In master's degree programs in prosthetics and orthotics, students are trained to develop artificial limbs and orthopedic braces. In addition to classroom courses, students must complete an internship or practicum and submit a final thesis or research paper prior to graduation. These programs typically take two years to complete and can prepare students for professional certification. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, with undergraduate coursework in math, laboratory sciences, human growth/development, and psychology.
Master's Degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics
In addition to theoretical coursework, the program requires extensive practical experience, ranging from a practicum of four hours per week to a two-year internship completed at the end of the program. Coursework may include such topics as:
- Biomechanics lab
- Healthcare management
- Orthotics for the spine
- Pathology in orthopedics
- Transfemoral and transtibial prosthetics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 23% for orthotists and prosthetists from 2014 through 2024, which is much faster than average. According to the BLS, these professionals earned an annual median salary of $64,430 in 2015, with those working in the field of medical equipment and supplies manufacturing earning the top wages.
Certification and Continuing Education
The most comprehensive certification for a graduate with a master's degree in prosthetics and orthotics is the Orthotist and Prosthetist Certification from the American Board for Certification (ABC) in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. This optional certification allows prosthetics professionals to manage every stage of patient care, including assessment, planning, fitting and follow-up. To maintain the certification, students must fulfill a Mandatory Continuing Education (MCE) plan every five years. Courses must be approved by ABC and may be found through ABC or the AOPA.
Overall, students who want to dedicate their careers to orthotics and prosthetics design can benefit from a master's degree in that discipline. With this degree, they can earn professional certification and work in the field.