You have reached here, means you (a future OT student) know something about this wonderful profession. If you don’t know anything, then go this link and read about Occupational therapy (OT) and its future perspectives.
What is Occupational Therapy?
In this article, we are going to discuss the common things which you should consider before selecting a specific school for your OT career.
- ACOTE Accreditation;
- Areas/ campus location;
- National and State OT school rankings;
- OTD/MS/ or BS/MS;
- Duration of program;
- Public or Private institute;
- Minimum educational requirements or prerequisites ;
- Fieldwork opportunities;
- Capstone or research opportunities;
- Teacher-student ratio;
- Weekend/hybrid or part-time option
Let’s go in depth of these important aspects of an OT school.
1. ACOTE Accreditation-
The Occupational therapy profession in the USA is controlled by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The Accreditation of OT educational programs for the occupational therapist (OT) and the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is granted by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The ACOTE is recognized as the accrediting agency for occupational therapy education by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ACOTE currently accredits 406 occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs in the United States and its territories.
2. Area or Campus Location-
After getting the list of accredited OT school, you can choose the preferred area or location. For example, you belong to New York and you don’t want to go outside of the state for educational purpose. Then, just select the OT schools or OT program available in New York.
If the campus is near to your home, you can use public transport to save money on transportation, hostel, food, etc.
3. National and State OT school ranking-
Once you decide the area or location for your OT education, just check the number of OT schools running in that area (some state has single OT program, for example, Kansas; while some state has many options available, for example, New York).
If you are opting for the state, which has many OT program options, then you should see the rankings (national and state). We are trying to create our own OT schools ranking (based on reviews and other factors) but the list hasn’t been prepared yet. Currently, you can follow the other standard ranking websites (for example, US news and reports).
4. OTD/MS or BS/MS;
Hmm.. Now the next thing is to select the perfect entry-level course for your OT career. The options are: Accelerated BS/MS combined degree; Entry-level Master program, and Entry-level Occupational therapy Doctorate (OTD) program.
If you are a freshman and interested in the occupational therapy profession, the best way is to opt for the accelerated BS/MS program. If you have done bachelors program already in same or another discipline, you can opt for an entry-level Master or OTD program.
Before selecting between MSOT and OTD, just read this article and get in-depth knowledge and difference between these programs.
MSOT/MOT vs. OTD
5. Duration of program-
The duration of the program is also important, everybody wants to finish school early and start earning. If the duration is less, more quickly you will be eligible for the NBCOT exam.
Generally, the entry-level accelerated BS/MS program (after high school) is of 4 ½ to 5 year duration, while an entry-level master is of 2-3 year program (after bachelor’s degree) and entry-level OTD program will require of 3 years to complete.
6. Public or Private institute;
We all know that the competitions are more in public institute admission because of less tuition fee, central location, and availability of scholarships. But that doesn’t mean that private schools are not good. Many Private OT schools are providing excellent OT education and affordable too.
It’s better to apply in both type of institute and if you are lucky enough to get admission in both institutes, then prefer according to the above-mentioned criteria’s.
You should identify your goals and consider Fees, class size, location, culture, and environment before choosing between a public university and private school for your college experience.
American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) scholarships, AOTA’s E.K. Wise Scholarships and AMBUCS Scholars are the most frequently applied by the occupational therapy students. Along with these, universities provide financial aid or scholarships to the students. Go and visit your probable school/college and see whether they provide any scholarship or not.
You should look for the facilities provided by the OT school, the different labs (for example- Biomechanics labs, anatomy lab, smart simulation lab, assistive technology lab and an activities-of-daily-living area containing a real kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and laundry space.)
The OT program offers a wide range of interprofessional academic and clinical experiences, including an on-campus OT clinic, clinical outreach activities, and fieldwork opportunities.
9. Minimum educational requirements or prerequisites ;
Each OT school has its own minimum criteria’s for admission. Most of the school need a baccalaureate degree; a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; 3 letters of recommendations; a minimum of 20-40 hours of documented under observation with an Occupational Therapist in OT setup.
A minimum prerequisite course includes Human Anatomy & Physiology; General, abnormal and Developmental Psychology; Sociology; Statistics.
*Tip- in prerequisite, follow the most commonly required courses. So you can apply in various OT school by fulfilling the minimum requirement criteria’s at the same time.
10. Fieldwork opportunities;
Some OT school offers various fieldwork opportunities from local to a national level and some offers in the local area only. Discuss these opportunities with the school counselor and take decision accordingly. Fieldwork opportunity will help you to apply your clinical knowledge into real condition.
11. Capstone or research opportunities;-
Capstone projects and research opportunities are more in the OTD program. If you are interested in the research and academic field, then you should prefer an OTD program over MSOT. Some MSOT/MOT program also offers capstone project, you can also prefer them.
12. Faculty-student ratio-
Classes with too many students and with fewer faculties are often disrupting to education/ learning. The lower student-teacher ratios are better at teaching complex subjects to OT students, such as Occupational therapy’s theoretical part, frames of references, and practical’s like Assessment of Joint range of motion, muscle testing. Smaller classes are widely believed to benefit all students because of individual attention from teachers in academics and research.
13. Weekend / hybrid or part time option
Some OT school offers a part-time option to the students, some have weekend classes schedule and some offers hybrid classes (campus + online teaching). These options are good for students who want to do some extra study course or part-time work. So, if you are looking for this option, consult with the school admission coordinator or faculty.
If you require any additional information about this topic, you can comment below and we will try to solve your query.