If you are looking to become a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), you are probably aware of all the benefits to this rewarding healthcare career — from how it is among the top healthcare support jobs in the country to the demand and attractive salary. There is just one problem — you may have trouble finding an OTA school in California that isn’t impacted.
Why? Well, when you have thousands of students applying to OTA school and there are only six accredited OTA programs in the entire state of California — with limited seats available and one start date each year — it may take a while to get started in your new career as an OTA.
What if we told you there actually is a seventh accredited OTA program option in California that offers three start dates each year so you have more options to start sooner? That seventh program is St. Catherine University’s online OTA program. If you want to get started on your OTA career now, you have come to the right place.
St. Kate’s Online OTA Program
Did you know? St. Kate’s launched the nation’s first OTA program in 1964. Fifty years later, St. Kate’s was the first to launch an online OTA program.
You may be wondering how you have not heard of or discovered the online OTA program at St. Catherine University, also known as St. Kate’s, during your exhaustive search she for accredited OTA schools in California. There is a good reason. Because St. Kate’s online OTA degree is an expansion of its on-campus OTA program in St. Paul, Minnesota, it is classified by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) under OTA programs in the state of Minnesota, even though it offers its online distance education track (online OTA) in California, Texas and Virginia.
No matter the minutia, the fact is St. Kate’s online OTA program is an accredited program in California that offers three start dates per year (January, May and September) to qualified students. Qualified students must have:
- A high school diploma or passing GED® exam score
- A minimum cumulative high school GPA of 2.5, or
- College credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, if applicable
How It Works
St. Kate’s online OTA program offers a unique blend of online coursework and hands-on experience. Here’s how it works: students complete online courses then gain hands-on experience practicing the skills in lab settings. They put their knowledge into real-world practice during Fieldwork I sessions under the guidance of dynamic, skilled and highly professional educators starting in their first semester.
Students then complete 320 hours of Fieldwork II in a physical disabilities practice setting and another 320 hours in an emerging practices or special interest settings.
- Online classes allow you to learn around your schedule (instructor deadlines still apply) through a mix of audio/video lectures and interactive activities.
- Skills labs allow you to put online concepts into real-world practice with instructors at designated rehab facilities around California.
- Fieldwork placements provide face-to-face experience with clients alongside licensed occupational therapists and certified OTAs.
Online coursework covers the fundamental and theoretical knowledge you’ll need as an OTA. You’ll learn through interactive coursework designed to accommodate different learning styles (aural, visual and kinesthetic), participate in online forums and discussions, take exams, and more.
The online OTA program offers 12 hands-on skills labs, providing students the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice. The lab sites are established by partners in real-world rehabilitation settings with lessons taught by certified, highly experienced instructors.
Skills labs allow you to apply knowledge to the six core OT practice areas:
- Children and Youth
- Productive Aging
- Health and Wellness
- Mental Health
- Rehabilitation and Disability
- Work and Industry
Fieldwork is a critical requirement of an accredited OTA program and consists of two fieldwork levels, totaling 720 hours. During Fieldwork I, you’ll observe occupational therapy in practice, as well as get a feel for the work environment. The vast majority of your fieldwork experience will be in Fieldwork II where you will gain experience working with patients in real-life occupational therapy settings, all under expert guidance and supervision.
It Worked for Kelly
If you are looking for an OTA school California, St. Kate’s online OTA program is the perfect option for you. Don’t just take our word for it — why not hear it firsthand from a St. Kate’s Online OTA graduate who was in your exact shoes less than two years ago.
“The other schools near me have a two-year waitlist. So, when I found St. Kate’s program, I saw the possibilities and my mind almost exploded!”
-Kelly, Online OTA Program Graduate, Class of August 2018
Kelly completed her undergraduate degree in psychology and went into the Peace Corps. Upon returning to the States, she began working in public education, where she first experienced how occupational therapy works.
“I really liked that occupational therapists could help students one on one and really make an impact and improve their education and lives,” said Kelly. “It got me thinking I should get into occupational therapy.”
There was just one problem. Kelly lived in San Diego and the only school in the area had a two-year waitlist. She applied and was waitlisted for OTA school. Her impatience grew as she waited to begin her new chapter in her career. That’s when she found St. Kate’s online OTA program.
“I googled OTA San Diego and saw the online OTA program come up as a sponsored link, and I was so excited,” she said. “I was so, so happy because, like I said, I was on a waiting list. I was going to start in the summer of 2018 at another school. When I applied to St. Kate’s and got in, it was a huge relief. I took myself off the list and got going right away. It was a great feeling. Now I’ve graduated and earned my degree at the same time I would’ve just started.”
She didn’t keep that great feeling to herself. She reached out to other friends who were trying to get into OTA schools in California.
“I have told people you should look into St Kate’s 16-month online OTA program because you don’t have to mess with the wait,” said Kelly. “Even if you are trying to become an occupational therapist (OT), this online OTA program is the perfect bridge to get you started on your path.”
Become an OTA Today
If you are searching for an OTA school in California, St. Kate’s may be a great option for you. If you want to learn about St. Kate’s online OTA programs offered in California, Texas, or Virginia, contact an admissions counselor today.