Scholarships & Online Resources for Occupational Therapy Students

From national scholarships to college support centers and professional organizations, learn where you can get help paying for and succeeding in college as an OT student.

If you want to become an occupational therapist, one of the top reasons is your strong desire to help others. But before you can get there, you’ll likely need to reach out for some help of your own. Earning your OT degree, passing your certification exam, and getting your license is a challenging process that requires hard work and dedication. And affording tuition and other college expenses isn’t always easy, either. Knowing where to find financial, academic, and career assistance as an OT student can make all the difference in your journey from first-year student to registered occupational therapist (OTR).

This guide showcases some of the top scholarships and grants for occupational therapy students, while also providing a list of valuable student and professional support resources that can help you throughout your time in college and your OT career. Keep reading to see where to get the support you need as an occupational therapy student.

Scholarships and Grants for Occupational Therapy Students

When it comes to paying for your occupational therapy program, there are numerous scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid that can make the total dollar amount shrink by a significant amount. Scholarships and grants are the most advantageous, as they don’t have to be paid back. Let’s take a look at the schools, organizations, and businesses that are offering some of today’s most valuable scholarship opportunities for occupational therapy students like you.

School-based Scholarships in Occupational Therapy

Some of the best scholarships OT students can receive come from directly from their college. Aspiring occupational therapists can find everything from modest awards to full-tuition scholarships at their school, and they often don’t even have to officially apply – simply being accepted or enrolled in the school is enough to qualify them for consideration.

Why are these scholarships so great? First, they often look at a student’s performance in the occupational therapy program, not at outside information, such as a GPA the student might have had before entering the school or program. Second, these scholarships narrow the pool of applicants significantly, as they are only available to students enrolled in that particular OT program. And finally, they often don’t require hours of applications, essays, or jumping through other hoops to get them.

To find these opportunities, speak to your school’s financial aid office, or simply visit the school’s financial aid website and look for scholarships in occupational therapy. You can also look on your school’s OT department website and contact the OT program director to find scholarships. Here’s a look at two universities that offer standout scholarships for their OT students to give you an idea of what might be available at your school.

Occupational Therapy Scholarship Spotlight: University of North Dakota

Internal student scholarships through the University of North Dakota’s Occupational Therapy Department start at a minimum of $500 each, with the award going up depending upon the money available for that particular year. There are several scholarships for students to choose from, including those that focus on particular areas of specialization, such as school-based work or pediatric work, and those that are solely awarded solely on financial need. Some of the scholarships are also designed for students who intend to practice in North Dakota after graduation, which we’ve highlighted below. To learn more about all the options, visit the Student Scholarships page on the occupational therapy department website.

The Wesley Hoffman Memorial Occupational Therapy Scholarship

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Amount

$500 minimum

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Deadline

Varies, in spring semester (Annual)

Eligibility

Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have financial need, and intend to practice in the state of North Dakota.

How to Apply

Submit applications electronically through the Scholarship Central System.

Occupational Therapy Scholarship Spotlight: Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University offers a handful of scholarships for students in its occupational therapy program in the program; in many cases, eligibility is only for those who have been enrolled for at least one year in the program. The awards vary depending upon the interest in the scholarship and what the college can afford to contribute to it each year. All scholarship applications are available online or through the leaders of the department; scholarships open up in March of each year and close in April, with awards given in the fall semester. Visit the Scholarships for OS and OT Students page to learn more, and get a preview of one of the scholarships below.

Gladys Nobuko Masagatani Scholarship

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

4/3/2020 (Annual)

Eligibility

Must be enrolled in the Master’s program, in the first or second year, show financial need, and maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA.

How to Apply

Applications are available on the EKU website.

National and Regional Occupational Therapy Scholarships

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Organization

Advanced Travel Therapy

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Amount

$5,000

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Deadline

5/5/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Provide proof of enrollment in an accredited occupational therapy program.

How to Apply

Answer the questions on the Advanced Travel Therapy website and upload your resume.

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Organization

The Arc New York

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Amount

$3,000

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Deadline

1/11/2021 (annual)

Eligibility

New York state residents who are enrolled in an occupational or physical therapy program are eligible.

How to Apply

Download the PDF application and submit it via fax, email, or mail.

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Organization

BrightLife Direct

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

7/10/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Despite its name, this scholarship is open to both physical and occupational therapists with at least a 3.0 GPA and one completed year of their accredited therapy program.

How to Apply

An application is available online and can be submitted via mail.

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Organization

Banner Health

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

7/15/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Students who plan on enrolling as a full-time student in an accredited human healthcare field program and a resident of the area served by the Banner Casa Grande Medical Center.

How to Apply

Print out an application and drop it off at the Banner Casa Grande Medical Center drop box.

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Organization

Chicago Occupational Therapy

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

Varies

Eligibility

Applicants must be studying to become an occupational therapist and have residency in, or be taking classes in, the following states: Ohio, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, or Missouri.

How to Apply

Complete the online application at the Chicago Occupational Therapy website.

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Organization

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

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Amount

$2,000

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Deadline

2/15/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled in or accepted to an accredited occupational program.

How to Apply

The DAR website has an online application that must be used to apply.

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Organization

Danish Sisterhood of America (DSA)

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Amount

$850

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Deadline

3/1/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Must be studying for a career in a medical profession, such as occupational therapy. Membership in the DSA is also necessary.

How to Apply

The application is available for download. However, submission will be made by mail.

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Organization

International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons (IOKDS)

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

4/1/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Open to students who are attending an accredited healthcare-related degree program, including occupational therapy.

How to Apply

Applications must be requested via email or mail from IOKDS by March 1.

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Organization

HIE Help Center

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

5/5/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

In addition to having at least a 3.0 GPA, applicants must be working toward a speech, physical, or occupational therapy degree.

How to Apply

The application must be completed online and will require transcripts and an essay or creative project.

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Organization

Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team

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Amount

$1,000

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Deadline

12/1/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Current or future enrollment (within the next year) in a physical or occupational therapy program.

How to Apply

Send an email with contact information and an essay that explains your interest in occupational or physical therapy. A transcript or proof of enrollment is also required.

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Organization

Hawaii Community Foundation

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Amount

Varies

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Deadline

8/5/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Residents of Hawai’i who demonstrate financial need and attending an occupational therapy program as a full-time student may apply. A 2.7 GPA is also required.

How to Apply

Applications must be completed online after creating an account with the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Scholarship Manager.

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Organization

Pilot International

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Amount

Up to $1,000

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Deadline

3/15/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Graduate students who are working toward a career that will allow them to help youth, in particular children with disabilities and in need of rehabilitation.

How to Apply

The application is available in electronic format and must be submitted via email.

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Organization

Michael Moody Fitness

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Amount

$1,500

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Deadline

8/1/2020 (annual) or whenever they receive 1,000 applications

Eligibility

Undergraduate or graduate students seeking a career in a health or fitness field, including occupational therapy.

How to Apply

Applications can be completed and submitted online through the Michael Moody Fitness website.

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Organization

National AMBUCS, Inc.

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Amount

$500 to $6,000

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Deadline

5/5/2020 (annual)

Eligibility

Graduate students who are U.S. residents and accepted into an accredited occupational therapy program may apply.

How to Apply

In addition to the application, individuals must complete the FAFSA, provide proof of enrollment, and a write a personal statement.

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Organization

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF)

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Amount

$2,000

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Deadline

Varies

Eligibility

Currently attending an AOTA accredited program and completed at least one year of occupational therapy coursework.

How to Apply

Students can complete an online form, which will also place them into consideration for all AOTF scholarships.

5 Keys to Landing Your Occupational Therapy Scholarship

Scholarships are the most desirable type of financial aid, which means you’ll likely have a lot of competition vying for the same award. That’s why it’s so important to be sure to include everything the application asks for, polish up your essay or personal statement, and check over every small detail. Here are 5 other keys to improving your chances of winning a scholarship for your OT degree.

  • Key #1: Show how badly you want it.
    Volunteer work, experience in the field as an intern or employee, and even working in general therapy or healthcare can show the scholarship committee that you’re in the field for the long haul.
  • Key #2: Make an impact.
    The personal statement or essay can take a so-so scholarship application to the next level. Make sure your writing reflects who you are, what you want to do with your career, and why.
  • Key #3: Get excellent letters of recommendation.
    Look to colleagues, former professors, and movers and shakers in the healthcare or occupational therapy fields to write your letters of recommendation. This can get more attention for your application.
  • Key #4: Get the scholarship in early.
    Set the deadline on your calendar but then intend to get it in well before that. Ensuring it’s into the committee early keeps you from missing deadlines and might help show you’re really serious about needing the financial boost.
  • Key #5: Look to local scholarships.
    Though national and regional scholarships take center stage, local scholarships can go a long way toward pulling down that bottom line. Look to local organizations, businesses, and even philanthropists for potential scholarship money.

If You Still Need Help Paying for OT School

Sometimes scholarships and grants just aren’t enough to bridge the gap between what you owe and what you can afford to pay. That’s where other options come in, such as student loans. In some cases, student loans don’t accrue interest while you’re in school and don’t have required payments until six months after graduation. Employment tuition reimbursement is another great option if you happen to work for a healthcare system or clinic that provides the option. Another potential source of help is loan forgiveness programs, which might be available to those who choose to work in rural or underserved areas upon graduation. To learn about these options and more, visit EduMed’s financial aid and student loans pages.

Academic and Professional Support Resources for Occupational Therapy Students

In order to help others, sometimes you must ask for some help for yourself – that is especially true for those who want to work in healthcare fields like occupational therapy. That assistance begins before entering a degree program, when you’re looking into your school options, continues throughout the college years, and persists through the first years of that new career and beyond. There are many places to find this support, including professional organizations, online groups, student forums, and the school itself. Here’s what you need to know about finding the support you need to make the most of your occupational therapy degree.

Occupational Therapy Student Support Centers and Services

When you need support, your college is there to help. Whether you need help getting your bearings as a new student, looking for fieldwork opportunities, figuring out how to handle online coursework, or finding academic counseling or other assistance, one of the first resources you should take advantage of is your school’s student support services. These are often provided through a central student support center, but the OT department might offer additional services tailored to occupational therapy students. Here are a few schools that provide excellent support services for their OT students that help them make the most of their time in the programs. Reach out to your school and OT department to see if they offer similar services.

Colorado State University

The Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University offers numerous support services for students, including research opportunities, an Assistive Technology Resource Center to help those with special needs, and help with choosing the proper hands-on fieldwork to earn the degree. Community outreach and career opportunities are available, as well as networking with alumni to help in finding a job and support throughout a growing career. There is help for student veterans, the Supported Employment Program for those with disabilities, and an OT summit for those who are members of the AOTA. To learn more, visit the Occupational Therapy program page.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers strong support for those in its occupational therapy program. Highlights include offering over 175 sites for fieldwork around the nation as well as local and regional opportunities through the school’s SOTA chapters and Pi Theta Epsilon. Other support includes the Interprofessional Health Education Center, the Teaching Research Laboratory, the opportunity to attend national OT conferences, and work with the Native American population in the area, in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion. Keep in mind that OT students are also eligible for all the support services offered through the college itself, with a slant toward their OT career plans, such as using the career center or advising services. Visit the Student Opportunities page to learn more.

Resources for Online Occupational Therapy Students

As online education becomes more popular and necessary, more resources are popping up to help students navigate the world of virtual learning. Those resources might be especially helpful now that Covid-19 has changed the way the educational system works – and some of those changes might be here to stay. Here’s a closer look at some of the best web resources that can help OT students get the most out of their online or hybrid degree program, and make their transition to remote learning easier.

Student Organizations and Professional Associations

Online Communities and Networking Sites

  • CommunOT
    This private forum offered by the AOTA allows OT students to converse, catch up on the latest news, and take part in special interest groups in the field, such as developmental disabilities or productive aging.
  • Occupational Therapy New Grads and Students Facebook Group
    This active group is perfect for those who are thinking about entering an OT program, those who are actively working their way through, and those who just graduated and are looking for jobs or resources.
  • Occupational Therapy Students: Get Connected Facebook Group
    Though this private group is based in the UK, students and new grads can still find a wealth of resources that are suitable for those practicing or studying in the US.
  • Occupational Therapy on Reddit
    This active board offers advice, resources, information on various job opportunities, and much more. The friendly atmosphere is welcoming to everyone from aspiring students to seasoned professionals.
  • Occupational Therapy International Online Network
    This network of occupational therapists from around the world requires registration to enter the forums, where you can discuss anything related to the field.
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapists Facebook Group
    With over 43,000 members and counting, this private group is open only to those who are an OT, OTA, or OT student. This very active group provides support and resources for those whose focus is pediatric occupational therapy.

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