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Online Occupational Therapy Programs: Earning an OT degree your way

By Brendan Conway updated on Monday, January 28, 2013

There are occupational therapy programs all over the United States, but they aren't always best suited to the schedules and lives of would-be occupational therapists. Online occupational therapy programs are becoming better and better alternatives to those brick and mortar occupational therapy programs, thanks to the online programs' often greater versatility for students.

Online occupational therapy programs are not inherently better, of course; they do have their advantages and their disadvantages, and both should be taken into account before any interested student makes any decisions about which type of school to attend. But online occupational therapy programs do offer interested individuals another way to pursue occupational therapy degrees, which is particularly important for those individuals who could not otherwise pursue such degrees.

An occupational therapy online degree from an accredited program will be as valuable and useful as a similar degree received from a brick and mortar institution, too. Coming out of an online occupational therapy program, you should be able to earn the same occupational therapy salary as those leaving brick and mortar institutions. 

As long as you approach online occupational therapy programs with a clear head and a smart plan, you'll come out with everything you aim to achieve.

Advantages of online occupational therapy programs

The primary advantages of online occupational therapy programs are fairly obvious. A student participating in online occupational therapy programs doesn't need to attend those programs in person. Such programs will also often be specifically designed to give students a certain amount of flexibility in taking classes and performing important work.

Pursuing an occupational therapy online degree would also most likely be less costly than more traditional options. Online occupational therapy programs often have lower tuition costs than brick and mortar programs, so make sure to look at tuition prices when you're deciding which programs are right for you.

Disadvantages of online occupational therapy programs

The disadvantages of online occupational therapy programs involve issues of accreditation, time, and experience.

  • First of all, some online occupational therapy programs might not be properly accredited. No interested student should ever pursue an occupational therapy online degree from an institution that does not have the appropriate accreditations from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

    This is because occupational therapists must receive their degrees from accredited institutions in order to legally practice as occupational therapists in the United States. The exact rules regarding the requirements for legal practice vary somewhat from state to state; be sure to look into them to make certain of what you have to do.

  • Second of all, students should be aware that the amount of time they must invest in the programs is often quite significant. This isn't always true, and is likely to vary from program to program. But it is possible that an occupational therapy online degree program might take much longer to pursue than a brick and mortar program.

  • Third, a brick and mortar occupational therapy program does have some advantages in terms of providing its students with adequate hands-on experience. Online occupational therapy programs will often take place mostly over Internet communication, and will therefore not necessarily involve a great amount of hands-on experience in occupational therapy. A brick and mortar program might involve more direct experience.

    Again, though, this varies widely depending upon the programs in question, especially because online occupational therapy programs may sometimes offer internship opportunities or hands-on experience opportunities near its students' locations.

Online occupational therapy programs: The right choice?

There is no fast and easy answer about whether or not an occupational therapy online degree is the right choice for you. You'll have to look at both online programs and brick and mortar programs to compare them. Take into account all the advantages and disadvantages, all the pluses and minuses. Yes, you'll have to move for the brick and mortar program, but you'll also get hands-on time with trained occupational therapists and patients. Yes, the online program may take longer, but you'll be able to take classes and do work on your own schedule, without sacrificing important parts of your life as it is now.

It's a decision that only you'll be able to make, but it's most important that you look at these options and make sure to include them in your decision-making process.

Occupational Therapy Programs
About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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