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How do I get a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy?

By Elva K.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Occupational therapists work with patients who have mental, physical, or emotional challenges. For example, occupational therapists assist patients in improving their memory and ability to do daily activities, such as preparing and eating food, getting dressed, writing, or doing computer work or other types of work. Occupational therapists might also perform environment modification to assist individuals in adapting to the workplace after an illness. Individuals who seek to become occupational therapists often get the master's degree at an Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accredited program because having an accredited Master of Science (MS) degree is a sign of competence which makes it more likely prospective employers will hire the occupational therapist. Granted, earning the master's degree in occupational therapy requires first getting a bachelor's degree or meeting requirements set forth by the school where you hope to do your occupational therapy training.

Some master's degree programs do not require a bachelor's degree specializing in occupational therapy. In fact, some schools will allow a bachelor's degree in any subject provided you take certain courses as electives, such as lifespan development, statistics, physiology, or anatomy. Of course, if you opt to get a bachelor's degree pertaining to occupational therapy, the required coursework will usually include courses such as applied kinesiology, neuroanatomy, occupational performance, ethics, and occupational therapy practice. Most likely there will also be occupational therapy practicum or fieldwork, where you will be required to do supervised occupational therapy work in a rehabilitation center, hospital, or other relevant setting.

After completion of the bachelor's degree when you are ready to apply to graduate school, you will need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). You will also need to get letters of recommendation from professors and write an application essay explaining your reasons for wanting graduate study. In addition, some schools may require you to show that you have at least 40 hours of observation with a professional occupational therapist before accepting you into the master's degree program.

Granted, you should note that, in some cases, it is possible to begin the master's degree in occupational therapy before completing the bachelor's degree. For instance, in some cases, you can begin the master's degree after completion of 90 semester hours of undergraduate coursework. Or, by contrast, some schools will even allow college freshmen with excellent academic qualifications to have dual admission to the bachelor's degree and master's degree in occupational therapy.

Once accepted to a master's degree program in occupational therapy, you must complete the coursework, practicum, research and any other requirements. Indeed, meeting the requirements to earn the master's degree can be challenging. Granted, if you have good academic ability and if you work well with patients during your supervised practicum, you can successfully attain the master's degree in occupational therapy.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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