Athletic Training, Master of Science

Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training

College of Health and Human Services

The M.S. in Athletic Training is an entry-level professional program that prepares you to take the national Athletic Training Board of Certification exam. Certified athletic trainers are medical experts in preventing, recognizing, managing, and rehabilitating injuries that result from physical activity. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association as an allied health care profession.

This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

University Requirements
  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 58
Major GPA C
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Additional Fees/Program Fees Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study
Student Learning Outcomes

Athletic Training M.S.

Outcomes align with Standards from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association

Evidence-Based Practice

  • Evidence-based practitioners incorporate the best available evidence, their clinical skills, and the needs of the patient to maximize patient outcomes.
  • This area focuses on the knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level athletic trainers to use a systematic approach to ask and answer clinically relevant questions that affect patient care by using review and application of existing research evidence. One strategy, among others, is to use a five-step approach:
  • creating a clinically relevant question;
  • searching for the best evidence;
  • critically analyzing the evidence;
  • integrating the appraisal with personal clinical expertise and patients’ references; and
  • evaluating the performance or outcomes of the actions.
Prevention and Health Promotion
  • Athletic trainers develop and implement strategies and programs to prevent the incidence and/or severity of injuries and illnesses and optimize their clients’/patients’ overall health and quality of life. These strategies and programs also incorporate the importance of nutrition and physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in preventing chronic disease (eg, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease).
Clinical Examination and Diagnosis 
  • Athletic trainers must possess strong clinical examination skills in order to accurately diagnosis and effectively treat their patients. The clinical examination is an on-going process, repeated to some extent each time the patient is treated. The development of these skills requires a thorough understanding of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics.
  • Athletic trainers must also apply clinical-reasoning skills throughout the physical examination process in order to assimilate data, select the appropriate assessment tests, and formulate a differential diagnosis.
Acute Care of Injuries and Illnesses
  • Athletic trainers are often present when injuries or other acute conditions occur or are the first healthcare professionals to evaluate a patient. For this reason, athletic trainers must be knowledgeable and skilled in the evaluation and immediate management of acute injuries and illnesses.
Therapeutic Interventions
  • Athletic trainers assess the patient’s status using clinician- and patient-oriented outcome measures. Based on this assessment and with consideration of the stage of healing and goals, a therapeutic intervention is designed to maximize the patient’s participation and health-related quality of life.
  • A broad range of interventions, methods, techniques, equipment, activities using body movement, and medications are incorporated into this domain. These interventions are designed to enhance function by identifying, remediating, and preventing impairments and activity restrictions (functional limitations) to maximize participation. Rehabilitation is conducted in a wide variety of settings (eg, aquatic, clinic) with basic and contemporary equipment/modalities and on a wide range of patients with respect to age, overall health, and desired level of activity.
  • Therapeutic interventions also include the use of prescription and nonprescription medications. For this reason, the athletic trainer needs to be knowledgeable about common prescription and nonprescription drug indications, adverse reactions, and interactions.
Psychosocial Strategies and Referral
  •  Athletic trainers must be able to recognize clients/patients exhibiting abnormal social, emotional, and mental behaviors. Coupled with recognition is the ability to intervene and refer these individuals as necessary.
  • Athletic trainers appreciate the role of mental health in injury and recovery and use interventions to optimize the connection between mental health and restoration of participation.
Healthcare Administration
  • Athletic trainers function within the context of a complex healthcare system. Integral to this function is an understanding of risk management, healthcare delivery mechanisms, insurance, reimbursement, documentation, patient privacy, and facility management.
Professional Development and Responsibility
  • The provision of high quality patient care requires that the athletic trainer maintain current competence in the constantly changing world of healthcare.
  • Athletic trainers must also embrace the need to practice within the limits of state and national regulation using moral and ethical judgment.
  • As members of a broader healthcare community, athletic trainers work collaboratively with other healthcare providers and refer clients/patients when such referral is warranted.
Clinical Integration Proficiencies
  • The clinical integration proficiencies (CIPs) represent the synthesis and integration of knowledge, skills, and clinical decision-making into actual client/patient care. The CIPs have been reorganized into this section (rather than at the end of each content area) to reflect their global nature. For example, therapeutic interventions do not occur in isolation from physical assessment.
See the full list of standards for the Athletic Training Program.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Evidence of experience in athletic training (at least 100 observation hours in an active athletic training room OR one year under a certified athletic trainer in an athletic training room)
    • Proof of CPR certification* (American Heart Association or American Red Cross)
    • Prerequisites (completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • Completed courses in the following areas: 1) Introduction to Athletic Training, with a C or better; 2) Health Principles, with a C or better; 3) Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II, with a C or better; 4) Introduction to Physics with Lab, with a C or better; 5) Introduction to Psychology, with a C or better; 6) Applied Statistics, with a C or better; 7) Exercise Physiology, with a C or better, and 8) Kinesiology, with a C or better, 9) Human Nutrition or higher, with a C or better.
    • Personal statement or essay
    • 2 letters of recommendation from certified athletic trainers
    • An interview
  • *Students may take AT 229, Emergency Care in Athletic Training, on the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus during the summer after acceptance to become CPR certified.

    Upon admission, we require that students have a physical exam by a physician of their choice; show proof of immunization for hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria; and attest that they meet the technical standards established by our program and by the Northern Arizona University's Disability Support Services.

    For more information details on individual program admission requirements, please visit Admission Requirements - Master of Science in Athletic Training.

Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 58 units with a grade of "C" or better:

    The Graduate College requires a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA and no more than 6 hours of “C” while in the program, in order to graduate. You should be aware that you may be placed on probation if your grade point average falls below a 3.00, or if you receive a grade lower than a "C" in any course required for the program. If you are on probation, you will be assigned limited or no clinical experience. 


  • Teacher Preparation

    If you plan to teach in the high school setting, you should pursue a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education - Biology.  You must work with an advisor from the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences to fulfill the requirements of this degree. See Biology Advising.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

Additional Information
  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $1000 per year has been approved for this program.