Occupational Therapy Degree Programs

Last updated May 4, 2023
Occupational Therapy Degree Programs By Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP
Current SLP, MS in SLP, Columbia University in the City of New York
School Program Admissions
Emerson College Master's in Speech-Language Pathology
No GRE required, prepares you to pursue certification as an SLP generalist. As few as 20 months to complete. CAA-ASHA accredited.
Russell Sage College Online Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
The online MS in occupational therapy program from Russell Sage College prepares you to become a highly skilled occupational therapist. Earn your degree in as few as 32 months full time.
Notre Dame of Maryland University Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations- Occupational Therapy
Online, multiple concentrations.
i sponsored

A Masters in Occupational Therapy is required to become an Occupational Therapist (OT). Before entering a Masters program, students must complete a Bachelors level program. The Bachelors degree can be in a related field, such as biology or child development. There are a number of Doctorate of Occupational Therapy degrees available.

After receiving a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy, students must pass the Occupational Therapy Registered (OTR) exam in order to become a licensed OT, or Occupational Therapist. The minimum degree requirement for licensing is a master's degree, making this the most popular choice for upcoming OTs interested in pursuing a professional license after graduation.

Are There Online Occupational Therapy Degree Programs

Yes, there are online occupational therapy degrees, particularly at the Doctorate level. There are not many specific online OT degree programs available at lower degree levels. If you are looking for an undergraduate or Masters program, you might consider a related program, particularly for the Bachelors or Masters levels.

School Program Admissions
Emerson College Master's in Speech-Language Pathology
✓ ASHA Accredited
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP)
✓ CAA-ASHA Accredited
Arizona State University Online Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Science
HLC Accredited.
New York University Online MS Program in Speech-Language Pathology
✓ CAA-ASHA Accredited
George Washington University Online Doctor of Public Health
i sponsored

Click for more online speech therapy programs that are currently taking applications.

Advantages of online occupational therapy degrees (and related programs)

An advantage of online degree programs in this field is that they can provide you with the free time you need to earn a stable income for your lifestyle or engage in hobbies or activities with friends of family. A full-time traditional learning program can often take up a majority of your time during the day, making it a less attractive option for individuals with full-time jobs or families.

The online Master's in Occupational Therapy might include courses that you log in to a few times each week. Asynchronous course allow you to finish your work at your own pace, following the due dates listed within the online course room. Synchronous options may require that you log in once at week at a set time in order to participate in virtual discussions or lectures set by your instructor.

How do you find the best occupational therapy school for you?

You can choose a program that is most fitting for what you need. A lot of OT students that choose the online option are busy working adults, making flexibility a huge factor in their choice to pursue a virtual learning experience.

Over the years, the reliability of online degree programs has been questioned. As a result, accreditation agencies have included online options into their review process so that students can have a solid verification of the quality of their programs. Online OT programs that have receive accreditation can be just as useful as traditional options when seeking a professional license in the future.

What is Occupational Therapy and what do Occupational Therapists do?

Occupational Therapists also work with individuals who have sensory processing or sensory integration disorders. These disorders involve children or adults having difficulties processing information that their body receives from certain sounds or things that are felt or seen around them (i.e., textures of food or clothing and noisy or crowded environments).

Occupational therapists (OTs) work with individuals who have different types of impairments and delays, to help improve their ability to complete daily activities. Those daily activities often involve grooming or hygiene tasks, such as the physical acts of bushing teeth or getting dressed. For children, OTs often work on important daily skills such as improving fine motor skills (the ability to use the small muscles of the hands and fingers) to complete tasks such as holding a pencil, writing, or cutting with scissors.

OTs can help develop a treatment plan that can help individual learn new skills or relearn skills lost as a result of injury or disease. The level of support needed from the OT depends on many factors, including how severely impaired the individual's skills are.

People that have difficulty with completing normal daily tasks due to disability, illness, or injury can utilize the skills of occupational therapists to develop the skills needed to live normal and happy lives. Occupational therapy can include a variety of different therapeutic methods that can be used to assist clients with learning new skills that can assist them with independence and attaining a normal level of physical functioning.

Example of Some of the Best Occupational Therapy Courses

The field of occupational therapy may introduce you to many different physical and mental disabilities that can hinder a person's ability to complete normal daily tasks. During your program, you might take courses that outline how these disabilities affect physical functioning, how mental health can impair a person's motivation and willingness to complete normal tasks, and methods for assisting people with learning new skills.

Since a field experience is included during any of the top OT degree programs, the curriculum is designed to provide you with skills for use in the field. Another component that may be included within your degree program is ethical considerations for your field, which can be very important when you are in delicate situations as a professional in the work environment.

  • Health and Occupation: This course seeks to explore occupation as a social determinant of health. The contents of this course include a look into health issues that can influence or hinder occupation, as well as the influence of disease and disability. Current trends, treatments, and approaches may also be discussed throughout this course as a means for introducing students to the varieties of methods used in the field.
  • Clinical Neuroscience: In order to teach others, students must first comprehend the learning process and the influence of illness and disability on it. This course explores neurobiology, disorders of the nervous system, and behavioral issues that can interfere with occupational health. Symptom exploration, learning challenges, and physical performance may be topics of interest throughout this course.
  • Functional Anatomy: Students enrolled in this course can dive deep into the human skeletal system, muscular systems, and nervous system as a means for learning more about human motion and functioning. The influence of disease and illness on these systems may also be reviewed, as well as studies into various methods for increasing function in people affected by different types of illnesses and disorders.

Field Training for Occupational Therapists

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), individuals that are working towards licensing in the field of occupational therapy should engage in at least 24 weeks of supervised field experience in order to qualify for state licensing. This part of your experience is often completed during your degree program, on-site with a pre-determined supervisor.

During your field training, you might have the opportunity to work directly with clients in need of daily assistance. At the onset of your training, you might spend some time observing your supervisor implementing these services, then following up soon after with your own hands on field work.

The purpose of the field work requirement is to allow you to practice your interpretation of the curriculum and receive feedback as part of the professional growth practice. You receive a letter grade for this experience within your master’s program, making it an important aspect of your overall degree program.

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)

Occupational therapists are required to engage in master’s degree programs that have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) prior to being accepted for licensure within this field. Completion of an accredited degree program must accompany the practice requirements outlined in the previous section, as well as completion of a board examination in occupational therapy.

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)

The examination that is required of OT prospects is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). This test can challenge your knowledge of the terms and skills learned throughout your degree program, as well as the practical considerations covered during your supervised experience.

Occupational Therapists Career Outlook

One of the most interesting facts about occupational therapists is that they can be found in a wide variety of settings across the U.S. If you complete all of the requirements for licensing, you can begin seeking out positions in the healthcare field or even in the field of education.

Children are often a target of OT services due to their differences in learning ability and their need for basic life skills. Some in-home mental health and OT providers can work with families that are in need of assistance with daily hygiene and self-care, as well as with daily tasks such as cleaning and getting dressed.

Rehabilitation facilities and retirement homes can also be professional destinations for OT licensees. The need of therapists in environments where individuals may have lost memory or lost physical abilities may be high, especially in densely populated areas.

As an occupational therapist, you can also explore private options such as private practice for your career. Clients in society can call on OTs for unique reasons, making it beneficial to provide a wide array of different services in this domain.