Students who already have their occupational therapy assistant credentials can pursue advanced study online through a transitional program. These programs are available fully online and in a hybrid format. These programs allow current occupational therapy assistants to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees in occupational therapy. It's important to note that most of these programs do not accept students who are only seeking a bachelor's degree. Those who want to complete a similar bachelor's degree program entirely online can complete a recreational therapy program.
A transitional program often combines online coursework during the weekdays and evenings with weekend courses on campus. Course topics can include rehabilitative science, occupational therapy foundations and practice management. Students may also be required to participate in hands-on clinical experience. The average transitional online program takes about 3.5 years to complete.
Other Distance Options
In addition to the transitional degree program, there are other ways that students can study occupational therapy online, including associate's degree programs in occupational therapy assisting and master's degree programs in occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy assistants work closely with occupational therapists to provide rehabilitative services, but the associate's degree is the only educational requirement for state licensure in occupational therapy assisting. Online associate's degree programs in occupational therapy assisting combine online lecture courses with on-campus labs and some on-campus weekend courses.
Students may also be required to complete fieldwork or clinical assignments to gain hands-on experience in the field before graduation.
Coursework is usually the same for online and on-campus students and may include:
- Patient care
- Applied kinesiology
- Physical functions
Several schools offer online master's degree programs in occupational therapy for individuals who already have a bachelor's degree in the field and have passed the initial certification exam by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Some colleges require students to blend on-campus courses with distance learning courses, while others allow students to complete the full degree program online.
Because these post-professional online programs build on students' existing academic and clinical experience, most programs can be completed in under two years of continuous study.
Coursework in online programs is similar to coursework in on-campus post-professional programs and can include:
- Healthcare management
- Evidence-based practices
- Management techniques
Schools Offering Distance Coursework
Schools offering virtual training in occupational therapy and occupational therapy assisting include private, not-for-profit institutions, for-profit colleges and public universities. Below is a list of some schools offering online and hybrid degree programs in this field of study.
- Remington College (Associate Degree)
- Concordia University - Wisconsin (Transitional Program)
- University of Southern California (Master's Degree)
- San Jose State University (Master's Degree)
Students seeking an online occupational therapy degree program have several options at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's level. These students normally complete online coursework such as patient care, healthcare management, and evidence-based practice during the week and on-campus labs on the weekend.