Online Occupational Therapy Degree Programs
Depending on the degree you pursue, you can become an occupational therapy assistant or an occupational therapist. Get information about the educational requirements for these jobs along with salary data.
What Online Levels of Study Are Available in Occupational Therapy?
Online occupational therapy degrees are available, but due to the hands-on nature of the field, even programs classified as 'online' generally have some in-person requirements, such as clinical experiences. In many cases, you can complete these requirements at a nearby medical facility.
You can earn mostly online undergraduate occupational therapy degrees, including associate's degree programs for occupational therapy assisting and bachelor's degrees in health science with occupational therapy assistance concentrations. At the graduate level, you can earn an online master's degree in occupational therapy or a Doctor of Occupational Therapy. Graduate programs in this field are more common than undergraduate programs.
|Online Degrees||Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available online|
|Common Courses||Anatomy, developmental psychology, rehabilitation techniques, occupational justice|
|Other Requirements||In-person clinical experience may be required|
|Career Options||Depending on degree, occupational therapy assistant or occupational therapist|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||28% growth (for occupational therapy assistants and aides)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$57,620 (for occupational therapy assistants and aides)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will I Learn in an Undergraduate Program?
Mostly online occupational therapy assisting associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available that train you to help rehabilitate individuals with developmental, mental or physical disabilities. Through online classes, you'll study anatomy and physiology, developmental psychology, health and fitness. You'll complete labs and clinical experiences at local facilities to gain hands-on training. Some topics of study could include:
- Using technology in health care
- Medical terminology
- Human diseases
- Normal and abnormal bodily and social functions
What Will I Learn in a Graduate Program?
Online master's degree programs in occupational therapy train you to minimize the effects of serious injury and illness. You'll learn to minimize the physical, emotional and social ramifications of injuries that reduce an individual's quality of life. Some online master's programs are designed for individuals certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) who have professional experience. In a graduate occupational therapy program, you might study:
- Issues in occupational therapy
- Industry theories and techniques
- Concepts in occupational justice
- Disability rights
You don't need a master's degree to earn an online Doctor of Occupational Therapy if you have a bachelor's degree in the field. In a doctoral program, you'll learn to design, implement and assess occupational therapy programs through labs. You'll also conduct doctoral research projects in occupational therapy. You'll examine how people with disabilities are viewed by society through courses based on disability policies. Other topics of study include:
- Occupational therapy business aspects
- Rehabilitation approaches
- Evaluating therapeutic methods
- Teaching occupational therapy topics
- Improving public health and wellness
How Can I Use My Degree?
An online undergraduate degree can lead to a career as an occupational therapy assistant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this involves working with occupational therapists to rehabilitate clients by teaching muscle stretches and movement strategies (www.bls.gov). With a master's or doctoral degree in occupational therapy, you can take an exam to become a licensed occupational therapist. This career involves teaching people with disabilities to accomplish tasks so that they can lead more-fulfilled lives. The BLS notes that the median annual wage for occupational therapists in 2018 was $84,270 while occupational therapist assistants earned a median salary of $60,220 for the same year.