Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy master's degree programs teach you the skills to help patients with physical or emotional disabilities. Learn about the different types of master's degree programs in occupational therapy as well as common course topics and online learning options.
What Courses Will I Take in a Master's Degree Program in Occupational Therapy?
There are two types of master's degree programs in occupational therapy. The beginner-level programs are for those who have no prior training in the field and include significant foundational coursework in areas such as the history of occupational therapy and human anatomy. The other option is a post-professional program in occupational therapy that is for those actively working as an occupational therapist, but seeking advanced training.
In all programs, you'll receive training on how to help those with mental, emotional, physical or developmental disabilities improve their daily lives. From both a theoretical and practical perspective, you'll learn techniques for physical rehabilitation, pediatric practice, geriatric practice and mental health evaluation. This will include field-based practice, in which you will work in a supervised setting while testing the skills you are developing. These programs often culminate in a project, such as a presentation drawn from your research in the field.
|Degree Types||Beginner-level master's degree, post-professional master's program|
|Common Courses||Human anatomy, physical rehabilitation techniques, mental health evaluation|
|Requirements||Bachelor's degree for both programs, training and experience for post-professional programs|
|Online Availability||Hybrid and fully online programs available|
|Certification||Candidates can sit for the national exam by the National Board for Certification in Occupation Therapy, requirements vary by state|
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)||16% growth (for occupational therapists)*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$86,280 (for occupational therapists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Are There Any Prerequisites?
For admission into the beginner master's degree programs in occupational therapy, you'll need to possess a bachelor's degree. Though your undergraduate field of study is not important, there are several courses you'll need to take before beginning your graduate program. These include anatomy, physiology and psychology.
For admission into a post-professional master's degree program, you'll need both training and experience. First, you'll likely need to possess a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy. You'll also need to already hold certification as an occupational therapist and provide evidence of your professional experience in the field.
What Online Options Are Available?
The master's degree programs in occupational therapy that you will find most commonly online are post-professional programs. These programs allow you to earn your degree while continuing to work full-time. Classes are offered over the Internet using a Web-based platform, such as Blackboard. You'll typically be required to complete clinical training, though if you have an active occupational therapy practice, your current work may satisfy this requirement.
Some occupational therapy master's degree programs are only offered partially online. While you may need to attend select classes or seminars on campus, the majority of your work can be completed remotely.
What Certification Will I Need?
In order to work as an occupational therapist, you'll need to meet your state's certification requirements. In many states, this means passing the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy's examination, though other states have their own exam. When you earn certification, you become an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). Maintaining certification requires continuing education, such as workshops and seminars.