OT Education FAQ
- What is the difference between a master's and a baccalaureate degree for becoming an occupational therapist?
There are no baccalaureate degree programs as of 2007. The Master's programs cover the content of the baccalaureate programs as well as placing greater emphasis on research and critical thinking. Successful completion of the master's program currently qualifies an individual to sit for the NBCOT certification examination.
- Will I earn more money if I get a master's degree in occupational therapy (OT)?
On your first job, the difference in salary offered for a professional master's degree prepared therapist and a baccalaureate degree prepared therapist may be negligible, as both are considered entry-level. Over time, the individual with a master's degree may more readily be placed in higher level and higher paying positions. Many occupational therapists opt to continue their education beyond their entry-level degree with a post-professional (advanced) master's or doctoral degree.
- How do I know which program is the best or has a higher ranking?
Neither AOTA nor ACOTE ranks programs. Accreditation of a program indicates that the program is in substantial compliance with the Standards. Various programs may exceed the minimum standards, but they are not acknowledged as such by AOTA.
- What does "developing program" or "Developing Program Status" mean?
Both terms refer to new programs that are not yet accredited but are in the process of seeking accreditation. A developing program entered the accreditation system before December 1, 1994, automatically became a developing program, and could immediately admit students. Effective December 1, 1994, new programs seeking initial accreditation must submit an Application and Development Plan to the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The Application and Development Plan are reviewed and the ACOTE must take an action to either grand or deny Developing Program Status. The Application and Development Plan describes how the program intends to comply with the Standards. Developing Program Status must be obtained before students can be admitted into the program. Not all programs are successful in obtaining Developing Program Status. After a program becomes a developing program or is granted Developing Program Status, the program will submit a Report of Self-Study for review by ACOTE and will have an on-site evaluation. If the program can successfully demonstrate substantial compliance with the Standards, it will be granted accreditation. If not, accreditation will be withheld.
- What happens if a program doesn't get accredited?
There may be 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 students 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.
- What happens to the students who are in a developing or Developing Program Status program if it is not accredited?
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 enroll in 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.
- How many programs don't get accredited the first time?
The number is low, but occasionally there is a program that is not successful in obtaining accreditation. That is why the procedure now requires that new programs obtain Developing Program Status from ACOTE based on the review of their Application and Development Plan.