Occupational Therapy Doctorate Vs Master's

In this lesson, you will learn the difference between a doctorate and a master's degree in occupational therapy. The lesson discusses the educational prerequisites for each degree as well as the coursework. Schools offering Occupational Therapy Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Master's in Occupational Therapy vs Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy Master's (MOT)

Occupational therapists work with a variety of patients who require assistance recovering from injuries, learning how to use a prosthetic limb, and even learning how to care for children with muscular diseases. For any aspiring occupational therapist, a master's degree in occupational therapy is an excellent first step for individuals who need a foot in the door. Currently, students have two options for achieving their MOT, an on-campus or a hybrid program that is split between campus and online instruction. The general time to complete an MOT curriculum falls around two years.

Typically, the coursework for the MOT program is similar between different accredited schools. Some classes that a student should expect to take cover therapeutic skills, patient care concepts, rehabilitation science, and kinesiology. Many programs follow the same structure of being split into coursework and field experience. Generally, programs require around 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork in approved facilities.

After completing the MOT program requirements, a student can sit for the exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and apply for licensure within their state of residence in order to begin their career as an occupational therapist. This degree allows for entry-level careers until 2027, after that point it will be required for occupational therapists to receive a doctorate in order to start a career. Anyone who has earned a master's degree prior to that year will be grandfathered into licensure.

Occupational Therapy Doctorate (DOT)

A doctoral degree in occupational therapy is the longer graduate option, and typically takes between three and four years, which can be intimidating for students looking to further their education. This program is for students who are looking to further their careers. It can be obtained immediately after a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy or it can be an advancement later after establishing a career. It must be noted that admission to doctoral programs is highly competitive, and acceptance is never guaranteed.

In post-baccalaureate DOT programs, the classes initially focus on the foundational science and occupational therapy topics found in an MOT program and also include a significant amount of field experience. Advanced classes in DOT programs focus mostly on the research and leadership sides of the subject. Some classes a student should expect to take are occupational science, quantitative research methods, practice management, and kinesiology. These programs can also include a capstone exponent that allows students to get additional hands-on experience.

A DOT has all the same benefits of an MOT plus a few bonuses. One bonus of receiving a doctorate is that it allows an individual to conduct independent research, allowing for an them to become differentiated from the rest of occupational therapists. This degree path also allows for a broader range of career opportunities. Holding a DOT allows for an individual to teach or be a researcher in important new practices and techniques.

Degree ProgramProgram LengthProgram Requirements Related Careers
Master of Occupational Therapy2 yearsBS in Occupational TherapyPediatric Occupational Therapist; Rehabilitation Supervisor
Doctor of Occupational Therapy3-4 yearsBS in Occupational Therapy Occupational Therapy Program Director, Occupational Therapy Researcher

Admissions for Master's and Doctoral Occupational Therapy Programs

Occupational therapy programs typically require a prospective student to have completed a variety of prerequisites prior to admittance to a master's or doctoral degree program. These prerequisites include, but are not limited to, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and statistics classes. Some programs may require a student to have work experience in a related field or volunteer experience. This requirement can include a minimum of 40 hours of volunteering at least two different occupational therapy facilities.

Many programs also require a student to have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA during the last two years of education, though some schools have higher minimum GPA requirements. The student must also have at least two letters of recommendation, with some schools requiring up to three. Many programs require essays to be submitted with the initial application as well as an participation in an interview.

To conclude, a Master of Occupational Therapy degree allows an individual to begin their career in occupational therapy. A Doctor of Occupational Therapy is an option for those who want to further their career and education beyond the entry level.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Toledo

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Toledo
  • University of the Sciences

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • University of St Augustine for Health Sciences

    Campus Locations:

    • California: San Marcos
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • Tufts University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Medford
  • Texas Woman's University

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Denton
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • Quinnipiac University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: Hamden