Occupational Therapist School Program Information

Jan 02, 2019

Occupational therapist schools offer undergraduate through post-professional degree options. Read on to learn how these programs can prepare you to meet licensure requirements or advance in the field of occupational therapy.

Essential Information

Occupational therapists help individuals who are disabled either physically or mentally to function independently in society. The most common occupational therapist program is the professional Master of Occupational Therapy. Bachelor's, master's, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Occupational Therapy and the post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy programs are also widely available.

Early studies focus on anatomy, physical development and kinesiology and include courses in psychology and the physical sciences. Graduate-level programs provide courses in occupational therapy theories and research, and most offer clinical experiences in professional settings. Licensure requirements typically apply to individuals seeking to become professional occupational therapists.

Bachelor's Degree in Pre-Occupational Therapy

Ideally, a student intending to enroll in a master's degree program in occupational therapy (OT) would start out with a bachelor's degree in pre-occupational therapy. These programs generally lay the groundwork for a transfer of credits into a master's or doctoral degree program. Bachelor's programs in occupational therapy are not common unless they are part of a bachelor's to master's program. Core courses and elective topics include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy
  • Psychology
  • Research in psychology for occupational therapists
  • Biology
  • Abnormal psychology

Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Occupational Therapy

A combined bachelor's and master's degree program in occupational therapy is designed for students with an associate's degree or some college credits and who have taken prerequisite courses. The program's intent is to speed the student's progress through the preliminary courses to facilitate earning the graduate degree. Upon graduating, the student will have both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in occupational therapy and is qualified to take the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Core courses and elective topics include:

  • Anatomy and kinesiology
  • Occupation in relation to the human life span
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Analysis and evaluation in occupational therapy
  • Understanding occupational therapy research
  • Health services administration and development for occupational therapists

Master of Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists must learn to help individuals who suffer physically, emotionally or mentally to live independent lives. Therefore, the curriculum of a Master of Occupational Therapy program involves not only classroom work, but clinical fieldwork in which students interact with patients and develop the empathy needed to successfully do their job. Core courses include:

  • Occupational therapy theory and practice
  • Human life span development from an occupational viewpoint
  • Neuroscience in occupational therapy
  • Psychiatric considerations in occupational therapy
  • Occupational therapy service management delivery systems
  • Research practices in occupational therapy

Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy program is designed for individuals who have already earned a master's degree in the field and wish to embark upon a career in education or research. Core courses include:

  • Research statistics
  • Qualitative methods of research
  • Innovative teaching and practicum
  • Ethical and legal issues in occupational therapy practice
  • Disability and health professional laws
  • Evaluation vs. theory of applied measurement

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

The Doctor of OT (DrOT) program differs from the Ph.D. in OT. The DrOT is designed for practicing occupational therapists who want to enhance their current skills, learn to apply research findings to their clinical practices and create evidence-based occupational therapy literature. Core courses include:

  • Theories in occupational therapy
  • Leadership and ethics and legal policy
  • Quantitative and qualitative research in OT
  • Grant funding
  • Instructional methods
  • Innovation and management

Popular Career Options

Occupational therapy career opportunities are available for bachelor's degree holders through the post professional level. Some program graduates work as occupational therapy biomechanical researchers or program directors. Others work as institutional policy advocates, consultants and faculty members. Additional job titles can include:

  • Occupational therapy assistant
  • Physical therapy assistant
  • Recreational therapy aide
  • Home health care occupational therapist
  • Long-term health care occupational therapist
  • Professor of occupational therapy

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) anticipates good job prospects for occupational therapists. According to the BLS, (BLS, 'www.bls.gov') job growth is projected to climb to 27% for the years 2014-2024. Occupational therapists made a median annual salary of $80,150 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Depending upon your occupational therapy career goals, you can pursue and earn a degree at one of several levels and enjoy a career in a field anticipated to grow over the 2014-2024 decade. There are options for hands-on work with patients through a bachelor's or master's degree program, as well as opportunities for research and instruction at the doctoral level.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?