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If you envision yourself in a leadership role within occupational therapy, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program may be the best program for you. Online OTD programs and designed to teach students about leadership, advocacy, and policymaking. They will also engage in a capstone project, in which you will choose your area of OT interest and investigate it deeply. Generally, occupational therapists help individuals who are recovering from an illness or an injury to return to activities that are important to them. Individuals with a doctorate in occupational therapy work directly with patients and have additional opportunities to take on leadership roles in health care practices and policy organizations or join the faculty of occupational therapy education programs. Full-time occupational therapy doctorate programs would generally take three years to complete. Upon completing the Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD degree) program, students will be eligible to take the certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), which leads to national certification and eligibility for state licensure.

Online OTD Programs

Best Online Occupational Therapy
Doctorate Programs

We at FBD (Find Best Degrees) have vetted several occupational therapy doctorate courses and have come up with a list of top graduate schools for occupational therapy. Our vetting process involves a host of criteria including graduation rate, tuition fee, student placements, etc. Below is the list of our top picks: *

Established in July 1997, it is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Students from almost every US state and country around the world pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. It advances population health, wellbeing, and social justice locally, nationally, and globally by Applying public health knowledge to enhance policy, practice, and management; Conducting rigorous, basic, applied, and translational research; and educating the next generation of public health leaders, policymakers. The tuition and graduation rate are as below:
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
George Washington University 1918 F Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052 $31,770 85%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

Find Online Occupational Therapy
Doctorate Programs Near Me

If you are looking at the best OT Doctorate programs near you, you are in luck, below is a list of OT programs near your location:

What to expect from the Online
OTD Programs?

Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program will help prepare students for a meaningful career in healthcare. They will develop deep roots in humanistic theory, emphasizing a balance of physical, emotional, and social health and wellness, participate in interprofessional experiences, engage in community service, and complete applicable fieldwork. So, students asking the question if they can get a Ph.D. in occupational therapy, the question is ‘yes’. OTD programs are helpful for future occupational therapy practitioners who seek roles to practice leadership, on boards of professional associations, in inpatient advocacy, and research.

Types of Online OTD

Students have a few options when pursuing an occupational therapy doctorate program. Below we would discuss them and at the end of it, students would have a fair idea as to what they would choose to further their academic pursuits.

Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD)

The program will comprise 120 credit hours of graduate-level classroom, fieldwork, and research learning activities. The coursework will be offered during three consecutive semesters each year for three years. Students will be eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam after completing all coursework and fieldwork.

Ph.D. in Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences

The Ph.D. program in Rehabilitation Sciences at MGH Institute of Health Professions is designed for experienced clinicians in the rehabilitation professions who want to become trained clinical research scientists. Students accepted into the program have demonstrated success in their fields as clinicians and have a strong aptitude for further advanced graduate study and research.

Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate

An Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (ELOTD) is designed for students entering with a degree in a field other than OT. Students will experience an exciting program combining a diverse curriculum, research, service learning, and fieldwork. This program prepares students to graduate as a generalist, ready to work in any area of the field while fostering leadership skills, allowing the students to emerge as top practitioners and researchers in occupational therapy.

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

The DPT program offers a unique blend of online and onsite learning, developing entry-level physical therapists. The three-year curriculum emphasizes application and clinical reasoning skills through a mixed delivery of virtual and hands-on learning, comprehensively preparing students to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.

Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorat

The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctoral (PPOTD) program at Tufts prepares occupational therapists to fulfill leadership roles that will make an impact on individuals and groups in society and the world in such areas as health, functioning, wellness, and quality of life. Graduates of the program will be prepared to implement leadership projects and disseminate results. This program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Areas of Specialization for
Online OTD Programs

Occupational therapy doctorate programs curriculum varies by type. Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy programs deal with courses related to clinical OT, but the programs devote more credit hours to research methodologies. Entry-level OTD programs cover a broad range of foundational topics focused on occupational therapy as a practice. Below we discuss a few specializations:

Specialization Description InstitutionsCareers
Neuroscience & Rehabilitation specializationNeurological rehabilitation (rehab) is a doctor-supervised program designed for people with diseases, injuries, or disorders of the nervous system. Neurological rehab can often improve function, reduce symptoms, and improve the well-being of the patient.Bay Path UniversityHospitals, medical settings, public health agencies, community centers and agencies, social and human service organizations, health care organizations, etc.
Environmental ModificationPhysiology is the science of life. It is the branch of biology that aims to understand the mechanisms of living things, form the basis of cell function at the ionic and molecular level to the integrated behavior of the whole body and the influence of the external environment. Research in physiology helps us to understand how the body works in health and how it responds and adapts to the challenges of everyday life; it also helps us to determine what goes wrong in disease, facilitating the development of new treatments and guidelines for maintaining human and animal health. The emphasis on integrating molecular, cellular, systems, and whole-body function is what distinguishes physiology from the other life sciences.Boston UniversityOccupational therapy specialized practitioner. Academia, early Intervention, hospitals, mental health, schools, and other settings.
Pediatric specializationPediatric occupational therapy helps children gain independence while also strengthening the development of fine motor skills, sensory-motor skills, and visual-motor skills that children need to function and socialize.Brenau UniversityEducation and Childcare Administrator, Occupational Therapists, social and community service managers
Mental Health specializationMental health is a component of all occupational therapy interventions, Occupational therapy practitioners provide mental health treatment and prevention services for children, youth, the aging, and those with severe and persistent mental illness, with a focus on function and independence.Chatham UniversityCommunity support worker, mental health intake officer, or mental health rehabilitation support worker.
Rural/Underserved specializationThere is a shortage of health professionals choosing to work in rural and underserved areas.
Through this specialization, students focus their research, fieldwork experiences, and capstone
in rural/underserved practice to prepare them for working in rural, clinically diverse settings
with opportunities to build programs for rural and underserved communities.
With a foundation in rural, generalist practice, students have the opportunity to focus their
research, fieldwork experiences, and capstone in a recognized practice area through a
Rural/Underserved Specialization
Eastern Kentucky UniversityOccupational Therapist, Mental health counselor, OT specialist, etc.

Why should I do Online Occupational
therapy Doctorate?

In the times that we live in, both physical and mental health has come to the fore and have come to be of prime importance. And hence the importance of healthcare services has grown exponentially. And so has OT as an allied healthcare service. Per the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics OT as an occupation is slated to grow at 17% which is much faster than the national growth average.

At this point, students here might ask the question if they would require a doctorate in occupational therapy. Well, the short answer to that would be no. One can get into the field of OT with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, but if one would want to get in the top echelons of the profession, then a doctorate would be immensely helpful.

How to get into the Online
OTD Program?

Below would be the Doctor of Occupational Therapy prerequisites:

Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming an occupational therapist is to attend a four-year bachelor’s degree program at a college or university. Earning a bachelor’s degree qualifies you to apply to master’s degree programs for occupational therapy. Good degree options for prospective pediatric occupational therapists include psychology, education or special education, biology, kinesiology, exercise physiology, or pre-occupational therapy.


As one completes a bachelor’s degree program, students should look for internships that allow them to work with occupational therapy professionals, speech pathologists, educators, or rehabilitation clinics. They can also look for pediatric internship opportunities that allow them to interact with patients and observe how medical professionals engage with them and support them in their health goals.


As one of the occupational therapies master’s degree requirements, some universities might require a certain GRE score and a GPA of above 3 to take up a master’s in OT.

Earn A Master’s Degree

Upon the completion of a bachelor’s degree program, students need to apply to a two-year master’s degree program for occupational therapy. During a master’s degree program, you take courses relating to human sciences, occupational therapy practices, patient care information, etc. Students also complete professional experience by working with licensed occupational therapists in a real workplace setting.

Letters of recommendation

Two letters of reference—one for academic reference from prior education experience, and a second from a reference who can attest to the quality of the applicant’s professional work as an occupational therapist.

Personal statement

Write a personal statement, which is typically in the form of an essay. You may be required to submit multiple essays to fully express the intent and purpose of your application. Below are some common topics that should be mentioned in a statement.

  • Your main academic and personal interests
  • Experiences in school or work that have helped to prepare you for this course of study
  • Why you wish to pursue a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy
  • Why do you wish to study at the chosen OTD program
  • Your career plans and goals after you earn your OTD


Upload a copy of your most recent resume or curriculum vitae as part of your application.

NBCOT Examination

After completing a master’s degree or doctorate, students need to take and pass the NBOCT exam for occupational therapists offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. After you pass the exam, you earn a certificate to work as an occupational therapist.

State Licensure

To practice as an occupational therapist in your state, you also need to apply for and obtain state licensure. You can usually find information and apply through your state’s department of health website.

How long is an Online Occupational
Therapy Doctorate Program?

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. Thus, accreditation in essence is enforcement of quality. Also, to practice occupational therapy, one must get a license from state bodies. And only those with accredited degrees would get the opportunity to sit for those license examinations. Hence, getting into an accredited occupational therapy doctoral program is a must to practice the craft of OT. Read more about Accreditation.

Hence, one must ensure that their degrees are recognized by the industry and fraternity they are getting into, and more importantly, to be eligible for US federal student aid students must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies.

Accreditation for Online Doctorate
in Occupational Therapy

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. Thus, accreditation in essence is enforcement of quality. Also, to practice occupational therapy, one must get a license from state bodies. And only those with accredited degrees would get the opportunity to sit for those license examinations. Hence, getting an accredited online occupational therapy program is a must to practice the craft of OT. Read more about Accreditation.

Hence, one must ensure that their degrees are recognized by the industry and fraternity they are getting into, and more importantly, to be eligible for US federal student aid students must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies.

Accelerated Online
OTD Programs

Accelerated programs are generally integrated programs and are fast-paced. They generally take less amount of time to complete these programs than the regular doctoral programs. But the course credits points remain the same between 90 -120. Below we discuss one such program.

Doctor of Occupational Therapy for Practicing Occupational Therapists: This two-tiered MS/OTD prepares graduates to become registered occupational therapists and advance their applied knowledge of the profession.

Masters Vs Doctorate in
Occupational Therapy

To get into a master’s program in occupational therapy one would need to have a bachelor’s degree in the health sciences field. Whereas to get into a doctoral program in occupational therapy, the prerequisite is to have a master’s degree in OT or any allied healthcare subjects is a must. Either one of the degrees would get students into the field of OT, while the master’s degree is a stepping stone to the field of OT, a doctor’s degree in OT will place students in the policy-making bodies and the higher ranking roles in the field of OT. Doctoral degrees can also open avenues into the field of academia and further post-doctoral studies.

How to Pay for Online
OTD Programs?

Keeping in mind the cost of education these days and the amount of debt that each student carries it is of prime importance how you choose to fund your occupational therapy doctorate online program. The smartest way to fund education is a scholarship. For further reference, students can refer to this link here for scholarships.

It might happen that someone does not qualify for a scholarship, for such candidates if they are working professionals, they can check with their employers to reimburse the tuition fee. The other way of funding your online OTD program is to apply for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for federal student aid. Here is a link to the application for FAFSA Application.

Free Courses for Online Occupational
Therapy Doctorate

Online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy

If you’re an occupational therapy practitioner who would like to assume a leadership role and help shape the future of your field, you may be ready for advanced study beyond the master’s level. The Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PP-OTD) program at Sargent College is designed to provide the highest level of quality education with a focus on flexibility and a strong mentorship model. Students in the PP-OTD program are paired in a one-on-one relationship with our faculty, who provide each student with personal guidance throughout the program.

If you have Boston University vouchers, you can use up to 6 credits of vouchers towards courses in the PP-OTD program. Check if your employer offers tuition assistance.

Occupational therapy in the age of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

AOTA is hosting a series of FREE webinars to equip occupational therapy practitioners, educators, and students to navigate through the evolving coronavirus pandemic. This series is free for AOTA members and non-members.

View webinars here:

Therapeutic Use of Virtual Reality in OT

Think virtual reality is just about gaming? Think again! Immersive virtual reality (IVR) provides an engaging, motivating, and task-oriented experience that can produce immediate and longer-term improvements in motor and cognitive activity performance. This webinar will discuss IVR use in OT with potential solutions to address barriers and capitalize on facilitators to implement in practice. Link here.

Relationships, Resilience, Relevance: Returning to the Basics of our Profession

As a profession, occupational therapy is navigating choppy waters in health care and education arenas, academic environments, and service delivery and payment systems. While the direction of a changing tide is not always predictable or desired, the response to change is ours to own—collectively. Link here.

The Opioid Crisis and the Role of OT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 67.8% of all drug overdose deaths in the US in 2017. This webinar will discuss the symptoms of opioid addiction in populations across the lifespan, and effective treatment interventions, including non-pharmacological approaches that can be used by OT practitioners for pain management. Link here.

FAQs about Online
OTD Programs

Do you need a doctorate program in occupational therapy to practice OT?

Short answer is no, but if you want to get into the decision and policymaking roles, a doctorate in occupational therapy is the right way to go. Also, if you are very research-oriented about a stream of OT, then a doctoral degree would let you explore that aspect of your personality while at the same time getting a doctorate.

How long does an OT Ph.D. take?

What does an entry-level doctorate mean?

Is a doctorate in occupational therapy worth it?

Why Pursue an Online Doctorate Program in Occupational Therapy?

What are the typical OTD Program Specializations

Occupational Therapy Doctorate vs. Master’s in Occupational Therapy 

Career Opportunities and Salaries after Online
Occupational Therapy Doctorate

With a degree in an occupational therapy doctorate program, one might get into many roles in the varied healthcare vocations. This could vary from an occupational therapist role at an entry-level to a wellness director role at the top of the hierarchy. There would be other intermediary roles in between. Below is a list of roles and salaries with their responsibilities highlighted for professionals with an OTD degree:

OccupationJob DescriptionMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030)
Physical TherapistsPhysical therapists help injured, or ill people improve movement and manage pain. They are often an important part of preventive care, rehabilitation, and treatment for patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries. Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to care for their patients. These techniques include exercises; training in functional movement, which may include the use of equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers; and special movements of joints, muscles, and other soft tissue to improve mobility and decrease pain.$91,01021%
AudiologistsAudiologists diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or related ear problems. Audiologists use audiometers, computers, and other devices to test patients’ hearing ability and balance. They work to determine the extent of hearing damage and identify the underlying cause. Audiologists measure the loudness at which a person begins to hear sounds and the person’s ability to distinguish between sounds and understand speech.$81,03016%
PsychologistsPsychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors. Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior. They use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence individuals. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude, or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behavior or relationships between events, and they use this information when testing theories in their research or when treating patients.$82,1808%
Social WorkersSocial workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. Social workers help people cope with challenges in their lives. They help with a wide range of situations, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Advocacy is an important aspect of social work. Social workers advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of their clients and the social work profession on local, state, and national levels.$51,76012%
Health Education Specialists and Community Health WorkersHealth education specialists teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop strategies to improve the well-being of individuals and communities. Community health workers advocate for residents’ needs with healthcare providers and social service organizations. They implement wellness strategies by collecting data and discussing health concerns with members of specific populations. Although the two occupations often work together, the responsibilities of health education specialists and community health workers are distinct.$48,14017%
EpidemiologistsEpidemiologists are public health workers who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy. Epidemiologists collect and analyze data to investigate health issues. For example, an epidemiologist might study demographic data to determine groups at high risk for a particular disease. They also may research trends in populations of survivors of certain diseases, such as cancer, to identify effective treatments.$74,56030%

Certifications and Licensing for Online
Occupational Therapy Doctorate

Georgia State license to practice OTIn Georgia, OT professionals must obtain licensure through the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy. There are two levels of licensure in Georgia: the Occupational Therapy Assistant and the Occupational Therapist. While you are waiting to sit for your examination you can apply for a temporary license to practice at either level. There is also a Physical Agent Modalities license that can be attained after you have your Occupational Therapist license.
Kansas State license to practice OTThe licensing body for Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants in Kansas is the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts. There are two levels of licensure in Kansas: the Occupational Therapy Assistant and the Occupational Therapist. While you are waiting to sit for your examination you can apply for a temporary license to practice at either level.
Oklahoma State license to practice OTThe Oklahoma Occupational Therapists Committee is responsible for regulating and licensing the occupational therapy profession in this state. There are two levels of licensure in Oklahoma: the Occupational Therapy Assistant and the Occupational Therapist. While you are waiting to sit for your examination you can apply for a temporary license to practice at either level. Temporary licenses require that you work under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist who has a minimum of one year of licensure with the state.
Wisconsin State license to practice OTThe Occupational Therapists Affiliated Credentialing Board is responsible for licensing and regulating occupational therapy professionals in Wisconsin. There are two levels of licensure in Wisconsin: the Occupational Therapy Assistant and the Occupational Therapist. While you are waiting to sit for your examination you can apply for a temporary license to practice at either level. Temporary licenses require that you work under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist who has a minimum of one year of licensure with the state.

Additional Resources for
Online OTD Programs

A doctorate in occupational therapy is a gateway to an industry with humongous potential. But to further their careers and keep being relevant in this fast-paced industry, professionals can become members of a professional organization in their chosen field of OT. Apart from being a body that assists in developing and distributing knowledge, professional OT associations keep their members informed about the newest developments and innovations. We discuss a few such organizational bodies below:

Georgia occupational therapy associationThe Georgia Occupational Therapy Association (GOTA) exists to serve as a resource for members, consumers, practitioners, and policymakers related to the practice of occupational therapy in the State of Georgia. It is advocating for the health of the public, aligning practitioners, consumers, and other stakeholders, and advancing the practice of occupational therapy.
KANSAS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSOCIATIONThe Kansas Occupational Therapy Association (KOTA) exists to serve, improve, and advance the practice of occupational therapy, advance the education and qualifications of occupational therapists, maintain accepted standards of professional performance in occupational therapy, and foster research and study of occupational therapy.
Oklahoma Occupational Therapy AssociationThe state association for occupational therapy is a non-profit (501c6) affiliate of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Its volunteer board & team of committee members work to promote occupational therapy in the state of Oklahoma.
Wisconsin Occupational Therapy AssociationWOTA membership provides free webinars, legislative advocacy, reduced rate courses, and much more! Join it to make sure the Occupational Therapy Profession remains vibrant in Wisconsin!
Indiana Occupational Therapy AssociationThe Indiana Occupational Therapy Association is a professional association, with an all-volunteer Board of Directors, organized to provide professional support for members in their use of purposeful and meaningful occupations to promote health, prevent disability, and enhance the quality of life and life satisfaction in the community at large.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.