Education

Best Athletic Training Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Athletic Training programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Athletic training is the study and practice of preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries and illnesses that occur during physical activity. Athletic trainers work with athletes to prevent injuries, and to provide treatment and rehabilitation when injuries do occur. Athletic trainers are employed in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and private clinics.

Athletic training degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in athletic training, including working as an athletic trainer, a physical therapist, or a strength and conditioning coach. Students in athletic training degree programs learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and the different types of injuries that can occur during physical activity. They also learn about the principles of injury prevention, and the methods of rehabilitation and treatment.

How to Choose the Right Athletic Training Program

When choosing an athletic training program, there are many factors to consider. The most important factor is whether the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). CAATE-accredited programs must meet rigorous standards, so students can be sure they are receiving a high-quality education.

Other important factors to consider include the cost of tuition and fees, the length of the program, and the location of the school. Some programs offer scholarships and financial aid, so students should research these opportunities. Some programs can be completed in as little as two years, while others may take four years or more. Location is important for students who want to complete clinical rotations or internships as part of their program.

Once students have narrowed down their choices, they should research the curriculum of each program. Some programs offer specializations, such as orthopedic or sports medicine, which can help students focus their studies. Students should also make sure the program offers the courses they need to meet their career goals.

Best Bachelor’s in Athletic Training Programs

The best programs for Athletic Training ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI

The Athletic Training Degree Program at University of Wisconsin provides students with the theoretical and clinical foundation needed to succeed in a wide range of athletic training healthcare settings. The program places an emphasis on the basic sciences, and applicants must complete prerequisite coursework in biology, chemistry, and physics as part of the application process. Students must also complete a minimum of 20 hours of clinical observations prior to applying to the AT program.

Rank 2
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
Marion, IN

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree from Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion is designed for students who want to pursue a career in athletic training. The program provides students with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to be successful in the field. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pass the Board of Certification Inc. (BOC) certification examination and enter into a graduate program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

Rank 3
The University of Tampa
Tampa, FL

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from The University of Tampa is a four-year program that prepares students for a career in athletic training. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and is designed to offer students the knowledge and skills necessary to take the Board of Certification national examination. The program is selective and space is limited.

Rank 4
Springfield College
Springfield, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Springfield College is an accelerated five-year program that leads to a Master of Science in Athletic Training. The program is designed for students who want to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to provide quality healthcare to those engaged in physically active lifestyles. The program emphasizes minimizing the risk of injury and illness, improving functional outcomes, and enhancing safe participation in activities.

The program is divided into two phases: a pre-professional phase in which students complete the new core curriculum, core Exercise Science coursework and related requirements, and the professional phase, which includes four semesters and two summers of graduate-level professional athletic training education and clinical experience.

Rank 5
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree from Ohio State University is a four-year program that is designed to give students a solid foundation in the principles of athletic training, with a focus on injury prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation. The program also prepares students to take the Athletic Trainer Certification Exam offered by the Board of Certification, Inc. Upon passing this exam and completing their degree, graduates are awarded the professional credential “ATC”, the entry-level credential for practicing Athletic Training.

Rank 6
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Pennsylvania State University is a five-semester program that prepares students for a career in athletic training. The program is designed to meet the standards for national certification by the Board of Certification (BOC) and related state credentialing bodies. Students are admitted into the program on a competitive basis and must complete prerequisite courses.

Rank 7
Mercyhurst University
Erie, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Mercyhurst University is a flexible program that offers opportunities for students to double major or minor in a wide array of fields, and the senior capstone experience allows students to focus their field of study through internships with local minor league sports teams, major sports affiliates, ESPN, and other professional settings.

Rank 8
Buena Vista University
Storm Lake, IA

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree from Buena Vista University is a unique 3+2 partnership program with Drake University. This program allows students to complete a bachelor’s degree in athletic training in three years at BVU and a master’s degree in athletic training in two years at Drake. This accelerated program results in less educational cost and the ability to practice athletic training sooner. To be eligible for admission to Drake’s MAT program, students must achieve a 3.0 GPA and earn a grade of C or better in all prerequisite courses at BVU.

Rank 9
Westfield State University
Westfield, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree from Westfield State University prepares students for a career as an athletic trainer in a variety of settings. The program provides clinical experience in on-campus and community settings, and coursework covers topics such as evaluation of upper and lower extremities, general medical aspects of physical activity, therapeutic exercise and modalities, and more.

Rank 10
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH

The University of Cincinnati offers a Pre-Athletic Training track within the Health Sciences major that specifically prepares students for entry into graduate level Athletic Training programs.

The program gives students a hands on undergraduate experience where they can gain direct patient care experiences through service learning and research opportunities in some of the top health care facilities, learn alongside other allied health professions, and develop a strong foundational understanding of the human body through active labs.

Rank 11
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

The Bachelor of Science in Pre-Athletic Training from Louisiana State University is designed to prepare students for entry into accredited master’s degree programs in athletic training. The coursework provides students with the knowledge, skills, and required prerequisites for entry into a Master of Science in Athletic Training program. The Pre-Athletic Training concentration meets prerequisite course standards established by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education for all accredited graduate athletic training degree programs.

Rank 12
Southern Connecticut State University
New Haven, CT

The Southern Connecticut State University Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training program is designed to prepare students for a career in athletic training. The program is accredited by the Commission on Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and meets the requirements of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. The program is an accelerated program that allows students to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees in athletic training within a five-year period.

Rank 13
Marshall University
Huntington, WV

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Marshall University is a professional degree program that enables students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in AT through MU’s 3 + 2 plan. The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

The program blends classroom and laboratory instruction with clinical rotations where students complete required clinical education experiences with board-certified athletic trainers, physicians, physical therapists and other allied healthcare professionals.

Rank 14
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN

The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Middle Tennessee State University is a four-year program that prepares students for a career in athletic training. The program is based on the essentials and guidelines of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) of the American Medical Association and the Board of Certification (BOC). The curriculum includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and other related subjects, as well as clinical experiences. Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to take the Board of Certification exam to become a certified athletic trainer.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Athletic Training Program

Students in a bachelor’s in athletic training program can expect to take classes focused on injury prevention, first aid, and rehabilitation. The degree typically takes four years to complete and may require an internship.

Athletic trainers typically work with athletes to prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries. They also develop rehabilitation plans and provide education on injury prevention.

Most bachelor’s in athletic training programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). To be eligible for CAATE accreditation, programs must meet certain standards, including a minimum number of clinical hours.

Prospective students should make sure their chosen program is accredited before enrolling. In addition to CAATE, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Board of Certification (NATABOC) also offers accreditation for athletic training programs.

Common Athletic Training Courses

Athletic training programs at the undergraduate level typically include a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on experience. The following is a list of five courses that are commonly found in an athletic training program.

Fundamentals of Athletic Training

This course is an introduction to the profession of athletic training. The history, philosophy, organization, and current issues of the profession are discussed. The course also covers the domains of athletic training practice, including injury/illness prevention, clinical evaluation and diagnosis, immediate and emergency care, rehabilitation, and organizational and professional health and well-being. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the role of the athletic trainer and describe the domains of practice.

Clinical Kinesiology

This course covers the study of human movement as it relates to the clinical practice of athletic training. Emphasis is placed on the application of kinesiology principles to the rehabilitation of injuries, the prevention of injuries, and the enhancement of human performance. Upon completion, students should be able to apply kinesiological principles to the clinical practice of athletic training.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

This course is a study of the structure and function of the human body at the cellular, tissue, organ, and systems level. The course will cover the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, and endocrine systems in detail. The course will also cover blood, the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system, the respiratory system, the digestive system, the urinary system, and the reproductive system. Emphasis will be placed on the interrelationships between structure and function at each of these levels and how these relationships are essential to maintain homeostasis. Upon completion, students should be able to describe the structure and function of cells, tissues, organs, and systems of the human body and how they work together to maintain homeostasis.

Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries

This course covers the prevention, care, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Emphasis is placed on the recognition, assessment, and immediate care of athletic injuries. Topics include first aid, taping, bracing, and protective devices. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the concepts of injury prevention and first aid to the care of athletic injuries.

Exercise Physiology

This course covers the scientific principles underlying human movement and their application to physical activity and exercise. Emphasis is placed on the structure and function of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems during physical activity and exercise. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of exercise physiology to optimize human performance and health.

Career Options for Athletic Training Graduates

Graduates of athletic training programs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and sports facilities. They may also work in fields such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers work with athletes to prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries. They are often found on the sidelines of sporting events at all levels, from high school to professional, and work with athletes of all ages. Athletic trainers typically have a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, and many states also require certification. The job can be physically demanding, as trainers often have to be on their feet for long periods of time, and sometimes have to lift or move injured athletes.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists (PTs) work with patients to improve their movement and function. This may be done in a hospital, clinic, private office, or home-care setting. PTs help patients who are recovering from an injury or who have a chronic condition that limits their mobility. They work with patients to help them regain their strength and range of motion and to reduce their pain. PTs also work with patients to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work with patients who have difficulty performing everyday tasks due to illness, injury, developmental delays, or psychological issues. They help patients regain independence by teaching them new skills or finding different ways to do familiar tasks. Occupational therapists typically work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or patients’ homes, but they can also work in schools, prisons, or other workplaces.

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Strength and conditioning coaches work with athletes to help them improve their performance. They create workout plans, provide instruction and feedback on weightlifting and other exercises, and help athletes recover from injuries. They also develop nutrition plans and may work with other members of an athlete’s support team, such as physical therapists, to provide the best possible care. Strength and conditioning coaches typically work with athletes at the high school, collegiate, or professional level.

Nutritionist

Nutritionists are food and diet experts. They help people make healthy choices about the food they eat and develop eating plans that fit both their nutritional needs and their lifestyle. Nutritionists typically work in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and clinics, but they can also be found in food service, corporate wellness, research, and education. They might work with individual patients to help them improve their eating habits, develop meal plans, and reach their health goals. Or they might develop nutrition programs for schools, businesses, or other organizations.

Insights From an Athletic Training Graduate

Jordyn Black is an Athletic Trainer at the University of Michigan. She has a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from the University of Michigan. Jordyn has over 3 years of experience as an athletic trainer.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your Athletic Training program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Jordyn Black: The biggest takeaway that I got from my athletic training program was the importance of time management. As an athletic trainer, you have to be able to juggle a lot of different tasks at one time. For example, you might have to be working with a injured athlete, while also helping another athlete with their rehab, and also be helping the strength and conditioning coach with their workout.

If you are not able to manage your time well, it can lead to a lot of problems. For example, you might miss something important, or an athlete might not get the care that they need.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Athletic Training career?

Jordyn Black: I would say that a successful athletic trainer is someone who is passionate about helping others. Athletic trainers often work long hours, including nights and weekends, so it is important to be dedicated to the job. Athletic trainers must also be able to work well under pressure and be able to think quickly in order to make decisions in the best interest of the athlete.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Athletic Training program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Jordyn Black: I didn’t realize how much I would have to study! I thought that since I would be working with athletes, I would just be doing a lot of hands-on work. But there is a lot of science that goes into athletic training, and I had to take classes like anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology.

I would advise students who are interested in athletic training to make sure they are prepared to do a lot of studying. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the human body and how it works in order to properly treat and prevent injuries.

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