Occupational therapists change the lives of those they work with and have excellent career satisfaction and job security!
Selecting one of our top 30 accredited online colleges for occupational therapy may be the game-changer for you and your family, getting you into a fulfilling career that makes lasting impacts on the people you work with. An occupational therapist helps people find solutions to problems and perform daily activities for those dealing with illness, injury, or disabilities. If you are looking for a vocation that is not only a job but also a passion, then keep reading to learn more about occupational therapy.
What Will You Learn With This Degree?
To obtain a license to practice occupational therapy, you’ll need at least a master’s degree 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 will give you the foundation necessary to comprehend and integrate more advanced knowledge you’ll use every day as an occupational therapist.
Other kinds of classes that will teach you skills you’ll use daily in the profession include health and wellness promotion, neurorehabilitation, occupational assessment, as well as 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 students to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam required for licensing in each state.
Programs that offer a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy typically require that individuals have already completed a Master’s in Occupational Therapy and are licensed to practice in their state. Doctorate programs focus on teaching students research, writing, and leadership skills. These kinds of programs are for occupational therapists who want to learn advanced techniques and become a leader in their community.
What are the Best Accredited Online Colleges for Occupational Therapy Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. For more information, see our Methodology page.
The occupational therapy programs offered by the University of Utah come in at our No.1 spot because of the high graduation rate and student satisfaction with their education. The school offers two occupational therapy degrees online: a Master of Occupational Therapy and a Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate.
The Master of Occupational Therapy degree program consists of 109 credit hours of coursework that can be completed in around three years of full-time study. The program includes two clinical internships in which students gain real-life experience working with an occupational therapist.
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate is designed for working occupational therapists with either a bachelor’s or master’s in occupational therapy and at least two years of work experience. This program consists of 36 credit hours and can be completed in as little as two years of full-time study.
The University of Kansas offers a variety of occupational therapy degrees, including a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD), a Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate, and a Ph.D. in Therapeutic Science. Students who wish to complete the MOT program are required to take at least 83 credit hours of coursework over three years of study. After the completion of this program, students are able to sit for the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy examination to become licensed in Occupational Therapy.
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) is an entry-level program for those who have a bachelor’s degree and 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. Students in this program are required to pass an oral examination that is taken in the last semester of studies.
Two programs are offered by Eastern Kentucky University in Occupational Therapy, including a Bachelor’s-to-Occupational-Therapy-Doctorate (OTD) and a Master’s-to-OTD program. The Bachelor’s-to-OTD program contains 61 credit hours, 12 of which can be transferred from another program. Only students who are already licensed to practice occupational therapy are eligible to apply to this program. The program features three start dates per year, and classes are held in accelerated, eight-week periods. With the Bachelor’s-to-OTD program, students 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 only 40 credit hours long, and the school allows 12 credit hours to be transferred from another university. This degree can be completed in as little as two years of full-time study with no on-campus visits required.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been educating occupational therapists for over 75 years, so you can bet that they know what they’re doing when it comes to providing a top-notch education. The university offers a Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate to prospective students wishing to take their knowledge and expertise to another level. One of the focuses of this program is teaching leadership skills to future occupational therapy doctors to advanced the field.
The 34-credit-hour Post-Professional OTD from this university was created to be completed in three years of part-time study. Two on-campus visits are required before graduating with your degree, with each visit lasting around three to five days; the visits occur at the beginning of the program and at the end of the program. Applicants to this program are expected to have a Master’s in Occupational Therapy or at least 30 credit hours of coursework beyond a bachelor’s degree.
The 33-credit-hour Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Towson University was created for those with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy who are wanting to advance their careers. This is a part-time program in which students take two courses per semester. Students can complete this program in as little as six consecutive semesters.
To complete the Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, students have to participate in a capstone research project that spans two courses. Some of the courses through this university require that students attend classes synchronously, which may make completing this program a challenge for some individuals. The school is looking for applicants who have a graduate GPA of 3.25, although those with a 3.0 graduate GPA may be conditionally admitted.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy created specifically for experienced occupational therapists. This program is the only one of its kind in the state and allows students to select one of three tracks, which are detailed on the school’s website. Each track consists of 15 credit hours of coursework spread out among four to seven classes.
The core curriculum, no matter the track selected, consists of 25 credit hours of coursework spread among eight courses. When students take two classes per semester, they will be able to finish the degree in two years, while those who choose to take one class per semester will end up completing the degree in four years.
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 their 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 for those who are finishing their bachelor’s degree and want to cut some time off earning their master’s. The Blended Master of Occupational Therapy program can be completed in two and a half years but 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 students to complete the Master of Occupational Therapy program and their bachelor’s in four years.
The University of South Dakota offers as close to a guarantee of success as you’re going to find, with their students achieving a nearly 100% first-time pass rate on the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy Exam. While the school’s traditional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is delivered primarily on-campus, this university does offer a Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy that can be completed online. The Post-Professional program is for individuals who have already earned a Master’s in Occupational Therapy.
The Post-Professional OTD program consists of 31 credit hours, which can be completed in five semesters of study. While the first three semesters of this program primarily build the theoretical framework for advanced topics in occupational therapy, the last two semesters of this program consist of capstone experiences and completing a capstone project.
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; take the classes and learn the information on your own schedule. Students start this program at one time during the year, which is during the summer semester. Shenandoah University offers one- and two-year tracks, giving you the ability to tailor the program to a pace that’s right for you.
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. Those who choose the one-year track will take two to three classes each semester, while individuals in the two-year option 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 is composed of eight core courses and four elective courses. Students are able to concentrate their studies in six areas, which include options in administration, autism spectrum disorder, and productive aging. Students in this program are required to perform a capstone project in which they focus on an area of interest in occupational therapy and attempt to find solutions to identified problems.
Houston Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science that teaches students how to become occupational therapy assistants. The college admits only around 20-25 students into this program every year. Completion of this program, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy (ACOTE), allows graduates to become certified as an occupational therapy assistant.
If you’re worried about passing the certification exam, let us set your fears to rest, as the students who have graduated from Houston Community College in the past few years have had a 100% pass rate. Since this is an associate’s degree program, it can be completed in around two years, with in-district, total program tuition costing $6,344.50 and out-of-state program costs totaling $12,957.50.
With 100% of the OT faculty having doctorate degrees in their discipline teaching students, 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, five 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 that all of the students in this program complete a research project before graduation.
Individuals who enroll in this program with a previously earned Master’s in Occupational Therapy can expect to take 42 semester hours to complete the program, while those with a bachelor’s will be required to complete 54 semester hours. This program admits new students only in the fall semester each year.
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. Students who wish to complete this doctorate degree in two years can expect to take two classes each semester. To earn this degree, students are required to complete a capstone project consisting of a research project, professional paper, or case report.
Those wishing to apply to the program should have at least a 3.0 GPA in the last two years of study and have a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. The school also requires prospective students to submit three letters of recommendation, which will help them determine if you’ll be a good fit for their program.
The Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson University is the ideal degree for individuals looking for quality education and the ability to receive grants to pay for their education. The school has Advanced Education Grants available to students who show promise in leadership or diversify the student population. Individuals who are receiving financial assistance from employers, however, are exempt from applying to this opportunity.
This program features 46 credit hours for those who have a bachelor’s degree and 33 credit hours for those with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. To complete this degree, students are required to participate in a clinical fellowship in which they gain increased experience with patients, and they must complete a capstone project. Students with less than three years of experience when starting their clinical fellowship program will be required to take six credit hours, compared to the three credit hours that those with more than three years experience will be required to take.
The Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a new degree that started accepting students in January 2020. The advantage of enrolling in a new program is that students will be receiving the most cutting-edge and up-to-date information in the field. Applicants who have previously earned a Master’s in Occupational Therapy will be required to complete 27 semester hours to earn their doctorate, while those with a bachelor’s degree can expect to take 33 semester hours before graduating.
Courses in this program may be taught only once per year, so students need to ensure that they are keeping up with their coursework in order to graduate in the least amount of time. Those with a master’s degree can select two electives in the program to explore more deeply, while those with a bachelor’s degree will need to choose four to meet the credit requirement for the degree.
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Grand Valley State University is the only clinical occupational therapy doctorate in the state of Michigan. This program features 36 credit hours, and students will cover subjects such as occupational science, public policy, advocacy, leadership, education, and advanced practice. Those who are accepted into this program will take courses over six semesters to earn their doctoral degree.
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 twice during this program is a deal-breaker, however, then you may want to look at another university, as on-campus visits are 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 a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) and a Ph.D. in Rehabilitative Sciences to its students. Those in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program are required to complete 53 quarter units to receive their degree, and the curriculum combines theory, research, and practical experience to produce well-rounded graduates.
Each student in the OTD program will design and conduct a research project, culminating in submitting a completed research paper for publication. While this project may seem overwhelming, it is divided among four capstone courses during the program. Individuals wanting even more research experience should consider pursuing the Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science.
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate offered by Radford University gives students the choice of concentrating in Education or Administration. Individuals who choose the Education track will learn how to teach other occupational therapists skills and impart valuable learning experiences, while those in the Administration track teach students 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 students choose the Education or the Administration track, they will take the same classes during the first semester of study, which includes courses like Occupational Based Theories and Participation and Clinical Education and Fieldwork Supervision. The two tracks also feature the same classes in research and project design during their last two semesters. The entire program in both tracks consists of 36 credit hours.
George Washington University offers an Occupational Therapy Doctorate program that aims to teach students 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. The degree is estimated to take students two and a half years to complete, with the total program tuition coming in at just under $50,000.
Students in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program can choose from four specializations: Integrative Medicine, Leadership, Scholarship, and Education. Regardless of the specialty chosen, the capstone project required for graduation provides mentorship and focuses on translational science. This is an entirely online program that does not require students to attend any on-ground residencies. Prospective students wishing to apply to this program are expected to have already completed a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy 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 entire degree includes 36 credit hours, but half of the required credits can be used to focus specifically on what interests you through electives and specialization courses.
Students are able to focus their studies in areas like clinical management of the upper extremity, school-based intervention, and assistive technology, to name only a few of the options available. NYU encourages students to have a broad range of knowledge by offering cross-university courses in which learners can take courses from other affiliated universities, such as business courses from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
The online, distance-learning Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program from Barry University was designed 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, students complete a capstone course.
In addition to the required coursework, during the second year, students are to complete a 16-week residency with an emphasis on specialized clinical practice, research, administration, leadership, or instruction. Students may receive up to six credits for their work in leadership, education, or practical skills through submitting a reflective portfolio.
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 the program is well-suited toward those who wish to continue in patient care, it also opens other career paths for its graduates, including in teaching and academia.
Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree may be accepted into the program, with the additional requirement of 12 extra credits of prerequisite work. In total, the program includes ten classes and 30 credits that are fully online. The program also includes a translation project in which students utilize their newfound knowledge and skills in real-life settings and assess the outcomes.
St. Catherine University offers its Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate to those who hold a master’s degree, wish to further their skills, and become a catalyst for change in education, health, or community settings. This program emphasizes turning to evidence-based practice to develop practical skills. The program begins in the summer and spans 28 months. There are 36 credit hours to complete, which can be accomplished entirely online. At the end of the program, students are required to attend an in-person campus experience.
The accomplished professors of this program have written occupational therapy textbooks, promoted proper care in underserved communities and the aging population, as well as created initiatives for global outreach programs. St. Catherine’s has a reputation for having one of the most comprehensive occupational therapy programs, which has been active for over 70 years.
Columbia University’s Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate heavily emphasizes the importance of learning through clinical experiences. In addition, the use of evidence-based practice is a cornerstone of the school’s educational approach. Although the program coursework is completed online, the majority of the learning takes place in a clinical setting. Students can select their clinical setting, which is often conveniently their current place of work; this means each student can tailor their learning to focus on their area of interest.
Students can enroll with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree, the program includes 75 credits, and with a master’s degree, it features 36 credits. This program takes three years to complete and includes a research-based paper that must be submitted for publication in a research journal.
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate at Gannon University was created to produce leaders in the field of occupational therapy. The educational goals extend beyond the practical skills needed to work with patients and encompass the skills essential to working collaboratively with other health providers and furthering the profession itself.
Students can complete their doctorate almost entirely online during their part-time study. Although there is no residency required, there is one capstone course, which requires an on-campus visit. There are 12 classes that make up the program and 34 credit hours in total. This program does not have an option to specialize, however, students have the opportunity to tailor their learning priorities during their capstone course.
The 30-credit Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (PPOTD) program at Chatham University is geared toward those who wish to enrich and further their practical skills in occupational therapy. Unlike Ph.D. programs in occupational therapy, the PPOTD program requires less of a time commitment and focuses predominantly on real-life skills. It is designed for working professionals who plan to continue working while they earn their degree.
For most, the program can be completed in as little as 16 months with a flexible class schedule. There are 30-39 credits in total, with two classes per semester. For the most part, all coursework is offered in an online format. However, there are two on-campus residencies. Furthermore, students can enroll at two different times during the year: spring and fall.
Quinnipiac University’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy focuses on practical skills that can be used in real-life settings working with patients. The program trains its graduates either to work in the field, engaging in therapy with patients on a daily basis, or as educators who pass on their skills and knowledge to other occupational therapists.
The program also emphasizes flexibility. Students are in control of their schedule and can complete one course at a time or several at the same time, depending on their other commitments. The bulk of the coursework is completed online, however, during the summer semesters, students are required to complete on-campus training for one week. In total, the program includes 32 credits and takes most students two years to complete. In order to successfully graduate, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program offered by the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences includes an emphasis on a variety of skill sets. The program provides training in areas like education, administration, and program development, among others. While the program can be completed entirely online, students also have the option of participating in in-person training at the campus.
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 with completion of the elective Concussion in Sport. The program accepts applicants with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Depending on what level of education you hold, 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.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions designed its Doctorate of Occupational Therapy for modern, employed students. On average, the program’s workload is around 15-20 hours per week. The program is offered in seven different tracks, including in Pediatrics, Hand Therapy, Education, and Aging. The number of credits featured in most tracks is 36, with 30 credits in the Accelerated track.
There are two start dates 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. Applicants are not required to have taken the GRE, however, an OT license and either a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required for acceptance.
The Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program at Salus University is intended to prepare professionals to become a leader in the field. The program emphasizes the importance of collaboration with other health and wellness professionals. Students can select from several areas of focus, which are detailed on the school’s website. To enroll in the program, your application must be received before November, as there is one start date for the program, which is in January.
The program consists of 30 credit hours in total. The majority of the classes are offered online, however, students will need to visit campus twice during the program. These in-person residency courses are five days in duration and include hands-on learning objectives. Overall, students have the option of pursuing the degree through a 16- or 27-week track, with two to three classes offered per semester.
Why Would I Want to Pursue a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy?
This is a good question, and one worth plenty of thought, as pursuing a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy is both time consuming and costs money. There are many reasons why those with a Bachelor’s or a Master’s in Occupational Therapy would want to get their 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 students the tools necessary to advance the occupational therapy profession and be individuals whom people turn to in their local community. Additionally, sometimes higher education in the form of a doctoral degree will lead 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 there will be many sacrifices that may be required of you, including time spent with your family and friends. For this reason, it’s also important 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 an important aspect of choosing to pursue 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 that you earn a salary that fits your ideal lifestyle and future goals is an important part of achieving your dreams.
So let’s get right down to it and start talking numbers. According to the Occupational Network, occupational therapists can expect to take home a median salary of $84,270 per year. The vast majority (71%) of occupational therapists have a master’s degree, with just under 20% of OTs having only a bachelor’s degree. California and Nevada have the highest median wage for occupational therapists, at $97,000 and $94,000, respectively. Puerto Rico has the lowest median wage for this profession, at just over $35,000 per year.
Some occupational therapists eventually decide to switch from clinical care to become medical and health services managers. Medical and health service managers earn slightly less than $100,000 per year. New York has the highest median salary for medical and health service managers, who earn just over $123,000 per year. Conversely, Puerto Rico pays the lowest median wages to medical and health service managers, who earn, on average, $62,470 per year.
What Are the Basic Requirements for Occupational Therapy Programs?
Getting into your dream program can be an anxiety-provoking experience, especially for those who don’t know if they are competitive applicants to the program. Programs may have unique requirements for admission, but many schools have the same basic requirements.
Many occupational therapy programs are going to 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 the field of occupational therapy, so they’ll likely request your resume. Programs may ask you to submit three letters of recommendation as well, which will allow 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 that are months before the actual start date of classes. It’s important to turn your information and application packet into the school on time and that you double-check that everything that was requested has been submitted; failure to pay attention to these details could lead to you being automatically rejected from your dream program.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out the Top 30 Fastest Accredited Online Graduate Colleges and Top 15 Accredited Online Colleges For 2020!