Top Occupational Therapy Schools in the U.S.

Interested in a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy from a top program within the United States? We offer rankings of best U.S. Occupational Therapy graduate programs. Review the following schools to see requirements for Master and Doctoral degrees in the area of Occupational Therapy.

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Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a health discipline that is about promoting health through activity, and supporting people in carrying out activities and participating in society. In occupational therapy, activities are used directly in treatment and training, and indirectly by facilitating tasks through adaptation of the environment and the use of technical aids. Professionals trained in occupational therapy are called occupational therapists.

Occupational therapy is based on the close relationship between the activities we perform and our health. Health problems can lead to activity restrictions, and improper execution of activities can cause health problems. It is this connection that is the starting point for all occupational therapy. Occupational therapists can, through adaptation of activities, help prevent health damage and promote health.

Within occupational therapy, there are seven specialties or professional arenas: Public Health, Children’s Health, Elderly Health, Mental Health, Somatic Health, Occupational Health and Public Health.


Occupational therapy is an international health profession that originated in the United States in the early 1900s. It was first used in mental health care, where the use of activities in treatment proved beneficial. Gradually, occupational therapy played a key role in rehabilitating the injured after the First and Second World Wars. The first occupational therapist education in Norway came in Oslo in 1952, the same year that the Norwegian Occupational Therapy Association was founded. Until 1975, the subject was called occupational therapy.


Occupational therapy is used in various areas of the health and social services. It is a current offering to people of all ages who, due to illness or injury, have had trouble performing daily chores. It is also used to prevent strain injuries where work and activities are performed in an unfortunate manner, and is used to prevent relapse or worsening of illness and functional impairment.

Occupational therapy can also be health-promoting and aimed at the general population through teaching, information and participation in community planning. Designing the environment to promote accessibility for all (see universal design ) is an example of this. Occupational therapy illustrates the relationship between health, environment and activity.


In occupational therapy there are several tools that are used.

Top Occupational Therapy Schools


Exercise in daily chores is done by motivation and by facilitating necessary and desired activities. Examples are activities in daily living ( ADL ) such as personal hygiene, undressing and dressing, eating and drinking. Or it can be training in more complex activities such as housework, purchasing, managing your own finances or taking care of leisure activities.

Training and guidance can be done individually or in groups. It is emphasized that the individual should have the opportunity to participate in activities with others in the workplace, school, kindergarten, local environment and society at large.

Adaptation and facilitation

Adaptation and organization of activities takes place through advice on how activities are performed to promote coping and health. Alternative work techniques, simplification of routines, use of activity diary for memory failure are examples of such measures. Aids can be the adaptation of aids to facilitate the performance of daily activities, better communication and increase work ability. This can be anything from small appliances in the kitchen to computer equipment in the workplace.

Functional assessment and training

Functional assessment and training is something that the occupational therapist contributes to in treatment programs and as part of rehabilitation. This often happens with other professional groups in a multidisciplinary team. Investigation is done by means of testing and observation in activities, conversations, tests and surveys.

The training is aimed at functions that are fundamental to mastering complex activities in daily life. Touch senses, bodily movement, hand function, concentration and memory, interaction and communication are examples of such functions. Daily activities, leisure activities and creative activities are used as instruments in the treatment.


Insight into one’s own possibilities and limitations is central to being able to influence one’s life situation. Through guidance, counseling and information, the occupational therapist seeks to increase the individual’s knowledge of the connection between functional difficulties and daily activities, activity and health. Through conversation and own experiences in activity situations, occupational therapy seeks to contribute to the acceptance of one’s own life situation and that the individual becomes more aware of what are important activities to master and participate in in order to achieve a meaningful everyday life.

Facilitating the environment

The design and organization of the surroundings are measures that occupational therapists apply to individuals or the general population. In case of functional problems, aids can help improve the function of the person using them, or compensate for lost function, so that daily activities can be performed more easily (see aids ). The adaptation of the dwelling is relevant for people with disabilities, so that they can function safely and live as full a life as possible. See accommodation.

Education and authorization

In order to practice occupational therapy, one must be a professional educator and have authorization as an occupational therapist.

Please follow the links below to search for a complete list of best colleges and in the subject of occupational therapy in the U.S.

  • Alabama (4)
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  • Arkansas (1)
  • California (6)
  • Colorado (1)
  • Connecticut (2)
  • Delaware (0)
  • Florida (7)
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  • Idaho (1)
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  • Indiana (3)
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  • Louisiana (2)
  • Maine (3)
  • Maryland (1)
  • Massachusetts (7)
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  • Minnesota (3)
  • Mississippi (1)
  • Missouri (5)
  • Montana (0)
  • Nebraska (2)
  • Nevada (1)
  • New Hampshire (1)
  • New Jersey (3)
  • New Mexico (1)
  • New York (17)
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  • Pennsylvania (13)
  • Rhode Island (0)
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  • Virginia (4)
  • Washington (3)
  • Washington DC (1)
  • West Virginia (1)
  • Wisconsin (5)
  • Wyoming (0)

Top 10 Occupational Therapy in the United States

Rank College Name Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 Boston University (Sargent) Boston, MA
3 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO
4 University of Illinois–Chicago Chicago, IL
5 University of Kansas Medical Center Kansas City, KS
6 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
7 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA
8 Tufts University-Boston School of Occupational Therapy Medford, MA
9 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
10 New York University New York, NY

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