Top Occupational Therapy (OT) Universities in 2022-2023

Best Occupational Therapy Colleges and Universities in the World

About Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) is a client-centered health profession that promotes health and well-being through rehabilitation, allowing physically, emotionally, cognitively, or neurologically impaired and challenged people to reclaim their lives. Instead of relying on medications or surgical procedures, occupational therapists (OTs) help people regain their quality of life by focusing on patient education, functional skill training, and involvement in everyday activities. 

In general, occupational therapy is considered an allied health profession, and occupational therapists quite often work alongside doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, or other health professionals. They work with people of all ages and in a variety of physical and psychological settings. This occupation is perfect for students who wish to help others achieve self-sufficiency by addressing their needs.  

Duties of an Occupational Therapist

The work of occupational therapists is unique in the sense that they rely on evidence-based interventions to offer extremely tailored and holistic care to their patients. They can work with different age groups such as toddlers, children, young people, elderly people, and people with special needs such as physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and mental health issues. Therefore, the duties and responsibilities of an occupational therapist will vary from one patient to another. The following are a few generalized duties that occupational therapists are required to perform regardless of where and with whom they work. Although, occupational therapists are responsible for a lot more than just these duties:

  • Identifying and evaluating patient needs and care
  • Developing tailored treatment plans to help patients become self-reliant
  • Making sure that the patient adheres to the treatment plans 
  • Assessing patients’ environments, such as work and/or home, to identify patient problems
  • Advising on modifications to meet the patient’s demands and increase independence
  • Educating patient family members or caregivers on how to use specialized equipment such as wheelchairs
  • Assessing documents and paperwork related to patients
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in their field

Popular degrees for pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy

To begin a career as an occupational therapist, students must have a formal degree in occupational therapy, preferably advanced degree like master’s degree. Students with an associate degree or diploma in occupational therapy can also begin their careers in the field with a low-level position such as an assistant occupational therapist. The following are some of the typical degrees offered by universities across the world pertaining to occupational therapy. 

Bachelor’s programs

  • Bachelor of Occupational Therapy
  • Bachelor of Physiotherapy
  • Bachelor of Health Professions
  • B.S. in Rehabilitation Studies
  • B.Sc. in Physical Therapy 

Master’s programs

  • M.S. in Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Occupational Medicine
  • M.S. in Advanced Occupational Therapy
  • M.Sc. in Occupational Therapy Practice 
  • M.S in Geriatric Therapy

Doctoral programs

  • Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences 
  • Ph.D. in Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences
  • Ph.D. in Physical Therapy
  • Ph.D. in Geriatric Therapy

Specializations in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy has a wide range of specialties. Adding a specialization to an existing degree will enable a student to develop specialized knowledge in a certain field, improve the credentials, and open doors to new high-paying work prospects. Students can either go for specialization for a master’s degree, doctorate, or certification program after earning their master’s. Depending on their passion, students can choose one or more of the following specializations in occupational therapy:

  • Gerontology 
  • Pediatrics
  • Driving and community mobility
  • Mental health
  • Low vision
  • Neuro-developmental treatment
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • School systems
  • Mobility specialist
  • Clinical anxiety
  • Hand therapy
  • Feeding, eating and swallowing
  • Environmental modification
  • Autism
  • Diabetes
  • Brain injuries
  • Assistive care
  • Aquatic therapy

Duration of programs in Occupational Therapy

The typical duration of an occupational therapy undergraduate degree in the USA is four years, whereas it can be three-four years in other countries such as the UK and Australia. There are some universities that offer accelerated programs and dual degree options in the field of occupational therapy. If a student wants to enter the job market sooner rather than later, even an associate degree is sufficient to get a job as an occupational therapy assistant. In addition to the degrees, pre-occupational therapists are required to pass a national certification exam to obtain a license to become registered occupational therapists. 

Country Associate Degree Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree Doctoral Degree
USA and Canada 2 years  4 years 1-2 years 4-7 years
UK 2 years 4 years 1-2 years 4-7 years
Australia 2 years 4 years 1-2 years 4-7 years

Career opportunities in Occupational Therapy

The places of employment for an occupational therapist include hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, home care, nursing homes, special schools, industry, and private enterprise. Occupational therapy jobs are on the rise and are projected to grow more 

  • Occupational therapist
  • Occupational therapy assistant
  • Mental health therapist
  • Physical health therapist
  • Pediatric therapist
  • Rehabilitation therapist
  • Geriatric therapist 

Average salaries for an Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapist are among the highly paid specialist in the allied health care profession. The salaries of occupational therapists depend upon different factors such as 

  • Education (advanced degrees pay more) 
  • Job location (the USA, UK, and Canada are high paying countries) 
  • Experience (entry-level jobs pay less) 
  • Skillset
  • Employer

The average salaries for occupational therapists in some parts of the world are given in the following table:

Country Average salary in USD*/year
Canada 1,25,065 (Source: Salary Explorer)
UK 1,22,088 (Source: Salary Explorer)
USA 1,21,000 (Source: Salary Explorer)
Australia 89,923 (Source: Salary Explorer)
Netherlands 77,005 (Source: Salary Explorer)
Sweden 74,153 (Source: Salary Explorer)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Top 50 universities in the world for Occupational Therapy based on world rankings (Shanghai/QS/THE)

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
19 8 11 Columbia University USA Click Here Click Here
26 22 18 University of Toronto Canada Click Here Click Here
27 67 44 McGill University Canada Click Here Click Here
37 33 33 University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
38 69 58 University of Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
42 27 26 New York University USA Click Here Click Here
43 65 70 University of New South Wales Australia Click Here Click Here
46 42 37 University of British Columbia Canada Click Here Click Here
47 51 54 University of Queensland Australia Click Here Click Here
55 101-150 65 University of Amsterdam Netherlands Click Here Click Here
58 80 57 Monash University Australia Click Here Click Here
77 151-200 124 University of Southampton UK Click Here Click Here
87 151-200 116 Lund University Sweden Click Here Click Here
100 29 52 University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill USA Click Here Click Here
107 23 51 Washington University in St. Louis USA Click Here Click Here
110 50 69 Utrecht University Netherlands Click Here Click Here
111 101-150 88 University of Montreal Canada Click Here Click Here
112 95 62 Boston University USA Click Here Click Here
112 61 63 University of Southern California USA Click Here Click Here
120 101-150 85 Ohio State University USA Click Here Click Here
126 101-150 125 University of Alberta Canada Click Here Click Here
140 92 80 McMaster University Canada Click Here Click Here
151 151-200 189 Cardiff University UK Click Here Click Here
163 101-150 140 University of Pittsburgh USA Click Here Click Here
170 201-300 201-250 Western University Canada Click Here Click Here
173 97 154 University of Florida USA Click Here Click Here
179 101-150 72 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands Click Here Click Here
180 101-150 185 University of Gothenburg Sweden Click Here Click Here
189 101-150 178 University of Liverpool UK Click Here Click Here
206 301-400 301-350 RMIT University Australia Click Here Click Here
209 101-150 115 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands Click Here Click Here
230 201-300 162 University of Ottawa Canada Click Here Click Here
233 201-300 127 Maastricht University Netherlands Click Here Click Here
240 201-300 251-300 Queen’s University Canada Click Here Click Here
272 201-300 251-300 Dalhousie University Canada Click Here Click Here
275 151-200 172 Tufts University-Boston School of Occupational Therapy USA Click Here Click Here
285 201-300 301-350 University of Illinois–Chicago USA Click Here Click Here
326 401-500 301-350 University of South Australia Australia Click Here Click Here
362 301-400 201-250 La Trobe University Australia Click Here Click Here
431 201-300 351-400 Colorado State University USA Click Here Click Here
1001-1200 NA 601-800 Glasgow Caledonian University UK Click Here Click Here
1001-1200 NA Reporter University of Northampton UK Click Here Click Here
601-650 501-600 401-500 University of Plymouth UK Click Here Click Here
651-700 901-1000 601-800 Ulster University UK Click Here Click Here
701-750 801-900 401-500 Northumbria University, Newcastle UK Click Here Click Here
801-1000 NA 1001-1200 Robert Gordon University UK Click Here Click Here
801-1000 NA 401-500 Bristol, University of the West of England UK Click Here Click Here
NA 501-600 NA Thomas Jefferson University USA Click Here Click Here
NA 301-400 NA Medical University of South Carolina USA Click Here Click Here
NA 42 39 Karolinska Institute Sweden Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the USA for Occupational Therapy

Every student wishes to study in the USA because of the high-quality education, unique curriculum, multicultural environment, and numerous job opportunities, especially in health care courses like occupational therapy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for occupational therapists is expected to increase by 18% between 2018 and 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. This is the ideal time to pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy in the USA. Even a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy or allied sciences with relevant experience is enough to get an entry-level job in the USA. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
19 8 11 Columbia University USA Click Here Click Here
42 27 26 New York University USA Click Here Click Here
100 29 52 University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill USA Click Here Click Here
107 23 51 Washington University in St. Louis USA Click Here Click Here
112 95 62 Boston University USA Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the UK for Occupational Therapy

As per the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT), there is a shortage of occupational therapists in the UK. Therefore, this is a good chance for overseas students interested in occupational therapy to study in the UK, as they will be able to find work in this sector quickly after graduation. Students with a graduate degree in occupational therapy can easily find work in the National Health Service (NHS), which is a publicly funded healthcare system in the UK. Undergraduate occupational therapy institutions in the United Kingdom are progressively accepting students from a diverse range of academic backgrounds.

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
77 151-200 124 University of Southampton UK Click Here Click Here
151 151-200 189 Cardiff University UK Click Here Click Here
189 101-150 178 University of Liverpool UK Click Here Click Here
1001-1200 NA 601-800 Glasgow Caledonian University UK Click Here Click Here
1001-1200 NA Reporter University of Northampton UK Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Canada for Occupational Therapy

Canada is known to be one of the highest paying countries for occupational therapists [1,25,065 USD/year (Source: Salary Explorer)]. Therefore, many students interested in working in Canada also prefer to study in Canada. 

The top Canadian universities, such as the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia, etc., emphasize more on master’s courses in occupational therapy. There are other universities in Canada that offer bachelor’s courses in occupational therapy as well as allied fields like biology, physical therapy, health education, and so on, which students can pursue and then move on to specialized courses in occupational therapy. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
26 22 18 University of Toronto Canada Click Here Click Here
27 67 44 McGill University Canada Click Here Click Here
46 42 37 University of British Columbia Canada Click Here Click Here
111 101-150 88 University of Montreal Canada Click Here Click Here
126 101-150 125 University of Alberta Canada Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Australia for Occupational Therapy

The demand for admission to the USA and UK institutions is intense, whereas Australian universities are a little easier to get into, particularly in health-related fields. In comparison to the USA, an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy takes only three years instead of four. Furthermore, fees for undergraduate and postgraduate occupational therapy degrees are lower in Australia than in the USA and the UK. These reasons are enough for students to want to study in Australia. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
37 33 33 University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
38 69 58 University of Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
43 65 70 University of New South Wales Australia Click Here Click Here
47 51 54 University of Queensland Australia Click Here Click Here
58 80 57 Monash University Australia Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the Netherlands for Occupational Therapy

Despite being a small country with a majority of Dutch speakers, the Netherlands has a great number of universities that offer English courses, and therefore, many international students wish to study there. In terms of quality education and accredited courses, Dutch universities compete directly with some of the most prestigious universities in the UK and the USA. Just like universities in the USA and UK, Netherlands universities offer graduate courses in occupational therapy. Few colleges even offer dual degree courses compiling both graduate courses and undergraduate courses in occupational therapy.

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking THE Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
55 101-150 65 University of Amsterdam Netherlands Click Here Click Here
110 50 69 Utrecht University Netherlands Click Here Click Here
179 101-150 72 Erasmus University Rotterdam Netherlands Click Here Click Here
209 101-150 115 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands Click Here Click Here
233 201-300 127 Maastricht University Netherlands Click Here Click Here

Academic requirements for studying Occupational Therapy

For their undergraduate degrees in occupational therapy, several universities around the world allow students from a variety of academic backgrounds. However, for a master’s degree in occupational therapy, an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy or a related discipline such as exercise science, physiology, psychology, or biology is essential. The academic requirements for bachelor’s and master’s programs in occupational therapy typically include some or all of the following combinations:

Bachelor’s level

  • A pre-degree or foundation course with a GPA of 3.0 or greater (on a scale of 4.0)
  • Academic transcripts
  • SATs or ACTs score
  • Personal statement 
  • Letter of recommendation (optional for some universities)
  • Valid passport
  • English proficiency test scores such as TOEFL (generally above 90) or IELTS (generally above 6.0)

Master’s level

  • A bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy or allied fields from an accredited institute with a GPA of 3.0 or greater (on a scale of 4.0)
  • Academic transcripts
  • Personal statement 
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Valid passport
  • Work experience (preferable)
  • GRE score
  • English proficiency test scores such as TOEFL (generally above 90) or IELTS (generally above 6.0)

Frequently Asked Questions

Countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands are well-known for providing excellent occupational therapy courses as well as good job opportunities for international students.

Occupational therapy is a highly gratifying career, not only in terms of job satisfaction and income but also in terms of being able to make a difference in the lives of people. 

Since occupational therapy is a healthcare degree, it has all of the similar challenges and work pressure as other healthcare degrees like medical, nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, and so on. Therefore, this degree is appropriate for those who are both passionate about helping others and capable.

In most countries, a master’s degree and passing a national certification exam to obtain a license are required to become a licensed occupational therapist.