Students in Montana may choose to earn a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in or related to occupational therapy. Programs include majors in rehabilitation, occupational safety, and physical therapy. Internships and other practicum requirements in such programs are common, allowing students to gain experience in a supervised setting. Graduate students may be required to complete a thesis. Specializations and custom curricula may be available to qualified students, depending on their previous schooling and work experience.
Montana State University - Billings
Billings is the largest city in Montana and home to two of the five schools in the Montana State University system. MSU - Billings has a Department of Rehabilitation and Human Services that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in rehabilitation services. The present faculty includes a department chair, an assistant professor and a lecturer.
The Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation and Related Services requires 30 credits of core coursework in topics that include disability and diversity studies, case management, counseling and ethics. The requirements also include two 6-credit internships in community and rehabilitation agencies. Through coursework specific to the extended major, students can take courses in grief counseling and psychiatric rehabilitation. The program also allows for a generous number of electives in health, human services, psychology, sociology and special education.
Graduate students who pursue the 60-66-credit Master of Science in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling take core courses in areas including disability and gender studies, career development and vocational support. The program culminates in a counseling practicum and two cooperative education experiences. The 66-credit track also includes a thesis requirement.
Montana Tech is located in Butte and is a career and technical training school that offers programs in areas such as health, engineering, information technology and science. At the Safety, Health and Industrial Hygiene (SHIH) Department, students can pursue undergraduate programs that prepare them to enter a graduate program in occupational therapy.
The Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health includes the option to major in applied health sciences. The 128-credit curriculum includes topics in anatomy and physiology, biology, developmental psychology, exercise physiology and kinesiology. During the fall semester of their senior year, students also have the opportunity to participate in a 2-credit internship.
University of Mary
The main campus of this Catholic university is located in Bismarck, North Dakota, but the school's eight satellite sites include a Billings, Montana, location. The program is designed to prepare students for direct entry into the field. It offers special courses of study for students who have already been trained as occupational therapy assistants and for students who have a bachelor's degree in another major. Depending on prior academic credentials, the program can take anywhere from 2½ to 4½ years to complete. Prerequisites include courses in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, medical terminology and psychology, as well as 15-20 hours of fieldwork. Once enrolled, students pursue topics in therapeutic theories and practice, orthopedic and musculoskeletal issues, assistive technology and neuroscience. Through graduate-level field experiences, students have the opportunity to work as entry-level practitioners and assist both young and adult clients.
University of Montana
The University of Montana in Missoula has three colleges and six schools, including the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science. In this school, students can earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy through a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Through the Nora Staael Evert Physical Therapy Clinic, the school provides services to disabled or physically challenged individuals, and current research activities are related to exercise physiology, motor control and movement science.
The doctoral program takes 33 months to complete and requires 119 credits of coursework. During the first year, students take courses in biomechanics, human development and electrophysiological testing. Second-year topics include those in cardiopulmonary physical therapy, clinical medicine and prosthetics, and students also learn how to provide physical therapy for children. In addition to classroom training, students also participate in four clinical internships and have the chance to pursue two academic projects.
In the state of Montana, licensing requirements for occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapists include the completion of an academic program that has been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). An associate's degree is the usual requirement for an assistant, and occupational therapists need a master's or a doctoral degree. In addition to an exam, assistants must perform 16 weeks of fieldwork, and 24 weeks are required for therapists.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Rehabilitative Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Montana State University in Billings||4-year, public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation and Related Services,
Master of Science in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
|$5,928 in-state, $19,246 out-of-state (undergraduate)
$7,041 in-state, $20,054 out-of-state (graduate)*
|Montana Tech||4-year, public; remote town||Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health (Applied Health Science track)||$7,412 in-state, $22,575 out-of-state (undergraduate)*|
|University of Mary - Billings campus||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||Master of Science in Occupational Therapy||$15,630 (graduate)*|
|University of Montana||4-year, public; small city||Doctor of Physical Therapy||$6,505 in-state, $20,895 out-of-state (graduate)*|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator