Orthotic and prosthetic practitioners design and fit artificial limbs, braces and other devices that help patients regain mobility after an accident, illness or degenerative disease. The National Commission on Orthotics and Prosthetic Education mandated that all programs for practitioners be elevated to the master's level by 2012, so bachelor's degree programs are rare. Technicians, who create the prosthetics based on instructions from practitioners, are able to complete just a certificate program to get started in the field.
A variety of programs are available for students who live in the eastern United States. The University of Hartford in Connecticut offers a combined Bachelor of Science in health science and Master of Science in prosthetics and orthotics. The accelerated program allows students to graduate with both degrees in only five years, rather than the traditional four years for the bachelor's and two years for the master's. At the University of Pittsburgh, students can complete an M.S. in prosthetics and orthotics in two years plus one summer. Students are required to complete a 240-hour internship including clinical rotations at local hospitals, clinics, government agencies and community organizations.
The Georgia Institute of Technology offers a master's degree in prosthetics and orthotics that combines a rigorous curriculum with hands-on training in both clinical and laboratory settings. The training focuses on both fabrication of devices and patient assessment and treatment. The program also takes a multidisciplinary approach, including education in occupational therapy, medicine and pedorthics. St. Petersburg College offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in orthotics and prosthetics. However, NCOPE still recognizes the program since it works in partnership with Florida State University, which offers its students the chance to earn a Master of Science in industrial engineering, with a specialization in Management of Orthotics and Prosthetics. The FSU program focuses on the principles and application of advanced materials, which students can use to create medical devices for patients and to troubleshoot problems.
At Eastern Michigan University, students can earn a Master of Science in orthotics and prosthetics or a graduate certificate in the field. Students must complete extensive prerequisite course requirements to be admitted into the program, including courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry and physics. The program includes a combined focus on research and clinical experience. Northwestern University in Illinois offers a master's degree that includes research in upper- and lower-limb prosthetics, spinal studies and orthotics. Students learn about materials science, human movement, the principles of prosthetics and orthotics practice, behavioral sciences, clinical practice and technologies in the field.
At the University of Washington, students have the opportunity to earn a master's of prosthetics and orthotics, which can be completed in seven academic quarters. In addition to completing the demanding curriculum, students must also complete clinical rotations, which includes work at local facilities one day a week. Students must also complete a full-time, two-week rotation during the summer at a site outside the area. Loma Linda University in California offers a post-professional master's in orthotics and prosthetics to allow professionals who had previously only earned a bachelor's degree to meet the new professional standards established by NCOPE. It's an 11-month program that meets twice weekly in the evenings so professionals in the field can continue to work while earning their master's degree.
- University Of Pittsburgh: MS in Prosthetics and Orthotics
- St. Petersburg College: J.E. Hanger College of Orthotics and Prosthetics
- Florida State University: Management of Orthotics and Prosthetics
- Eastern Michigan University: Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ORPR)
- Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center: Building Bridges: P&O Education And Research Merge
- University of Washington: Prosthetics and Orthotics Degree Program
- Loma Linda University: Post-Professional MSOP In Orthotics & Prosthetics (PP-MSOP) Program
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.