Online Athletic Training Graduate Programs

Online athletic training graduate programs could be an accessible way to study the treatment and prevention of sports related injuries. Classes in these programs cover many ways to reduce the stress sports put on the body. For instance, courses may examine sports medicine topics in preventative care and the treatment of chronic injuries. In addition, classes may also teach how to care for other types of sports trauma like concussions or other emergencies.

Why earn a graduate degree in athletic training

Through the online format, students may have convenient access to their courses. This could be a great choice for students who may be unable to make a lengthy commute to a college campus. And, many online athletic training graduate programs maintain the same curriculum as their campus counterparts. This means you could have the chance to engage with the same advanced AT coursework but from the comfort of your own home.

The Basics of Athletic Training

Athletic training services are a wide range of exercises, medical treatments, and fitness plans that are designed to reduce or treat the stress athletes put on their body. This may include working with or providing some of the following.

  • Immediate Emergency Services
  • Chronic Injuries
  • Preexisting Conditions
  • Physical Therapy
  • Preventative Care

While schools vary, many online athletic training graduate programs emphasize these topics in their core curriculum. This way graduates may be prepared to use their knowledge of the human body and rehabilitation methods to help athletes maintain a healthy performance.

Why Earn an Athletic Training Graduate Degree Online?

Sports medicine may seem like a physical, hands-on degree. But, a large portion of the coursework could be conducted digitally as part of online athletic training graduate programs. Much of the same curriculum is maintained between campus and online AT programs. Students could potentially notice little difference between the course offerings. Plus, many online athletic training graduate programs may build in an experiential component through local practicums or short onsite visits. This could help students gain practical experience while still maintaining the flexibility and convenience they seek.

Many of the resources students work with might be the same as well. Online athletic training graduate programs often provide access to their online databases and library services. In some cases, inter-library loans could even send physical books to a local library for pick-up. Finally, schools may provide streamed lectures and video demonstrations, allowing students to view actual classroom presentations in addition to their online studies.  

Online athletic training graduate programs are unique in that you could access them wherever you have internet access and log into AT courses as time allows. This might be a great choice for students aren’t able to meet at conventional class times. Or, it could be perfect for those who don’t necessarily live within driving distance of a university. Not to mention, this might be an asset for working AT professionals. You could work on your courses in between clients, after you’re done for the day, or on your days off.

Online Athletic Training Masters Programs

Online masters in athletic training programs focus primarily on practical AT applications. Courses teach advanced athletic training subjects so that students could potentially better handle situations in the field, such as emergencies or other injuries. To fully complete this curriculum, programs typically require students to take 68 credit hours. With this in mind, you could possible earn an online masters degree in athletic training in 2 years depending on enrollment. Program length varies by school.

Please note that some programs may require students to have already earned their athletic training license, as well as hold a bachelors degree. For more information about this requirement, speak with a faculty member from your intended program.

Athletic Training Masters Program Online Curriculum

The online athletic training masters program core curriculum covers common injuries and rehabilitation methods. After that, courses may then begin to explore more serious injuries and their treatment options. As part of this curriculum, students may study the following subjects.

  • Concussion Prevention
  • Disability Rehabilitation and Therapy
  • Emergency Care
  • Evaluation and Treatment of Athletic Injuries

Available classes may differ by school.

It’s important to keep in mind that online students may be required to complete some of their coursework on campus. Typically, students have to take a practicum course as part of their masters AT curriculum. In these cases, they might take a shortened course during the summer or winter break. In these classes, students may have the chance to use their AT knowledge in mock sports scenarios. Or, they might be able to work with real patients! Contact schools for details.

Masters Academics & Athletic Training Certification

Many online masters programs in athletic training are designed to help students pursue their athletic trainer certification (CAT) after graduation. Schools that cater their classes towards the CAT criteria typically reference the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the Board of Certification of Athletic Trainer (BOC) standards. Besides offering valuable academic topics, classes in these programs could help you study for potential future exams. 

Both of these exams aim to assess students’ knowledge of the 5 domains of athletic training. The 5 domains are as follows.

  • Prevention
  • Clinical Evaluation & Diagnosis
  • Immediate Emergency Care
  • Treatment, Rehabilitation Reconditioning
  • Organization & Administration

Topics the exams cover vary by year. Not all programs may focus on certification prep, so read program descriptions carefully and contact programs if this is of interest to you.

Online Athletic Training Graduate Certificate

Online athletic training graduate certificate programs might be a great choice for students who are looking for a shorter program. These programs typically cover one specific aspect of AT. Or, they may serve as a general introduction to AT graduate studies.

For example, online graduate certificates may emphasize a certain type of rehabilitation technique, such as yoga studies. Students could study new stretches and meditation techniques that may be beneficial for injured athletes. Others may choose to pursue holistic medicine. Topics like aromatherapy and acupuncture could be a great addition to an AT toolbox.

Students pursuing the above types of programs typically have already earned a bachelors in a related field. This prerequisite allows graduate certificate programs to focus on new material instead of covering AT fundamentals.

Other online graduate certificate athletic training programs may serve as an introduction into graduate studies. These programs cover some of the advanced core subjects commonly found in a masters program. This could act as an addition to current AT knowledge. Or, it might help you decide if a future masters programs is right for you. Some schools may allow students to transfer graduate certificate credits towards a later masters program. However schools vary, so be sure to speak with a school representative to learn more.

Online Athletic Training Doctorate Programs

Students who choose to pursue an online athletic training doctoral program usually do so for two reasons. First, doctoral programs often offer research classes and opportunities. Students could work towards enhancing the AT community by testing the validity of current methods. Secondly, doctoral programs may also delve into more advanced topics in AT. These classes could include studying high-level subjects such as muscle interactions, unique stress responses, and more.  

Students may have the opportunity to take some of the following courses in an athletic training doctorate program.

  • Quality Improvement & Patient Safety
  • Corrective Techniques
  • Foundations of Orthopedics
  • Comparative Effectives in Athletic Training
  • Epidemiology

Classes differ by school. Be sure to speak with a faculty member or admissions counselor from your intended school for a complete list of course offerings.

Doctor of Education in Athletic Training

Students could also pursue an online doctorate of education (EdD) in athletic training. These programs are designed to develop' students understanding of how to teach athletic training methods. For example, graduates could go on to instruct school coaches or other athletic leaders on methods to better train their pupils.

Courses in EdD programs cover teaching methods as much as AT techniques. For this reason, some classes are often provided through a school’s education department. For more information about class breakdowns, speak with a representative from your intended school.

Online Doctoral AT Capstone Projects

Doctoral AT capstone projects help demonstrate the knowledge a student gains during a program. Usually, AT programs offer two options.

The first project, a dissertation, is more common. The dissertation often has students conducting their own research in the athletic training field. This could include testing the effectiveness of current physical therapy procedures. Or,  you might focus on why certain body parts degrade in specific sports. Either way, students create and conduct their own experiments.

To be permitted to do their own research, students may first need to complete prerequisite courses. This may include the some of the following classes.

  • Research Methods & Design
  • Qualitative Research Methodology
  • Implementing and Evaluating a Solution
  • Completing & Disseminating Research Projects

Dissertation prerequisites may differ by school.

After completing their research, students then may be asked to write a paper and present it to faculty. Online students typically present and defend their dissertation via video conference. But, some may be asked to come onto campus for their defense.

The second capstone project option is to shadow a professional in a clinical environment. This semester-long experience places students in a real-world AT scenario. Typically, the semester begins with the student following a certified athletic trainer through their daily work routine. As the semester progresses, they could transition to handling some of the advisor’s patients. This could be a great way to practically apply knowledge and work on actual patients.

Capstone project options and their requirements may vary by school. Be sure to speak with faculty in your department for more information.  

Are Online Athletic Training Graduate Programs Accredited?

When browsing potential online athletic training graduate programs, you may wish to look for ones accredited by the Commission on Athletic Training Education (CAATE).i This agency strives to ensure that accredited AT schools are constantly reevaluating and enhancing their curriculum as new information is made available. By doing this, schools could potentially offer innovative courses for their students that cover advanced techniques and research breakthroughs.

Be sure to check your intended school’s website for proof of their CAATE certification. Or, speak with an admissions or program advisor.

After Graduation: Sports Medicine Careers

Many students who earn a degree through online athletic training graduate programs go on to pursue careers as athletic trainers. Athletic trainers earned a median salary of $45,630 in 2016. And, the amount of available athletic trainer positions are projected to potentially grow from 2014 to 2024. Employment opportunities could grow by 21% which is much faster than the national average.i

There are many locations where students might pursue this career. Instead of being limited to an athletic training office, AT positions may be available in some of the following workplaces.

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Fitness Centers
  • Sports Arenas

It’s important to note that entry-level athletic training positions typically require applicants to have earned a bachelors degree in a related field. While this is true, many positions may also require a masters degree because it demonstrates a better understanding of more advanced AT techniques and knowledge.ii

In addition, athletic training in positions may require applicants to have earned their athletic training certification. By earning your certification, you could demonstrate that you understand key AT concepts that may be necessary at the professional level. Students could choose to take either their state’s license exam or one provided by the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers’ (BOC).ii

Choosing Online Athletic Training Graduate Programs

This information could be a great foundation when searching the through online athletic training graduate programs. You may have found that a masters program aligns more with your career goals. Or, that you want to pursue research with the help of a doctoral program.

With your choices in mind, browse the list of online AT programs on this page. Clicking a link provides you with a brief description about the program. While you’re there, you could request more information about the program. This could include important details like admissions deadlines, faculty bios, or more. Or, you could refine your list by selecting your preferred degree level using the menus on this page. Good luck finding perfect online athletic training graduate programs!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers.htm#tab-4

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