Occupational therapists work to enhance the life skills of people who have physical, emotional or mental disabilities. After graduating from a graduate school program, students must become licensed in order to work in the field.
Top 10 Schools with Occupational Therapy Programs
The following schools are among the 2016 top-ranked occupational therapy schools by U.S. News & World Report. Tuition rates are based on the 2015-2016 school year.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$50,277 (undergrad) $40,670 (grad)|
|Boston University (Sargent)||Boston, MA||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$48,436 (undergrad) $48,082 (grad)|
|Washington University||St. Louis, MO||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$47,620|
|University of Illinois - Chicago||Chicago, IL||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||$16,527 (in-state) $25,386 (out-of-state)|
|University of Kansas Medical Center||Lawrence, KS||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$10,825 (undergrad in-state) $26,659 (undergrad out-of-state) $9,958 (grad in-state) $22,049 (grad out-of-state)|
|Colorado State University||Fort Collins, CO||4-year, Public||Master's||$11,357 (in-state) $24,925 (out-of-state)|
|Thomas Jefferson University||Philadelphia, PA||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$28,648|
|Tufts University||Medford, MA||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$49,218|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh, PA||4-year, Public||Master's||$22,060 (in-state) $35,744 (out-of-state)|
|New York University||New York, NY||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$40,984|
*Source: National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Students choosing a school with an occupational therapy program may want to consider the following:
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all states require occupational therapy license applicants to have a master's degree in the field from an ACOTE-accredited school (www.bls.gov).
- A dual-degree program may benefit students who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree by cutting both time and costs needed to complete the programs.
- Because master's degree programs typically require students to participate in clinical immersions, internships and externships, working students may opt to enroll in schools that offer weekend or part-time classes.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
A bachelor's degree program in occupational therapy focuses on introducing students to the general concepts of the field. The curriculum usually consists of a combination of coursework and supervised clinical sessions. Classes in these programs may cover topics like kinesiology, physical rehabilitation, neurology, and communication.
Master's Degree Programs
Master's degree occupational therapy program curricula include coursework in subjects like occupational science, assistive technology and functional movement as well as fieldwork experiences. Programs may also include a 2-week externship experience. Graduates are usually prepared for entry-level positions in the field.
Doctoral Degree Programs
Licensed therapists can obtain a doctoral degree either in occupational therapy or in a related field, such as rehabilitation sciences. These programs prepare students for careers in scientific research, university-level teaching or specialized clinical practice. Students learn the core concepts of occupational science and are typically expected to complete doctoral projects. Programs may include residency, practicum or clinical requirements.
The top occupational therapy schools in the United States are a mix of public and private schools with varying tuition rates. While some schools do offer a bachelor's program, in order to work in the field students must complete a master's degree and become licensed.