Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees 2021

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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.

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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.

Top 10 Occupational Therapy Master’s Programs



FAQ


  • 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.


Best Occupational Therapy Master’s Degrees 2021



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).

Why Get an Occupational Therapy Degree?



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

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

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

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.


  • American Occupational Therapy Association 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.

  • National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy 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.

  • American Society of Hand Therapists 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 Scholarships

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/p>

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

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

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