Best Athletic Training Programs

A bachelor's in athletic training prepares students for a variety of healthcare jobs. Learn about the top ten programs and how they can benefit you.

portrait of Staff Writers
by Staff Writers

Published on July 14, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

A bachelor's in athletic training helps prepare students for careers as athletic trainers or coaches in school or professional sports organizations. Graduates can also work alongside physicians to provide emergency medical care, preventive care, clinical diagnosis, and rehabilitation of injuries.

Like most bachelor's degrees, a bachelor's in athletic training typically takes four years to complete. An online bachelor's in athletic training also typically takes four years. However, students who have already completed some college credits can complete accelerated online programs in as little as 1-3 years.

On average, a degree from a four-year, public institution costs $9,212 for in-state students or $27,023 for out-of-state students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Degree-seekers pursuing an online bachelor's in athletic training should find out whether their school offers in-state tuition for online students.

Graduates of athletic training programs can expect a good career outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare occupations will grow by 16% between 2020-2030, twice as fast as the projected rate for all other occupations. The median annual salary for healthcare occupations was $75,040 in May 2021, which significantly exceeds the median annual salary for all other occupations.

Our Top Pick

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Why It's #1: The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is the number one ranked school on our Best Accredited Bachelor's in Athletic Training Programs list. While, at $52,669 per year, this university's tuition might cost more than average for out-of-state undergraduate students, in-state undergraduates will find it more affordable at $16,212 per year. Additionally, 65% of students receive some form of financial aid. This institution also has one of the lowest student-to-teach ratios, at 11-to-1, and one of the highest graduation rates, at 93%.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Best Accredited Bachelor's in Athletic Training Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

#1

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

School Information
Location Ann Arbor, Michigan
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 93%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $1,084
Out-of-State | $2,799

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor's School of Kinesiology offers a bachelor's in applied exercise science that allows students to choose between a management or a clinical track. 

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions does not require first-year applicants to have taken any particular prerequisite courses. However, applicants with challenging courses, good grades, and standardized test scores will have the best chance of admission. UMich offers free tuition to in-state students whose families earn $65,000 or less per year. 

View School Profile
#2

University of Georgia

School Information
Location Athens, Georgia
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | N/A
Out-of-State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Georgia offers a BSEd in exercise and sport science that combines coursework, research, and hands-on field experience. Students can choose to specialize in areas like pre-medicine, pre-physical therapy, or pre-occupational therapy. The core curriculum includes coursework in exercise physiology, biomechanics, and motor control. 

First-year applicants to the University of Georgia must complete college preparatory course requirements and submit SAT/ACT scores. Once enrolled in the university, students must then complete the required core coursework before applying to the BSEd in exercise and sport science.

View School Profile
#3

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $212.28
Out-of-State | $748.89

Credits to Graduate
18

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

The University of Central Florida offers a fitness training minor that prepares students to seek industry certification to work as personal trainers. In addition to the minor's four required courses, which include functional kinesiology and applied exercise physiology, degree-seekers must complete at least two electives such as personal training methods and basic sport first aid and CPR. 

First-year applicants to UCF must submit SAT/ACT scores. Eligibility requirements for the fitness training minor include a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, with no grades below C.

View School Profile
#4

Harding University

School Information
Location Searcy, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $750
Out-of-State | $750

Credits to Graduate
128

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

Harding University offers a bachelor's in exercise science. In addition to 47 hours of required liberal arts classes and a bible class, the curriculum includes courses such as general psychology, medical terminology, and human nutrition. 

Students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA to enter the program. Harding also offers two accelerated dual-degree programs, in which students can combine the BS in exercise science with either an MS in strength and conditioning or a doctorate in physical therapy.

View School Profile
#5

Texas Christian University

School Information
Location Fort Worth, Texas
Admission Rate 47%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | N/A
Out-of-State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

Texas Christian University offers a bachelor's in health and fitness. The curriculum includes core courses such as anatomical kinesiology and motor behavior and foundation courses such as exercise psychology and study of human disease. Students can choose to focus on clinical emphasis or strength and conditioning. 

First-year applicants must have completed college preparatory coursework. TCU will not require SAT/ACT scores for students graduating from high school in 2021-2023.

View School Profile
#6

The University of West Florida

School Information
Location Pensacola, Florida
Admission Rate 31%
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $212
Out-of-State | $641

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

The University of West Florida offers a bachelors in exercise science that helps prepare students for careers in fitness, clinical healthcare, or graduate studies. Degree-seekers can choose between a clinical or pre-professional track and a strength and conditioning track. 

A senior year capstone project allows students to gain hands-on experience in a health or fitness setting. 

First-year applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and state minimum SAT/ACT scores. Students must complete state-mandated common prerequisites before graduation, but the program does not require them for admission.

View School Profile
#7

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

School Information
Location La Crosse, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 69%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | $623.66
Out-of-State | $1211.66

Credits to Graduate
122 

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse offers a bachelor's in exercise science. Students can choose between a fitness track and a pre-professional track. The program culminates in an internship in which students gain hands-on experience in their area of interest. 

Applicants to the program must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.75 for the fitness track or 3.0 for the pre-professional track. Program applicants must also pass a fitness test and complete two job shadows.

View School Profile
#8

University of Connecticut

School Information
Location Storrs, Connecticut
Admission Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | N/A
Out-of-State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

The University of Connecticut's exercise science program offers a BS in exercise science that prepares students for graduate study of exercise science, or of healthcare fields such as medicine, physical therapy, or athletic training. Learners can gain hands-on experience through positions at local clinics or sports teams or in the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory. 

Incoming freshmen should apply directly to the exercise science program when applying to the University of Connecticut. Competitive applicants should have a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA and grades of B or higher in prerequisite science courses.

View School Profile
#9

Indiana University-Bloomington

School Information
Location Bloomington, Indiana
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 79%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | N/A
Out-of-State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

Indiana University-Bloomington offers a bachelor of science in public health in fitness and wellness. The program's curriculum aims to prepare students for the American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist (EP-C) Certification. Requirements for the degree include a 5-hour field experience and a 50-hour practicum. 

First-year applicants must complete college preparatory coursework. Indiana University encourages — but does not require — applicants to submit SAT/ACT scores.

View School Profile
#10

Cedarville University

School Information
Location Cedarville, Ohio
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 75%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In-State | N/A
Out-of-State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
128

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education Programs (CAATE) 

Cedarville University offers a bachelor of science in exercise science with a biblical worldview. The curriculum combines core liberal arts and bible minor classes with courses such as general psychology and anatomy and physiology. It also includes exercise science courses such as basic exercise testing and exercise physiology. 

The program includes a 30-hour practicum and culminates in a 300-hour internship capstone project. Degree-seekers may choose to pursue a BA-to-master's accelerated completion plan.

View School Profile

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Bachelor's in Athletic Training ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 10 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Athletic Training Programs

Is a bachelor's in athletic training worth it?

Yes. Because of the relatively high projected growth rate of healthcare occupations and the relatively high median salary compared to other occupations, a bachelor's in athletic training is worth the time and money it costs. Additionally, 85% of online students report that they believe their degree to have been worth the investment, making an online bachelor's in athletic training well worth considering. In some cases, an online degree might also cost less.

What can I do with a bachelor's in athletic training?

A bachelor's in athletic training helps prepare students for careers in sports medicine or athletic coaching. The degree qualifies students to take the Board of Certification (BOC) exam, which students in most states must pass to become practicing athletic trainers. Some graduates of athletic training programs go on to become physician assistants or pursue other healthcare-related careers. A bachelor's in athletic training can also prepare students for further studies in exercise science or healthcare fields.

What continuing education is available for athletic training graduates?

A variety of continuing education options exist for graduates of athletic training programs. Doctorate programs in athletic training exist for athletic trainers who wish to advance their clinical decision-making skills and further explore the role of athletic training in healthcare and public health. Additionally, graduates of athletic training programs may wish to continue their education by pursuing professional certification that allows them to become practicing athletic trainers. Once certified, athletic trainers must meet ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their certification. For this reason, they may wish to participate in professional license renewal programs.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in athletic training?

Athletic trainers earn between $35,000 and $59,000 per year, with an average annual salary of $44,348. Athletic trainers who pursue continuing education in order to advance their careers can earn more. For example, physical therapists earn between $59,000 and $85,000 per year, with an average annual salary of $70,748. Physician assistants earn between $82,000 and $123,000 per year, with an average annual salary of $98,926.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in athletic training?

The salary for athletic training jobs varies depending upon the environment in which the athletic trainer works. For example, the average salary for a high school athletic coach is $52,561 per year, while athletic trainers who work in the spectator sports industry earn $67,850 per year on average.

Feature Image: alvarez / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.