How do I Earn an Occupational Therapy Degree?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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An occupational therapy degree is required to become a certified occupational therapist. This type of degree is available from a wide range of universities and can be completed both through traditional classes and online. There are a number of ways to complete an occupational therapy degree — full time, part time, or a combination of the two. In addition to these methods, many people apply for and receive credit for prior learning at the college level and work experience in the field.

Occupational therapy is a recognized health services discipline that focuses on using work to help people overcome physical or mental impairments and participate fully in everyday life. An occupational therapy degree allows candidates to apply for positions in hospitals, government agencies, insurance companies, and related support services. People who work in this field have a great deal of personal interaction with clients, often visiting them at home and providing assistance and support as they transition into the working world.

The most common way to earn an occupational therapy degree is to request admission to a traditional university after graduating from high school. The program is three to four years of full-time school, and requires successful completion of a number of courses. The courses are split between the core sciences, health sciences, and general knowledge courses. A minimum grade of 50 percent or D is required to pass all courses.


There are many online schools and traditional universities that offer courses toward an occupational therapy degree via the Internet. Students can register for courses from their primary school or from other schools and have the credits applied to their degree program. Online courses allow students greater flexibility to schedule course work, listen to lectures, and complete assignments. However, the academic requirements are the same as for any standard degree course.

People who have completed a college diploma in occupational therapy or a related health sciences program can apply to have transfer credits evaluated and applied to the degree. All universities have a process for the evaluation of prior learning, and many people use this method to increase their education while maximizing previous effort.

Students also have the option of completing an occupational therapy degree part time. While this method of learning will significantly increase the time to earn the degree, it is a great option for people who need to continue to earn a full-time salary while completing their schooling. However, excellent time management skills are necessary to be successful.



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