occupational science, bioethics, and professional writing. Other courses focus on leadership, community practice, and advocacy.
You are also required to perform a capstone project. Bay Path allows you to focus on an area of interest in occupational therapy so your capstone experience is applicable to your career goals.
Houston Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science that teaches you how to become an occupational therapy assistant. The college admits only 20-25 students into this program every year, so admission is competitive.
Completion of this program, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy (ACOTE), allows graduates to become certified as occupational therapy assistants.
Houston Community College is a good choice if you’re worried about passing the certification exam. Graduates of this program have a 100 percent pass rate!
Since this is an associate’s degree program, you can finish your studies in around two years. During your studies, you’ll take courses like:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Lifespan growth and development
- Therapeutic interventions
- Workplace skills for occupational therapy assistants
This is an experiential-learning program, so you’ll have hands-on learning experience throughout your studies. This helps you put your learning into practice in preparation for your career as an occupational therapy assistant.
With 100 percent of OT faculty having doctorate degrees in their discipline, it’s no wonder that Creighton University provides one of the best occupational therapy educations available. The faculty members who teach the occupational therapy curriculum are highly respected – in fact, several of them are Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The Post-Professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy is an intensive degree program, and Creighton University requires all students to complete a research project before graduation.
You can enroll in one of two tracks. If you have already earned a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, you must complete 42 semester hours to complete the program. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’re required to complete 54 semester hours.
This program admits new students in the fall semester each year. You’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you meet the application deadline, otherwise you’ll have to wait a year to apply again.
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate offered by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is a two-year program comprising 36 credit hours of coursework. If you wish to complete this doctorate degree in two years, you can expect to take two classes each semester.
To earn this degree, you’re required to complete a capstone project consisting of a research project, professional paper, or case report. Before you get to that point, though, you will take courses in various occupational therapy-related topics, such as:
- Advanced Clinical Practice in Occupational Therapy
- Evidence-Based Education
- Program Development and Evaluation Program
- Innovations in Occupational Therapy Practice
- Issues in Higher Education and Healthcare
If you want to apply to the program, you should have at least a 3.0 GPA in the last two years of study. You also need to have a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. The school additionally requires prospective students to submit three letters of recommendation, which helps the admissions team determine if you’re a good fit for the program.
The Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson University is the ideal degree if you’re looking for quality education and the ability to receive grants to pay for your education. The school has Advanced Education Grants available to students who show promise in leadership or diversify the student population. However, if you get financial assistance from your employer, you’re exempt from applying for this grant.
This program requires completing 46 credit hours if you have an occupational therapy bachelors degree online. The program shortens to 33 credit hours if you already have a Master’s in Occupational Therapy.
- Visionary Practice Development and Evaluation
- Seminar in Clinical Research
- Outcomes Research
- Teaching in the Digital Age
- Upper Limb Rehabilitation
To complete this degree, you must participate in a clinical fellowship in which you gain increased experience with patients. There is also a capstone project component. You will have to take six credit hours if you have less than three years of experience when starting the clinical fellowship program. If you have three or more years of experience, your capstone will be three credit hours.
The Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a relatively new degree that began accepting students in January 2020. The advantage of enrolling in a new program is that you will benefit from cutting-edge and up-to-date information in the field.
If you’ve previously earned a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, you’ll need to take 27 semester hours to earn your doctorate. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to take 33 semester hours before graduating. Master’s degree students can select two electives to explore more deeply in the program. Bachelor’s degree students need to choose four elective courses to meet the credit requirements for the degree.
Core courses include:
- Practice-Based Scholarship
- Current Issues in Occupational Therapy Practice
- Outcomes Measurement
- Professional Seminar
- Evidence-Based Practice
Elective courses include insurance reimbursement, management, and wellness promotion, to name a few.
Courses in this program may only be available once per year. It’s advisable to keep up with your coursework to graduate in the least amount of time.
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Grand Valley State University is the only clinical occupational therapy doctorate offered by a public university in the state of Michigan. It is a six-semester program that you can finish in two years of full-time study.
This program includes 36 credit hours and covers subjects such as occupational science, public policy, and advocacy. You’ll also learn about leadership, education, and advanced practice. A unique feature of the curriculum is that it isn’t pre-set for each student. Rather, your individual interests and skills are considered when devising your program of study.
Common topics of inquiry in this program include:
- Occupational science
- Public policy, advocacy, and leadership
- Advanced practice
One of the major benefits of choosing this program to continue your education is that Grand Valley State University offers the same tuition rates for its non-resident students as it does its resident students. If traveling to the campus is a deal-breaker, you may want to look at another university. This is a hybrid program with on-campus visits part of the graduation requirement.
When it comes to talking about schools with reputations for producing successful and competent graduates, we would be remiss to leave out Loma Linda University!
This university offers its students a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) and a Ph.D. in Rehabilitative Sciences. If you choose the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, you must complete 53 quarter units to get your degree. The curriculum combines theory, research, and practical experience to produce well-rounded graduates.
As a student in the OTD program, you’ll design and conduct a research project, culminating in submitting a completed research paper for publication. While this project may seem overwhelming, it’s divided among four capstone courses throughout the program.
If you want even more research experience, you should consider pursuing the Ph.D. program in Rehabilitation Science. This program focuses on three central themes:
- Rehabilitation Science and Loma Linda University Values
Likewise, you’ll have the opportunity to study social and medical sciences, rehabilitation science research, and gain clinical experience in rehabilitation science.
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate offered by Radford University gives you the choice of concentrating in Education or Administration. If you choose the Education track, you’ll learn how to teach other occupational therapists skills and impart valuable learning experiences. The Administration track teaches you how to be leaders in organizations. The program is designed to be pursued on a part-time basis and can be completed in as little as eight semesters.
Whether you choose the Education or the Administration track, you will take the same online classes during the first semester of study. This includes courses like:
- Occupational Based Theories and Participation
- Clinical Education
- Fieldwork Supervision
The two tracks also feature the same classes in research and project design during their last two semesters. The program consists of 36 credit hours regardless of which track you choose.
George Washington University offers an Occupational Therapy Doctorate program that aims to teach you in-depth theories of leadership while emphasizing real-world, applicable changes and benefits.
The program consists of 36 credit hours and is based on the clinician-scholar model. You’ll need around two and a half years to complete the degree. The total program tuition is around $35,280.
As a student in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, you will gain knowledge and skills related to:
- Integrative Medicine
Additionally, there is a capstone project required for graduation. The capstone provides you with mentorship opportunities and focuses on translational science.
This is an entirely online program that does not require you to attend any on-ground residencies. However, before you apply to this program, you should have already completed a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy for Practicing Occupational Therapists program from New York University is offered by the prestigious Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. This is a terminal degree offered by a first-class university.
The degree program includes 36 credit hours, but half of the required credits can focus specifically on what interests you. You can work on these specialized skills through electives and specialization courses. You can focus on topics like clinical management of the upper extremity, school-based intervention, and assistive technology, to name only a few of the options available.
NYU encourages you to have a broad range of knowledge by offering cross-university courses. This allows you to take courses from other affiliated universities, such as business courses from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Additionally, NYU has various other occupational therapy programs available to you. For example, if you don’t yet have a master’s degree, you might consider their Master of Science or Master of Arts options in this field. There’s also a two-tiered program in which you can earn a master’s degree and a doctorate. NYU also offers a Ph.D. program in occupational therapy and another in rehabilitation sciences.
21. Barry University
The online, distance-learning Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program from Barry University is specifically for NBCOT-certified occupational therapists. It was created to help OTs further their professional skill sets and career opportunities.
The program is divided into two sections, each with 18 credits for a total of 36 credits. One section focuses on the core courses, and the second half focuses on interdisciplinary electives in advanced areas of health service. At the end of the program, you complete a capstone course.
In addition to the required coursework, during the second year, you’ll complete a 16-week residency with an emphasis on:
- Specialized clinical practice
You may also receive up to six credits for your work in leadership, education, or practical skills through submitting a reflective portfolio at the time of admission.
Mary Baldwin University offers a well-rounded, Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. The program’s objective is to assist occupational therapists in furthering their careers and expanding their skill sets in practical skills, patient advocacy, teaching, and leadership skills.
While this program is well-suited for you if you want to advance your skills in patient care, it also opens other career paths, including academia and research.
You may be accepted into the program if you hold a bachelor’s degree. However, admission comes with the additional requirement of 12 extra credits of prerequisite work. In total, the program includes ten classes and 30 credits, all of which are done online.
The program also includes a translation project in which you utilize their newfound knowledge and skills in real-life settings. Not only that, but you’ll assess the outcomes of your work as part of a reflective practice component.
St. Catherine University offers its Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate to those who hold a master’s degree. If you wish to further your skills and become a catalyst for change in education, health, or community settings, this is the program for you.
This program emphasizes turning to evidence-based practice to develop practical skills. It begins in the summer term and spans 28 months. There are 36 credit hours in the program, which you can complete entirely online. However, an in-person campus experience is required at the beginning of the program and another occurs at the end.
The professors you’ll work with are accomplished in many facets. Some have written occupational therapy textbooks, while others promote proper care in underserved communities and the aging population. Yet others lead initiatives for global outreach programs.
St. Catherine’s has a reputation for having one of the most comprehensive occupational therapy programs. In fact, this program has been active for over 70 years, and is still the only post-professional OTD program in Minnesota.
Columbia University’s Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate heavily emphasizes the importance of learning through clinical experiences. In addition, evidence-based practice is a cornerstone of the school’s educational approach.
Although the program coursework is done online, most of the learning occurs in a clinical setting. You can select your clinical setting. Typically, students choose to do their clinicals in their current place of work. This means you can tailor your learning to focus on your area of interest.
You can enroll with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree, you must complete 72 credits, but with a master’s degree, that total is cut to 36 credits. In addition to online coursework, you must also write a research-based paper. The paper is on a topic of interest to you and should be publication-ready in a research journal upon submission.
Additionally, you must complete a clinical portfolio. The portfolio summarizes your learning experiences, including those in the realms of evidence-based practice, continuing education, and the evidence-based research paper component.
This program takes two to three years to complete.
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate at Gannon University produces leaders in the field of occupational therapy. The educational goals extend beyond the practical skills needed to work with patients. Instead, you’ll learn skills essential to working collaboratively with other health providers and furthering the profession.
You can complete your doctorate almost entirely online and do so with part-time study. Although there is no residency required, there is one capstone course, which requires an on-campus visit.
There are 12 classes in the program and 34 credit hours in total. This program does not have the option to specialize. However, you have the opportunity to tailor your learning priorities during your capstone course. Admission occurs in the summer term. Once admitted, you’ll take classes like:
- OT in Community Health and Wellness
- Applied Research in Clinical Practice
- Advanced Leadership and Ethics
- Teaching in Practice and Community
Additionally, you’ll take a course in Entrepreneurship for the OT Professional to help you build the skills required for starting your own business.
The 30-credit Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (PPOTD) program at Chatham University is for you if you wish to enrich and further your practical skills in occupational therapy.
Unlike Ph.D. programs in occupational therapy, the PPOTD program requires less time commitment and focuses predominantly on real-life skills. It’s designed for working professionals. So, as you earn your degree, you can continue working. Not only is this possible because of the program’s design, but it’s also encouraged.
Most students can complete the program in as little as 16 months with a flexible class schedule. However, you can take more time if you need. The program consists of 30-39 credits. You’ll take two classes per semester. All classes are online, and there is no residency requirement.
A unique feature of this program is that there are unlimited tracks available. In other words, the faculty works with you to devise a course of study that aligns with your professional goals.
You can enroll at two times during the year: spring and fall. This gives you a little more flexibility to work around your current occupational and family obligations.
Quinnipiac University’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy focuses on practical skills that can be used in real-life settings working with patients with varying needs. The program trains you to either work in the field, engaging in therapy with patients on a daily basis, or as an educator who passes on your skills and knowledge to other occupational therapists.
The program also emphasizes flexibility. You are in control of your schedule and can complete one course at a time or several at the same time, depending on other commitments.
The bulk of the coursework is completed online. However, there is a weeklong residency during the first summer you’re enrolled in the program. The program includes 32 credits and typically requires two years to complete.
To successfully graduate, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
If you currently have a bachelor’s degree and want to complete your doctorate, you can do so in Quinnipiac’s bachelor’s-to-OTD track.
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program offered by the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences emphasizes various skill sets. The program provides training in areas like education, administration, and program development, among others.
While the program can be completed entirely online, you also have the option of participating in in-person training on campus. If you’re a hands-on learner that benefits from direct interaction with your classmates and professors, this could be a good option for you to pursue.
There are two options for specialization within the doctorate program: Executive Leadership or Teaching and Learning. What’s more, there is an option to certify in ImPACT after completing the elective Concussion in Sport class. This program also offers accelerated courses to help you finish your degree on a shorter timeline.
The program accepts applicants with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Depending on your education level, the program is either 35 credits (with a master’s degree) or 60 credits (with a bachelor’s degree). There are three start dates throughout the year, which makes the program flexible for working professionals like you.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions designed its Doctorate of Occupational Therapy for modern, employed students such as yourself. On average, the program’s workload is around 15-20 hours per week, so you can continue working in your current employment.
The program has eight tracks from which to choose. This includes the following:
- Hand Therapy
- Advanced Practice
- Assistive Technology
- Health and Wellness Coaching
The number of credits in most tracks is 36, with 30 credits in the Accelerated track.
Two start dates are available each year: one in May and one in September. The duration of the program depends on the track you select and can range from 16-20 months.
You are not required to have GRE scores to apply. However, an OT license and either a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required for acceptance.
30. Salus University
Our ranking of the best online occupational therapy programs concludes with this Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program from Salus University.
This program prepares you to become a leader in occupational therapy by emphasizing the importance of collaboration with other health and wellness professionals. You can select from several areas of focus, too. This includes:
- Low Vision Rehabilitation
- Remedial Vision Rehabilitation: Pediatrics and Acquired Brain Injury
- Health and Wellness
The program consists of 30 credit hours. The majority of the classes are online. However, you will need to visit campus twice during the program. These in-person residency courses are five days long and include hands-on learning objectives.
You have the option of pursuing this degree program through a 16-month track (two to three courses per semester) or a 27-month track (one to two courses per semester)
Admission to the program occurs twice each year, in the spring and fall semesters. This gives you additional flexibility for starting your advanced education.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Basic Requirements for Occupational Therapy Programs?
Getting into your dream program can be an anxiety-provoking experience, especially if you don’t know if you’re a competitive applicant to the program. Programs may have unique requirements for admission, but many schools have the same basic requirements.
Many occupational therapy programs will ask you to send them official college transcripts from the university at which you earned your bachelor’s or master’s degree. Many programs also want applicants with work experience in occupational therapy, so they’ll likely request your resume. Programs may ask you to submit three letters of recommendation as well, which allows the admission team to gauge the kind of person you are and whether or not you’ll be a good fit for their program.
Keep in mind that many programs have application deadlines months before the start date of classes. It’s important to turn your information and application packet into the school on time and double-check that everything required is submitted. Failure to pay attention to these details could cause you to be automatically rejected from your dream program.
Why is It Important to Get a Degree from an Accredited Program?
Accreditation is a reasonably long and complex process. However, its goal is simple – to set a standard of education for occupational therapists and standardize that education across institutions. Many different accrediting agencies are responsible for overseeing this process. Some of those agencies do so at the institutional level. For example, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes seven regional accrediting bodies:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Each of these accrediting agencies oversees the accreditation process in their specific region. While the terms and conditions required for an institution to be accredited might vary slightly from one region to another, those requirements are comparable. This means that the education you get at an accredited school in Texas is comparable to the education you get at an accredited school in Alaska, even though the accrediting agencies are different in those states.
Accreditation also takes place at the programmatic level. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has an accrediting arm, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), which is the accrediting agency for occupational therapy programs in the United States (as well as programs in Puerto Rico and abroad). The standards set by ACOTE must be met by occupational therapy programs to gain accreditation.
The accreditation status of education programs is important for you for various reasons. First, accreditation ensures the education you get meets the professional standards of occupational therapy. Second, to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam, or NBCOT certification examination, you must have a degree from an ACOTE-accredited program.
Furthermore, occupational therapist licensure typically requires you to graduate from an accredited program. As a licensed occupational therapist (LOT), you can provide enhanced patient care because of the stringent requirements necessary to get a license (e.g., graduating from an accredited master’s program, passing the national boards, and completing fieldwork experiences).
In other words, your ability to work as an occupational therapist depends on the accreditation status of the program in which you’re enrolled. That’s why we developed this ranking – don’t rely on a quick Google search for “occupational therapy online programs accredited” or “occupational therapy schools accredited.” Instead, let us do the research to present you with top accredited OT programs from around the nation.
Can I Be an Occupational Therapist if I Complete an Occupational Therapy Online Degree Bachelor Program?
No. A bachelor degree in occupational therapy online doesn’t qualify you to work as an occupational therapist. You must have at least a master’s degree to practice as an OT. However, an occupational therapy bachelors degree online will help you develop foundational knowledge and skills upon which you can build in a graduate program.
It should be noted that you don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree in OT to enroll in most OT graduate programs. In most cases, any bachelor’s degree will suffice, even if it’s not in occupational therapy, healthcare, kinesiology, or closely-related areas (e.g., music, education, history). However, if your degree is in an unrelated field, you’ll have to complete prerequisite work before officially beginning your master’s degree program in occupational therapy.
If you don’t want to get a master’s degree, you might consider a future as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA). This job requires an associate’s degree from an accredited program, so you don’t even have to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Instead, you can spend two years in an OTA program, which includes traditional classroom work as well as fieldwork in an occupational therapy setting. Fieldwork placements involve supervised work, during which you’ll get instruction from a licensed occupational therapist.
While OTAs don’t make as much money as OTs (the median yearly wage for OTAs is $33,560), it’s a good job for getting experience in the field, especially in preparation for a bachelor’s degree program and, later, a master’s degree or doctorate.
Why Would I Want to Pursue a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy?
This is a good question and one worth plenty of thought. Pursuing a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy is both time-consuming and costly.
However, there are many reasons why occupational therapist students with a Bachelor’s or a Master’s in Occupational Therapy would want to get a doctorate. For one, a doctorate is the highest degree you can hold in a subject and shows that you have the expertise in occupational therapy that many others don’t.
Doctorates in occupational therapy often focus on teaching students leadership and research skills. These two skills give you the tools necessary to advance the occupational therapy profession and be individuals people turn to in their local community. Additionally, higher education, like a doctoral degree, often leads to higher pay from current and future employers. In these cases, pursuing a higher degree may make the most long-term economic sense and, in some cases, may be paid for by employers.
Sometimes it’s helpful to make a list of some of the pros and cons of going back to school for a master’s or doctorate. Remember that earning degrees is not going to be easy, and many sacrifices may be required of you, including time spent with your family and friends. For this reason, it’s also essential to have a transparent conversation with your significant other and the rest of your family about your pursuit of more education.
How Much Can I Earn as an Occupational Therapist?
The earning potential of a job can be a critical aspect of pursuing a career or higher education. Our salaries are a primary factor in how many vacations we take each year, the size of our house, and the type of car we drive, among other things. So making sure you earn a salary that fits your ideal lifestyle and future goals is integral to achieving your dreams.
So let’s get right down to it and start talking numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupational therapists can expect to take home a median salary of $85,570 per year. The vast majority (86%) of occupational therapists have at least a master’s degree, with 14% of OTs having only a bachelor’s degree.
Nevada and California have the highest median wage for occupational therapists, at $109,010 and $105,760, respectively. However, nine out of the ten cities with the highest wages for occupational therapists are in California.
Some occupational therapists eventually switch from clinical care to medical and health services management. Medical and health service managers earn slightly more than $101,000 per year. New York has the highest median salary for medical and health service managers, who make just over $155,000 per year. Washington, D.C., isn’t far behind, with an average yearly salary of $151,370.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, you should check out the Top 30 Fastest Accredited Online Graduate Colleges and The Top SACS Accredited Online Colleges!