United States Graduate Athletic Training Programs ( MSAT, DAT)
Athletic training graduate programs teach advanced techniques to treat and prevent sports related trauma. Athletic training schools may have classes on physical therapy and emergency care methods to address athletic injuries. Courses may also explore techniques such as stretches and training measures to help avoid problems in the future.
Depending on the level of your desired athletic trainer degree, you may also conduct your own sports medicine research. In this case, you could test current athletic training theories and even offer suggestions to enhance and forward the field.
What is Athletic Training?
Athletic training includes services, exercises, and fitness plans the reduce, treat, or prevent sports related injuries. This could include treatments and procedures involving the following.
- Immediate Emergency Services
- Chronic Injuries
- Preexisting Conditions
- Physical Therapy
- Preventative Care
Each of these topics, and more, may be addressed in a graduate athletic training program. This way students might prepare to guide athletic professionals through safe and effective exercise routines and sports performances.
Popular Athletic Training Graduate Programs
Masters in Athletic Training
Doctorate Athletic Training
D.A.T., Ph.D., Ed.D.
Graduate Certificate in Athletic Training
Master of Health Science Athletic Training Specialization
|Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology||M.S.||Campus|
Each type of athletic training degree has its own requirements and goals. For example, a Masters in Athletic Training program may suit someone with a bachelors degree. A doctorate program, on the other hand, may require more experience. Programs vary, so it's important to contact athletic training schools directly to learn more.
Athletic Training Master's Programs
Masters in Athletic Training programs develop students’ athletic training techniques through courses heavily focused on anatomy and sports related stress. This could help students better grasp how the human body works and learn how to keep it functioning in an optimal way.
After studying these fundamentals, students may then move on to examine the treatment of injuries that have already occurred. Rehabilitation procedures could prove vital to reduce the long-term effects of both major and minor injuries.
While Athletic Training master's programs vary, they typically require students to complete 68 credit hours. Students could earn a Masters of Athletic Training degree in 2 years, depending on enrollment.
It’s important to note that some masters programs may require applicants to be a currently licensed athletic trainer or certified athletic trainer. For more information, speak with the athletic training school's department head or admissions team.
Potential Athletic Training Master's Program Curriculum
As mentioned, Masters in Athletic Training courses are designed to teach students how to lessen the negative effects sports could have on the body. This might mean exploring muscle strengthening techniques, how to correct form, or ways to address current injuries with physical therapy.
While earning a athletic training masters degree, students could have the chance to take some of the following courses.
- Concussions in Sports
- Sports & Disability
- Emergency Care in Athletic Training
- Presentation, Evaluation, and Treatment of Athletic Injuries
Courses vary by program. Be sure to speak with your program director for more information about available classes.
Athletic Training Master's Programs & Certification
Many Masters in Athletic Training programs seek to prepare students for the necessary exams to become a certified athletic trainer (CAT). Typically, classes reference the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC) industry standards. These two agencies offer the required examinations students may need to complete to become CATs.i
Both exams aim to test the 5 domains of athletic training and may draw directly from courses you could take during your time in a masters in athletic training program. These are as follows.
- Clinical Evaluation & Diagnosis
- Immediate Emergency Care
- Treatment, Rehabilitation Reconditioning
- Organization & Administration
Testing materials may vary by state and exam year. Not every athletic training master program is designed to help students prepare to pursue certification, so contact schools directly to learn more if this interests you.
Athletic Training Graduate Certificate
Athletic training certificate programs are often shorter and more concise programs. This is because they either focus on one specific aspect of AT or act as a general introduction to graduate studies.
Students choosing to pursue a focused program could study a specific AT technique and expand their skill set. For example, yoga and holistic medicines are common graduate certificate concentrations.
Students in these programs typically have earned a bachelors in athletic training degree. Therefore, the certificate program may not need to address AT fundamentals. Instead, they could focus solely on a particular aspect of athletic training.
Others may want to pursue an athletic trainer certificate to start the graduate journey. In this case, certificate programs offer reduced curriculum to touch on core courses that you may find in an AT masters program. This could include classes in emergency care and injury prevention.
Many students who earn this type of graduate certificate go on to athletic training master's programs. Some certificate credits may then be applied towards graduation. However schools vary, so follow up to learn whether this could apply to you.
Doctorate in Athletic Training Programs
Students typically enroll in athletic training doctoral programs to either conduct research or prepare to teach others about athletic training.
Doctor of Athletic Training Program (DAT) and PhD Programs
Those interested in conducting research and advancing their practice may choose to enroll in a PhD or DAT program. These athletic training doctorate programs focus on expanding students' understanding of how current AT methods and tactics are developed.
Advanced courses then teach ways to challenge the current medical status quo in a constructive matter. This usually consists of testing the effectiveness of rehabilitation, training, and other methods.
Generally, DAT programs are more practitioner based and focus on applied research. PhDs, on the other hand, could be more academic in nature and emphasize scholarly research. However this may vary by school.
In either case, as part of these doctorate in athletic training programs, you could have the chance to take some of the following courses.
- Quality Improvement & Patient Safety
- Corrective Techniques
- Foundations of Orthopedics
- Comparative Effectives in Athletic Training
Courses may vary by school. Speak with an advisor from your intended doctor of atheltic training program for more information. They may be able to provide you with valuable materials like course guides and curriculum outlines.
EdD in Athletic Training Program
Another option at this level is the doctorate of education (EdD) in athletic training. This type of program focuses on teaching others to use current AT techniques. Classes may be split between advanced AT concepts and educational methods.
Due to this dual focus, some courses might be offered in the education department, instead of the AT department. Intended schools could provide you with more information about potential class breakdowns.
Within EdD programs students may also have the chance to take on a graduate assistant (GA) positions. In these roles, you could potentially teach undergraduate AT students. This could be a great chance to test out your teaching abilities in a real-world setting.
Please be aware the availability of graduate assistant positions varies by school. Speak with department or admissions faculty for more information about their GA programs.
Doctoral Athletic Training Capstones
In addition to coursework, doctor of athletic training programs may have students take part in one of two capstone projects. Those most interested in practical applications of AT may choose to complete clinical rotations. These semester-long experiences could allow students to practically apply their AT knowledge.
In many cases, students shadow a professional in the industry throughout their daily routine. As the semester progresses, they may have the chance to work with their own set of patients.
Other students may choose to take the dissertation route to conduct their own AT research. In order to take part in research, they may be required to take some of the following prerequisite courses.
- Research Methods & Design
- Qualitative Research Methodology
- Implementing and Evaluating a Solution
- Completing & Disseminating Research Projects
After completing these courses, students may then go on to design their own experiments to test athletic training theories. Subjects could range from enhancing current physical therapy techniques to researching more effective stretches.
After collecting data, students could choose two different ways to present their findings. First, students may present a typical dissertation research paper outlining their findings to faculty. Or, students might provide a presentation outlining their findings at an athletic training conference.
Capstone project requirements vary by athletic training school. Check with department faculty for more information.
Who Accredits Athletic Training Programs?
Athletic training graduate programs are typically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).i It’s CAATE’s mission to constantly evaluate athletic training (AT) programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. The goal of this is to continually push programs to enhance and adapt their curriculum to include new techniques and breakthroughs in the field.
This may be an important consideration when evaluating athletic training programs, as graduation from a CAATE-accredited program is often a requirement for licensure. Follow up with individual schools or visit the CAATE website to learn more.
Ways to Earn an Athletic Trainer Degree
Athletic training graduate programs are offered in several different formats so that students might better match their education to their needs. For example, students currently pursuing AT careers may want the convenient scheduling of the online programs. Others way may the interactive experience of an on-campus program. Consider your personal lifestyle, routine, and academic goals to find a format that is perfect for you.
On Campus Athletic Training Graduate Programs
Campus athletic training graduate programs might be a great choice for students who want to experience hands on learning. Classes might offer visual teaching aids to better illustrate core AT concepts. This could be as simple as using anatomy models to display how certain injuries occur. Or, it could involve medical volunteers coming into the classroom for physical therapy.
Depending on the program, professors may also be able to offer clinical shadowing experiences. During these courses or planned excursions, students could witness how professors go about diagnosing and treating real-world injuries. This could be a great way to see how theories translate to actual applications.
Finally, athletic training schools may provide access to advanced AT technology. These machines might help monitor things like heart rate, stress levels, and more. However they are often too costly to purchase for home. This way, students could continue to engage with innovative technologies without encountering prohibitive educational costs.
Every athletic training school is different, so follow up directly to learn what resources might be available to you.
Online Athletic Training Graduate Programs
In online athletic training programs, courses may be similar those offered on campus but with the added benefit of being available anywhere with internet access. Students could log on as their schedule allows. This might be a great choice for working professionals.
Additionally, online athletic training graduate programs could provide access to campus resources. For instance, many schools stream the AT lectures for students to view. This may allow them to tap directly into the classroom experience. Schools could also make libraries and online databases available for students to pursue additional research for their classes or other projects.
Some online athletic training programs may have in person requirements or offer a hybrid option. In these cases, students may take certain classes on campus or find local placements for practicums and field experience. Contact individual programs to learn more.
Potential Athletic Training Careers
Students who cearn a graduate athletic training degree often choose to pursue a career as an athletic trainer. Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings in order to reduce and treat sports related injuries. Workplaces could include some of the following.
- Fitness Centers
- Sports Arenas
Athletic training positions typically require applicants to hold a bachelors in athletic training. But, master’s degrees are also common.
Additionally, many of these positions may require students to earn an athletic training certification before they are able to practice. To do this, students could take either a state’s licensure exam or the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer’s (BOC) exam.
In 2016, athletic trainers earned a median salary of $45,630. And, the amount of available positions could possibly be growing much faster than the national average. Employment opportunities for athletic trainers are projected to potentially grow 21% from 2014 to 2024.i
Find Athletic Training Graduate Programs in United States
This information may have helped you identify what athletic training degree you’re looking for. Maybe you realized that a doctorate could help you teach in the field. Or, perhaps you pinpointed that you want to expand your practical methods with a masters in athletic training program. Browse the list of programs below or use the filter to the left to get started.
Lasell UniversityMaster of Science in Athletic Training
Sacred Heart UniversityMaster of Science: Athletic Training
St. Louis UniversityDoisy College of Health Sciences Athletic Training
Bridgewater State UniversityAthletic Training
Armstrong Atlantic State UniversitySports Medicine
Montana State University - BillingsAthletic Training
Life UniversityMaster of Athletic Training
Missouri State UniversityAthletic Training
Manchester CollegeMaster of Athletic Training
Stephen F Austin State UniversityGraduate Athletic Training Program
College of St. ScholasticaAthletic Training
Seton Hall UniversityMaster of Science in Athletic Training
Georgia Southern UniversityAthletic Training
Brigham Young UniversityMS in Athletic training
University of PittsburghSports Medicine
SOURCES: [i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/athletic-trainers.htm#tab-4