An online associates degree in occupational therapy is a great stepping stone for students who are passionate about helping others lead healthier and active lives. Occupational therapists use assessment and intervention to recover, develop, improve, and maintain the meaningful activities individuals and groups need for day-to-day living. Their job is to help people across the lifespan carry on with everyday activities through therapeutic use.
Occupational therapy is an allied health profession that employs a holistic perspective. It focuses on the patient, who is an integral part of the therapy team and adapts the environment to fit his or her needs. Occupational therapy practitioners use techniques like individualized evaluation, customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and outcomes evaluation to measure improvement. They use a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s overall environments to recommend adaptive equipment and training for their use.
Students interested in the field can begin with an online associates degree in occupational therapy and start with entry-level careers as occupational therapy assistants. OTAs work primarily in hospitals, schools, and long-term care facilities. OTA assistants help their supervising therapists help children with disabilities fully participate in school and social situations, provide support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes, and help people recovering from injury to regain skills.
OTA is one of the fastest-growing fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists’ jobs will grow at 18 percent through 2028. The average annual salary for occupational therapists is $76,448. While most students go on to get advanced degrees in the field and state licenses to practice, getting started with an associate’s degree helps them explore the field and get foundational skills.
An online associates degree in occupational therapy helps young students begin their road to a college degree and immerse themselves in the knowledge of this specialized area. It is also a good solution for working adults who wish to earn a degree as they continue to work full-time. Most associate’s degrees are offered by community colleges that are affordable and flexible. They can study at their own pace and yet enjoy the same quality of education as on-campus programs. In this article, we have shortlisted the affordable online OTA programs. We have also looked at the school’s curriculum, program accreditation, overall accreditation, and student support teams. Schools have been ranked based on their affordability.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
- Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
- Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
- Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point
Program Flexibility (asynchronous course delivery, hybrid options, part-time/full-time schedule, etc. ) – 1 point per item
Online Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, etc.)— 1 point per item
Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item
“Wow” Factor – 1 point
#10 St. Catherine University
OTA A.A.S. Online
Leadership Psychology Doctorate (PsyD) Online
St. Catherine University offers an OTA Associate of Applied Science Online degree via its Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. It is designed for students who are passionate about contributing to the well-being and overall quality of life of individuals in need. The 58 credit program usually takes two years to complete and prepares them to take the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). A combination of theory, practice, and supervised fieldwork teaches them first-hand how to make a difference in people’s lives and your career. Graduates of the program are prepared to work and excel in a variety of healthcare and community settings. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and St. Catherine University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition per credit: $790
#9 Eastern Virginia Career College
OTA A.A.S. Online
Eastern Virginia Career College offers an online associate of applied science degree in Occupational Therapy that prepares the student to enter the workforce as an occupational therapy assistant. The 43-credit program includes the required general education courses for associate-level degrees, Level II Fieldwork, and specialized courses in occupational therapy. The curriculum is occupation and evidence-based. It inculcates the necessary skills, and knowledge students need to contribute to the OT process, meet the occupational needs of individuals, groups, and organizations, and emerge as a lifelong learner. They gain entry-level jobs under the supervision of an occupational therapist. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and Eastern Virginia Career College is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
#8 Herzing University
OTA A.A.S. Online
Herzing University offers an online Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant that prepares students for rewarding careers in healthcare. The 71 credit program can be completed in 24 months. It is designed for students who are passionate about helping and improving the lives of people of all ages in their communities. The ACOTE-accredited program offers a hands-on, career-focused education that prepares students to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and become a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA). The curriculum combines academic and theoretical knowledge that provides foundational knowledge in medical terminology, pediatrics, kinesiology, geriatrics, and assistive technology. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
#7 Roane State Community College
OTA A.S. Online
Roane State Community College offers an online Associate of Applied Science-Occupational Therapy Assistant program. The OTA curriculum includes a blend of online and hybrid courses coupled with face-to-face labs. The 70-credit program consists of three academic semesters and one semester of full-time fieldwork completed in community-based practice settings. Graduates go on to work in hospitals, school systems, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, home health agencies, mental health facilities, assisted living and long-term care settings, and community-based programs. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and Roane State Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Tuition per credit: $168
#6 State Fair Community College
OTA A.A.S. Online
State Fair Community College offers an online Associates Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant that prepares students for entry-level careers in schools, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The 80-credit program combines general education, laboratory practice, professional-level coursework, and clinical fieldwork. Students learn to provide occupational therapy to people with physical, social, developmental, or emotional disabilities and help promote daily activity and independence. They are prepared to meet the certification and state licensure exams as they prepare to practice as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) in the future. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and State Fair Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Tuition per credit: $167
#5 Barton Community College
Great Bend, KS
OTA A.S. Online
Barton Community College offers an online Associate in Science degree in Occupational Therapy. It is designed to provide students with specific career education and position them for success in the workplace. The 64-credit program includes courses like Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Elements of Statistics & lab, Introduction to Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, General Psychology, Principles of Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology, Personal and Community Health, Marriage and Family, Technical and Report Writing, Principles of Microbiology, Principles of Zoology along with courses in Economics/Political Science, Humanities and Foundation Studies. Barton County Community College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition per semester credit: $150
#4 Casper College
AS in Health Science-Pre-OTA Online
Casper College offers an online Associate of Science in Health Science degree with a Pre-Occupational Therapy Assistant Emphasis option. A minimum of 60 approved semester credits is required for graduation. The coursework includes topics like Introduction to Occupational Therapy, General Psychology, Functional Kinesiology, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Fieldwork Integration, Human Anatomy Lab along with the Approved Electives. Students also have to complete the general education coursework, which they can do from within or outside of the major field of study. Students gain foundational knowledge in the field and are well-prepared for bachelor’s degree programs. The average length of this program is two academic years. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and Casper College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Tuition per credit: $137
#3 Linn-Benton Community College
OTA A.A.S. Online
Linn-Benton Community College offers an online/hybrid Associate of Applied Science Degree program in Occupational Therapy Assistant that takes two years to complete. However, students living outside the service area of LBCC and our partner community colleges may not be eligible since they are required to attend some on-campus classes. The 103-credit program combines classroom, laboratory, and fieldwork components to make students eligible to sit for the national certification examination and work as entry-level occupational therapy assistants in a variety of practice settings. They develop a thorough understanding of occupational therapy theory and practice, including activity analysis and clinical reasoning, to help clients meet functional goals. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and Linn-Benton Community College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Northwest Association of Colleges and Universities.
Tuition per credit: $122.54
#2 Rogue Community College
Grants Pass, OR
OTA A.S. Online
Rogue Community College offers an online Associate of Applied Science degree Occupational Physical Therapy Assistant program in collaboration with Linn Benton Community College (LBCC). Students living in the valley may enroll in the college and then complete the 103-credit degree online. Students learn to use therapy and treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. They are focused on helping patients recover and improve the skills needed for everyday activities and live more independently. Graduates can opt for higher degrees or start working under occupational therapists’ direction in settings like rehabilitation centers, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and occupational therapists’ offices. The program is ACOTE-accredited, and RCC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU or the Commission).
Tuition per credit: $116
#1 Tulsa Community College
OTA A.A.S. Online
Tulsa Community College offers an online Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. It is a comprehensive educational program that prepares students for occupational therapy careers. The 58-credit program covers the broad knowledge and skills needed to be an allied health profession. Students develop competencies in therapeutic techniques via an in-depth study of physical, psychological, or cognitive disabilities. Graduates are prepared to take the state licensure exam. A combination of evidence-based research and practice provides a solid foundation for practical assessment and effective treatment. The program is ACOTE-accredited and Tulsa Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tuition per credit: $112.55