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Orthotic Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Education in orthotics, or the fitting of orthopedic braces for the limbs and spine, is often combined with education in prosthetics, which refers to the fitting and service of artificial limbs. Programs in this field are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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Students who want to become orthotic or prosthetic technicians can get the education they need through an undergraduate certificate or degree program. Aspiring orthotists must hold a master's degree and complete a two-residency program before they can take the national certification exam that is required to practice in the field.

10 Schools with Orthotic Programs

Many schools offer orthotic programs at various degree levels. A few of these are presented below:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Tuition and Fees, In-State (2015-2016)**
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: $16,278
St. Petersburg College Clearwater, FL 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's Undergraduate: $3,352
Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: $15,573
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: $15,644
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, Private Master's Graduate: $49,064
Oklahoma City Community College Oklahoma City, OK 2-year, Public Certificate Undergraduate: $3,391
Spokane Falls Community College Spokane, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's Undergraduate: $3,388
Century College White Bear Lake, MN 2-year, Public Diploma, Associate's Undergraduate: $5,391
University of Hartford West Hartford, CT 4-year, Private Master's Graduate: $12,198
Baker College of Flint Flint, MI 4-year, Private Associate's Undergraduate: $8,640

Source: *School website, **National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for orthotic schools:

  • Students who want to become prosthetists need to check to make sure that the master's degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHEP); only thirteen such programs were available in 2015.
  • Prospective graduate students who do not live near an accredited school may want to consider programs that offer master's-level training in distance learning formats that provide online coursework and allow students to complete clinical components at local facilities.
  • It can be helpful to find out about residency placement rates for master's degree graduates of the school.
  • Students who are considering associate's degree programs may want to find out what the pass rates are for graduates on the national Certified Technician Orthotics (CTO) and Certified Technician Prosthetics/Orthotic (CTPO) exams.

Certificate and Diploma Programs

Undergraduate certificate and diploma programs are designed to train orthotics and prosthetics technicians. Some focus specifically on orthotics, while others provide a basic introduction to both fields. In addition to introductory classroom-based courses in anatomy and medical terminology, students also gain experience with the maintenance and repair of orthotic devices through laboratory training and/or a practicum in an orthotic clinic. Typically, these programs can be finished in one year or less.

Associate's Degree Programs

In associate's degree programs for orthotic technicians, students take the same basic biomedical science courses as students in certificate programs, and they get the same introduction to tools and procedures commonly used in the field. However, they must also complete general education requirements, so programs take a full two years to complete. Most confer an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Four-year bachelor's degree programs in orthotics and prosthetics are less commonly available than they used to be, since schools started phasing out programs in 2012, when the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education mandated that certified orthotists hold a master's degree. Nevertheless, there are still a few schools that offer relevant Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in the field, which cover both the maintenance and design of orthotic technologies, as well as the broader ethical and social implications of their use in the medical field. Some schools are also offering combined BS/MS programs, which can be completed in five years.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Science (MS) programs in orthotics and prosthetics take two years of full-time study to complete and prepare students for residencies and subsequent certification. In these programs, students take advanced biomedical courses in subjects such as kinesiology, biomechanics and spinal orthotics. They must also complete one or more internships prior to graduation, and some provide students with pedagogical experience through teaching assistantships and/or research experience through scientific inquiry-based courses.

Orthotics training is available through both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as undergraduate certificate programs. Students can choose between programs based on their career aspirations in the field.

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