APU Offers New Master’s Program in Athletic Training

by Bethany Wagner

Azusa Pacific University launches a new Master’s of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program, beginning in fall 2016. The professional demand for quality athletic trainers, particularly those who research concussions, is increasing across the country. This two-year, 63-unit master’s degree aims to prepare students for the National Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) examination, and for a career in athletic training. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC).

APU’s MSAT program is taught by professional faculty-mentors and offered at a university with an established history of athletic training education. Students receive clinical rotation opportunities in high schools, colleges, professional sports teams, physician offices, rehabilitative clinics, on-campus athletics, and more. Additionally, the MSAT program places students in research teams where they can further their knowledge of the athletic training profession and contribute to the field.

Athletic trainers provide preventative treatment and rehabilitation to sports teams, office and factory workers, and many other populations. Professionals in this field are not just ankle-tapers or water-cooler refillers—they evaluate physical conditions, ensure the safety of athletic routines, monitor the quality of facilities and equipment, eliminate risks stemming from environmental factors, and skillfully diagnose and treat injury to almost any part of the body.

“Prevention is the focus of athletic trainers,” said Christopher Schmidt, Ph.D., director of APU’s new MSAT program. “While other health care professionals provide care in clinics or hospitals after injury or illness occurs, athletic trainers enter the lives of their clients on a daily basis.”

APU’s MSAT program provides the thorough understanding of internal medicine, nutrition, concussion studies, neurology, orthopedics, psychiatry, rheumatology, and physical therapy that athletic trainers need for success. Although the profession only required a bachelor’s degree in the past, the high demands of athletic training now reach into the graduate realm, heralding a major shift toward more rigorous education, with hundreds of schools slated to transition to master’s programs in the next seven years. “With health care evolving and sports injury rates rising, we see a greater need for quality care and holistic understanding at the preventive level,” said Schmidt.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) reports that, “Athletic training salaries have increased in nearly every category over the past three years...[and] the national average salary for a full-time position is now $51,483, up from $44,235 in 2008.” In a rising field in both prominence and intellectual rigor, APU leads higher education’s new approach to athletic training.