Best Master’s in Athletic Training Programs

Learn where a master's in athletic training can take your career. Find the top programs across the country.

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by Staff Writers

Published on July 21, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Completing a master's in athletic training program can provide graduates with the qualifications and training needed for several in-demand roles. Most programs require approximately 30-36 credits and about two years of full-time study. Part-time learners may need up to three years, while accelerated online programs can be finished in as few as 12 months.

Because the expense of these degrees can vary dramatically, students should make sure they understand true program costs before enrolling. Graduates go on to a wide range of roles in athletic facilities, healthcare centers, corporate spaces, and private practice.

When thinking about whether to go to graduate school and possibly go into debt for a master's degree, prospective students must carefully consider anticipated earnings after graduation.

Keep reading to learn about some of the in-person and online schools offering master's in athletic training programs.

Our Top Pick

University of South Florida — Main Campus — Tampa, Florida

Why It's #1: Based in Tampa, the University of South Florida (USF) offers a competitive master's in athletic training program with an admission rate of 48%. Students who get into this program stay the course, with 75% graduating. Although USF is a public institution, the school works diligently to maintain a low student-to-teacher ratio. As of 2022, there are 23 students for every professor. Learners also benefit from below-average tuition rates.

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Best Accredited Master's in Athletic Training Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

University of South Florida-Main Campus

School Information
Location Tampa, Florida
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 75%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Program Format: On Campus | Course Format Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $348

Out of State | $425

Credits to Graduate

33

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of South Florida's Tampa campus is home to a 33-credit master's in exercise science. Alongside core classes such as statistical analysis for educational research and research methods for exercise science, degree-seekers can tackle academic concentrations in exercise science, strength and conditioning, and health and wellness.

In addition to prerequisite coursework, prospective students must submit an online application with a letter of intent, a professional resume, and two letters of recommendation.

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#2

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $1,765

Out of State | $1,765

Credits to Graduate

36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Based in Washington, D.C., George Washington University offers a master's in exercise and nutrition sciences with a specialization in strength and conditioning. 

Throughout this 36-credit curriculum, students tackle both online and on-campus coursework. Core classes include topics such as advanced exercise physiology, fundamentals of nutrition science, and pathways to public health. Before graduation, students complete either a thesis project or a comprehensive exam and graduate internship.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and complete an undergraduate exercise physiology class before enrolling.

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#3

University of Tulsa

School Information
Location Tulsa, Oklahoma
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 72%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $1,389

Out of State | $1,389

Credits to Graduate

35

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education

The University of Tulsa is an Oklahoma-based private institution that offers an in-person master's in athletic training. Throughout this 35-credit master's program, degree-seekers complete required coursework, including sports nutrition, kinesiology, and biomechanics. This program provides students with the skills and proficiencies necessary for professional certification.

Prospective students can apply online and must include a statement of purpose, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Applicants can apply for both the fall and spring semesters.

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#4

Appalachian State University

School Information
Location Boone, North Carolina
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $298

Out of State | $854

Credits to Graduate

36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Located in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State University is home to a master's in exercise science with a concentration in strength and conditioning. Master's degree-seekers complete a 36-credit curriculum comprising core classes and concentration requirements. 

Concentration requirements include classes such as biomechanics, introduction to sport psychology in professional practice, and theoretical principles of strength and conditioning. Before graduation, students complete a degree-culminating practicum in strength and conditioning.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Alongside a completed application, applicants also submit GRE scores, a resume, and three letters of recommendation.

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#5

University of Houston

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 61%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $413

Out of State | $921

Credits to Graduate

57

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

Established in 1927, the University of Houston (UH) is a public research institution and one of the largest schools in the state. UH's master's in athletic training boasts a CAATE-accredited curriculum that prepares students for professional certification.

Some of this program's core classes include topics such as healthcare administration, research in athletic training, and emergency care. Athletic training students also gain extensive clinical experience before graduation.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of professional goals.

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#6

University at Buffalo

School Information
Location Buffalo, New York
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 75%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $471

Out of State | $963

Credits to Graduate

36

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

The University at Buffalo offers a master's in exercise science that students can complete in two years or fewer. Throughout this 36-credit curriculum, degree-seekers tackle core classes including exercise nutrition, cardiopulmonary responses to exercise, and public health and population well-being. Before graduation, students either complete a thesis or a comprehensive exam.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students no longer need to submit GRE scores, but they must have undergraduate prerequisites in physics, physiology, and anatomy.

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#7

Sacred Heart University

School Information
Location Fairfield, Connecticut
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 73%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester

In State | $9,950

Out of State | $9,950

Credits to Graduate

41-46

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

One of the largest Catholic institutions in New England, Connecticut's Sacred Heart University offers an in-person master's in exercise and sport science. Students complete a variety of essential courses including advanced applied physiology, functional anatomy, and data analytics for sport scientists. Before graduation, degree-seekers complete a thesis or degree-culminating graduate project.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students can apply online and must include official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and an essay showcasing scientific writing ability.

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#8

The College of Saint Scholastica

School Information
Location Duluth, Minnesota
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $723

Out of State | $723

Credits to Graduate

63

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education 

The College of Saint Scholastica is a Minnesota-based private Catholic institution that is home to a master's in athletic training program. Students encounter a 63-credit, two-year curriculum and complete classes such as foundations of athletic training, healthcare documentation, and pharmacology for athletic training. Degree-seekers gain extensive clinical experience before graduation.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 2.8 GPA. In addition to submitting an online application, applicants must include official transcripts and verification of CPR certification.

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#9

Montclair State University

School Information
Location Montclair, New Jersey
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $763

Out of State | $763

Credits to Graduate

42

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education 

New Jersey's Montclair State University is one of the largest schools in the state and offers a master's in athletic training. Throughout this 42-credit curriculum, students complete core courses including athletic training principles, pathology of physical trauma, and psychosocial issues in athletic training. Before graduation, degree-seekers also complete 12 credits worth of clinical training.

Prospective students must meet all Montclair State's general graduate school admission requirements, but they do not require GRE scores. Applicants to this athletic training program must also complete a number of prerequisites in relevant exercise science classes.

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#10

Moravian College

School Information
Location Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 9% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year

In State | $18,500

Out of State | $18,500

Credits to Graduate

68

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Moravian College is a private institution that is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. Moravian's master's in athletic training has a curriculum that covers classroom-based learning and clinical experiences. Core classes include topics such as emergency care, clinical education, foundations of therapeutic exercise, and sports nutrition.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and complete an admission interview. After gaining admission, students must complete a federal and state background check, a drug test, and documentation of immunization.

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Popular Online Athletic Training 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 Master'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 126 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.

Top Three Benefits of a Athletic Training Degree

Athletic training degrees provide multiple avenues for professional work.

Whether working at a local gym, in a corporate wellness department, or starting a private training business, graduates of these programs can choose from several different career paths based on their interests and salary needs.

Athletic training careers provide relatively recession-proof pathways.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of jobs for athletic trainers will grow by 23% from 2020-2030, which may create plenty of job opportunities.

Earning an athletic training degree allows graduates to pursue jobs with varied salaries.

While BLS data shows athletic trainers earned median annual wages of $48,420 as of May 2021, this figure does not represent the top of their potential. Those who complete additional training can qualify as occupational therapists and earn a median yearly pay of $85,570.

What Can I Expect From a Master's in Athletic Training Program?

Individuals who complete a master's in athletic training program typically already possess a few years of experience in the field and want to take their career to the next level. Most programs take approximately two years to complete. In addition to coursework, some programs may also include a fieldwork or internship component.

When preparing for graduate school, prospective students should always consider:

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Program Snapshot

Average Graduate Degree Tuition and Fees Cost Public Institution: $12,410
Private Institution: $26,597
Length 2 years
Credits 30 or more
Program Tracks MS, MAT
Example Concentrations
  • Kinesiology
  • Sports Management
  • Exercise Science
Example Courses
  • Psychology of Sports Injuries
  • Therapeutic Interventions
  • Human Performance
  • Behavioral Health

What Programs Are Similar to Athletic Training?

What Are the Admission Requirements?

Admission requirements for an online master's in athletic training vary from program to program, making it important that applicants carefully review instruction.

That said, many programs have common components. For instance, many require candidates to provide GRE scores and an essay. It's also common for programs to seek resumes from those preparing for graduate school. Requirements for online and in-person programs tend to mirror one another.

Explore Our Graduate Admissions Guide

How Do I Pay for a Master's Degree in Athletic Training?

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Before committing to a master's in athletic training, prospective students should carefully review the career opportunities awaiting them after graduation.

According to the BLS, the number of jobs for athletic trainers is projected to grow by 23% between 2020 and 2030. Because of this, graduates looking to go down this path may be in demand.

As the next section shows, salaries for these master's graduates can vary significantly. Because of this, students should think carefully about how they want to position their careers early on to meet income aspirations. Graduates work in many different areas, including personal training, sports, pain management, kinesthetics, and athletics.

Popular Athletic Training Careers

Career Median Annual Salary
Athletic Trainer $48,420 (as of May 2021)
Exercise Physiologist $47,940 (as of May 2021)
Occupational Therapist $85,570 (as of May 2021)
Recreational Therapist $47,940 (as of May 2021)
Sports Medicine Physical Therapist $72,800 (as of July 2022)

Learn More About Athletic Training Careers

Athletic Training Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Athletic Training Licensing and Certification

Nearly every state requires athletic trainers to receive and maintain licensure or certification when working with clients. Because specifications vary from state to state, learners should check with their local board of licensing to learn about specifics.

Many states require applicants to pass the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer examination as part of the licensure process. Graduating from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education may also be required.

Should I Get a Master's in Athletic Training Online?

Deciding whether to attend online or in-person and picking a college can be stressful. We look at some pros and cons in this section.

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

On-Campus
Pros Cons
  • Access to on-campus resources and support services
  • In-person social interaction and networking
  • Hands-on learning
  • Classroom learning environment with fewer distractions
  • Extracurricular clubs and activities
  • May be more expensive than online programs
  • Set class times with less flexibility
  • Time/money commuting
Online
Pros Cons
  • Flexibility to learn on your schedule
  • Learn from anywhere
  • Network with people around the world
  • Save time/money on commuting
  • May be more affordable than on-campus programs
  • Access to online tutoring and career services
  • Requires more self-discipline
  • Not all programs are available online
  • More technical requirements
  • Potential social isolation and loneliness

How to Choose an Online Degree Program

Factors to Consider Resources
Cost Comparing the Costs of Online vs. On-Campus Programs
Program Format Synchronous Learning vs. Asynchronous Learning
Accreditation How Does Online College Accreditation Work?
Student Support Your Guide to Online Student Services and Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions About Athletic Training Programs

Is a master's in athletic training worth it?

Earning a master's in athletic training provides the qualifications needed to seek jobs with higher pay ranges and more opportunities for responsibility. These programs, which typically require two years of full-time study and the completion of approximately 30 credits, signal to employers and clients alike a student's commitment to advanced knowledge of the discipline.

For cost-conscious students considering the implications of a master's degree on their budget, online master's in athletic training programs provide opportunities to save money in terms of transportation, campus-based fees, and room and board.

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

While individuals with an associate or bachelor's degree in athletic training typically stick to helping individuals grow stronger or meet fitness goals, completing a master's degree in the subject opens a whole new world of professional possibilities.

Those who decide to pursue this degree can specialize their studies if their chosen program offers options. They can also apply for more managerial roles with direct reports or opportunities for leadership. In addition, these positions tend to pay higher salaries.

What continuing education is available for athletic training graduates?

Earning a doctorate in athletic training is not all that common, though a few students may pursue this option if they want to dig deeply into the academic and research areas of the discipline.

That said, plenty of continuing education opportunities exist for students looking to continue building skills without committing to the length — and cost — of a full degree program. Organizations such as the National Athletic Trainers' Association provide continuing education opportunities, as do many other professional associations and societies. Universities may also provide some shorter postgraduate certificates.

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

The amount of money someone can make after earning their online master's in athletic training depends on several factors. For instance, someone living in San Francisco, California, is likely to make more than someone in Butte, Montana, as it costs more to live in a large city. Other factors affecting pay include title, employer type, and amount of experience.

As the table earlier in this guide demonstrates, most positions start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range and can go as high as just under six figures. Individuals just starting out should plan to earn a salary on the lower end of this scale.

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

As mentioned earlier, salaries depend on many factors. That said, some jobs inherently pay more than others. For instance, occupational therapists earned median annual wages of $84,570 as of May 2021 — substantially more than athletic trainers.

Occupational therapists in the top 10% of workers received salaries in excess of $123,840 during the same year. In terms of best locations for higher wages, occupational therapists working in home healthcare services earned median pay of $98,700 per year while those in elementary and secondary schools earned $77,290.

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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.

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