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Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with injured, ill, or disabled clients to offer skills training that assist them in their lives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this in-demand profession will grow by 24 percent during the 2016 to 2026 decade, adding more than 31,000 new positions nationwide. Occupational therapists (OT) are licensed and work across a wide range of clinical populations including children, the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled. That is why we created this guide to show you everything about Occupational Therapy Schools Online.

It takes two to three years to complete accredited online OT master’s programs. Hybrid online occupational therapy degree programs combine flexible distance learning with 24 weeks of on-site supervised fieldwork. The average annual salary for an OT is more than $83,000.


Online OT Master’s Programs for 2020

This guide is created to help potential OT students understand their online degree options, how to choose a program, finance their education, and attain national licenses. It includes a listing of top schools offering hybrid programs. Hybrids combine self-paced online didactic training with on-campus clinics and OT internships.


How to Choose an Online Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

With more than 200 accredited master’s in physical therapy programs online, there are key factors to explore in creating a list of universities that best match a student’s educational and professional interests. OT programs list much of the information on their university websites including:

Time to Completion

How many years until a student completes their degree? It’s important to compare programs based on total credits, total semesters, and the number and length of internships.

Tuition and Financial Aid

There can be a dramatic range in tuition depending on the university (public vs private) and the school’s prestige. Students can view tuition at each school’s website or, better yet, telephone the university admissions office or OT department. At the same time, round up information about institutional grants and scholarships that can support schooling costs.


Look into the optional curriculum for specializations in OT. Specializations can help boost career trajectory and earnings.

Class Format

Evaluate and compare programs offering an online, hybrid format. There may be considerable differences in the percentage of studies offered entirely online and the number of on-campus visits required for the degree.

Class Scheduling

Online, didactic trainingmay be entirely self-paced through asynchronous sessions at a chosen time and location. They may also be combined with synchronous online classes the meet at specific times for lectures and faculty presentations.

Career Assistance

Do prospective OT program take advantage of university career resources such as counseling, resume assistance, and job placement?

Licensure Exam/ Employment Outcomes

Find out if specific OT programs have statistics on the number of their graduates who passed the NBCOT certification exam. Also ask to see their statistics on the percentage of graduates who found jobs.


Online OT Degree Q&A

How do I apply to a university offering an online master’s degree in occupational therapy?

Each college or university has its own set of application requirements. Fees can run from $50 to $150. Most schools require applications via the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). OTCAS fees are $125 for a student’s first program of choice and $45 for each school thereafter.

What are the entrance requirements?

While the particulars may vary, most online OT programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete pre-requisite courses in physical sciences, math, medical terminology and statistics. Students may be required to submit previous college transcripts, a resume, graduate test scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of educational/career goals. The OTCAS application rounds up a student’s application materials and sends them to their target schools.

What are the requirements for earning a degree and how long will it take to graduate?

Online OT schools establish their own curriculum along the lines of the ACOTE accreditation requirements. However, they may meet or exceed the requirements, and consequently run from 50 to 93 total credits, including field work and internships. Hybrid online/campus programs take from two to three years to complete. An online, self-paced course of study may take more time if the student is working on a part-time basis.

What will I study?

Occupational therapy graduate programs focus on didactic training in the core curriculum along with hands-on clinics and internships. Students will find classes in OT theory, clinical kinesiology, human anatomy, OT practice, advanced therapeutic techniques, and treatment for clients across the lifespan from childhood to old age.

How much will my degree cost?

Cost, along with accreditation, is one of the key factors for choosing a school. Our survey found that at the low end, a program at a public university can cost as little as $18,000. Prestigious private schools can charge tuition as high as $80,000. Be sure to investigate each program of interest to learn about any additional costs, such as lab fees, and financial aid.

How much can I expect to earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a current salary range from $54,560 to $120,400. The top salaries are offered at nursing care facilities, followed in turn by home healthcare services, professional offices, hospitals and public schools.

Where should I look for a job?

A: Students should build a powerful network of contacts from their fieldwork, as well as lifelong relationships with peers and professors. Members of the American Occupational Therapy Association can use their job board to find openings in their area. In addition, job sites such as list more than 4,500 new OT jobs throughout the U.S.

Can OTs earn additional certifications?

Yes. If theyhave accrued 2,000 hours as anOTR and 600 hours in their specialty, they can gain certifications in gerontology, pediatrics, low vision, driving and community mobility, mental health, school systems, environmental modification, and feeding, eating, and swallowing.

What are similar occupations?

The Department of Labor cites several related professions that require a graduate degree. They include nurse anesthetists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists.


OT Professional Licensing

Graduates of online OT master’s programs must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to use the professional title of Occupational Therapist, Registered” (OTR). The examination takes four hours to complete and contains multiple choice questions, scenario-based multiple-choice questions, and a simulation test.


OT School Accreditations

Program accreditations are a vital component when searching for occupational therapy master’s programs online and prospective programs must be accredited to qualify graduates to take the NBCOT exam. That’s because voluntary accreditations ensure that the program meets the national curriculum requirements set by the profession. Each school or OT department cites its accreditation on its website. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accredits more than 200 OT master’s programs throughout the country. For more details, read the OT master’s degree accreditation requirements. ACOTE is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Read more about general Accreditation here.


Financial Aid Options for Master’s in Occupational Therapy Programs

The pursuit of occupational therapy master’s programs online can be a costly proposition. Fortunately, there are loans, grants and fellowships to help master’s students along the way. The first, all-important step in securing financial aid is to register with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here’s a roundup of financial aid resources:

online masters degree in occupational therapy

Federal Financial Aid

OT grad students can apply for a range of federal grants and loans to finance their studies. These include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students, Direct Unsubsidized and Direct PLUS loans. OT master’s students can also search for federal government scholarships.

occupational therapy masters degree online

University Scholarships, Grants and Work Study

Prospective OT master’s student should research as many OT grad programs as possible and create a list of the best schools for them and include the financial options available at those choice schools. Each university or OT department may have their own financial aid programs based on academic performance or financial need.


Top-Rated Online OT Master’s Programs for 2020

Review the top schools offering master’s in occupational therapy online programs. This list reflects each institution’s affordability, accreditation, level of online faculty/technical support, available financial aid, and admissions requirements. Admissions requirements vary. For example, there are occupational therapy master’s programs that do not require applicants to submit GRE test scores. Here the best programs:


Resources in Occupational Therapy


Accredited Online Occupational Therapy Master’s Programs

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
American International College
1000 State St, Springfield, MA 01109
$34,370 41.2%
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 36849
$29,640 71.1%
Nova South Eastern University
3301 College Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314
$29,930 51.1%
The George Washington University
2121 I St NW, Washington, DC 20052
$53,518 79.2%
Pacific University
2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116
$42,594 59.4%
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35294
$ 19,032 55.5%
Dominican University of California
50 Acacia Ave, San Rafael, CA 94901
$18,046 61.8%
Misericordia University
301 Lake Street, Dallas, PA 18612

Best Online Occupational Therapy Master’s Programs

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
Johnson Wales University – Online
115 Cedar St, Providence, RI 02903
Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, KY 40475
$18,250 42.9%
Towson University
8000 York Rd, Towson, MD 21252
$22,14068.3 %
University of Louisiana Monroe
700 University Ave, Monroe, LA 71209
$20,570 43%
University of South Dakota
414 E Clark St, Vermillion, SD 57069
$12,019 57.1%
Baker College Online
1050 W Bristol Rd, Flint, MI 48507

Affordable Online Occupational Therapy Master’s Programs

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
Eastern Kentucky University
115 Cedar St, Providence, RI 02903
$18,250 42.9%
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 2nd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35294
$19,032 55.5%
Dominican University of California
50 Acacia Ave, San Rafael, CA 94901
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 36849
Towson University
8000 York Rd, Towson, MD 21252
Misericordia University
301 Lake Street, Dallas, PA 18612

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