Top Schools for Occupational Therapy

Learn about programs in occupational therapy (OT), which teach students how to provide physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation in rehab centers, hospitals and clinics. Read what four universities have to offer in terms of degree options and reputation, and find a list of other schools with OT programs.

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The best occupational therapy schools in the country offer master's and doctoral programs that have been individually accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (www.aota.org).

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School Overviews

Profiled below are four of the best OT programs in the United States. The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the University of Illinois in Chicago, Tufts University and Boston University all offer accredited programs that have earned high rankings from U.S. News & World Report for 2016.

University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA

School Highlight: The Bachelor's to Master's degree program is ideal for students who are certain they wish to enter the field of occupational therapy from the beginning of their college education.

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles is a private research institution that placed 23rd on the U.S. News & World Report list of national universities in 2017. Additionally, USN&WR ranked the university's Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy department third in its survey of 'Best Occupational Therapy Programs' for 2016. Through a unique, accelerated program, students who choose to major in occupational therapy as undergraduates can receive their master's degree in OT in just one additional year, rather than the typical two. For students who have a bachelor's degree in a different field, they are eligible for acceptance into the entry-level Master of Arts program, which takes two years. Doctoral programs include a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Occupational Science.

University of Illinois in Chicago

School Highlight: Students seeking to combine their occupational therapy studies with another discipline, like nutrition or human development, may be interested in this school.

The College of Applied Health Sciences at this public university includes the Department of Occupational Therapy, which ranked fourth in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2016. The department offers an entry-level two-year M.S. in Occupational Therapy program, which helps students meet their state certification requirements. The post-professional program leads to an OTD. Students can also pursue a joint Ph.D. in Disability Studies or Rehabilitation Studies that are administered by additional academic departments, including the Department of Disability and Human Development and the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition.

Tufts University - Boston School of Occupational Therapy in Medford, MA

School Highlight: Students enrolling in both the entry-level and post professional degree programs can explore study abroad options at two exciting international locations in England and Sweden.

Tufts University's Boston School of Occupational Therapy placed sixth on U.S. News & World Report's survey of the 'Top Occupational Therapy Programs' in 2016. One of the first occupational therapy schools in the U.S., the school offers both an entry-level and a post-professional master's degree program in occupational therapy, as well as a certificate program and an OTD program. Students can also pursue one-semester study abroad programs in Oxford, England and Stockholm, Sweden. Tufts University is part of a consortium of schools that allows for cross-registration with Boston University, Boston College and Brandeis University.

Boston University in Boston, MA

School Highlight: The school was ranked number one by U.S. News & World Report for its occupational therapy programs in 2016.

At Boston University, students can enroll in a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program or an entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program. The school's three-year OTD program is offered in a hybrid format that includes four semesters on campus, online summer courses, six months of Level II fieldwork and a 16-week doctoral experiential component. During the on-campus sessions, students take an integrative seminar and undertake Level I fieldwork at Boston-area medical institutions.

Top Occupational Therapy Schools

The following schools offer occupational therapy programs that were also ranked among the top 20 best schools by U.S. News & World Report for 2016:

  • Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO, has an Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) for students.
  • New York University in New York, NY, offers a post-professional Doctor of Professional Studies (DPS) program.
  • At the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, students can enroll in a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science Program.
  • The Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill is undertaking the Sensory Experiences Project, a research initiative that could have major impacts on the field in the future.
  • The University of Wisconsin in Madison is home to a variety of research centers, including the Institute on Aging and Waisman Center.
  • Washington University in St. Louis, which is located in St. Louis, MO, offers an Occupational Therapy Doctoral Apprenticeship program.

Students who want to study occupational therapy at a top school can find graduate-level training at institutions that have been ranked as the best by U.S. News & World Report. Most schools offer an OTD program, and other options - like master's degrees and Ph.D.s - are available as well.

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