Top Occupational Therapy Schools

There are 156 accredited occupational therapy programs in the United States. Accreditation in occupational therapy education is provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

occupational therapy

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Completing an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy is not strictly necessary in order to become an occupational therapist in the United States, however, it can shorten the length of the masters program by 1 year. In order to become an occupational therapist, students must also complete their Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy (MSOT). This provides aspiring occupational therapists with the educational framework and training necessary to pursue a successful career as an occupational therapist.

For students with undergraduate degrees in other fields, the length of the Masters program is 2 years, and the total length of formal education to become an OT would be around 6 years. Those who pursue a bachelor’s degree in OT first, or enter a combined bachelor’s/master’s program can complete their education in as little as 5 years.

1. University of Southern California – Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy


USC Medical Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The University of Southern California’s occupational therapy program was ranked #1 in the United States in 2012.

Founded in 1942, their degree program is accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and prepares students for standard as well as non-traditional career paths in occupational therapy. The school has 294 students in their OT program and 64 faculty members, including world renown adjunct faculty members like Jane Goodall and J. Seward Johnson.

For students with bachelor’s degrees in other fields, USC also offers a 2 year Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy. For students with an undergrad degree in the field, there is also a 1 year masters program. Students also usually complete an internship, which provides them with an opportunity to work with senior occupational therapists. For those who want to become specialists in OT, USC also has a world class Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program.

Tuition & fees for the Bachelor’s to Master’s program is around $44,000 per year (Fall & Spring semesters) for all students, whether they are a California residents or out of state.

2. Boston University – Sargent College

Boston University College of Rehabilition Sciences

Boston University College of Rehabilition Sciences – Sargent College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boston University’s College of Rehabilitation Sciences is one of the best occupational therapy schools in the country, and consistently ranked #2 by U.S. News. The college offers a wide variety of clinical and research placement options. Students have the opportunity to pursue fresh fieldwork placements each semester, allowing students access to a broad spectrum of client populations and occupational therapy practice, as well as the freedom to pursue areas of specific interest. Students have the opportunity to work with and study under some of the top OT practitioners and professors in the country.

Sargent College offers occupational therapy degrees at the undergrad and graduate level, as well as distance ed programs for professionals seeking continuing education. The most popular option is the Combined Bachelor of Science in Behavior and Health and Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. While Sargent College offers a standalone Master’s program as well, the combined program allows students to earn both an undergrad degree as well as the 2 year master’s degree required to practice as an OT, in just 5.5 years rather than the usual 6.5.

Students in the combined Bachelor’s/Master’s program will spend their freshman and sophomore years developing a strong knowledge base in anatomy, biology, physiology, psychology, and health care, along with more general elective courses. In their senior years, students will take courses that allow them to further explore the practice of OT, as well as gain real hands-on experience through clinical placements and course-integrated fieldwork.

In the master’s program, students will further develop their knowledge and skills in occupational therapy in small classes under the close supervision of senior professors and practitioners. Upon completion of the program, OT students will have completed 5 years worth of coursework, as well as half a year of clinical full-time fieldwork.

Upon graduation, students will be more than prepared to write the NBCOT certification exam, which allows graduates to practice as occupational therapists. Sargent College graduates have a 97-100% pass rate. The official program brochure with more information on admission and the program curriculum can be found here.

Tuition and fees for each academic year is around $44,580.

3. Washington University in St. Louis – Occupational Therapy

Dr. Baum

Dr. Baum speaking at a meeting at WUSTL. (Photo credit:

The occupational therapy program at Washington University, St Louis, has been ranked among the 3 top occupational therapy schools in the country for over a decade by U.S. News. The program offers Master’s (MSOT), Doctorate (OTD), Post-Professional Doctorate (PPOTD), and PhD in Rehabilitation and Participation Science degrees.

WUSTL doesn’t offer a bachelor’s degree in occupation therapy. However, undergrad or high school students interested in pursuing an MSOT degree at WUSTL can enter the program after completing just 3 years of undergrad work at one of the school’s partner universities under the 3-2 program. See here for a complete list of partner schools.

The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree at WUSTL is a 28 month full time program. Completing the MSOT program allows graduates to write the NBCOT national certification examination in order to become a practicing OT.

Students interested in applying to the WUSTL MOST program can find more information here.

Top 10 Occupational Therapy Program In The U.S.

1University of Southern California – Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy1540 Alcazar Street, CHP 133, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9003(323)442-2850
2Boston University – Sargent College635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215(617) 353-2729
3Washington University, St. Louis – Occupation Therapy4444 Forest Park Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108(314) 286-1600
4University of Illinois – Chicago – College of Applied Health Sciences1919 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612(312) 996-0124
5University of Kansas – School of Health Professionals3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160(913) 588-7195
6Colorado State University – Department of Occupational Therapy219 Occupational Therapy Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1573(970) 491-6253
6Thomas Jefferson University – Jefferson College of Health Professions130 S. Ninth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107(213) 503-8890
6Tufts University-Boston School of Occupational Therapy 26 Withrop Street, Medford, MA 02155(617) 627-5720
6University of Pittsburgh – School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences4028 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15260(412) 383-6558
10New York University – Occupational Therapy35 W. Fourth Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10012(212) 998-5825

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