Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

Earning a master's degree in occupational therapy can lead to exciting new career opportunities. Here, we list the best programs available.

Updated September 20, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

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Become an Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists play a critical role in helping people with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities live independently. They evaluate patients' conditions and rehabilitative needs to develop treatment plans. They also help patients use adaptive equipment, assess and treat cognitive impairment, and evaluate patients' environments to suggest accessibility modifications. They may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, care facilities, and rehabilitation centers.

Professionals need at least a master's degree to begin an occupational therapy career, and many occupational therapists hold a doctorate. A master's degree in occupational therapy provides the academic and hands-on training necessary to perform clinical practice.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for these healthcare professionals to grow 16% between 2019-2029, much faster than the average growth for all occupations. Occupational therapists with a master's degree and licensure earn a median annual pay of $84,950.

This guide ranks the best occupational therapy master's programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, including scholarship opportunities for occupational therapist students.

Students can pursue a master of arts in occupational therapy, a master of science in occupational therapy, or a master of occupational therapy. All of these programs prepare students to work as occupational therapists. Once students graduate and pass the national certification exam, they may pursue a specialization through a fellowship, post-professional program, and/or doctorate in occupational education. Options for specialization include geriatrics, pediatrics, physical disability, and mental health.

All states require occupational therapists to hold a license to practice. Quality occupational therapist programs provide students with the knowledge and technical training necessary to pass the national certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

Questions from Prospective in Master's Occupational Therapy


What does an occupational therapist do?

Occupational therapists support people with illnesses, disabilities, and injuries. They evaluate their needs and develop treatment plans. They also help clients perform daily tasks, complete rehabilitative exercises, and use assistive equipment.

What is the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy?

Both occupational therapists and physical therapists serve as rehabilitative care professionals. However, occupational therapists focus on helping clients perform daily tasks, such as eating and dressing after a stroke. They also work to modify clients' living environments to accommodate everyday activities. Physical therapists focus on helping people improve their body's function, movement, and mobility.

What is an example of occupational therapy?

Examples of occupational therapy include showing an accident victim how to perform exercises that manage their pain and teaching clients effective strategies to manage their stress.

Are occupational therapists considered doctors?

Occupational therapists are not medical doctors. They are clinicians with a master's or doctoral degree.

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Why Get an Occupational Therapy Degree?

The following list outlines five benefits of earning an occupational therapy degree.

  1. 1

    Preparation for a Doctorate

    According to ACOTE, in 2027, a doctorate will be the entry-level degree requirement for the field. However, ACOTE will grandfather in those with a master's so they can continue to practice without a doctorate.

  2. 2

    Field Experience

    A master's degree in occupational therapy requires level I and II field experience, giving students hands-on training in the field.

  3. 3

    Sunny Job Outlook

    The BLS projects a 16% job growth rate for occupational therapists between 2019-2029, far greater than the 4% average growth rate for all occupations.

  4. 4

    Well-Paying Jobs

    Occupational therapists with a master's degree and state licensure make a median annual wage of $84,950 per year, more than double the median wage for all workers.

  5. 4

    Make a Difference in Others' Lives

    Occupational therapists work with other healthcare professionals to help people with illnesses, injuries, and disabilities live comfortably and independently.

What Are the Requirements for an Occupational Therapy Degree?

Master's in occupational therapy degree programs typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Applicants may need to submit letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and/or essays. Schools may also require applicants to meet a minimum GPA requirement.

Once enrolled, students usually complete about 70-85 credits, studying topics such as human structure and function, applied kinesiology, therapeutic modalities, and evidence-based occupational therapy. Students also complete level I and II fieldwork, gaining hands-on experience in the field. Students may need to complete a culminating project or thesis to graduate.

Professional Organizations for Occupational Therapy Students

Professional organizations provide students with advocacy, professional development opportunities, and community support. The following list outlines several professional organizations for occupational therapy students and professionals.

The national professional organization for the occupational therapy field, AOTA offers the latest occupational therapist news and research; an online career center; and a discounts program for insurance, products, and continuing education. While NBCOT does not offer membership, the organization offers resources such as study packs, self-assessments, and practice tests. Students can also use the site to search for evidence-based articles and other information. ASHT offers reduced-cost student membership for learners enrolled in occupational and physical therapy programs. Members gain access to publications, a webinar series, discounts on publications and products, and continuing education opportunities.

Scholarships for Occupational Therapy Students

Scholarships provide students with free money for their education. Funders may award scholarships based on factors like academic performance or financial need. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for master's in occupational therapy students.




American Occupational Therapy Foundation Scholarship

AOTF offers scholarships for students enrolled in accredited occupational therapy programs. Applicants must submit transcripts and a 500-word essay.

Amount: $1,000-$5,000/

Explore Here




Daughters of the American Revolution: Occupational/Physical Therapy Scholarship

Who Can Apply: DAR awards need-based scholarships to students attending an accredited occupational therapy school. Applicants must submit evidence of financial need.

Amount: $2,000

Explore Here




AMBUCS Student Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: AMBUCS offers need-based scholarships for occupational, physical, and speech therapy students in graduate programs. Applicants must submit the FAFSA, proof of enrollment, and a personal statement with their application.

Amount: $500-$6,000

Explore Here




Best Occupational Therapy Master's Degrees 2022

#1 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners can enroll at University of Washington-Seattle Campus to pursue respected master's degrees in many fields, including occupational therapy. The public institution enrolls 3,931 online students. Many online programs, including the master of occupational therapy, feature flexible scheduling options that benefit working professionals.

The curriculum emphasizes career skills and field-specific knowledge. Specialized electives allow students to customize the program based on their goals and interests. Degree candidates complete a flexible curriculum and develop industry-specific skills. Graduates often land competitive roles in their field. Students and alumni can access career services from the institution.

In addition to online support services and career advising, the school offers financial aid counseling. Graduate students at the accredited institution can take out federal loans to cover costs. Learners often apply for scholarships and fellowships to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. The school prioritizes affordability and charges an average of $896 per credit for its programs.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,370
Out-of-state
$37,071
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
52%
Students Enrolled
47,576
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers can pursue University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's programs online or in person. The school offers 14 total online master's programs, including a master's in occupational therapy.

After earning the master's in occupational therapy, graduates often qualify for promotions or raises. Enrollees can access support services such as academic advising, career-planning resources, and faculty mentorship.

Online enrollees benefit from affordable tuition rates and can apply for institutional funding to further reduce their financial burden. The institution holds accreditation, which means students can submit the FAFSA to receive federal grants and loans. Additional financial aid options include private scholarships and fellowships. 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Numbers:

Average Price Per Credit: $1,767

Students Receiving Aid: 65%

Students Receiving Loans: 25%

Total Master's Programs: 84

Total Online Master's Programs: 84

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,019
Out-of-state
$34,198
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
23%
Students Enrolled
29,877
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Florida International University is a public school in Miami. This school offers online and on-campus graduate degrees. Video lectures, assignments, and class discussions cover advanced topics in occupational therapy. Full-time students can earn a master of science in occupational therapy in two years. Learners can also ask about part-time enrollment options.

Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. The institution reports that 90% of enrollees receive financial aid and 29% take out loans. Prospective applicants can expect an admission rate of 58% for all learners.

Florida International University Fast Facts:

Number of Online Students: 39,863

Online Master's Programs: 31

Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,912 in-state; $21,393 out-of-state

Average Per-Student Aid Amount: $8,958

Average Price After Financial Aid: $9,888

The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
58,711
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

Stony Brook University

  • Stony Brook, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners enrolled at Stony Brook University can pursue an online master's in occupational therapy. While many of the institution's students pursue their degree on campus in Stony Brook, New York, 5,769 students attend online classes. Working professionals who enroll in online programs can complete academic requirements around their schedule.

Degree-seekers complete a rigorous curriculum comprising core and specialized coursework. Students can customize the master's curriculum based on their interests and professional goals. Online learners develop field-specific skills and knowledge. The occupational therapy master's degree can qualify graduates for promotions to leadership positions. Degree candidates can take advantage of the institution's career services to prepare to transition from their studies into the workforce.

The school delivers career advising and financial aid counseling to help graduate learners plan their academic and professional future. The school's affordable tuition rates make graduate studies more accessible. Additional financial aid options include private scholarships and fellowships. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$24,740
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
26,814
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is a public institution based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This institution offers online and on-campus graduate degrees. The school provides advisors, IT support professionals, and other support staff to help distance learners. The master's in occupational therapy program educates learners through video lectures, assignments, and class discussions.

The school's cost per credit is unknown. According to the school, 81% of learners receive financial aid and 39% take out loans. 

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities at a Glance:

Total Online Student Enrollment: 15,401

Online Master's Options: 3

Graduate Tuition Rate: $17,580 in-state; $27,204 out-of-state

Average Per-Student Aid : $9,544

Average Net Price: $17,279

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,318
Out-of-state
$31,616
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
57%
Students Enrolled
51,327
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

  • La Crosse, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Distance learners pursuing University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's affordable graduate programs can complete requirements in a convenient online format. The public institution delivers seven total online programs, and master's students can choose from five online options. Learners can pursue an online master of science in occupational therapy. With flexible enrollment options, the online occupational therapy program appeals to working professionals.

In addition to fulfilling core requirements, master's-level learners gain specialized knowledge during advanced occupational therapy classes. Graduate students can complete internships to gain experience and bolster their resume. Degree-seekers typically complete the master's program in 1-2 years. For specific application details, including requirements and deadlines, prospective learners can contact an admissions advisor.

Degree candidates benefit from the school's affordable tuition rates and can apply for institutional funding. The institution's graduate tuition rates average $8,651 for in-state students and $18,637 for out-of-state students. The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees with financial need to qualify for federal grants and loans. According to the school, 78% of students receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,585
Out-of-state
$16,404
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
10,623
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • Edinburg, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers a variety of top-ranked graduate programs, including a master's in occupational therapy. The public institution educates 14,840 distance students, along with on-campus degree-seekers in Edinburg. Working professionals often benefit from online programs' flexible scheduling options.

The curriculum emphasizes career skills and field-specific knowledge. Graduate students consult with faculty mentors to select courses based on their professional goals. The flexible program emphasizes industry knowledge. After earning the master's degree, graduates often secure advanced occupational therapy roles. Master's students can use the institution's career services to plan their professional future.

The school delivers career advising and financial aid counseling to help graduate learners plan their academic and professional future. The school charges online learners affordable tuition rates, making graduate studies more accessible. Scholarships and fellowships can also help learners fund their master's studies. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,664
Out-of-state
$16,792
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
29,113
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

University of Louisiana at Monroe

  • Monroe, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Louisiana at Monroe offers a variety of top-ranked graduate programs, including an online master of occupational therapy program. The public institution educates students on its campus in Monroe, Louisiana, and enrolls 3,756 online students. Working professionals often benefit from online programs' flexible scheduling options.

Degree-seekers develop field-specific knowledge and skills that apply to many professional occupational therapy roles. Graduate students can receive career and curriculum advice from faculty mentors. The online program emphasizes field-specific skills and knowledge. Graduates often land competitive roles in their field. Master's students can use the institution's career services to plan their professional future.

Master's-level learners can access support services such as career advising and financial aid counseling. The school's affordable tuition rates make graduate studies more accessible. Additional financial aid options to help learners fund their master's studies include private scholarships and fellowships. The school's cost per credit is unknown.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,788
Out-of-state
$17,888
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
8,673
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

San Jose State University

  • San Jose, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Among San Jose State University's academic offerings is a respected master of science in occupational therapy program. In addition to on-campus students, 12,738 learners enroll in the public institution's online programs. The convenient, accessible format appeals to working professionals seeking a graduate degree.

Enrollees develop transferable career skills and gain advanced occupational therapy knowledge. Faculty mentors help graduate students select courses that will support their career aspirations. The program's flexible scheduling options make earning a master's more convenient for busy learners. Graduates can transition to an occupational therapy career or advance their current career in the field after earning their master's degree. Students and alumni can access career services from the institution.

The school delivers career advising and financial aid counseling to help graduate learners plan their academic and professional future. Online students benefit from affordable tuition rates. Eligible applicants can take advantage of institutional funding. Students can also explore private scholarships and institutional fellowships. The school's cost per credit is unknown.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
36,085
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#10 Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees

University of Utah

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Distance learners can enroll in University of Utah's high-quality, accessible graduate programs. The public institution delivers 16 online programs, including six master's programs for distance students. One option includes a master of occupational therapy. With flexible enrollment options, the online occupational therapy program appeals to working professionals.

The graduate-level curriculum comprises core coursework and advanced occupational therapy classes. Students can select electives and pursue practical learning experiences to prepare for careers in specific areas of the industry. Degree-seekers enrolled full time typically require 1-2 years to complete their master's. Prospective applicants should reach out to the program to learn more about admission standards and deadlines.

Affordable tuition rates and institutional funding make pursuing graduate studies easier for many learners. In-state graduate students at the institution pay an average tuition rate of $7,211. Out-of-state graduate students pay an average of $25,455. Enrollees with financial need can fund their education through federal grants and loans. The school reports that 85% of students fund their education through financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,412
Out-of-state
$26,017
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
32,852
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

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