How do I earn an online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree?

The discipline of occupational therapy contributes significantly to the medical field and to the community in which it serves. Occupational therapists are imperative to the recovery of many who suffer from a wide range of disabilities such as mental and emotional disorders, disease or other physical impairments. While duties include assessing and implementing treatment plans, an occupational therapist is primarily concerned with getting their patients to the point where daily activities are routine and comfortable, and not painful. As most of us take ordinary day-to-day tasks for granted, such as getting dressed, combing our hair or brushing our teeth, for some it is a real challenge. By earning your online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree, you can be the lifesaver someone needs to put them back on track to recovery.

To become an occupational therapist, you will need a master’s degree, which is the minimum requirement for this career choice. However, the entry level standards are changing, and incoming students must obtain a doctorate degree in occupational therapy (OTD) to become a licensed practicing occupational therapist, by the year 2027. Currently, existing OT programs are being replaced with OTD programs, so they may offer the most current degree program available to new students who would like to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

If you are now a practicing OT with a master’s degree, earning an online doctoral degree in occupational therapy will benefit your career, as well as, bring you up to the industry standards. Obtaining this distinguished accolade will provide you with better opportunities for advancement and a higher salary. You may choose to conduct research, teach, offer consulting services or open a private practice.

But, can you earn a doctorate degree in occupational therapy through an online school format, you ask? Yes, there are several online Doctor of Occupational Therapy schools to choose from, however, please be advised that some on-campus attendance may be required due to the nature of the training. For the post-professional looking to earn their online doctoral degree in occupational therapy, prerequisites will include a valid OT license, your master’s degree transcripts, as well as, an excellent GPA, personal statement, letters of recommendation for the program and, of course, a current resumé. OTD programs generally take three to four years to complete and will require a dissertation or capstone project.

Perhaps as an experienced occupational therapist, you are wondering how you can benefit from an OTD program. Whether a seasoned veteran in the field or a newcomer, doctoral programs are designed to delve even deeper into the science behind occupational therapy. You will learn in-depth, evidence-based methods of applying occupational therapy, exploring research methods, and about the responsibilities of a leadership position, the influence of public policy and the critical duties of an administrative position, among many other pertinent aspects of occupational therapy. Some coursework may include specific OT treatments for geriatric, pediatric or autistic patients, in addition to, those who battle neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

Upon graduation from your online Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program, you will need to pass the examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Depending on your state’s regulations, they may also require you to have some fieldwork experience under your belt before you are eligible to gain licensure. After you obtain your Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) credentials, you will need to continue your education to maintain your OTR standing. Also, an occupational therapist may need to hold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) certification as well. Voluntary specialty certifications are also available. has compiled a list of the Best Online Schools for Doctor of Occupational Therapy Degree Programs to assist you in making an informed choice about the program that will fit your needs.