20 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Degrees in Occupational Therapy

One of the 20 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Degrees in Occupational Therapy will help you take your career to the next level in 2020.

When you hold a master’s degree in occupational therapy, you can work as an occupational therapist and not pursue any additional education. However, if you want to develop your skills and knowledge further, open your own practice, or go into medical leadership, then a doctor of occupational therapy may be the right option for you.

These Affordable Online Doctorates in Occupational Therapy are designed so that practicing therapists can continue to work full-time while still advancing their education. With a doctorate in occupational therapy, you can enjoy additional career options and opportunities while still improving patients’ lives and putting your skills to work every day.


Pursuing a doctorate in occupational therapy can lead to more career options and a higher salary than you may attain with a master’s degree, alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2012, occupational therapists made an average of $75,400 per year. However, leadership positions like medical and health services managers had a median income of $84,270. If you’re interested in career options like becoming an occupational therapy researcher, a clinical occupational therapist, a practice manager, or even a college professor, then pursuing your doctorate while continuing to practice may be a wise career choice. Many of these programs are designed to be either entirely online or are delivered as hybrid models with minimal on-campus requirements. This means you won’t have to relocate or disrupt your life to go back to school.

While many of the programs below require a master’s degree and a current license to practice occupational therapy, the program requirements do vary. Some programs ask students to have professional experience for a certain amount of time, while others have alternative entry tracks allowing for students holding just a bachelor’s degree to perform extra coursework and then enter the program. If you’re anxious to get started, you’ll find that some of these programs offer multiple start dates throughout the year, so you can take the next step in your education without delay. Many of these programs allow for online learning on your own schedule, meaning minimal disruption to your daily life.


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia.

Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit ourmethodology page.


Texas Woman’s University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy program is designed to prepare students to hold careers in academia and practice. Most students take between three and six credit hours per semester and will complete the degree in four to six years. While the coursework is primarily conducted online, students visit campus one to two times each semester. Campus visits alternate between the Dallas and Houston campuses. Program applicants must hold a current occupational therapy license. With a curriculum that includes core course work, research tools, electives, and a qualifying examination and dissertation, students receive a comprehensive education that prepares them for advanced scholarly careers in both practice and academia.

Located in Denton, Texas, Texas Woman’s University is the nation’s largest public university primarily for women. Founded in 1901, TWU has admitted men since 1972. TWU offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs through its six different schools. Texas Woman’s College of Health Sciences offers 40 different programs in Denton, Dallas, and Houston, and hybrid settings also allow for distance learning. With more than 4,000 alumni from the TWU School of Occupational Therapy, TWU education has a wide reach and impact upon the health sciences field. TWU School of Occupational Therapy are recognized as leaders in both education and research and regularly contribute scholarly works in the field of occupational therapy.

Format: Online


Indiana University’s Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is a 30-credit program that is delivered entirely online, making it ideal for busy practicing professionals who wish to further their education. This one-year program guides students through the development of an individual capstone project, as well as the establishment of professional development goals. Indiana classes are taught by the same faculty members from the IU residential-campus, and students still have the opportunity to talk with their professors, just as they would have if they were studying on campus. Program applicants must be licensed occupational therapists. They must also hold a master’s degree, though that degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in occupational therapy.

Founded in 1820, Indiana University became one of the first public universities established west of the Allegheny Mountains. Today, the university has nine different campuses, as well as many online degree offerings. As of 2018, IU’s enrollment was 94,000 students strong, with 70 percent of degree-seeking students being Indiana residents. IU offers approximately 20,000 different classes each semester, and there are nine different IU School of Medicine locations. With over 20,000 faculty, staff, and other employees, over 120 countries are represented by IU faculty. IU Online awards over 120 online degrees designed to accommodate a working professional’s busy schedule.

Format: Online



The University of Utah’s Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy is offered entirely online and has paths to accommodate students holding a bachelor’s or a master’s degree level. Program applicants must be certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, and must also have at least two years of practice as an occupational therapist. Students experience a combination of traditional online learning with interactive learning experiences such as group assignments, contributions to a discussion forum, and peer reviews of assignments. Though students take online classes within this program, sessions are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus.

Founded in 1850, the University of Utah educates over 31,000 students every day. The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. UOnline offers hundreds of online courses and many programs that can be completed entirely online. In 2019, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Utah at No. 119 for its National Universities ranking, and No. 136 for its 2018 ranking of the Best Value Schools. In 2018, College Factual deemed the University of Utah as the No. 11Best College for Non-Traditional Students.
Format: Online


Eastern Kentucky University’s Master’s to OTD program is offered completely online with no on-campus time required. This program is designed for licensed, certified occupational therapists who wish to earn a doctorate degree without needing to relocate. Thanks to the program’s flexible nature, practicing professionals can continue to work while advancing their careers. Students can complete this 40-hour program in approximately two years and will be prepared for careers as occupational therapy practice managers, occupational therapy researchers, clinical occupational therapists, college professors, and more. Program applicants must be certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Eastern Kentucky University’s EKU Online offers a variety of online degree programs that are flexible and ideal for distance learning students. EKU Online features six start dates each year, meaning students can start their education without having to wait. In 2016, the U.S. News & World Report included EKU Online in its ranking of the Top 100 Best Online Degree Programs: Bachelors. And, in 2015, EKU Online was also included in the U.S. News & World Report‘s ranking of the Best Online Schools for Veterans.

Format: Online


The Post-Professional OTD offered by the University of Kansas is provided entirely online with occasional on-campus meetings. Students complete a combination of residential and online coursework and attend an annual on-campus meeting at least once during the program. The program curriculum focuses on four key areas: Evidence-Based Practice, Professional Leadership, Specialty Practice, and Teaching. Program applicants must have a master’s degree – not necessarily in occupational therapy – and must have a state license to practice occupational therapy. Students may also present their NBCOT registration as an occupational therapist. Designed for practicing students who wish to increase their knowledge and skills to meet the demands of complex practice issues, this program can be completed even while a student works full-time.

Located in Lawrence, Kansas, the University of Kansas consists of 13 academic schools and offers more than 400 degree and certificate programs. Founded in 1865, the university’s annual enrollment is 28,500, and the school is home to more than 350,000 alumni. The University of Kansas Medical Center operates three schools – the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the School of Health Professions. Together, the three schools had an enrollment of 3,695 in Fall of 2018. The KU Medical Center is one of more than 50 institutions that are members of the national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium.

Format: Online


The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree offered by Towson University is part-time and offered online, allowing working professionals to continue to work while also advancing their education. Taking two courses per semester, students can complete this 33-credit program in just six consecutive semesters. Online coursework paired with on-site immersion experiences provides a well-rounded education, and students may choose from a variety of focus areas. Program applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.25 in graduate coursework. Additionally, applicants must hold a current license to practice occupational therapy.

Located in Towson, Maryland, Towson University is the largest university in the Baltimore region. It was founded in 1866 and features a 329-acre campus less than an hour from Washington, D.C. Towson offers over 100 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, and it’s 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures individualized attention. Seventy-eight percent of Townson’s full-time faculty hold the highest degree in their field. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Towson University at No. 10 in the 2018 Public Regional Universities in the North, and No. 57 for its Best Value Schools ranking. Additionally, Money Magazine included Towson University in its ranking of the nation’s best colleges.

Format: Online


The Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison is designed for occupational therapists who wish to develop their leadership and advanced practice skills. Students complete the program online on a part-time basis throughout three years, allowing them to continue to practice professionally while simultaneously furthering their education. Intended for occupational therapists who hold a master’s degree, this program includes coursework covering topics such as human occupation and health, the current trends shaping occupational therapy practice, using information to optimize practice, and more. Students also complete capstone projects as they prepare for professional leadership positions.

Founded in 1848, the UW-Madison sits upon a beautiful 936-acre campus. Its 13 schools and colleges educate over 44,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually. This university offers over 9,200 courses, more than 200 undergraduate majors and certificates, and over 250 master’s, doctoral, and professional programs. UW students represent all 50 states and 127 countries, and UW faculty and alumni have received a total of 19 Nobel Prize awards and 39 Pulitzer Prizes. In 2018, the U.S. News & World Report ranked UW at No. 15 for its ranking of the Best Public Universities in the U.S.

Format: Online


Governors State University’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy program provides students with the skills and knowledge they need in order to enhance their current occupational therapy practices. This program is delivered as a combination of web-based and web-hybrid courses. The web-hybrid classes feature a combination of online learning and on-campus lectures. The program is intended for occupational therapists who hold an entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy degree, or for students with an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy and a master’s degree in any field. Program graduates will be prepared for careers as clinical researchers, master clinicians, advocates, educators, and more.

Governors State University was founded in 1969. Located in University Park, Illinois, GSU offers 64 degree and 24 certificate programs and is home of over 70 student clubs and organizations. GSU consists of four colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Health & Human Services. GSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and its occupational therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Governors State University between No. 128-165 for its best therapy programs in the Midwest for 2019.
Format: Online



The UAB Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program offered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham is delivered online and designed for part-time enrollment. Students enroll in one or two courses per semester, allowing them the time and flexibility needed to continue to practice while attaining their degree. This program allows students to choose from three different tracks, including a Low Vision Rehabilitation track, a Healthcare Quality and Safety track, and a general track. Program applicants must hold a master’s or bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from an accredited program and must be currently employed as an occupational therapist with at least a year of experience.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, as well as by the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States. The UAB Hospital is the third largest public hospital in the United States, and the student-run Equal Access Birmingham Clinic helps hundreds of patients every year. In 2018, the U.S. News & World Report ranked 13 UAB programs in its top 25 rankings, and INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine recognized UAB as a 2018 Diversity Champion. The SR Education Group ranked UAB’s OTD program first in its ranking of the best online colleges, and the program’s annual tuition cost is less than half of the average cost of the other schools included on the list.

Format: Online


Bay Path University offers an Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree specially structured to allow busy professionals to maintain a work-life balance while pursuing their education. The program is offered 100 percent online with no residency requirement, and its flexible nature allows students to complete the OTD in 4 to 8 terms. Students may choose from Administration, Advanced General Practice, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Education, and Mental Health tracks, and can customize their capstone around their interests. During the course of the program, students have plenty of support in the form of advising, library resources, and academic resources. 

Located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path University also features campuses in East Longmeadow, Sturbridge, and Concord. Students at Bay Path enjoy both women-only undergraduate programs and coeducational graduate programs. Bay Path opened in 1897, and today, the graduate school awards over 25 degrees and certifications. Bay Path created the American Women’s College in 2014-2015, establishing the first all-women, all-online accredited bachelor’s programs in the United States. The university launched the Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree in 2017. Bay Path is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and is a member of the Women’s College Coalition.

Format: Online


Virginia Commonwealth University’s Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is designed so that students can complete the program without disrupting their careers or relocating their families. Students take part-time semester coursework online through the Blackboard System. This distance learning portion is complemented by 2 to 3 day on-campus sessions that occur about twice a year. The class ends with the expansion of a capstone project where students choose a study topic they’re passionate about. VCU has almost 15 years of experience teaching health-related online courses, and the U.S. News & World Report ranked the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program as the No. 15 best program for its Best Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy in 2008 ranking.

Founded in 1838, VCU is located in Richmond, Virginia. It offers over 200 different programs and has an enrollment of over 31,000. Many of VCU’s programs have been ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 rankings, including VCU’s Health Care Management, Nurse Anesthesia, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Education – Online programs. The VCU Medical Center is the region’s top-ranked hospital, and it has more than 11,000 employees. In addition to its 173-acre Richmond campus, VCU has numerous satellite branches including the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, the VCU Health satellite locations, the VCU School of Medicine Inova Fairfax Campus, and more.  
Format: Online


The Post Professional OTD program at Brenau University is a 36-credit program that prepares occupational therapists to become evidence-based learners. While most of the coursework can be completed online, students attend one 2 to 3-day on-campus weekend each semester. Students complete two courses per semester, which enables them to both work full-time and go to school simultaneously, finishing the program in 2 years. During the program, students study topics including pediatrics, neuroscience and neuro rehab, and community practice. Program applicants may use two levels of entry to the program. Occupational therapists who hold a master’s degree may enter directly into the program. For students who have a bachelor’s degree, 30 graduate credits are required before they can officially begin the program.

Brenau’s four colleges include the Education, Fine Arts & Humanities, Health Sciences, and Business & Mass Communication schools. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, as well as by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Brenau University has a thriving online learning option, with 32 percent of Brenau students studying online in full degree programs. The U.S. News & World Report has included Brenau University at the top of many rankings, including 30th in its Best Value Regional University, 8th in its Campus Ethnic Diversity, and 32nd and 58th for the Occupational Therapy and Best Online Graduate Education Programs rankings.
Format: Online


Temple University’s Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy is designed for occupational therapists who wish to hold leadership positions. In this non-research-based program, students explore areas including community practice, entrepreneurial innovation, and higher education. This online program is designed with the flexibility that working professionals need. Students complete the 31-credit-hour program over the course of two years. In addition to the 22 required coursework credits and nine elective credits, students complete a 160-hour or four-week clinical field study. Additionally, students complete a four-course capstone. While much of the coursework is completed online, students meet at the Center City Campus in Philadelphia twice per year.

Temple University was founded in 1888, and today it consists of 17 schools and colleges. The main campus is located in the heart of Philadelphia, and seven additional campuses offer a variety of learning environments including urban, suburban, and even international locations. The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University is a leading medical school in the United States and is the second highest-ranked medical school in Philadelphia based on its level of funding. Temple University is also home to eight libraries, including the Ginsburg Health Sciences Library and the Krausz Library of Podiatric Medicine. For the academic year 2018-2019, 10 Temple University students received Fulbright awards, making Temple a top-producer of Fulbright scholars for the second year in a row.

Format: Online


The Professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program offered by Chatham University is for clinicians or academicians who want to become professional leaders. Students complete 10 courses connected through practice focus and attend two short on-campus residencies. Students will learn about new occupational therapy settings, including in ergonomics, home modification, assisted living facility construction, driving rehabilitation programs, and more. The program follows a cohort series, with cohorts beginning in both the fall and in the spring. Program applicants must hold a master’s in occupational therapy, but experienced occupational therapists who have their bachelor’s in occupational therapy may enter the program using Chatham’s Bachelors-to-OTD program. These students will complete the program prerequisites online at Chatham University before beginning the program.

Chatham University is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was founded in 1869. Today, Chatham is a coed institution offering over 60 undergraduate and graduate programs through four different schools. In 2014, Chatham opened Eden Hall Campus, the first fully sustainable higher education campus. The Princeton Review ranked Chatham as one of the Top 50 Green Colleges, and the U.S. News & World Report ranked Chatham as the best college in the Regional Universities North ranking. Chatham offers a unique Integrated Degree Program in which undergraduate students can begin a Chatham graduate degree during their last year, enabling them to earn, both, a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years.
Format: Online


Concordia University Wisconsin’s Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program is designed for practicing occupational therapists. During the program, students receive a specialty education in one of three tracks including upper extremity rehabilitation, pediatrics, or education. Every class is taught through an online format, and students can complete the program within just two years. During the program, students must make two visits to campus, including a 2-day orientation at the program’s start, as well as a 3-day visit during the second year of the program. Program applicants must hold a current license to practice and have at least three years of experience as an occupational therapist.

Located in Mequon, Wisconsin, Concordia University Wisconsin was founded in 1881 and consists of 6 different schools. Concordia offers more than 70 majors and programs and has an enrollment of over 8,000 students each year. With a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Concordia educates students across many different professional fields. As a university of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia provides professional church career education options including parish music, Lutheran teacher training, and more. Concordia is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its occupational therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Format: Online


The Post Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program offered by Misericordia University provides occupational therapists with advanced clinical, practice management, teaching, and administrative skills. The majority of coursework is completable online with some face-to-face on-campus meetings. At the beginning and end of each semester, students meet on campus for classes. During the program, students take two classes per semester on a part-time basis and can complete the program in two years. The program features 24 credits of core courses, as well as capstone coursework. Additionally, students complete between 9 and 12 credits in a pediatric or geriatric specialization. After completing the program, students are prepared for a variety of career paths, from starting their own business or private practice to influencing public policy.

Founded in 1924 by the Religious Sisters of Mercy, Misericordia University is located on a 123-acre campus in Dallas, Pennsylvania. This Catholic university has an enrollment of just under 3,000 students, with 99 percent of students receiving some sort of financial aid. With three academic colleges, Misericordia University awards 37 different degree programs. The Occupational Therapy Department is recognized as an educational leader in the field, and Misericordia University is one of the first schools to administer an Entry Level Masters degree. The university employs 136 full-time faculties and offers an impressive 11.3:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Misericordia University is home to 41 clubs, service organizations, and special interest organizations.

Format: Online



The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy is designed with the flexibility and pacing that busy professionals need. Online learning community sessions are held at the beginning of each semester and on a Saturday near the end of the semester. If students should like, they can also attend the learning community sessions in-person, though no on-campus attendance is required. While nearly all courses can be completed online, classes for the Hand and Upper Limb Certificate do involve some meetings or discussions with faculty mentors. With two entry tracks, program applicants may have either a Bachelor of Science in another field or a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. The duration of the program will vary depending on the student’s pace, but students must complete the program within seven years.

Thomas Jefferson University was established in 1824 as the Jefferson Medical College. Today, Jefferson is a combination of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, and Jefferson Medical College is now referred to as the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. The medical college is located in Center City, Philadelphia and is one of the largest private medical colleges in the country. The college educates more than 3,700 students annually while employing 3,200 full and part-time faculty. Jefferson and its partner, Jefferson University Hospitals, treats nearly 43,000 inpatients and 1.3 million outpatients every year. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Jefferson College of Rehabilitation Science’s Occupational Therapy program among the top 10 programs in the nation.
Format: Online


Creighton University’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is the first entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program in the nation. This program offers three different pathways leading to the degree, making it accessible to a wide assortment of students at different times in their academic careers. The Entry-Level OTD Program allows students to earn their doctoral degree with full-time study in a traditional setting, while the Entry-Level Distance OTD Program – Alaska is a hybrid model that blends asynchronous and synchronous learning.

Additionally, the Entry-Level Distance OTD Program – Regis is a hybrid model program for students in Denver. Students in all pathways can access online course lectures at any time or location that they prefer. Unlike many other doctoral programs, program applicants to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Creighton need only to have a bachelor’s degree.

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University is rooted in the Jesuit tradition. The university educates over 8,900 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students each year, and delivers an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In 1905, the Creighton University School of Pharmacy was founded and has since evolved into the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Creighton University was selected as the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest for the past 16 years in a row by the U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, Creighton University’s leadership in service, sustainability, and value have been recognized by The Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Format: Online


New York University Steinhardt’s Online Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is provided entirely online, allowing practitioners the flexibility to maintain their practice while receiving their degree. Because half of the required 36 credits are elective or specialization courses, students can specialize in the program to focus in an area that interests them. If preferred, students may have the opportunity to take certain electives on campus. Students may also wish to take the Leadership and Teaching specialization, which focuses on teaching and learning, adult education and pedagogy, and leadership that relates to their area of practice. Program graduates are welcomed to attend commencement on campus. The program features start dates in January and September of each year.

Established in 1890, NYU Steinhardt features 11 academic departments, 13 research centers and institutes, and 292 full-time faculty members. The university provides an ample assortment of undergraduate, master’s, advanced certificate, and Ph.D. programs and has an annual enrollment of over 9,900 students. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Steinhardt at No. 12 for its Best Graduate School in Occupational Therapy ranking, and USA Today deemed Steinhardt as one of the best colleges to study health professions. Steinhardt’s faculty are among the top in their fields, and between 2012 and 2018, faculty received numerous awards, including 5 Grammy Awards, 4 Guggenheim Fellows, 4 Fulbright Scholars, 1 Pulitzer Prize, 1 Tony Award, and more.
Format: Online


The Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at George Washington University is a 36-hour program that is delivered online, allowing students to continue to work at their current practices while earning their degree. Students will learn about topics such as research, leadership, and teaching and assessment strategies. The mentored capstone project allows students to focus on evidence-based occupational therapy topics. Program applicants must have, or be in the process of completing, a master’s degree from an accredited entry-level occupational therapy program. Current occupational therapists must have an active license to practice occupational therapy. Additionally, applicants must submit two recommendations and a statement of purpose.

Located in Washington, DC, George Washington University is home to over 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Founded in 1821, GW consists of over 14 different schools and colleges. GW is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and is on the supported list of the American Association of University Women. Students at GW may take advantage of over 12,000 internship opportunities at many different organizations including the White House, Bloomingdale’s, National Institutes of Health, and more. Notable GW alumni include Alec Baldwin, Kerry Washington, L. Ron Hubbard, Elizabeth Warren, and Eric Cantor, among others.

Format: Online