Occupational Therapy is one of the fastest-growing career choices in the health sciences, rising by 24% by 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – much faster than average. There are a lot of good reasons for the attractiveness of OT. The barrier to entry is much lower than a conventional medical doctor, even for a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, with fewer years of study. OTs get the rewarding experience of direct patient care, but without the urgency and stress of, for instance, an advanced nurse practitioner. And the pay rate is more than solid – an average salary of around $83,000, with a high end passing $120,000 annually. That’s the spot you’re looking for with an online OT doctoral degree.
For working Occupational Therapists, there are more than a few good reasons to consider an online Occupational Therapy Doctorate. While occupational therapy is an exceptionally rewarding career, if you only have a master’s degree, your path to advancement, higher responsibilities, and higher pay is closed off. An OTD degree program combines advanced OT practice and theory with other disciplinary skills in business, management, public policy, public health, and other leadership-building areas. With an OTD, you open your career paths up tremendously, either for administration and management; education and research; or consulting, private practice, and entrepreneurial ventures.
What is a Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate?
Currently, the “entry-level” of education to become a licensed, practicing Occupational Therapist is the Master’s degree – that prepares students to sit for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) exam. Therefore, there are relatively few “entry-level” OTD programs – most existing OTD programs are “post-professional” programs, meaning their are designed for working occupational therapists who already have a master’s degree, current OT licensure, and at least a few years of professional experience.
However, upcoming changes in Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accreditation standards are bringing about big changes for occupational therapy education. What are those changes? Very simply, the ACOTE has decided that, by 2027, the OTD will become the entry-level standard for students to become practicing Occupational Therapists. That means that by 2027, students will have to earn a doctorate to become licensed as OTs, and that any university OT program will have to offer an OTD program to stay ACOTE-accredited.
Because of the projected change, most occupational therapy schools are preparing early, building their entry-level OTD programs now to be ready and well-established well before standards change. If you’re new to occupational therapy and considering an online OT doctoral program, it’s a good idea to look for programs that are transitioning from post-professional to entry-level. Working OTs, of course, can go straight into a post-professional OT doctoral program.
Ranking the Most Affordable Online OT Doctoral Programs
With so many working OT professionals considering their path to a doctorate, Online PhD Programs has sought out the best online OT doctoral programs available in the US. These top-notch programs are all regionally accredited and accredited by the ACOTE, committed to meeting the highest standards in occupational therapy education. Many are fully online, but some require a campus visit at least once a year or once a semester.
The Most Affordable Online OT Doctoral Programs are arranged in order of affordability, beginning from the lowest annual tuition costs according to IPEDS data.
1. Texas Woman’s University – Denton, TX
There are very few universities in the US that do health care education as well as Texas Woman’s University. The largest public women’s institution in the US (though men are admitted to graduate programs), TWU dates back to 1901, when it was founded as a technical school for women, a valuable rarity in the Southwest. TWU was a major force in professionalizing women’s education, building their nursing, teacher education, and library science programs into some of the most influential in the US, including Texas’ first nationally accredited nursing school. Today, TWU has the largest nursing doctorate program in the US, as well as nationally acclaimed schools of physical therapy and occupational therapy.
The TWU online Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree program is a perfect choice for working OTs who want to increase their leadership and research skills. Obviously, applicants must have a current OT license, and the part-time, 33-credit program is designed specifically for working professionals in the field. There may be one or two campus visits during each semester, either at TWU’s Houston or Dallas campuses, but all coursework is entirely online. With TWU’s OTD program, occupational therapists get the knowledge they need to become master practitioners and educators, and TWU’s low public-university tuition means no worries about piling up debt in the online OT doctoral program.
2. University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston, TX
Part of the UT system, the University of Texas Medical Branch was founded in 1891 as Texas’ first medical school, a desperate necessity at a time when very few of the state’s doctors had any formal medical training. Today, UTMB is one of the Southwest’s most prominent academic medical complexes, and the home of highly-ranked schools of medicine, nursing, biomedical sciences, and health professions. With an economic footprint of more than $3 billion annually, more than 42,000 jobs, and global impact in research and development UTMB is instrumental to health care in Texas.
UT Medical Branch’s online Occupational Therapy Doctorate is a 34-credit degree program for working professionals in the OT field. While the OTD program is designed as a post-professional program, intended for applicants with a master’s degree and experience, UTMB does provide a bridge program of 6 credit hours for bachelor’s degree holders. All coursework is provided fully online, to be completed in 2 years part-time, and students will attend 4 days on-campus each spring semester. UTMB has been leading medical education for more than a century, and stands out among online OT doctoral programs.
3. University of Utah – Salt Lake City, UT
Utah’s flagship public research university, and the oldest college in the state, the University of Utah is actually more than four decades older than the state of Utah itself, founded in 1850 when the region was still a territory. As such, UU was instrumental in building Utah’s social infrastructure, nowhere more than in medicine and healthcare. UU established the state’s first medical school, the state’s largest research medical center, and nationally-recognized schools of pharmacy, dentistry, and nursing. The College of Health also offers ACOTE-accredited programs in occupational therapy, including a Doctor of Occupational Therapy with online occupational therapy programs.
The University of Utah online OTD degree program comes from UOnline, the University of Utah’s online education division. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and is open to students who are already licensed by the NBCOT and who have at least 2 years of experience in the profession. Paths have been established to suit students with a bachelor’s and students who already have a master’s degree. All coursework is online, in a highly interactive format, and the 36-hour program prepares students for academia, research, and leadership in the occupational therapy field. It’s easily one of the best online OT doctoral programs in the nation, for a reasonable tuition rate.
4. Towson University – Towson, MD
One of Maryland’s largest public universities, and regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top regional universities in the North, Towson University is a crucial source of Maryland’s professionals. Originally founded as a teacher’s training school in 1866, Towson still educates more of Maryland’s teachers than any other school, but the university has expanded in a century and a half into a leader in business and health professions as well. The Department of Occupational Therapy & Occupational Science, part of the College of Health Professions, is accredited by the ACOTE and ranked one of the top OT programs in the nation.
Towson’s online Doctor of Science in Occupational Therapy degree program is available either on-campus or online, giving working professionals in the field the choice of which is right for their needs. Towson has been offering the OT DSci degree since 2000, and it’s one of the best online OT doctoral programs available, backed by Towson’s long history of excellence in health sciences. To apply, students must already be licensed and practicing occupational therapists. Towson stands out among online OT doctoral programs, providing research, advanced practice, and leadership skills, as well as the chance to add a Family-Professional Collaboration or an Autism Studies certificate during the course of their OT doctoral program.
5. University of Alabama at Birmingham – Birmingham, AL
The University of Alabama at Birmingham began humbly as a UA extension campus in 1936, but that rapid growth of Alabama’s biggest city made sure that UAB wouldn’t stay small. Today, UAB is Alabama’s only Carnegie Classification R1 public research university, and the state’s largest employer – as much as 10% of workers in the Birmingham metropolitan area work for UAB. It’s also the state’s healthcare leader, with the UAB Health System standing as one of the largest academic health care systems in the US. It’s home to Alabama’s top medical school, and to the nation’s highest-ranked School of Health Professions for research funding.
UAB’s online Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree program is Alabama’s only OT doctorate, an essential link in the state’s health care system. Beginning in 2018, the OTD program will go fully online, providing working occupational therapists to earn their degrees around their own work schedule. Three specializations will be available: Low Vision Rehabilitation, Healthcare Quality and Safety; and a general advanced practice OT track. UAB’s online OT doctoral program will fill a crucial need in Alabama and show once again what UAB is capable of.
6. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN
In 1969, when both Indiana University and Purdue University operated urban extension campuses in Indianapolis, IN, they had a novel solution – combine forces. Over the next 50 years, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis would become one of the nation’s premier urban professional universities, earning national recognition as one of the top up-and-coming universities and most innovative institutions in the nation. In addition, IUPUI has been named one of the most diverse universities, one of the best for minority professionals, and a Carnegie Foundation Community Service Classification institution.
The IUPUI OTD Post-Professional degree program provides working OT professionals with the most current, advanced research and practice in the field. As a post-professional program, applicants must already have a master’s degree in occupational therapy, as well as licensure and extensive experience in the field. IUPUI’s OTD focuses on leadership, teaching, and research, preparing students for administrative and educational roles. The program is full-time, entirely online, using fall, spring, and summer semesters to work through the 30-credit degree program. It’s an online OT doctoral program from a model of modern higher education.
7. University of Kansas – Kansas City, KS
No college is more central to Kansas’ identity than the University of Kansas, the state’s flagship public research university. Founded in 1865, after the chaos of the Civil War ended, KU became central to professional study and research in the Midwest, from engineering and, eventually, computer science, to business, law, and medicine. The University of Kansas Medical Center is the state’s leading educational medical complex, home to the KU Medical School, School of Nursing, and School of Health Professions. KU is particularly crucial to the study of rural health in the Midwest and the nation.
The KU Medical Center is home to KU’s Department of Occupational Therapy Education, which offers the University of Kansas online OT doctoral program. Students must have a master’s degree and state licensure in occupational therapy to apply, as the program focuses on advanced practice and leadership development. While all coursework is offered fully online, students should attend an annual on-campus meeting at least once, in order to develop their relationship with professors and classmates. Students complete a capstone project in their area of specialization, and can also opt for a special project course, or a specialist elective in teaching, leadership, or research. KU’s OTD is one of the top online OT doctoral programs in the US.
8. Eastern Kentucky University – Richmond, KY
Eastern Kentucky University is a regional leader in professional education, and one of Kentucky’s most crucial institutions. EKU dates back to an earlier college founded in 1874, but when that school floundered, the state opened a teacher’s training school in 1906, and from there EKU grew into one of the best universities in its class. Long ranked one of the top regional universities in the Midwest, EKU has earned recognition for its diversity from INSIGHT magazine and Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification for its outreach to the community.
EKU has also been named one of the nation’s top graduate programs in occupational therapy by U.S. News & World Report, high honors that EKU proves worthy. EKU’s online OT doctoral programs provide two routes, depending on the student’s current education level: a bachelor’s to OTD, or a master’s to OTD path. With a focus on advanced practice and professional leaders, the EKU OTD program builds students’ understanding of health disparities, ethics, diversity, and public policy. Students take all coursework in accelerated 8-week courses, fully online, with specialized courses making it one of the top online OT doctoral programs anywhere.
9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, NC
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has defined the potential of public higher education since its founding as the first public university in the US, and that status remains as strong today as ever. Part of the Research Triangle – one of the nation’s first high-tech research centers – UNC-CH has historically been a leader in medicine and healthcare, including the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Medical Center, one of the world’s foremost academic medical centers. UNC has particularly been recognized as a leader in occupational therapy, since the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy opened in 1978.
UNC’s online PhD in Occupational Therapy degree program is designed for working professionals in the field who want to develop their research and teaching skills for careers in education, administration, and research. The OT PhD program is planned for students to work for 4-5 years, culminating in a formal academic dissertation, while continuing to work in their profession as practicing occupational therapists. It’s one of the most prestigious and decorated occupational therapy programs in the US, and easily one of the top online OT doctoral programs in the world.
10. Concordia University Wisconsin – Mequon, WI
Founded in 1881 in the basement of a Milwaukee, WI, Lutheran church, Concordia University originally trained young men for the ministry. Nearly a century and a half later, Concordia is one of the premier names in online education, light-years away from what anyone in the 19th century could have imagined. Concordia Wisconsin is part of the Concordia University System, ten Lutheran universities, one of the nation’s foremost and most innovative church-related higher education systems. Concordia is known for world-class online programs, including one of the best online OT doctoral programs in the US.
Concordia Wisconsin’s online Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree program is available through Concordia Online as well as the Mequon campus, providing online students with the same excellent support and guidance as on-campus students. The online OT doctoral program is intended as a post-professional program for students who already have a master’s, license, and work experience in occupational therapy. Students are prepared for advanced practice and leadership in one of three specialities – Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation; Teaching in Higher Education; or Pediatric. With just one campus visit each year, students can complete their OT doctoral degree in just two years.
11. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Madison, WI
Named as a Public Ivy (a public university with the quality of the Ivy League), the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a top-tier public research university and the oldest university in the state. With one of the highest levels of research spending in the US, and recognition in areas ranging from medicine to agriculture to engineering, UW is frequently ranked one of the top national universities by publishers like U.S. News & World Report. The UW School of Medicine, in particular, is noted as one of the nation’s best, and UW’s online degree programs have made it a leader in distance education.
UW-Madison’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program is a 34-credit post-professional doctorate designed for busy working professionals in the field. The OTD is pitched between strictly practice, as a master’s degree in occupational therapy, and a research and teaching-focused PhD. Therefore, the OTD program provides both advanced practice and research expertise to prime students to become leaders in the field. All coursework is fully online, and UWM’s national reputation makes it one of the best choices among online OT doctoral programs.
12. Boston University – Boston, MA
Boston University is one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions. Even in the center of the biggest higher education city in the US – Boston, MA, with more than 100 colleges and universities in the metropolitan area – BU stands out, making its name as one of the most influential schools for business, law, public policy, and medicine. The School of Medicine was the first to educate women and the first to award a doctorate to a black woman, and remains today as one of the most diverse, innovative, and productive medical schools in the US.
BU’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree program brings Boston University’s world-renowned quality to working professionals where they are. This post-professional program is designed specifically for practicing occupational therapists, and provides excellent one-to-one mentorship and collaboration to help students make their way successfully. With its convenient, fully-online courses, students can complete the 33-credit program in as little as 18 months. BU also keeps tuition rates low for a university of its caliber, making sure that graduates will make the most of their online OT doctoral program.
13. Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond, VA
Virginia Commonwealth University was born out of medical education, with its earliest roots in the medical department of Hampden-Sydney College in 1838. When that school (which became the Medical College of Virginia) merged with the Richmond Professional Institute in 1968, VCU began its journey to becoming a top-tier, R1 public research university. Regularly ranked among the top public universities in the US, VCU is still best known for health professions, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and more. In addition, the 21st century has seen VCU rising to national prominence as an online educator, with dozens of fully online degree programs from bachelor’s completion to doctorate.
The Virginia Commonwealth Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree program is a post-professional degree that has been named one of the top occupational therapy graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report. Students can complete their degree entirely online, but must attend a 2-3 day on-campus event twice a year (January and August). Interested students should be aware that the online OT doctoral program is currently on-hold as VCU reconfigures the curriculum in incorporate the master’s degree program into the doctoral program, but when it returns, it will offer more opportunity for students who are not currently working in the profession.
14. Brenau University – Gainesville, GA
Brenau University began in 1878 as a private women’s college, and though much has changed, the core of the Brenau Women’s College remains intact. While undergraduate programs are still for women, emphasizing a liberal arts base for professional education, Brenau’s graduate programs are coed and ranked among the in the South. In addition, Brenau was a pioneer in evening and weekend education for working adults, beginning in the 1960s, setting the stage for the university to become a nationally-recognized distance educator when it started its first fully online degree programs in 2002. Regularly ranked one of the top regional colleges in the South, Brenau is well on its way to bigger things.
Brenau’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program is intended to prepare working occupational therapists for advanced careers as educators, researchers, and administrators. This post-professional program is designed for the convenience of practitioners actively working in the field, providing fully online courses, along with a 2-day weekend on-campus event each semester. Students can take advanced specialized courses in areas like neuro-rehab, pediatrics, and community practice for further professional development. It’s a model of online OT doctoral programs from one of the South’s premier private universities.
15. Mount Mary University – Milwaukee, WI
With its roots in an academy founded in 1872, Mount Mary University was the first Catholic women’s college in Wisconsin, established by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, a religious order focused on social outreach through professional service. Mount Mary’s focus on professional education for women – especially after its move to Milwaukee from its original rural campus – made the university one of the nation’s leading women’s colleges. While graduate programs are coed, Mount Mary remains a top-notch alma mater for women in medicine, social work, design, and other professions.
Mount Mary’s online Occupational Therapy Post-Professional Doctorate degree program is a part-time, fully online curriculum designed to make leaders of working occupational therapists. As an ACOTE-accredited program, the Mount Mary OTD program prepares students for the AOTA Board Certification in a number of specializations, including Pediatrics, Gerontology, Education, and Leadership. Students need only appear on-campus once, to present their research at the end of the program. Mount Mary’s national reputation makes it a solid choice for an online OT doctoral program.
16. American International College – Springfield, MA
Founded in 1885, American International College was designed to be distinct from the start. AIC’s original mission was to provide educational opportunity to new immigrants to America – first French Canadians, then immigrants from other regions, including Asia, Africa, and South America, making it one of the most diverse universities in the nation. AIC was also the first college in New England to admit women alongside men. Today, AIC is known for its diversity and its student support, particularly in business, education, and health sciences.
AIC’s online OT doctoral program is constructed as a post-professional doctorate, intended for working occupational therapists to fill a concerning shortage of doctorate-holding leaders in the field. To help close that gap, AIC has developed an accelerated OTD that can be completed in as little as 21 months. All coursework for the 30-credit program is fully online, but students will attend three short on-campus visits during the program. Applicants must be licensed and experiences OTs. American International College has made an online OT doctoral program a convenient, affordable option.
17. St. Catherine University – Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
St. Catherine University has long been ranked one of the top regional universities in the Midwest by outlets such as U.S. News & World Report, as one of the best values. Founded in 1905 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Kate’s was one of the first colleges for women in the Midwest, and remains a national standard for women’s undergraduate education (graduate education also admits men). St. Kate’s was also a pioneer in education for working adults, including the Weekend College – the second program of its kind in the US, and a direct predecessor to its acclaimed online programs.
St. Catherine University’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program will begin in the summer of 2019, and is currently under review for ACOTE accreditation. The 3-year OTD-Entry Level program will be accessible to students who have a bachelor’s degree, unlike post-professional programs, that require applicants with a master’s degree and work experience. With St. Kate’s stellar reputation as an online educator, and long track record of excellence in health sciences, their online OT doctoral program should be a game-changer.
18. Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions – Provo, UT
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions is a unique institution that belongs solidly to the 21st century, though it may have been founded in 1998. The mission of RMUoHP sets it apart as an innovative, unconventional source of higher education opportunities for health care professionals. RMUoHP is designed as a low-residency, accessible, and affordable alternative to expensive, underperforming competitors. With regional accreditation and a focus on the needs of working professionals, Rocky Mountain University may represent the future of health care education.
Rocky Mountain University’s online OT doctoral program provides the opportunity for working professionals in the occupational therapy field to earn a terminal degree with minimal residency requirements and affordable tuition rates. Designed as a post-professional program, the RMUoHP online OTD also offers 8 elective tracks, including Aging, Education, or Pediatrics. While all coursework is fully online, students will need to attend 3 or 4 on-campus visits during their 16-20 months of study. As its reputation grows, RMUoHP may prove to be one of the most influential online OT doctoral programs of today.
19. Creighton University – Omaha, NE
Creighton University was founded in 1878 in memory of a prominent Omaha, NE, businessman, Edward Creighton, when his widow donated money to the Society of Jesus to open a school. Today, Creighton is frequently recognized as one of the Midwest’s best regional universities by publications like U.S. News & World Report. As a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, Creighton is known for the academic rigor and educational quality that is always associated with Jesuit education, as well as a focus on opportunity to working adults. Creighton emphasizes service and ethics in professional education, life and career, rooted in Catholic values.
Creighton has also become known for the quality of its online and hybrid programs, including the Creighton online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program. This post-professional doctorate provides working occupational therapists to the chance to earn the highest degree in the field without leaving their current positions or having to relocate. Only current OTs with a master’s degree can apply; students develop their research, teaching, and managerial skills to take on positions of higher authority and responsibility. The 47-credit, online OT doctoral program allows students to take as many or as few courses as they need at a time.
20. Temple University – Philadelphia, PA
Temple University has its roots in education for working adults, and it continues to stand as a leader in the field nearly a century and a half after its founding. Temple dates back to evening classes offered at the Grace Baptist Church in 1882, one of the earliest instances of such courses being offered to working-class people. By 1907, Temple was a university, and throughout the 20th and into the 21st century, Temple remained focused on the needs of working men and women. Today, with more than 40,000 students and eight international campuses, Temple is one of the world’s foremost professional educators and one of the top-ranked universities in the nation.
With its foundations in nontraditional higher education, it should come as no surprise that Temple is an online leader. Temple’s online OT doctoral program is a 31-credit, post-professional program designed for working occupational therapists who want to advance to administration, or take on teaching careers. All coursework is fully online, with one visit to Temple’s Philadelphia campus required each year; the program can be completed in as little as 2 years. With the most current research from some of the field’s most respected experts, Temple’s online OT doctoral program is a national model.
21. Chatham University – Pittsburgh, PA
Originally the Pennsylvania Female College, Chatham University was founded in 1869, and for most of its century and a half history, Chatham remains all women. In recent years, Chathan has begun admitting men to its undergraduate and graduate programs, but nearly everything else about the university remains the same: a low student:faculty ratio (9:1) that gives students excellent faculty support; a strong sense of community engagement; and top-tier professional education rooted in the liberal arts. Chatham’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies is rapidly becoming known nationally for excellent online programs.
Chatham University’s online Professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program brings the most up-to-date developments in OT practice together with extensive training in leadership and management. This combination prepares working occupational therapists to take on positions in administration, research, and teaching. Online delivery helps working professionals tailor their education around their schedule, while two brief on-campus residencies give students and faculty the opportunity to connect. It’s a high-quality online OT doctoral program and a great opportunity to advance in an occupational therapy career.
22. Barry University – Miami Shores, FL
Barry University is one of the top Catholic colleges in the South, founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1940 as a women’s college. Located in the Miami suburb of Miami Shores, Barry benefited greatly from Miami’s expansion into a major metropolis, growing from a small liberal arts college into a comprehensive university of nearly 10,000 students. In the 21st century, Barry is known for its excellent professional education in areas such as law, business, technology, and health sciences. Barry is also one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, by U.S. News & World Report ranking.
Barry University’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program builds on all of Barry’s long-standing, well-deserved reputation for excellence in healthcare education. Students work through the 36-credit program with fully online coursework in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The program is designed for students to finish in 2 years part-time, though well-prepared students may take more credits to finish faster. Only certified, working OTs are eligible to apply. While students do not have to take courses on-campus, a 16-week “residency” is required, consisting of practical experience with approved mentors.
23. Gannon University – Erie, PA
Gannon University is a Roman Catholic university founded in 1933 in Erie, PA, where it quickly established itself as a pillar of the community. Founded by the Diocese of Erie, Gannon’s focus throughout its history has been on developing students into responsible, socially-conscious and engaged leaders. Further, Gannon has modeled that kind of engagement itself, with projects like the Erie Technology Incubator and outreach to the city. The Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences is particularly devoted to providing the best education, and the best in care; graduate job placement is nearly 100%.
Gannon University’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree program is designed to help bridge the divide between practitioners and scholars with the most current theory, research, and knowledge. This post-professional program is intended for working OTs, and focuses on developing high-level skills in research, leadership, and policy, and education. This part-time, fully online OT doctoral program can be completed in just 2 years, with only one on-campus visit required to present the findings of the capstone project.
24. Quinnipiac University – Hamden, CT
Founded in 1923 as a small, 2-year business college, Quinnipiac University was originally intended to simply fill the gap left with Northeastern University closed its local extension campus. However, Quinnipiac’s quality programs and smart leadership ensured that by the turn of the century, the college was ready for a major leap, becoming a nationally-recognized university steeped in the cutting edge of professional studies. Quinnipiac’s top-tier online programs – nearly two dozen in all, and growing – have given the little school in Hamden, CT, a whole new audience.
Quinnipiac’s online Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree program is a post-professional plan intended for working occupational therapists who already have a master’s degree and licensure. With working professionals in mind, the program can be completed in just 5 semesters, with only one week-long campus visit during the summer. Students who have a bachelor’s degree may also completed a BS-OTD Bridge Program by earning an online Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in Occupational Studies. Quinnipiac’s reputation for online excellence backs up one of the top online OT doctoral programs in the US.
25. Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale, FL
First founded in 1964 on a decommissioned WWII airfield, Nova Southeastern University was created with the intention of providing leading-edge STEM and social science education, originally just at the graduate level. Nova reached its full potential when it merged with the Southeastern University of the Health Sciences, establishing Nova Southeastern as one of Florida’s most prominent health science educators. Nova Southeastern has been widely recognized as one of the most diverse colleges in the US, as a best value, and as a highly committed, socially engaged institution.
Nova Southeastern’s online PhD in Occupational Therapy degree program is intended specifically for working professionals who want to enter careers in research and teaching (unlike the OTD, which includes advanced practice). This comprehensive PhD program is designed for flexibility, with all coursework available online in asynchronous and live formats. Students will attend a weekend session each semester, and one week-long Summer Research Institute before beginning the dissertation. Nova Southeastern’s online OT doctoral program combines the best of online and on-campus, for a top-ranked degree.
26. Saint Louis University – St. Louis, MO
Saint Louis University is one of the most historic and admired institutions in the Midwest, founded by the Society of Jesus as the first college west of the Mississippi, and only the second Jesuit university in the US. But Saint Louis is not just historic – it’s a model of the future of higher education as well, with its embracing of online education and its commitment to community engagement. With its Jesuit heritage, SLU is focused on service, ethics, and community, from more than 1.5 million service hours each year, to its dozens of service-learning courses.
Saint Louis University online Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree program is just as focused on service and community as its other programs. Students in the OTD program are prepared for leadership and outreach as administrators, educators, and advanced practitioners. SLU’s program is available as an entry-level or post-professional format for bachelor’s and master’s degree holders. All coursework is fully online, though students must attend three weekend sessions during their program. SLU is not taking applications for 2018-19, but will resume in 2019.
27. Thomas Jefferson University – Philadelphia, PA
In 2017, two of Philadelphia’s most prominent and trusted schools – Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University – merged, keeping the name TJU while incorporating PU’s nationally-recognized science and technology programs into TJU’s medical and healthcare programs. Founded in 1825 as a medical college, Thomas Jefferson University’s experience and heritage of excellence in health science education continues today, nearly two centuries later, including the Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals system.
Thomas Jefferson University’s online Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree is a clinical post-professional program designed to prepare working OTs for advanced practice. The PP-OTD is an interdisciplinary program bringing together not only advanced research for occupational therapy, but management, epidemiology, public health, and more. With leadership skills and advanced practice expertise, graduates are qualified for managerial, administrative, and education positions. All coursework is fully online, with one optional on-campus orientation. It’s an affordable, transformative online OT doctoral program with nearly 200 years of excellence behind hit.
28. Duquesne University – Pittsburgh, PA
Founded in 1878 by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit – a Catholic religious society dedicated to social justice and education – Duquesne University was originally intended to provide educational opportunity to the working class of Pittsburgh, who could not afford conventional colleges. Today, Duquesne is one of the most acclaimed Catholic research universities in the US, and the only Spiritan university in the world. With its Spiritan heritage, Duquesne remains committed to diversity, outreach, and uplift, and is particularly recognized for the quality of its health science programs, including high ranks for nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
Duquesne’s Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy degree program prepares working professionals for both conventional and emerging careers in the OT field. Combining advanced practice techniques with today’s newest research insights, students have all they need to take on positions as clinical specialists, educators, or administrators, leading the discipline into its future. All coursework is fully online, with no need to visit campus, and full-time students can finish the 30-credit degree in as little as 16 months. Duquesne has produced an online OT doctoral program that builds on a national reputation for greatness.
29. Bay Path University – Longmeadow, MA
Bay Path University began in 1897 as a small business and secretarial school, earning recognition for its pioneering accelerated programs, but Bay Path became genuinely groundbreaking during WWII. While most young men were away at war, Bay Path converted into one of the first business schools exclusively for women, and throughout the 20th century BPU remained committed to promoting women’s leadership in business. Today, Bay Path’s undergraduate programs are still all-women, though men are admitted to graduate programs, and has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing universities in the US.
Bay Path’s online Occupational Therapy Doctorate is a 4-6 semester degree program intended for working professionals in the field. All coursework is fully online – no need to ever visit campus – and capstone projects are adaptable to the student’s current career. Four concentrations are available: Administration, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Education, or Mental Health. Students receive a thorough, interdisiplinary education that combines occupational therapy research with management, bioethics, community practice, and professional writing for a well-rounded expertise. Bay Path has designed easily one of the best online OT doctoral programs imaginable.
30. Loma Linda University – Loma Linda, CA
Loma Linda University, uniquely, began its life as a sanitarium founded by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1905. As a long-term care facility for chronic illnesses such as tuberculosis, the Loma Linda Sanitarium was an ideal location for health care research of the day, and within a few years had expanded into a college. Today, Loma Linda continues to expand on more than a century of health science research and education, included extensive development of fully online degree programs for working health care professionals.
Loma Linda’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program brings the Seventh-Day Adventist emphasis on holistic health, human-centered caring, and social responsibility to their terminal OT degree. Students complete all coursework entirely online, though all students are invited to an optional on-campus intensive to meet faculty and fellow students. A focus on diversity, spirituality, and advocacy ensures that Loma Linda graduates will be ready not only for professional service, but to do good in the community. It’s an online OT doctoral program that makes a difference.
31. University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences – St. Augustine, FL
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences begins in 1966, with continuing education classes for physical therapists taught by Dr Stanley Paris. Within a few years, Paris’ program had expanded into a graduate school in St. Augustine, FL, and today the university has expanded to locations in Miami, Austin, TX, and San Marcos, CA. A regionally-accredited, for-profit graduate school, offering master’s and doctoral degrees in areas including nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, including many online and hybrid programs.
The University of St. Augustine online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program is intended to provide maximum flexibility for working OT professionals. All coursework is fully online, though students do have the option of attending a 3-day on-campus residency to develop relationships with fellow students and faculty. Students can also choose specialties in Executive Leadership, Teaching and Learning, or the ImPACT certification for concussion and traumatic brain injury. Either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational therapy is sufficient to apply for one of the top online OT doctoral programs in the nation.
32. George Washington University – Washington, DC
George Washington University is one of the most prestigious major research universities in the nation, and its location and connections in the nation’s capital have made GMU one of the most influential universities as well. GWU is not named carelessly; it was founded on George Washington’s desire (unfulfilled in his life) to establish a national university in the District of Columbia. Today, GWU is a national and international leader in law, business, and public policy, as its DC network would suggest, but also in medicine, nursing, and public health.
George Washington University’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program builds on the heritage of one of the nation’s oldest medical schools, offering an advanced post-professional program in a fully online format. With GWU’s well-known rigor and challenge, only the most self-motivated and disciplines students are admitted; applicants must either be working in the field as licensed OTs, or currently enrolled in an OT master’s program. The GWU OTD is designed for practitioners who want to move into scholarship and academia, so the emphasis is on advanced research and leadership rather than practice.
33. Salus University – Elkins Park, PA
Salus University was founded in 1919 by the Pennsylvania Optical Society as an optometry school, and eye health – along with audiology and related medical programs – remains central to Salus’ mission. Salus (which means “health and well-being” in Latin) is a private, nonprofit university dedicated to interdisciplinary training and real-world results. With more than 1200 professional studies students, Salus is one of the Northeast’s top leaders in health sciences and healthcare – in fact, it’s all Salus does.
Salus University’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program is a post-professional course of study designed for flexibility. Students complete all coursework entirely online, except for two 4-day on-campus residencies; full-time students can complete the 30-credit program in just 16 months, while part-timers can finish in just 27 months. With Salus’ roots in optometry and audiology, students can choose from three specializations: Low Vision Rehabilitation (severe; Remedial Vision Rehabilitation, and Health and Wellness. Salus’ online OT doctoral programs bring all of Salus’ greatest strengths straight to the student.
34. Misericordia University – Dallas, PA
Misericordia University (translates “heart of mercy”) was officially founded in in 1924, but its origins go back to the work done by the Sisters of Mercy from the 1870s on, bringing education to the children of coal miners and night classes for adult students. Misericordia has put the needs of students first for nearly a century, from outreach programs to working adults to the Guaranteed Placement Program, which provides an internship for any graduate who cannot get work in their field within six months. As a Catholic institution, Misericordia is known for its commitment to quality, ethics, and service.
Misericordia’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program is built for working professionals in the field who want to add advanced practice, academic research, and leadership and teaching skills to their career. Students complete coursework for the 33-36 credit program online, except for a one-day weekend campus visit at the beginning and end of each semester. Just as Misericordia turns its Catholic values to social action, the Misericordia online OT doctoral program focuses on positive social change, ethical health care, and socially responsible approaches to public health.
35. New York University – New York, NY
New York University is, quite simply, central to life, learning, and culture in New York City, having been there through the Big Apple’s many rises and falls. Founded in 1831 in Greenwich Village, NYU set the tone for culture in the city, but it has also been instrumental in New York’s business, politics, and health care. The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development was one of the most innovative schools of its day in 1890, and the school’s occupational therapy program was one of the first and most groundbreaking OT programs in the nation.
Just as NYU set the standard for occupational therapy, it continues to guide and develop the field. NYU’s online Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree program brings NYU’s pioneering OT studies into the 21st century, with a flexible, highly customizable and adaptable curriculum that allows working professionals to deepen their knowledge and leadership abilities. Students work directly with a faculty advisor, consisting of some of the most respected and acclaimed scholars in the field. All in all, there are no online OT doctoral programs to match NYU.
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