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What Are the Best Occupational Therapy Schools?

Get info on what to look for when choosing a school with a strong occupational therapy program. Read about three schools with nationally ranked OT programs, and explore the occupational therapy degrees you could pursue at each school.

What Should I Look for a Top Occupational Therapy (OT) School?

You will need to earn at least a master's degree in order to become an occupational therapist. You may want to consider enrolling in those graduate programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education and that prepare you to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)'s examination. State licensure is often based on this credential. Good programs may provide fieldwork that is both well-rounded and related to your areas of interest. Special programs or institutes may also be helpful. Here are some possible options.

What Are Three Top OT Schools?

Boston University in MA

BU's occupational therapy program was tied for first in the U.S. News & World Report evaluation of OT programs in 2016 (www.usnews.com). The school's Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Services offers a combined B.S. in therapeutic studies and OT master's degree. Faculty members are engaged in interdisciplinary research in areas like neuroscience. You'll have diverse, worldwide opportunities to train with some of Sargent's 800 clinical network partners. Sargent also operates its own clinical programs, like the Center for Neurorehabilitation and centers for psychiatric and vocational rehabilitation. You could earn these degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Behavior and Health
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (online)
  • Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences

University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

UNC tied for ninth for OT programs in the U.S. News & World Report 2016 evaluation. The School of Medicine's Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy offers master's and doctoral degree programs. You'll begin fieldwork during your first year, then complete 12-week internships after the first and second year. Among many potential fieldwork options, you might work with exceptional children in a school setting. You could become involved in the Sensory Experience Project for the study of autism or development delay funded by the federal National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. These degrees are offered:

  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Occupational Science

University of Wisconsin in Madison

UW was tied for 14th in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 rating for schools with OT programs. The Department of Kinesiology in the School of Education offers a master's program in OT and a doctoral in the related discipline of kinesiology. From 2016-2018, 100% of master's graduates passed their NBCOT examination on their first try. You'll study and do fieldwork related to child and adult development, interpersonal interaction, assistive technology, and therapeutic interventions. You might apply for the Roughton Travel Award to attend professional meetings. Related UW facilities include the Institute on Aging and the Waisman Center. You could pursue these degrees:

  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Science in Kinesiology: Occupational Science Track
  • Ph.D. in Kinesiology: Occupational Science Track

Ten Top Occupational Therapy Schools

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocation Estimated In-State Graduate Tuition (2018-2019)
University of Southern California4-year, PrivateLos Angeles, CA $44,700
Washington University in St. Louis4-year, PrivateSt. Louis, MO $52,400
University of Illinois - Chicago4-year, PublicChicago, IL $13,600
University of Kansas Medical Center4-year, PublicKansas City, KS $10,000
Colorado State University4-year, PublicFort Collins, CO $10,200
Thomas Jefferson University4-year, PrivatePhiladelphia, PA $21,100
Tufts University4-year, PrivateMedford, MA $51,300
University of Pittsburgh4-year, PublicPittsburgh, PA $22,900
New York University 4-year, PrivateNew York, NY $42,900
University of Florida4-year, PublicGainesville, FL $10,800

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education