When you see somebody who is injured, what is your first instinct?
If it’s to find ways to help them in any way you can, a degree in Occupational Therapy might be the right choice for you.
Occupational therapists work day in and day out to develop therapeutic solutions for ill, injured, or disabled patients. These professionals work hard to help patients recover and improve as well as to maintain the skills that they need for everyday living and working.
As an occupational therapist, you might work in a hospital, nursing home, school, or home healthcare setting. While a compassionate soul and a hardworking nature are the base requirements for one of these careers, you’ll also need to have a minimum of a master’s degree.
A doctorate degree is even better. Considered a terminal degree in the field, a doctorate degree will equip you with the skills necessary to pursue roles in teaching and administration. You will enjoy a much better hiring rate – and a very nice salary to boot.
Top 10 Best Online Doctorates in Occupational Therapy
||A T Still University of Health Sciences
||Bay Path University
||Concordia University Wisconsin
||Eastern Kentucky University
||George Washington University
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What kind of Occupational Therapy degree should you get?
As an occupational therapist, you will be charged with reviewing patients’ medical histories and evaluating their needs to help develop an effective treatment plan. As a result, you need to pursue a program of study that not only lays the theoretical groundwork for a good foundational knowledge of occupational therapy but also gives you plenty of hands-on experiences.
Look for a program that includes plenty of opportunities for research, internships, and other work experiences. This will help you hone your critical thinking and decision-making skills so that you can be an effective practitioner.
But wait – what if you are already working in occupational therapy and want to continue your education without leaving your current employment? No worries – this can easily be done. All you need to do is consider an online program in Occupational Therapy that will be more flexible and adaptable to your needs and goals.
An online program of study will allow you to meet your goals and take classes on your own terms; you can work independently without ever having to leave your current place of employment. Online programs are often identical to their on-campus counterparts, yet they are more accessible and often even more affordable because you don’t have to cover subsidiary expenses such as travel and residential costs.
Not sure that an online doctorate in Occupational Therapy is the right choice for you? Take a look at our comprehensive ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities for a look at all of the options that are available to you.
How much money do people make with a degree in Occupational Therapy?
If you have a degree in Occupational Therapy, you will be eligible for a career in one of the highest-paying jobs in the country. The top 10% of all earners in this field receive an average of $120,750 or more per year. On average, most occupational therapists earn about $84,270.
If you work in a skilled nursing facility, you will be part of the highest group of earners. Other common work environments include home healthcare services, private offices, hospitals, and schools.
Perhaps even better than the high pay is the fact that, as an occupational therapist, your skills and services will always be in high demand. These jobs are expected to grow by a whopping 24% by 2026 – this figure is more than three times the national average!
What are the requirements for a degree in Occupational Therapy?
To become an occupational therapist, you will need a minimum of a master’s degree. The highest earners also have doctorate degrees, and you may also need to be licensed to practice in your state.
To apply for a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, you will need either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree – often both – in a related field. You will need to show significant coursework in areas like physiology and biology, and some programs require that you have previously worked or volunteered in an occupational therapy setting.
A doctoral program will include a large amount of supervised fieldwork to give you extensive clinical work experience. You will likely take preparatory courses that will enable you to pass the national examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Good programs will also be recognized by the American Occupational Therapy Association for their ability to train you in diagnostic, interpersonal, and technological competencies.
What are the best degrees in Occupational Therapy?
Earning a college degree is a major investment. It takes a lot of time, money, and dedication in order to receive a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
The best degree in Occupational Therapy will vary depending on your career goals and personal preferences. In order to find the perfect degree, you will need to think carefully about your goals. Look for a degree that meshes with your career plans and pick one that is best suited for your individual life circumstances.
We get it-you’re busy. That’s why we hope to take the stress out of finding the perfect college program by showing you the best options out there. When we create our list, we only select the programs that have the best reputation for high-quality instruction, affordability, and convenience.
Our final list is reflective of the best schools in the entire country. We know finding the perfect school isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair, which is why we would love for you to take a look at our detailed methodology page. Here, we will tell you everything you need to know about how we find, select, and narrow down our list of the best programs in the country.
Think you have what it takes to be an occupational therapist? Then continue reading to learn all about the 30 Best Online Doctorates in Occupational Therapy.
A T Still University of Health Sciences
A private, nonprofit graduate school, A T Still University of Health Sciences focuses primarily on furthering education in the health sciences. The university has two campuses on 200 acres with six separate schools, in addition to a vibrant online campus. The advanced post-professional Occupational Therapy doctorate at A T Still University of Health Sciences is designed for individuals who already possess entry-level professional degrees in Occupational Therapy. It is one of a handful of degrees offered in this discipline at the university.
This program is taught by faculty members who are committed to providing personally tailored, expert online instruction to all students. Learners are able to interact regularly with their instructors, giving them exposure to a broad variety of teaching styles, backgrounds, and experiences. This level of diversity fosters both professional and personal growth. Required and elective courses include topics such as:
- Directed Research
- Basic Patient Care Skills
- Analysis of Human Movement
- Neuroscience: Foundations for Human Behavior
This degree is a 36-month, full-time program that includes a residency. It is designed for individuals who wish to pursue leadership roles or experience in nontraditional areas of practice. It features student-centered teaching and highly accessible faculty. All students are able to work in their local communities to develop programs for diverse populations, too. The school offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, providing students with extensive opportunities to interact with other peers and faculty members.
Bay Path University is located in Longmeadow, MA. This school was founded in 1897 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students. Known for its innovative programs and small class sizes, this school utilizes the latest technology to deliver an industry-focused curriculum to all of its students. The fully-online doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Bay Path is designed for busy professionals. Students can complete their degrees while still maintaining a good work-life balance.
This program is designed for practicing, licensed occupational therapists who wish to remain competitive in the ever-changing field of OT. The curriculum is flexible and available entirely online, helping students hone their critical thinking skills so that they can enhance their careers in advocacy, leadership, ethics, and more. Classes start each February and October, and tracks are available in topics like Advanced General Practice, Education, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Administration, Mental Health, and more. The curriculum covers core topics such as:
- Leadership and Advocacy
- Professional Writing
- Occupational Science
- Evidence-Based Practice
This program is one of the most flexible for busy adult learners. There are two tracks: one is a 36-credit Master’s to Post-Professional OTD, while the other is a 54-credit Bachelors to Post-Professional OTD. There is no residency requirement in this degree, and students can complete their studies in just four to eight separate terms. The degree allows learners to collaborate with a broad network of like-minded, supportive faculty and other professionals. All candidates have access to tutoring, financial aid, mentoring, academic resources, library services, and career networking as well.
Boston University is located in Boston and offers an exceptional reputation for providing high-quality online programs. The Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Boston University is available entirely online and utilizes a unique mentorship model in which each student is partnered with a one-on-one faculty advisor. In this format, the faculty advisor provides the student with personalized guidance throughout the course of the program.
Requiring the completion of a final doctoral project, this program trains aspiring occupational therapist for leadership roles in creating innovative responses to diverse healthcare needs. The final project requires students to critically analyze the evidence base for current approaches, as well as to interpret the cultural and social factors that influence modern practice. All classes are offered online, with the exception of two one-day on-campus components at the beginning and end of the program. Ten courses are required, leading to up to 36 credit hours in classes such as:
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Contemporary Trends in Occupational Therapy
- Directed Study in Evidence-Based Practice
- Healthcare Management
- Social Policy and Disability
This program is not only one of the best, but it’s also one of the most affordable. Doctoral students have access to merit-based scholarships that help make the degree more accessible without requiring students to disrupt their careers. A private university founded in 1839, Boston University has a reputation as being one of the largest nonprofit universities in the country. It is ranked a Top National University by U.S. News & World Report.
Brenau University is located in Gainesville, GA. This private university was founded in 1878 and is relatively small, with an undergraduate enrollment of just 1,722 students. The school offers dozens of interactive programs to choose from, all of which incorporate the liberal arts in a hands-on way. The doctoral program in Occupational Therapy at Brenau University is designed to prepare practicing occupational therapists to become advanced-practitioners who also have the skills and confidence to lead.
This degree can be completed by taking just two courses per semester, with a total of three credits required per course. Taught by nationally recognized faculty, the program features mostly online coursework with only one, two- or three-day weekend on campus each semester. The degree can be completed in just two years and requires 36 credits of academic study. A clinical experience is also required. Sample classes include:
- Professional Reasoning
- Scholarship of Practice
- Occupational Science and Occupation-Based Practice
- Leadership, Ethics and Advocacy
- Teaching in Practice, Community & Classroom
In addition to the core classes listed above, students in this program also have the opportunity to take advanced practice courses in topics like neuroscience rehabilitation, community practice, and pediatrics. Each student must complete advanced electives, and they may pursue interdisciplinary offerings in other departments, such as gerontology, education, health administration, and more. A final capstone seminar and project are required, which helps students make connections between their learning and their ultimate career goals.
Chatham University was founded in 1869 and is a coeducational institution with an enrollment of just over 2,000 students. Over 60 undergraduate graduate programs are offered in key areas such as health and wellness, arts and science, and business and communications. The Professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Chatham University is designed for occupational therapy clinicians and academicians who want to become professional leaders.
This degree is evidence-based, requiring students to take a new approach to the discipline and to bring with them a heightened level of professional awareness. Students will carry their learning forth from the classroom and are expected to engage in the work setting to apply what they have learned. In addition to the stand-alone doctorate program, the university also offers a bridge program that is designed for experienced occupational therapists who hold bachelor’s but want to jump directly into a doctorate program. Required courses are similar and include topics such as:
- Methods of Evaluation
- Educational Theory and Technology
- Occupational Therapist as Entrepreneur
- Advanced Practice concepts and skills
- Occupational Science
This school is one of the most iconic in its contributions to helping students build lives of purpose. The school is a leader in the field of sustainability, selected as Top 50 Green College by The Princeton Review. In addition, the school offers superior academic quality that earns it a consistent placement on top rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The School of Health Sciences, in which the Occupational Therapy program is housed, is one of the top and most frequent award-winners.
Concordia University Wisconsin
Concordia University Wisconsin has a main campus in Mequon, WI but is perhaps better known for its online campus. Founded in 1881, the school is known for offering a variety of Christian-centered programs in multiple disciplines. The post-professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Concordia University Wisconsin is designed for licensed occupational therapists who wish to pursue continued or specialty education in occupational therapy – particularly in areas like pediatrics, upper extremity rehabilitation, and education.
This degree helps practicing occupational therapists gain expertise through their practice. It includes three specialty tracks to help students meet their goals and encourages students to explore current and emerging techniques and methodologies across the discipline. The degree can be completed in as little as two years, with all courses taught online – with the exception of two separate visits to campus. Required courses include:
- Occupational Science
- Advanced Anatomy and Kinesthesiology of the Upper Extremity
- Advanced Evidence-Based Practice
- Professional Writing for Occupational Therapy
- Mentoring/Clinical Education
This program is highly affordable, with all students paying semester-based tuition that is regularly updated on the Concordia University website. Tuition is guaranteed to remain the same as long as students complete their required courses according to the scheduled curriculum. Financial aid is available to graduate students as well. As a result, this school is ranked a Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report. It is also regarded as one of the Top Regional Universities in the Midwest.
Creighton University is located in Omaha, NE. This school, founded in 1878 as one of Nebraska’s premier private universities, is home to nine undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools and colleges. This Jesuit institution is committed to educating the whole student and to driving training that will inspire leadership and service. The Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Creighton University is designed for practicing occupational therapists who wish to prepare for upper-level management positions in a wide variety of environments.
This degree is incredibly flexible, allowing students to take just a single class at once or to take multiple classes at a time. This convenient plan of study makes online learning accessible for all students, helping them fit their studies into their already busy schedules. The program’s curriculum is designed and developed by program alumni, ten of whom sit on Creighton’s Instructional Planning Board. All students in the online learning community are granted access to dedicated technical support and mentoring from faculty members as they take innovative and interdisciplinary classes like:
- Historical Perspectives of Occupation
- Occupation and Health: Population Perspectives
- Health Systems Management
- Occupation in Community
This program was one of the first of its kind in the country, taught by 100% doctorally prepared full-time faculty. All students complete a research project, and the degree is open to students with either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Because of this, classes are diverse and foster collaboration and discussion. Faculty are experts in their areas of practice and are well-known for their contributions to the profession on an international and national scale. Students can combine their coursework with a professional area of concentration of their own choosing and are guided in their research by expert faculty.
Eastern Kentucky University
Located in Richmond, KY, Eastern Kentucky University has a main campus that sits on 675 acres. Its online campus, however, is what’s truly worth writing home about. This school offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs entirely online, most of which offer an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1. The Master’s to OTD program at Eastern Kentucky University is offered entirely online and is designed for students who already hold a Master’s in OT or another field to earn their doctorate degrees without needing to relocate.
This unique program allows learners to tailor their course plans to their specific interests. Students are granted individual advisors who stay with them from the time of application to the time of graduation. Free career services and online tutoring are offered as students move through a curriculum that includes classes taught by respected and attentive faculty. This program is housed within a dynamic and supportive learning environment and features popular courses such as:
- Planning & Managing in OT Practice
- Research in Occupational Therapy
- Qualitative Inquiry Approaches
- Occupational Performance Measures
- School-Based Practice
This degree is not only flexible, but it’s also highly affordable. With tuition starting at just $675 per credit hour, it’s a great option for busy adult learners who are on a budget. Candidates benefit from best practices and leadership building as they engage in accelerated eight-week terms of study. With classes that begin three times per year and a liberal credit transfer policy, this program allows most students to complete their degrees in just two years, with no campus visits required. This program is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best graduate schools for occupational therapy.
Located in Erie, PA, Gannon University is a private university that was founded in 1925. A Catholic university, this school upholds its Catholic mission through a finely-tuned curriculum delivered by attentive, thoughtful faculty members.The post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate at Gannon University is designed for aspiring occupational therapists in any area of practice. It supports developing practitioner-scholars who are interested in incorporating cross-disciplinary research in their practice.
The curriculum of this program includes an integral capstone project. This capstone allows students to enhance their knowledge and skills in a practice area such as Leadership, Advocacy, Theory Development, Education, Research Skills, or others. This degree can be completed with just two years of part-time study, combining a superior blend of web-based instruction with a single campus visit. Online learners can interact with students studying at any of the Gannon campuses that offer the degree, including Ruskin, FL and Erie, PA. Required classes include:
- Applied Research in Clinical Practice
- Advanced Occupations
- Reasoning and Evidence-Based Practice
- Analysis of Policy and Change in OT
- Teaching in Practice and Community
This program requires just 34 credit hours of study, and with tuition starting at just $750 per credit hour, it’s also one of the most affordable. It offers a flexible online learning environment to busy working adults, granting students access to a curriculum that is personalized and attentive to individual students’ goals. Learners can interact with peers from all around the country in this degree, which is housed within a university that is ranked a Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report.
George Washington University
The George Washington University has a main campus in Washington, D.C. Although this setting is ideal for most students seeking hands-on learning opportunities, the university also has a vibrant online campus. Founded in 1824, the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences offers a superior Advanced-Practice Doctoral degree program in Occupational Therapy for practitioners who wish to become clinical-scholars in an interdisciplinary setting.
This degree incorporates several styles of research, including client-oriented research, basic research, and population-based research. The long-term goal of this program’s curriculum is to train students to improve the health of the public. It is offered entirely online with no residency requirement and allows students to complete their studies in just two years. Sample classes include:
- Teaching Strategies for the Health Professions
- Principles of Collaboration and Team Science
- Measurement of Human Functioning and Learning
- Program Theory and Health Innovations
- Mixed Methods in Translational Health Sciences
Requiring 36 credit hours of study, this innovative and creative program includes a combination of courses in leadership, teaching, research, and assessment. There are significant opportunities for elective coursework, along with a mentored capstone that can give students a deeper understanding of the discipline. The degree offers four specializations: Leadership, Education, Scholarship, and Integrative Medicine, each of which allows candidates to transfer in up to nine previously earned credit hours. Students have access to personalized curricula that have a lower student-to-faculty ratio than what is experienced on campus, along with around-the-clock technical support services.
Governors State University
University Park, IL
Governors State University is located in University Park, IL. This public university was founded in 1969 and is relatively small, with a total undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 3,500 students. Home to a range of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, the school also provides numerous online degrees. The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Governors State University is designed for learners who already have either an entry-level Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree or a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy with a Master’s in another field.
This degree prepares students to be innovators in the field. It explores both emerging and traditional areas of occupational therapy, allowing students to refine clinical and academic skills. With both web-hybrid and web-based courses, the program allows each and every student to develop an individual plan of study. Learners can incorporate their personal research interests as they prepare for their careers and advance their standing in their current positions. Sample classes include:
- Research Methods for Occupational Therapy
- Advanced Theories in OT
- Occupation-Centered Practice & Process
- Instructional Methods in Occupational Therapy
- Leadership, Policy and Program Development
- Advocacy and Empowerment in Legal and Ethical Occupational Therapy Policy
Located within the highly-respected Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Health and Human Services, this program is one of more than 64 hands-on degrees at Governors State. This university has a broad list of graduate programs, allowing students to obtain the qualifications necessary to succeed in the industry, the arts, education, and of course, healthcare. With a main campus just 40 miles from Chicago, the school offers the most affordable university undergraduate tuition in the entire state.
Indiana University is located in Bloomington, IN, but the online campus of this school is just as popular as the physical location. The university offers dozens of graduate and undergraduate programs both on-campus and online. The online Occupational Therapy Post-Professional Program at Indiana University is designed for individuals who want to help others gain these skills they need to function independently. This degree is for current occupational therapy practitioners.
Designed with the adult learner in mind, this degree guides each learner toward developing a unique individual capstone project and personalized professional development goals. A one-year program, the degree prepares candidates for careers as translational researchers, OT faculty, and advanced OT clinicians. The curriculum is guided by the latest in occupational and rehabilitation research. Required courses, leading to 30 credit hours of work, include:
- Teaching in Occupational and Rehabilitation Sciences
- Advancements in Occupational Science
- Applied Translational Research in Occupational Therapy
- Evidence-Based Practice in Occupational Therapy
- Occupational Science Practicum in Practice, Education, or Leadership and Administration
This program is highly affordable, with tuition starting at just $544.25 per credit hour. All Indiana Online classes are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus. This provides students with access to affordable, flexible programs that they need without having to put their lives on hold. Students also receive access to a range of academic and other support services, like tutoring, career assistance, and more. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, the attention to student success at this school cannot be ignored.
Misericordia University is located in Dallas, PA. A private university founded in 1924, this school offers 37 different degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate levels. The Occupational Therapy program at Misericordia comes with multiple options. Students can pursue either an entry-level Occupational Therapy program that includes a master’s and doctoral program, an entry-level master’s program, or a post-professional master’s program.
This program is incredibly flexible, with multiple options available for students at all stages of their lives. The post-professional master’s consists of 30 graduate credits that are evenly distributed among theory and core, research, and concentration classes. Offered primarily through distance courses with the addition of several five-day on-campus meetings, this program features courses in Pediatric or Interdisciplinary tracks. Required course for all Occupational Therapy doctorate students include:
- Grant Writing
- Issues and Trends
- Research Methods
Misericordia is one of the first universities in the country to offer entry-level education for aspiring occupational therapists. Most students take about six and a half years to complete this degree, but the university is well-poised to offer it, having offered post-professional occupational therapy programs for over a decade. Misericordia is ranked as one of the Best Regional University in the North as well as a Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report, a testament to the profound commitment this school has to student success, research, and scholarly contributions.
Mount Mary University is located in Milwaukee. This private university was founded in 1913 and is extremely small, home to an undergraduate population of just 735 learners. Despite its size, the school offers some of the best programs in Health Sciences. The post-professional degree in Occupational Therapy at Mount Mary University is designed with adult learners in mind. As a part-time online program, it is geared toward learners who want to advance their skills in service delivery and specialty practice.
This program includes several unique learning experiences so that participants can complete detailed protocols of their accomplishments in specialty practice. These portfolios can be used for career advancement or in order to seek board certification through the American Occupational Therapy Association. Students may choose from program focus areas such as:
- Physical rehabilitation
- Mental health
This program is incredibly flexible, requiring only one visit to campus to present the final portfolio project. About 80% of all classes can be done at the times that are most convenient to each individual learner, with the other 20% conducted during online interactions with peer groups via postings and real-time communication. All residencies will be completed in the student’s own work setting, with the program taking a total of about 21 months to complete. The school is ranked a Top Regional University by U.S. News & World Report.
New York University is one of the premier institutions of higher education in the entire country. Located in the heart of New York City, this private university offers a variety of programs in law, business, education, and health sciences to students from all over the world. New York University offers an Occupational Therapy Doctorate in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. This degree helps learners grow as knowledgeable and compassionate leaders who are prepared to deal with the ever-changing environment of modern healthcare.
This degree is delivered entirely online, allowing students to maintain their practice or current employment as they earn their doctorate degrees. The curriculum is highly individualized, allowing students to pursue a variety of elective and clinical specialization courses. Half of the required credits for this program can be customized to meet a student’s individual needs, which are determined in conjunction with a dedicated faculty advisor. Students can take classes such as:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Theory and Application
- Marketing Strategy, Analysis, and Development
- Technology and Community Engagement
- Disability in a Global Context
This program is delivered entirely online but grants students the option of taking some classes on-campus if they so choose. Potential areas of specialization include Leadership and Teaching, Clinical Management of the Upper Extremity, Autism, and Assistive Technology. This online degree features the same rigorous curriculum that is offered on-campus and provides students with the important credentials they need without having to relocate. All classes are offered in tacitly via live, online classes taught by renowned NYU Steinhardt Faculty.
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Nova Southeastern University is located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Founded in 1964, this private university has received top marks by national ranking publications for its high-quality health sciences degrees. The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy program at Nova Southeastern is designed for individuals who are already licensed in occupational therapy but want to accelerate their careers to a leadership position. To be eligible for admission, students must have completed an entry-level occupational therapy degree and be able to practice within one year of beginning the program.
This degree gives learners a serious professional edge in the healthcare industry. Graduates will learn how to direct rehabilitation services in occupational areas as well as how to develop and lead innovative programs. It is designed to suit the lifestyle of a busy working professional who seeks enough flexibility to take things to the next level. Learners will be on the cutting edge of research and can design their programs so that they best suit their individual career goals. Offered through the university’s unique online learning management systems, students will complete two courses per semester, traveling to campus just once per semester. Required classes include:
- Theory Development for Models of Practice
- Advanced Policy Issues
- Evidence-Based Practice and Critical Thinking in OT
- Leadership Development in Multiple Contexts
- Contextual Aspects of Occupational Performance
This program is unique in that it not only requires students to complete a capstone, but it also requires a residency experience with experts in the area of interest in order to complete this project. This project is designed to add value to the learner’s workplace, community, and the entire occupational therapy profession. In addition to the Post-Professional program, the university also offers an entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate as well. The school is ranked a Top National University by U.S. News & World Report.
Quinnipiac University is located in Hamden, CT. Founded in 1929, this private university is located just 90 miles from New York City and offers a vibrant online earning community. The Post Professional Occupational Therapy Doctors at Quinnipiac is a varied and practical skills-based program designed for distance learners. In addition to this program, the university offers a bridge program that allows students to seamlessly progress from an entry-level Bachelor of Science to a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
This online program provides learners with the skills they need to influence change within the profession. Aligned with the standards of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the program produces active practitioners who are equipped with the skills necessary to serve as agents of change. It emphasizes the accumulation of practical skills that can enhance professional practice, enabling graduates who work in leadership roles or as educators at the college level. Required classes include:
- Directed Study in Evidence-Based Practice
- Application of Theory and Exploration of Occupation
- Innovations and Emerging Issues in Children and Youth
- Leadership in Higher Education
This program is accessible and affordable, designed to accommodate the needs of working occupational therapy professionals. Courses can be broken into modules of different durations and are delivered asynchronously through the flexible online classroom. Students can complete their classes at any time and must engage in a single one-week on-campus residency during the summer. This degree features exclusive peer-guided learning environments that allow students to collaborate closely with other learners and skilled faculty as they advance their training in occupational therapy.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
A private, for-profit university, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions is located in Provo, Utah. This school, established in 1998, is unique in that it has a primary focus on providing graduate healthcare education. It is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals offers a unique learning experience to students who choose to enroll in the Post Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy.
The online Post Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions is innovative and hands-on. It allows most learners to complete their degrees in just 16 to 20 months. Offered primarily online, it features eight elective tracks and an affordable tuition rate. It allows students to continue to meet their professional and personal goals while also pursuing their terminal degrees. Required courses for this program include:
- Healthcare Advocacy: Policy, Legal, & Ethical Content
- Educating in Occupational Therapy
- Emerging Roles for Occupational Therapy in Primary Care & Health Promotion
- Use Design & Implementation of Evidence-Based guidelines
- Qualitative Inquiry
This limited-residency program features eight different tracks. Students are only required to visit campus three or four times and can complete their studies in five semesters or less. An Advanced Practice Track – which can be completed at an accelerated pace – is available, in addition to track offerings in Leadership, Aging, Education, Hand Therapy, Pediatrics, Assistive Technology, and Behavioral and Mental Health. These programs each have various start dates to provide maximum flexibility to busy professionals.
A private university located in Elkins Park, PA, Salus University is unique in that it is dedicated specifically to offering programs in the health care professions. Previously referred to as the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry, this school was one of the first to offer extensive externship options for its students. The post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy at Salus University prepares learners to become leaders or academics. It emphasizes interpersonal collaboration and features multiple tracks for additional specialization.
This program includes multiple specialty tracks to meet each student’s individual career goals. Options include Low Vision Rehabilitation, Remedial Vision Rehabilitation, and Health and Wellness. Convenient for professionals who are already working full time, this program is offered almost entirely online via interactive computer-based technology. Students have access to both experiential and didactic classes, allowing them to engage in hands-on learning activities and community-based activities during two residency courses. Other required classes include:
- Inter-Professional Approach to Health
- Teaching in Higher Education
- Advanced Occupation-Based Perspectives
- Grant Writing and Disseminating Scholarship
- Doctoral Capstone Research Methods
All but two classes in this program are offered exclusively online. This degree offers flexible program lengths, with a 16-month program – requiring two courses per term – and a 27-month program – requiring one course per term. Both utilize the superior distance-learning format and include two residency courses. Each specialty track is designed to reflect the cutting-edge technologies and practices of modern occupational therapy, helping to align the curriculum with the university’s respected niche in healthcare.
St. Catherine University is located in St. Paul, MN. This school has over 70 years of history in excellence in occupational therapy leadership and education. It is one of just a handful of universities to offer the entire range of OT programs at the master’s, doctoral, and associate’s level. A private university, this school was founded in 1905 and offers some of the best health sciences programs. Along with a post-professional degree in Occupational Therapy, the university also offers an Occupational Therapy Assistant program and Pre-Occupational Therapy programs.
Housed within the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, this program is designed for learners who already have master’s degrees and are ready to gain the terminal education needed for their carers. Instructors in this program are authors of major OT textbooks and are actively involved in cutting-edge research and scholarship. The curriculum of this program focuses on serving underserved and global populations, with required core courses covering topics such as:
- Social Determinants of Health
- Essential Knowledge and Competencies for Leadership
- Organizations and Systems
- Advanced Evidence-Based Practice
- Evolution of Ideas in Occupational Therapy
This department is ranked 22nd in the country by U.S. News & World Report, recognized for its top programs among major research universities. This program has a distributed reputation among clinical and community partners at the local, national, and international settings. Classes are centered around discussion, allowing students to work closely with peers and professors. All students develop a profound professional network for mentoring and career opportunities, with two on-campus experiences required in St. Paul to start and finish the program.
A public university founded in 1884, Temple University is located in Philadelphia. This school has a thriving urban campus with over 29,000 undergraduates and offers many research centers, institutes, and a prominent distance-learning environment. Ranked a Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report, Temple University offers a clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy that is designed for licensed occupational therapists who already have master’s degrees in the discipline.
This incredibly hands-on program is designed for practicing occupational therapists who wish to further their careers in order to advance into leadership positions. The degree is incredibly flexible, helping working adults balance their coursework with professional and personal demands. Taught by renowned faculty, courses in this program are offered with a combination of synchronous components like live class discussions, video chats, and web conferences, along with asynchronous components like discussion boards and independent assignments. 31 credit hours are required for program completion, including classes in:
- Current and Emerging Issues in Public Health and Health Professions
- Evidence-Based Practice and Clinical Research
- Occupational Based Theories and Participation
- Studies in Outcome Measures and Analysis
- Leadership in the Health Professions: The Art and Science of Influence
This degree is available almost entirely online, with the exception of two to three annual on-site meetings at the Temple Center City campus in Philadelphia. Here, students will be given the opportunity to network with classmates and faculty advisors. Students in this program are exposed to a tight-knit community of students who are not only diverse but also professional; this kind of diversity fosters discussion and collaboration. The program is taught via state-of-the-art learning technology and includes a curriculum that places faculty interaction and mentorship at the heart of its construction.
Texas Woman’s University is a public university located in Denton, Texas. Designed primarily for women, this school has a total enrollment of over 10,000 undergraduate students and offers a variety of graduate and doctoral degrees. The school has a commitment to empowering students through fostering lifelong learning, which is why the terminal degree in Occupational Therapy here is one of the best of its kind. The Doctor of Occupational Therapy at Texas Woman’s University is designed to help professionals learn how to guide others toward leading productive, fulfilling lives.
This degree is designed for part-time learners who want to stay active in their careers while obtaining their degrees. The curriculum consists of two major components: coursework and individually mentored professional development. This professional development can be completed in a field of specialization, leading to a total of six or seven credit hours per semester. Most students graduate within five or six semesters. Required and elective classes include:
- Appraising Occupational Therapy Evidence
- Applied Research Methods in Occupational Therapy
- Clinical Neuroscience for Occupational therapy
- Professional Paper in Occupational Therapy
- Occupation, Wellness, and Adaptation
This degree can be completed almost entirely online, with just one or two campus visits per semester if students require additional assistance during their online studies. Students are also always welcome to meet with faculty members available at the Dallas, Denton, and Houston campuses. The degree, which requires 33 credit hours for completion, includes a doctorate capstone project that is carried out under the close advisement and guidance of a faculty mentor. The university is ranked as Top National University by U.S. News & World Report.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Just one of the many universities within the large state university system, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has a total undergraduate enrollment of 13,134 students. A public school, the university is ranked as a Top National University by U.S. News & World Report, particularly in regards to its health science programs. The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an exceptional advanced degree for experienced occupational therapists. This degree prepares students for leadership roles in academic, advocacy, and health care in both professional and community organizations.
This degree is the only program of its kind in the state of Alabama, offering three separate tracks for aspiring occupational therapists. Learners can choose between a Low Vision Rehabilitation track, a Healthcare Quality and Safety Track, and a general track. The latter program is applicable in a variety of settings, but all of these concentrations are available entirely online. Designed for part-time enrollment, students will take one or two classes each semester, with course offerings including:
- Leadership for Advanced Practice Excellence
- Advocacy and Healthcare Policy in Population Health
- Research Design for Advanced Occupational Therapy Practice
- Evidence-Based Practice Design and Application for Advanced Practice
- Management of Advanced Occupational Therapy Practice
The Occupational Therapy program at the University of Alabama is offered within the award-winning School of Health Professions. This school is ranked among the Best Graduate Schools for Healthcare Management by U.S. News and World Report and is the fastest-growing school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Featuring state-of-the-art-facilities, vast resources, and progressive research, this school has goals of becoming the leading school of health professionals and to shape the future of healthcare – and it’s clearly succeeding in doing both.
Thomas Jefferson University
Located in historic Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University also has a booming online campus that is known for its accessibility and diversity. The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Thomas Jefferson University is housed within the Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Sciences. A post-professional program, this degree grants students the advanced training necessary to enhance their current practice as well as to become innovators in traditional and modern areas of occupational therapy.
This program is unique in that it allows students great opportunities for course customization. They may refine their areas of interest through in-depth study as they pursue focal points such as Teaching in the Digital Age, Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Health and Community Participation, and Children and Their Families in Context. There are extensive electives available in topics like Neuroscience and Autism, but all students must complete a minimum of 33 credit hours. Sample classes include:
- Advanced Level Evidence-Based Practice
- Leadership: Moving Beyond Traditional Roles
- Visionary Practice Development and Evaluation
- Seminar in Advanced Practice
In addition to the courses listed above, all Occupational Therapy students are required to complete both a capstone project and a clinical fellowship. Students with less than three years of experience are required to take six fellowship credits, while those with extensive experience can take three. The Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Sciences is one of the best in the country, home to two separate programs ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to the Occupational Therapy program, the Physical Therapy program is highly regarded for its ability to provide students with extensive opportunities in clinical, research, and educational experiences.
Located in Towson, MD, Towson University was founded in 1866 and has a large undergraduate enrollment of nearly 20,000 students. The school is also home to multiple highly-regarded doctorate programs. The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree program at Towson offers learners access to advanced clinical coursework and other hands-on experiences in a number of unique focus areas. The program is designed to be pursued part-time and is delivered entirely online to meet the needs of busy practitioners.
This degree is suitable for licensed occupational therapists who already possess master’s degrees and wish to advance their skills, clinical expertise, and leadership potential. Consisting of 33 credit hours of study, this program can be completed in six consecutive semesters. Each student is required to participate in a two-course initialized capstone research project that allows students to translate their knowledge learned to an area that is relevant to their area of expertise. Required classes include:
- Kinesiology of Occupation
- Foundations of Occupational Therapy
- Issues in Occupational Therapy
- Group Dynamics in Diverse Contexts
- Adult and Older Adult Neurological Occupational Therapy
This program has many features that lead it to a top ranking on our list: It allows students to take classes part-time throughout the year; classes are offered in an online format with limited on-site immersion experiences; and all course content and learning activities are closely aligned with Board Certification Requirements, allowing students to engage in a high-quality curriculum as they interact with equally engaged scholars who work in occupation-based research across the discipline.
Located in Lawrence, KS, the University of Kansas is a public university that was founded in 1865. A prominent research and teaching university, the school offers a whopping 233 master’s, doctorate, and professional degree programs in addition to dozens of undergraduate majors. The Occupational Therapy program at the University of Kansas is designed for therapists who are already working and want to upgrade their skills and knowledge to the doctoral level of expertise. This prepares students to deal with growing complex issues and to expand their knowledge in a wide variety of fields.
This program is offered entirely online and offers a professional leadership specialization. Students can complete coursework while continuing to work. It is offered in a blend of asynchronous courses as well as asynchronous learning assignments that can be completed on the student’s own time. A practicum is required that is designed to span 400 hours. In this practicum, each student will identify an area of practice through which they want to develop clinical initiatives and leadership through field experiences. Core classes, all leading to a final capstone project, include:
- Theory and Practice In Occupational Therapy
- Theory-Based Practice/Occupation Based Practice
- Quantitative Research for Applied Science
This program is unique in that it is geared toward students who have limited experience with online learning. All students will attend a meeting on campus at least once a year to go over areas of confusion and to clarify technology-related questions. The University of Kansas has a reputation for attracting a diverse student body: Learners come from all 50 states and over 100 different countries. As a result, this school is ranked a Best Value School as well as a Top National University by U.S. News & World Report.
University of South Dakota
With a main campus in Vermillion, SD, the University of South Dakota is a public university that was founded in 1862. This school has an undergraduate enrollment of roughly 7,648 students and is known as one of the Top Public Schools in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. The University of South Dakota offers a post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate that is designed for individuals who are already licensed to practice occupational therapy.
Offered fully online, this program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy. It is a generalist program but allows students to concentrate on their research, capstone project, and fieldwork in an area of interest. Emphasis areas that are available include Mental Health, Pediatrics, Rural/Underserved Practice, and Neurorehabilitation. 114 credit hours are required, including those in classes such as:
- Human Physiology for Occupational Therapy
- Occupational Performance: Childhood
- Neurological Foundation of Occupation
- Occupational Performance: Adulthood
- Social and Political Contexts of Occupational Therapy Practice
This program is housed within the highly respected Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of South Dakota. Here, students consistently achieve a nearly 100% first-time pass rate on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Exam. In addition to an undergraduate Pre-Occupational Therapy program, the school also has a Doctor of Occupational Therapy. The graduate degrees in occupational therapy are ranked as some of the best by Healthgrad.
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
Founded in 1850, the University of Utah is a public research university that is the flagship university in the state system of Utah. At the University of Utah, aspiring occupational therapists can earn a professional doctorate completely online; this makes it a great choice for working professionals all over the world. This transfer-friendly degree allows students to bring in up to six credit hours as long as they were taken within seven years prior to admission.
Founded in 2011, this degree requires applicants to be already certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and to have at least two years of practice in the field. The program provides students with an up-to-date theoretical base of knowledge and to advance their leadership skills. Each student may also choose a field of emphasis. Students will complete 36-credit hours including core courses, electives, and an individualized capstone project. Classes include:
- Culture and Occupation
- Contemporary Theories and Models in OT Practice
- Critical Analysis of Occupational Science
- Doctoral Level Leadership
- Program Development/Grant
The capstone project in this program is incredibly unique, allowing each student to work with an individual mentor to develop an area of interest. This is designed to contribute to the knowledge base for his profession and may consist of program development and evaluation, leadership project, a research project, or curricula development. It can be in any area of interest, including neurorehabilitation, families and caregiving, optimal aging, and more.
Just one school in the massive Wisconsin state university system, the University of Wisconsin– Madison is a public university that was founded in 1848. The school has a large undergraduate enrollment of over 32,000 students. The Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program in the School of Education/Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin is a part-time program that is offered predominately online. It is structured to serve students who need remote access to the program for reasons related to work, personal comments, and other life situations.
This flexible program helps train occupational therapists to become leaders in professional education and practice. It is designed for therapists who are already practicing and enables them to pursue positions as practicing clinical faculty. Students learn how to design innovative programs and respond to policy initiatives as well as how to fill gaps in health care management Learners will take a variety of hands-on classes such as:
- Interprofessional Leadership and Management
- Current Trends Shaping OT Practice
- Advanced Practice in Interprofessional Contexts
- Human Occupation and Health
- Application of OT Evidence in the Practice Environment
The University of Wisconsin–Madison has a 75-year history of training exceptional occupational therapists at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, and this doctoral program is no exception. Students can engage in professional collaborations to address the most compelling and urgent problems related to daily functioning and health. Available mostly online, the program requires two campus visits over the duration of the three-year program. These visits allow students to interact with other students in the cohort and to prepare for peer review and dissemination of the capstone project.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University is located in Richmond, VA. This public school was founded in 1838 and has a large undergraduate enrollment of nearly 25,000 students. The school is also home to several graduate majors. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate in the College of Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University is designed for professionals seeking a professionally-oriented degree. This degree includes substantial opportunities for research but is not a program for aspiring researchers.
Throughout the duration of the program, students prepare for a final individualized Capstone Leadership Project. This is conducted instead of a dissertation or thesis and allows each student to work closely with faculty to receive tailored mentoring and guidance. The program is designed for working practitioners, requiring applicants to begin their studies with a minimum of a BA or BS in Occupational Therapy. About two courses are required each semester in order to graduate in three years. Sample classes include:
- Developing Fundable Projects
- Advanced Theory in Occupational Therapy
- Program Development and Evaluation
- Leadership Applications for Occupational Therapists
- Health Care Delivery and Occupational Therapy Practice Models
This program can be completed almost entirely on-campus, requiring just two face-to-face meetings for a few days at a time. This post-baccalaureate program was launched online in 2006 and has a strong leadership component, making it a top choice for busy adult learners. Transfer credits from other institutions are often accepted upon request, and the program can be started in either the spring or fall semester. This university is a Top Public School according to U.S. News & World Report.