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Occupational Therapy Degree Programs

Article Sources
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
  • Occupational Therapy, University of New Hampshire Main Campus, https://chhs.unh.edu/ot
  • Master of Occupational Therapy, Worcester State University, https://catalog.worcester.edu/graduate/programs/master-occupational-therapy/
  • Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, Worcester State University, https://catalog.worcester.edu/undergraduate/school-education-health-natural-sciences/occupational-studies/bs-occupational-studies/
  • Occupational Therapy, Keuka College, https://www.keuka.edu/academics/programs/occupational-therapy
  • Bachelor's to OTD Curriculum, Eastern Kentucky University, http://onlineoccupationaltherapyprograms.eku.edu/bachelors-otd-curriculum
  • Master's to OTD Curriculum, Eastern Kentucky University, http://onlineoccupationaltherapyprograms.eku.edu/masters-occupational-therapy-doctorate-curriculum
  • Occupational Therapy, Dominican College, https://www.dc.edu/occupational-therapy-2/
  • Occupational Therapy, D'Youville College, http://www.dyc.edu/academics/schools-and-departments/health-professions/programs-and-degrees/occupational-therapy-bs-ms.aspx
  • Occupational Therapy, 3-year, D'Youville College, http://www.dyc.edu/academics/schools-and-departments/health-professions/programs-and-degrees/occupational-therapy-ms.aspx
  • Occupational Therapy, Saint Francis University, https://www.francis.edu/occupational-therapy/
  • Occupational Therapy program pathways, Brenau University, https://www.brenau.edu/healthsciences/occupationaltherapy/msot/#pathways
  • M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Western Michigan University, https://wmich.edu/ot/academics/grad
  • Occupational Therapy, M.S., https://www.towson.edu/chp/departments/occutherapy/programs/gradoccutherapy/index.html
  • Occupational Science Sc.D., Towson University, https://www.towson.edu/chp/departments/occutherapy/programs/gradoccusci/index.html
  • Occupational Therapists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm
  • Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
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Occupational therapists are vital to treatment plans for senior citizens, as well as for people with disabilities and mobility issues, to help them maintain and increase the quality of daily life and general mobility.

Due to the large spike in America's rapidly aging population, employment in the field of occupational therapy is expected to rise by 21 percent through 2026, which is three times greater than the national average for all occupations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Students interested in careers in occupation therapy must obtain a master's degree - it's the minimum educational obtainment for occupational therapy careers.

The list below was compiled to help students find the best campus-based and online occupational therapy degree programs from U.S. colleges and universities. Students who graduate from these programs are eligible to take the national certification examination and earn the Occupational Therapist, Registered designation, which is required for state licensure.

Read on to learn more about each college's occupational therapy program, as well as potential avenues to help pay for tuition, career outlooks for occupational therapy careers and common career paths.

Best Colleges for Occupational Therapy Degree Programs 2017-18

Finding a great college can be difficult. We put together this ranking of the 10 top colleges for occupational therapy degree programs to help students narrow down their choices. This list was created using a unique methodology that blends a wide range of data points provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Keep reading to learn more about the best universities for occupational therapy degree programs, or click the button below to learn more about how this list was created.

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Methodology
1University of New Hampshire-Main Campus+
ADMISSION RATE
81%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
7

University of New Hampshire's main campus at Durham was founded in 1866 and has a total annual enrollment of more than 15,000 students. The university also has a second campus at Manchester.

UNH's B.S.-to-M.S. program in occupational therapy is a two-part degree path. Students spend their first three years of study completing pre-professional coursework and must hit certain academic targets to advance in the program - a 2.85 overall grade point average at the end of their sophomore year, and a 3.0 GPA after their junior year. Students who do not meet this criteria are excluded from the master's program but still can complete a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. Students also must complete fieldwork experience to satisfy degree requirements. The university also offers a M.S. degree in occupational therapy, as well as a graduate-level certificate in assistive technologies.

UNH heads our ranking of best colleges for occupational therapy degree programs based on its 79 percent graduation rate, the leader among these 10 institutions, and its 78 percent admissions rate, which is second best.

Additional Info
2Worcester State University+
ADMISSION RATE
71%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
0

This liberal arts and sciences university in Worcester, Mass. was founded in 1874 as a school for teachers and became a state university in 2010. At $8,857, Worcester State University had the second-lowest cost of in-state tuition of any college in these rankings, and the university admitted 68 percent of applicants in 2015.

The bachelor's degree requires 27 to 28 credits of prerequisite courses in human anatomy, neuroscience, kinesiology and related areas of study. Major coursework (53 credits) includes advanced study in these topics and other areas, such as occupational therapy theories, therapeutic approaches, and assistive technologies. Students interested in the master's degree program must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate studies.

Additional Info
3Keuka College+
ADMISSION RATE
77%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
N/A
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
1

The No.3 institution in our rankings is a private liberal arts college located on the shores of Keuka Lake in New York's Finger Lakes region. The college scores favorably for its graduation and admissions rates, and the student-faculty ratio is an incredibly low 8:1. However, Keuka College has the second-highest cost of in-state tuition of any institution in these rankings.

Keuka College offers both bachelor's and master's degrees in occupation science. The B.S. degree requires a total of 120 credits to complete, and students must finish the program with an overall cumulative GPA of 3.0 to advance to the master's degree pathway. Students who enter the B.S. program are guaranteed spots in the master's program so long as they maintain the requisite grade point average. The M.S. program requires 32 credits to satisfy degree requirements. Overall graduation rate for the program was 89 percent from 2014 through 2016.

Additional Info
4Eastern Kentucky University+
ADMISSION RATE
86%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$35
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
44

The university's online bachelor's-to-OTD (Occupational Therapy Doctorate) is for students who already have a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy from an accredited institution. The program requires 61 credits to complete. The Master's-to-OTD program is for students who have a B.S. degree and a master's in any field. Students must complete 40 credits to satisfy degree requirements.

On-campus programs include a B.S. in occupational science, and an M.S. in occupational therapy. Lastly, EKU has partnered with University of Kentucky to offer a doctoral degree in rehabilitation sciences. Eastern Kentucky University lands in the fourth spot in these rankings based on its low cost of tuition -- $8,150, best among these 10 featured colleges. Roughly 50 percent of students enrolled at EKU took some form of distance education coursework as well.

Additional Info
5Dominican College of Blauvelt+
ADMISSION RATE
75%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$35
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
6

This small private college is an anchor institution in the small town of Orangeburg, N.Y., a quiet hamlet just 17 miles outside of the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Students interested in becoming occupational therapists can take one of two paths at Dominican College. They can complete a bachelor's degree and take all the prerequisites for admission to the college's Master of Science in Occupational therapy degree program, or they can complete an accelerated B.A. in social science that segues into an B.S./M.S. in occupational therapy. The benefit of this second option is that students can wrap up all occupational therapy prerequisites by the end of their junior year. Students in the second path must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA and must be no further along in their studies than the first semester of their sophomore year.

Classes for the master's degree program in occupation therapy are held for 18 consecutive weekends so students can work part time if they desire.

Additional Info
6D'Youville College+
ADMISSION RATE
81%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
1

D'Youville College is a small private coeducational institution located in Buffalo's vibrant west side. About 3,000 students attend the college each year.

The college lands in the sixth spot in these rankings due in part to its low 9:1 student to teacher ratio, second best among our 10 featured colleges. D'Youville College also has a favorable admissions rate at 73 percent, and more than a third of students at the college take classes online.

Students can complete an occupational therapy degree in five years by enrolling in D'Youville's B.S. to M.S. combined program. The program requires 148 to 150 credits to complete. Students must have a combined SAT score of 1080 to be considered for acceptance. There's also a three-year M.S. program that requires 73 to 74 credits to complete. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate studies for admittance into the program.

Additional Info
7Saint Francis University+
ADMISSION RATE
67%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
3

The seventh institution in our rankings is a Catholic Franciscan liberal arts university located at Loretto, Penn. The university was founded in 1847.

Saint Francis University offers an on-campus Bachelor of Science in health science that leads to a Master of Science in occupational therapy. Curriculum combines three years of study in pre-professional coursework and two years of intensive professional occupational therapy study, as well as different avenues for research options. Students who enroll in the undergraduate program are automatically enrolled in a minor in psychology. The program requires five years to complete.

The university has a 74 percent admissions rate, but it admits only 40 new college freshman to the program each year. Lastly, in-state tuition cost at SFU is highest among any institution in these rankings.

Additional Info
8Brenau University+
ADMISSION RATE
36%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
N/A
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
36

Brenau University has its flagship campus at Gainesville, Ga., with additional campus locations in Augusta, Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla. More than half of all students at Brenau enjoy the flexibility of taking distance education classes, while their on-campus counterparts enjoy greater interaction with their professors due to the university's low 11:1 student to faculty ratio. The university also is the leader of these featured colleges for the number of occupational therapy degrees awarded to students in 2015.

Brenau University's school of occupational therapy offers several different pathways for graduate study in occupational therapy. Students can enroll in one of the following:

  • A seven-semester weekday program at the Gainesville campus
  • A nine-semester hybrid weekend program at the north Atlanta campus
  • A seven-semester hybrid day program at the north Atlanta campus

Students enrolled in either hybrid program complete a significant number of coursework online, although students in the weekday program also complete some online coursework as well.

Additional Info
9Western Michigan University+
ADMISSION RATE
82%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$40
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
8

A public research university headquartered at Kalamazoo, WMU is home to more than 23,000 students each school year. The university has a second campus location at Grand Rapids.

Western Michigan University's Master of Science in occupational therapy program is for students who already hold a bachelor's degree. The 28-month program begins each fall. It includes 22 months of academic coursework and six months of field work for a total of 72 credit hours. The program is available at both campus locations. Students interested in the professional master's degree program must submit an application by Feb. 1 of each year. Students who apply beginning in February of 2018 also must take the Graduate Records Examination general test.

WMU also offers a low-vision graduate certificate for OT clinicians who desire to work in vision rehabilitation with clients suffering from low vision. The university lands in the ninth spot in these rankings based on its high 82 percent admissions rate, best among these 10 featured institutions.

Additional Info
10Towson University+
ADMISSION RATE
74%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$45
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
20

Rounding out our top 10 best colleges for occupational therapy degree programs is this public university located in Baltimore County, Md. Towson, or TU, as it's called by locals, has the third-lowest cost of tuition and third-highest graduation rate among the featured colleges in our rankings.

TU offers both a Master of Science degree in occupational therapy, and a doctoral degree in occupational sciences. The M.S. program is for students whose undergraduate work centered on occupational therapy. Students must have a 3.25 cumulative GPA to be considered for admissions. The doctoral degree is for practicing occupational therapists with master's degrees, or students with M.S. degrees in a field related to social science. The Sc.D. occupational science program can be completed part time either onsite or online.

Additional Info

Occupational Therapy Degree Programs and Common Career Paths

Since a master's degree is required for all occupational therapy jobs, many colleges with occupational therapy degree programs have combined undergraduate studies with a master's degree. However, some positions require candidates to have a doctoral degree. All occupational therapy degree programs require a minimum of 24 weeks of supervised field work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. All 50 states require therapists to be licensed and take continuing education courses to maintain their license.

Master's degrees in occupational therapy
Undergraduate and graduate programs in occupational therapy include heavy coursework in topics such as psychology, human development, sociology, kinesiology, as well as a wide range of specific occupational therapy classes that teach students how use therapeutic techniques to help people overcome physical and mental disabilities to improve their quality of life. Here are the most common career paths for students who earn a master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy.
Occupational therapist
Uses therapeutic techniques to treats injured and disabled patients to help them better manage everyday activities.
Physical therapist
Helps patients with injury, disability or chronic illness increase their ability to move better and manage pain.

Career Outlooks for Occupational Therapists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for occupational therapists is expected to grow at three times the national average for all professions through 2026 based on the large number of aging Baby Boomers that will require therapy to help them navigate daily life and for treatment of age-related chronic conditions. Jobs will be most prevalent in managed care facilities, hospitals and other places where the elderly are treated. Specialists face even better job prospects, the BLS adds. Below we take a closer look at employment projections for occupational therapists and related professions.

JOB TITLE
AVERAGE SALARY($)
EMPLOYMENT
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides$49,300188,85029.7%
Occupational Therapy Assistants$59,47041,65028.9%
Occupational Therapy Aides$33,7807,74024.7%
Occupational Therapists$84,640126,05021.2%
Source: 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
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Financial Aid and Scholarships in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy jobs require candidates to possess at least a master's degree, so students interested in careers in occupational therapy can expect to be in college for a minimum of five to six years. Students can seek federal financial aid to help with tuition costs, or they pursue an occupational therapy scholarship.

Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program
Applicant must graduate from a college in Maryland or from a law school and be employed full-time in state or local government or in a nonprofit organization in Maryland. Applicant's employer must help low income, underserved residents or underserved areas in the state. Applicant must have loans from a university, government, or commercial source used to pay for college expenses. Applicant may not be in default on a loan. Gross salary cannot exceed $50,000 and, if married, combined salaries cannot exceed $110,000. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$30,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

November 1

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Reapplication required for renewal.

Health Professions Scholarship
Applicant must rank in the top half of class and have a minimum combined SAT I score of 1140. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$12,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

February 1

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA, full-time enrollment, and satisfactory academic progress.

Marion A. Lindeman Scholarship
Applicant must be an employee of Willamette View Health Care Center or Willamette View Terrace who will pursue a degree or certificate in nursing, occupational or physical therapy, or another health-related field at a public or nonprofit college or university. FAFSA required. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$10,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

March 1

 

 

Parker B. Francis Respiratory Research Grant
Awarded to provide financial assistance for research programs dealing with respiratory care and related topics. More

AWARD AMOUNT

$10,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

December 31

 

 

Professional Organizations

Administers national certification examination. Therapists who successfully complete the exam earn the "Occupational Therapist, Registered" (OTR) designation. State licenses are usually awarded based on the results of the NBCOT exam.
Advocacy group that provides continuing education and other career resources for occupational therapists.
Recognized individuals who make significant contributions to the field of occupational therapy.
Article Sources
Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.

Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.

  1. In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  3. Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  4. Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
    • Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
    • Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
  5. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  6. Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
    • Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
    • Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
    • Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
    • Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
    • Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
  7. Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  8. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
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