Every question you have about online OTA programs is answered on this page along with resources to help you plan your education and connect with accredited schools. Click any of these links to jump straight to the section or scroll below to the list.
Last updated November 15th, 2018
Complete List of Occupational Therapist Assistant Online Programs
Below is a complete list of all currently available online occupational therapy assistant schools which offer distance learning coursework online to OTA students. The percentage columns refers to the percentage of OTA courses offered online. Keep in mind that all online programs are hybrids, meaning they are not fully online and require some classes to be taken in person. For example, all online OTA programs will require students to complete their clinical trials in person.
Find OTA programs nearby to learn more about their options.
Keep reading to learn more details about getting your OTA degree online and the logistics of hybrid online OTA programs so you know exactly which portions will be required to complete in person in order to obtain your occupational therapy assistant degree online.
OTA School Overview
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Schools Online
Nowadays many students are interested in online courses for occupational therapy assistants. Online occupational therapy assistant programs are not complete, to obtain the required OTA associates degree necessary to become a certified OTA some in-class and fieldwork time will be required. However, most OTA courses are offered online through ACOTE accredited OTA schools.
Although hundreds of accredited OTA programs exist, not all of them offer an online component. Here we will share what you need to know about online OTA programs (and how to find them) so you can determine the best program for you.
OTA schools, both online and traditional, consist of a 2 year ACOTE accredited associate degree program that prepares students to sit for the Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) Exam put on by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). In the U.S. all states require that OTA’s graduate from an accredited program and pass the COTA Exam in order to obtain their state OTA license for employment.
Aside from, and possibly more important, than prepping students for the NBCOT’s COTA Exam, occupational therapy assistant online programs include clinical and practicum training that provide students with the skills and knowledge to become successful occupational therapist assistants. This hands on training will still be required in addition to any online occupational therapy programs. Just because you choose to become an OTA online, doesn’t mean you sacrifice hands on experience.
Online Occupational Therapy Aide Programs: It should be noted that you can also become an OT Aide online. Penn Foster and Ashworth College both offer online OT Aide programs.
Hybrid Occupational Therapist Assistant Schools Online
Most of the OTA programs online are hybrid programs with online coursework and some classroom lectures. Also it is important to keep in mind that with any OTA program, approximately 25% of the curriculum consists of live practicum and clinical experience that cannot be done online.
On average, OTA students will spend about 16 weeks in a full time setting working at a clinic. Keep this in mind as you are researching OTA programs online so that you can plan for your local clinical work and identify a clinic that you could work in for your practicum, as it is required in order to obtain your occupational therapy assistant degree online.
OTA Program Goals
The primary objective of any OTA program is to graduate educated, knowledgeable, capable, self-confident, and adaptable care providers. The curriculum and education provided by OTA schools will prepare OTA graduates to work in a variety of OT settings. This is no different whether you get a traditional education or become an OTA online.
Although an OTA will perform their duties under the supervision and instruction of a licensed Occupational Therapist, education is still critical to any OTA’s success. OTAs will need to be able to perform their jobs at a high level in a safe, ethical, legal, and most importantly effective manner.
Communication will be one of the most important skills for any OTA, and during OTA school teachers will focus on teaching students to effectively communicate with team members. This will directly translate to student’s careers and help graduates communicate effectively with other health care and occupational therapy associates that they work with while serving patients.
Specific skills will be taught to help OTAs learn to communicate effectively with patients, family members, and other health care givers. OTAs will need to be able to work cooperatively in order to be successful. OTA program graduates will be equipped to assist Occupational Therapists in communicating with other health care providers while offering support for patients, families, and caregivers across individual, cultural and economic differences.
As stated, communication skills are just as important as technical skills and book knowledge for an OTA to be successful. So, expect to develop your social and communication skills heavily throughout occupational therapy assistant school.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Schools Tuition and Fees
By now you are probably asking how much an OTA program costs on average. In 2012 the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) published the following data in their survey:
- Private OTA School, Mean Annual Tuition: $15,745
- Public In-State OTA School, Mean Annual Tuition: $7,325
If occupational therapist assistant programs sound too expensive for your budget, then contact each OTA school you are considering directly. Ask the admissions office about financial aid opportunities to see if you can get the program cost down to something affordable for your budget.
Before you give up due to the cost of education, make sure you research OTA salaries in major cities across the country, so you know what type of compensation and reward to expect after you get out of school. OTAs are paid very well when compared to other associate degree holding health care providers.
Logistics of Online OTA Courses
If you enroll in an online program then most likely you can expect to access all of your course information in an online portal.
The portal will often have most, if not everything, you need including:
- administration information
- complete course syllabus
- course curriculum for the semester
- course schedule/pace for the semester
- access to online text books or info on books you need to purchase
- coursework and assignments
- quizzes and projects
- tests and final exams
- assignment grades and GPA scores
You should expect to set your own study schedule and have your own location to study in. You will need internet access and a computer (and probably some coffee!). Depending on the course you may be required to purchase a physical textbook as well.
Most of your communication with your professor will be through email. Some professors offer online video office hours or if you’re in the same town you may be able to visit in-person office hours.
Many classes will have some sort of group discussion forum where classmates can interact online and share their thoughts on various topics.
Completing Fieldwork & Getting Hired
When researching your options to study online you want to make sure that the program will offer some guidance on completing your fieldwork requirement and finding a job.
You wouldn’t want to invest your time and money studying online and not have a plan to complete your degree requirements or find a job at graduation!
Here are a few things to consider when reviewing online OTA programs:
- Ask the admissions counselor where they offer labs for lab work so that you ensure you will be able to complete this portion of your degree requirements
- As the admissions counselor if they will help place you in a clinical setting for your fieldwork requirements
- Find out if they offer job placement services after graduation, after all, one huge benefit to studying at a local program is your networking opportunities to find a job at graduation
Pros and Cons of Getting Your OTA Degree Online
Ok so we’ve gone over quite a bit of info so far, it makes sense to look at a list of the Pros versus the Cons of getting your OTA degree online versus in the classroom.
Looking at the Pros versus the Cons will make it much easier to make your decision, here they are:
- Flexibility – you can manage your own schedule and adjust the times you study to your needs.
- Technical Advantage – you may get a slight technical advantage learning to use technology such as video conferencing or online learning modules that provide valuable skill in your career.
- Reduced On-Campus Expenses – Expenses for campus parking, room and board, cafeteria and more are avoided. Plan to pay tuition and costs for textbooks.
- Not for Everyone – Not everyone will have the right personality type to study on their own and teach themselves concepts.
- Lower Value – I don’t personally agree with this, but a 2009 study showed that online degrees were perceived a bit negatively as if they had less value when reviewed by recruiters.
- Options are Limited – Not every school will offer online programs so your options for where you pursue your degree from will be limited.
After reading a list of pros and cons, if you are leaning toward studying online versus in the classroom, then here is a list of things you need to consider:
- Studying online is not easier
- Identify your learning style
- Get familiar using technology
- Plan a study calendar
- Keep engaged with your coursework
If you need to feel engaged and have others to work with, then studying in a classroom is the route for you.
If you have a strong independent personality and don’t need engagement or encouragement to get your studying done, then you may really enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and independence offered through online classes.
Differences Studying Online VS Classroom
Are you introverted? I am and I can tell you that I thrive studying on my own, so online coursework is my cup of tea.
But, if you’re extroverted, then you may HATE online studying and not being able to interact with your professor and classmates.
Introversion and extroversion are not the only factors to take into consideration but that was one example. You should consider the following when you are deciding between studying online or in the classroom:
- Your personality type
- Your study habits
- Your schedule and availability
- Your timeline and education objectives
- Your need for face to face interaction with your professor
- Your ability to teach yourself concepts using only a text book
It is really important to think about all of this before deciding on your educational route. Some people think that online classes are “easier” but this really is not the case. In fact, I’d argue that they are harder.
Simply because you will be responsible for setting your schedule, taking your quizzes/tests, and studying on your own. No one will be watching over you, encouraging you, or offering to study with you.
Just think all of this through and make sure that if you do choose to study online it is for the right reasons and you will be well prepared to succeed.
Here are a few scenarios where I think an online OTA program would be a great option for someone:
- You have a full-time job that prevents you from taking traditional classes during the day
- You take care of kids at home that prevents you from going to school during the day
- You own an at home business that requires you to be home during the day
- You’re a responsible introvert that just wants to study in peace
In each of the above scenarios, I think that studying for your online OTA degree would be a great option.
How to Succeed in Online Courses
If you think studying online is for you then use these tips to help you succeed.
- Stay motivated, you will have to keep your mental attitude positive and motivated
- Don’t put off your lessons until the last minute, you should try to keep a consistent schedule for studying and taking care of your assignments
- Wake up consistently and try not to sleep in, if it helps get out of your house and exercise in the morning then come back and study
I would equate a work from home job to an online college degree program. Basically, if you are the type of person to consistently wake up and take control of your day and complete all your work tasks from home without having a boss or someone give instruction, then you will dominate online coursework.
However, I think that most people would do better with a schedule set for them and a professor to keep track of their attendance, efforts, and assignments. Most people will perform better under this system than with the freedom of studying online.
Over to You
Ultimately it will be up to you to decide whether or not getting your OTA degree online or in the classroom is best. Now at least you have the info to help you make your decision.
The main reasons I chose to study online were that I could avoid on-campus expenses and have flexibility with my schedule. I’m introverted, extremely independent, and very disciplined when it comes to studying so this path worked out well for me.
However, it is definitely not for everyone. I watched some of my peers fail with their online studies by not scheduling enough time to study or not learning to use their online systems well.
I think most people would do better in a traditional classroom setting as they will have more accountability to study, a set schedule to adhere to and be engaged while learning concepts.
However, there are plenty of scenarios where someone may not be able to attend a regular class and would require learning online in order to get their education. For these folks, I definitely recommend looking into some online OTA programs.