Frequently Asked Questions
Both degree levels are currently routes of entry to the profession and are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Both degree levels prepare graduates to be entry-level practitioners; however, students must hold a baccalaureate degree for admission into the doctoral program. The doctoral degree offers additional semesters of study focusing on clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, and theory development. Both degree levels require Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences. In addition, doctoral students must also complete an experiential component (16 weeks) and culminating project.
What is the difference between an MOT, MA, or MS degree that is awarded at the completion of my master's degree program?
These are all appropriate degrees to award at the completion of an entry-level occupational therapy educational program. The degree awarded is an institutional prerogative based on consistency with the mission and structure of the college or university. All are considered entry-level degrees, although the MOT designation is more commonly used to designate an entry-level degree.
What should I major in at the undergraduate level if I apply to an entry-level master's or an entry-level doctoral program?
Examples of what other students have majored in at the undergraduate level include biology, kinesiology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, liberal arts, and anatomy. It is important that you contact the educational programs to which you are interested in applying and make sure you have taken the necessary prerequisites for admission into their programs.
I want to specialize in a certain area of practice (e.g., environmental modifications, pediatrics). How do I find a program with this specialty?
All entry-level educational programs prepare you to be a generalist. Specializing in one area of practice would be something you would pursue after you graduate and successfully pass the national certification examination. Many practitioners do select a specialty area of practice. Others change their area of practice throughout their careers. Occupational therapy provides a great deal of career flexibility.
Fieldwork education is a crucial part of your preparation to become an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. It provides you an opportunity to carry out practice and other professional responsibilities under supervision and role modeling by an experienced practitioner.
Some programs require that I have observation or volunteer experience. Who do I contact to set this up?
It is suggested that you contact local facilities that employ occupational therapists and/or occupational therapy assistants (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, or school systems). You can find these numbers in the Yellow Pages under Occupational Therapy or Rehabilitation. These requests are made quite frequently and you will find most facilities accommodating. Be prepared to discuss your reason for the request and your availability. You are advised to call facilities rather than email them.
This term refers to new programs that are not yet accredited but have completed the first step in the 3-step initial accreditation process. New programs seeking initial accreditation must submit an Application for Developing Program Status to ACOTE. The application is reviewed and ACOTE must take action to either grant or deny Developing Program Status (step 1). Not all programs are successful in obtaining Developing Program Status, and that status must be attained before students can be admitted into the program. Although the "Developing Program Status" designation does not guarantee that the program will be accredited, it indicates that the resource allocation and plan for development of the proposed program appear to demonstrate the ability to meet ACOTE Standards. After a program is granted Developing Program Status, the program will submit a Report of Self-Study for review by ACOTE (step 2) and will have an on-site evaluation (step 3). If the program can successfully demonstrate substantial compliance with the Standards, it will be granted accreditation. If not, accreditation will be withheld.
There is definitely a degree of risk involved in entering a program that is not yet accredited. When a program fails to obtain accreditation before the first class of student graduates, the program is no longer viable and closes. In order to be eligible to sit for the NBCOT certification examination, one must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited program. This is why it is essential for new programs to obtain accreditation before the first class of students graduates.
The students will have earned the course/credit hours taken but are not eligible for the certification examination. To be eligible for the certification examination, those students would need to transfer to a program that is accredited and complete that program's requirements for graduation. Credits from the unaccredited program may or may not be accepted by another program.
– See more at: http://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Considering-OT-Career/FAQs/Planning.aspx#sthash.AIJzoC8K.dpuf
I am currently working in another profession. I am considering occupational therapy as a second career. Is this feasible?
A good number of students go back to school to become an occupational therapist or an occupational therapy assistant. You would need to contact the individual educational programs to which you are interested in applying in order to determine what prerequisites you would need to take.
For the most recent salary information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
Here. But you should first start with the Financial Aid offices at the schools to which you have applied.
I know that I need to take a national certification exam when I graduate. Do I have to take this exam in each state that I would like to practice?
This is a national exam. You can take it anywhere it is offered. Your exam results will be reported to the appropriate state regulatory bodies that you have previously indicated. Once you successfully pass the national certification examination, you can apply for a license in any state.