Occupational Therapy Schools in South Florida
South Florida-based students interested in earning a degree in occupational therapy (OT) can choose to earn an associate's degree to become an OT assistant or a master's degree to become an occupational therapist; doctoral programs in the field are also available. A few South Florida schools offer post-professional master's degree programs designed for currently working therapists holding bachelor's degrees. Some distance-learning and alternative schedule options are available. Occupational therapy programs include clinical training; some incorporate an internship experience.
Florida laws require occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants to have licensure to practice in the state. The Florida Department of Health regulates licensure for these professions. To obtain an occupational therapist license, individuals must first graduate from an occupational therapy program accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA). Additionally, candidates must complete a 6-month, supervised practicum and pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
Eligible candidates for occupational therapy assistant licensure have graduated from an AOTA-accredited occupational therapy assistant program or have earned an Army certificate. They've also acquired 2 months of supervised training and passed an NBCOT-approved exam.
South Florida has about 6 colleges and universities where students can study occupational therapy or occupational therapy assisting.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting*||Occupational Therapy Programs Offered*||Tuition and Fees (2017-2018)*|
|Barry University||University; private, not-for-profit; large suburb||Master of Science in Occupational Therapy||$17,820 (graduate)|
|Florida Gulf Coast University||University; public; large suburb||Master of Science in Occupational Therapy||$8,961 in-state; $30,157 out-of-state (graduate)|
|Florida International University||University; public; large suburb||Professional Master of Science in Occupational Therapy||$11,097 in-state; $23,578 out-of-state (graduate)|
|Keiser University||University; private, not-for-profit; various settings||Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant||$19,224 (undergraduate)|
|Nova Southeastern University||University; private, not-for-profit; large suburb|| Master of Occupational Therapy,
Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy,
Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy,
Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy
|State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota||4-year; public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant||$3,074 in-state; $11,606 out-of-state (undergraduate)|
Source: *NCES College Navigator
This university in Miami helps prepare individuals to become registered occupational therapists through its AOTA-accredited master's program in occupational therapy. No more than 42 students are accepted into the program each year, and each candidate must meet certain criteria to be considered. Eligible candidates have bachelor's degrees, a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.2, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) results and letters of reference. They also must have completed prerequisite courses and at least 40 hours of observation or volunteer work in the occupational therapy field.
The program is taught by faculty who are practicing occupational therapists. It takes about 2.5 years to complete the program, which accommodates busy schedules by incorporating limited on-campus courses with distance learning. Students complete full-time field experiences as a requirement for graduation.
Florida Gulf Coast University
The Department of Occupational Therapy and Community Health at this Fort Myers-based university offers an AOTA-accredited master's program in occupational therapy. Individuals with bachelor's degrees, minimum GPAs of 3.0, prerequisite courses, GRE scores and volunteer or observation experience may be considered for the program. Accepted students can expect to complete 64 credits in a 2-year period, followed by an internship. Classes may include occupational therapy theories, behavioral health, kinesiology, occupational functions and occupational therapy technology.
Florida International University
Florida International University in Miami offers an AOTA-accredited occupational therapy master's degree. The entry-level Professional Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program is intended for individuals with bachelor's degrees in any field. The Post-Professional Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program is designed for current occupational therapists who are NBCOT-certified at the baccalaureate level. Some courses in the professional program may be offered online as well as on campus. Students in the professional program complete 80 credits through courses and fieldwork. A master's project is also required.
Keiser University has multiple campuses around Florida, including ones in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Pembroke Pines and West Palm Beach. All of these campuses offer the AOTA-accredited Associate in Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant program. To earn the degree, students must complete 83 credits, which include 2 fieldwork experiences and a pre-clinical practicum. Some of the courses cover group organization, human development, musculoskeletal conditions, mental health, therapeutic methods for physical disabilities and human movement.
Nova Southeastern University
Nova's Occupational Therapy Department is headquartered at its Fort Lauderdale campus, and the university has an occupational therapy doctoral program at its Tampa campus. The entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy program at the Fort Lauderdale campus prepares students for licensure. It takes seven semesters to complete the AOTA-accredited program; students can expect to learn in the classroom, laboratory and clinical settings. Fieldwork gives students experience working with public health, children and geriatric patients.
Nova's Doctor of Occupational Therapy program was granted Developing Program Status by AOTA. The program is offered in a hybrid format where a portion of the curriculum is offered online and the other portion is offered on Nova's Tampa campus. It typically takes about 3.5 years to earn the degree, and students can expect to complete 2,000 hours of clinical training through 5 internships and a residency.
Those who are already licensed occupational therapists or eligible for licensure may be interested in the post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Students in this program who have yet to take the NBCOT exam must do so within 1 year of entering the program. Some of the curriculum requirements focus on research and leadership. A capstone residency is also included.
A Doctor of Philosophy program in occupational therapy prepares students to become occupational therapy researchers or professors. Admission into the program requires a master's degree, at least a 3.5 GPA, sufficient GRE scores, letters of recommendation and prerequisite classes in research methods and statistics. The 61-credit curriculum includes classes in biostatistics, grant writing, leadership and research. Students must also complete a qualifying exam and a dissertation.
State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota
The 2-year occupational therapy assistant associate's degree program at this college in Bradenton is accredited by AOTA and prepares students for the NBCOT certification exam. Students must complete general education classes and prerequisite courses with sufficient GPAs before applying to the program. Major-related courses include occupational therapy foundations, human growth, human pathology and kinesiology. A practicum is completed in the fall semester of the second year, and supervised clinical practice is completed in the second year's spring semester.