10 Occupational Therapy Scholarships to Help Pay for Grad School
Finding occupational therapy scholarships for graduate school isn’t always as easy as finding undergraduate scholarships – whether you’re applying to a Master’s or a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
In general, most graduate programs don’t offer “full rides” or 100% paid tuition, but thankfully there are still scholarship options out there for you. Some of the options listed are related to occupational therapy, and the others are scholarships that are more general but can be applied towards OT school.
Applying for these scholarships is a time commitment and they are competitive. Still, it’s definitely worth giving these scholarships a try due to the high costs of OT graduate programs, with tuition averages ranging from $35,000-$50,000 per year. With those numbers, every little bit saved counts!
So to help you get started, I want to share these 10 occupational therapy scholarships to check out. Remember that applying to these doesn’t guarantee acceptance of the scholarship since many of them have yearly caps.
1. AOTF Scholarships
The American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) offers multiple scholarships for occupational therapy students each year, amounts varying. To apply, you need to be currently enrolled in an accredited graduate OT program (Master’s or Doctorate) or an occupational therapy assistant program.
You’ll need to have one year of OT school completed, include a resume, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a statement from your OT school’s program director. Applications are due on September 30th.
2. OccupationalTherapy.com Scholarship
OccupationalTherapy.com is an online continuing education company that offers two annual scholarships of $5,000 each for applicants pursuing a graduate degree in occupational therapy.
3. AMBUCS Scholarship
The National AMBUCS offers multiple yearly scholarships for students pursuing therapy degrees (including occupational therapy) ranging from $600 to $1,500, with one two-year award of $6,000. Applicants need to submit a one page personal statement, proof of OT school enrollment, a FAFSA student aid report and proof of financial need. Applications are accepted from February 7th until May 1st annually.
4. Advanced Travel Therapy Scholarship
Advanced Travel Therapy is a travel therapy company that offers two $5,000 scholarships annually to OT students (and PT and SLP students). Applicants and scholarship recipients do not have to work for the company or become travel therapists to get this scholarship. Applications open in January of each year.
5. HIE Help Center Scholarship
The HIE Help Center offers one annual scholarship of $1,000 to an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in occupational therapy (or physical therapy/speech therapy). Applicants need a GPA of at least 3.0, need to be applying to OT school, and will need to submit transcripts and an essay or creative project stating why you’re pursing a career in OT. Applications are reviewed once a year with a July 31st deadline.
6. DAR Healthcare Scholarships
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) offers multiple healthcare-specific scholarships for students with financial needs attending or planning to attend OT school. These include annual scholarships of either $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the scholarship.
To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen and must plan to attend an accredited OT program. You do not have to be a DAR member or related to a DAR member to receive these scholarships. Most (but not all) of these scholarships require a 3.25 or greater GPA.
7. Chicago Occupational Therapy Scholarship
The Chicago Occupational Therapy scholarship is administered through the Chicago Occupational Therapy pediatric clinic (the amount is TBD). To be eligible, you either need to attend an OT school in or be from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, or Wisconsin.
You will also need to be committed to work in a pediatric private practice setting after graduation.
8. Pilot International Scholarships
The Pilot International Founders Fund offers five scholarship programs for graduate and undergraduate students going into careers of service, which include “Supporting those who care for others” and “Encouraging brain safety and health.” (both very applicable to occupational therapy). The amounts vary but do not exceed $1,500. The application deadline is March 15th for each scholarship.
9. Truman Scholarship
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation offers 55-65 annual scholarships to graduate students who have an extensive record of community/public service and a commitment to a career in the nonprofit and advocacy sectors after graduating. This scholarship offers $30,000 for graduate school and therefore is much more competitive but well worth looking into.
To be eligible, you must first be nominated by a Faculty Rep at your school and you’ll need to provide three letters of recommendation and transcripts. Financial need is not a consideration for this scholarship. Applications are due February 1st.
10. Dr. Gary Kielhofner Doctoral Research Scholarship
The Dr. Gary Kielhofner Doctoral Research Scholarship in Occupational Therapy is a research scholarship of $5,000 granted to one applicant annually. Applicants need to be an occupational therapist enrolled in a research doctoral program (OTD, PhD, ScD, or DrPH) with all coursework completed except for the dissertation. The dissertation research plan must have IRB approval and be approved by a faculty member. The application deadline is September 1st.
School and State-Specific OT Association Scholarships
Each state has its own Occupational Therapy Association which may offer state-specific scholarships to students. To check if your state offers scholarships, simply do a search of “[Your state] Occupational Therapy Association scholarships.”
Your occupational therapy program may also offer their own scholarships so be sure to search for that on their website as well.
What About OTA Scholarships?
While the above scholarships are almost exclusively for students getting their Master’s or Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, I don’t want to leave out the future COTAs!
While Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) programs are not as expensive as OT graduate programs, the cost can still add up.
Here are a few OTA scholarships to consider:
OTA Guide COTA Scholarship
The OTA Guide offers one $500 scholarship per year for OTA students. The requirement is to submit a 1,000-2,000 word essay along with the application.
Don’t Forget to Check Your School for Scholarships
Just like OT graduate programs, OTA programs may also offer scholarship options. Be sure to search your program’s website since admissions coordinators may not always think to mention them.
Some Tips for Applying to OT/OTA Scholarships
As you can see, many of these scholarships only offer a few per year, so they’re quite competitive. To increase your chances of getting a scholarship, be sure to take these steps into consideration:
- Apply to as many scholarships as you can
- Apply to the scholarships well before the deadline
- Be sure you meet all of the requirements before applying
- Craft a great personal statement for each scholarship that requires one
- Take the time to fully read the application before you apply so your application isn’t missing anything
If you aren’t granted any scholarships, try not to be too discouraged. You can still rest assured that you’ll be able to receive financial aid through your school each semester to help with tuition.
I hope this article gives you some helpful OT school scholarship options to help you decrease your tuition costs! Please share in the comments below if you’ve had any success with any other ones not on this list.
This article will be periodically updated with suggestions and new scholarships that are applicable to occupational therapy students. This post was last updated on February 1, 2022.
Be sure to check each scholarship’s website for the most up-to-date information.