There are occupational therapy programs at universities in all states and territories throughout Australia except the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
A full and current list of approved programs of study in Australia is available on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) website. To register as an occupational therapist you need to have undertaken your occupational therapy studies at a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) approved program.
All the programs on the Ahpra list are entry-level programs providing the initial qualification required to register as an occupational therapist. The Masters programs on that list are for those with a relevant prior degree. It is generally accepted that all new graduate occupational therapists are considered as equal, regardless of the degree obtained.
Almost all universities provide an honours program either to all students, or in some cases just to high achieving students which provides some beginning skills in research to assist in future higher degree studies such as a postgraduate Masters or PhD. It does not necessarily provide an advantage in gaining employment yet it does provide important knowledge and skills to assist in the research and evaluative aspects involved in being a practising OT.
Post-graduate degrees in occupational therapy are only available to those who have an existing entry-level degree in occupational therapy.
When a new program of study is initiated by a University, it must first be accredited by the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia then approved by the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA). All OTBA approved programs are listed on the Ahpra website.
Occupational Therapy Australia administers the additional World Federation of Occupational Therapists’ approval process/requirements within Australia. View the OTA WFOT approval process here and appeals process here for more information. WFOT maintains a list of education programs worldwide that have attained WFOT Approved status, which in Australia is attained when the program is reviewed corresponding to the graduation of the first cohort of students. For programs that are undergoing assessment, and subject to final approval following graduation of the first cohort of students, view our Pending WFOT Approval List here.
As part of the occupational therapy degree, each student will be required to participate in a minimum of 1,000 hours of placements/clinical fieldwork/practice education for the application of theory to practice. This is hands-on, practical experience arranged by the University, working with people who receive occupational therapy services with the aim to achieve both breadth and depth of experience. Most universities include placements in regional, rural and remote settings, and placements in new and emerging practice settings as mandatory experiences for students, in order to prepare adequately for work as an occupational therapist.
Even as a student, registration is mandatory as working with people forms part of the practice education/fieldwork involved in the degree. Once enrolled in an accredited occupational therapy program, the University will provide the details of each student to Ahpra for registration.
Students are eligible for Student Membership of OTA as soon as enrolment in a program of occupational therapy education is accepted, or anytime thereafter.