Best Online Doctorates in Occupational Therapy

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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

Rank School Location
1 A T Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville, MO
2 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
3 Boston University Boston, MA
4 Brenau University Gainesville, GA
5 Chatham University Pittsburgh, PA
6 Concordia University Wisconsin Mequon, WI
7 Creighton University Omaha, NE
8 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
9 Gannon University Erie, PA
10 George Washington University Washington, DC

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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
    Location

    Kirksville, MO

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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
    • Pathophysiology

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Longmeadow, MA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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
    • Bioethics
    • Occupational Science
    • Evidence-Based Practice

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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 

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Gainesville, GA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Overview

    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. 

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Mequon, WI

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Overview

    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. 

    Program Features

    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
    • Neuro-Occupation 
    • Occupation and Health: Population Perspectives
    • Health Systems Management
    • Occupation in Community

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Richmond, KY

    Overview

    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. 

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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. 

  • Gannon University
    Location

    Erie, PA

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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 

    Notables

    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
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Overview

    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.

    Program Features

    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

    Notables

    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. 

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