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 healthcare 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's 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
Additional Admission Requirements

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

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship is required.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Additional Fees/Program Fees Required
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the Athletic Training graduate program is to prepare students to work with physically active individuals in a variety of settings to provide injury prevention and care services. To succeed in this, we emphasize both classroom (didactic) and clinical education every semester in our program. This provides our students with not only the necessary knowledge and skills to become Athletic Trainers, but also the practice to perfect their skills prior to becoming nationally certified. Our program is tailored toward students who want to be involved in both healthcare and sports, working with athletes to both prevent injuries and to provide a continuum of care to get them back to participation after injury.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Athletic Training Master’s Degree Program at Northern Arizona University is to provide a student centered graduate learning experience that effectively links didactic and clinical education in the prevention, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. The program faculty promote professional and ethical conduct, encourage professional leadership, prepare students to be successful on the national Board of Certification (BOC) examination, and strive to produce competent and confident Athletic Trainers prepared for a career in athletic training.

Student Learning Outcomes

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.

    • Evidence of experience in athletic training (at least 60 observation hours in a facility that employs an AT).
    • Proof of CPR certification prior to beginning the program. 
    • 2 letters of recommendation, one of which is from a certified athletic trainer.
    • An interview with one or more program faculty (to be scheduled after the application review).
  • We begin reviewing applications on January 5th each year.  Students should apply through the Athletic Training Centralized Application Service (ATCAS)   Rolling admissions will be conducted until the program is full. If accepted into the program, students must then apply to the NAU Graduate College.

    Students who have been previously enrolled in another institution’s CAATE accredited professional master’s degree athletic training program and wish to transfer to our NAU MS-AT program, may transfer up to 25% (14 credits) of our total program credits (58 credits), per NAU Graduate College policy and at the program director’s discretion.  Application requirements used for admission to their previous program will be accepted in total as equivalent to our NAU MS-AT program requirements, as long as the student attended classes and was not dismissed due to poor grades.  We encourage transfer students and will work with each on an individual basis to ensure an appropriate educational background to ensure success in our program.

  • 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
  • This Master's degree requires 59 units distributed as follows:

    • Athletic Training Content Courses: 43 units
    • Clinical Education Components: 14 units
    • Comprehensive Exam or Culminating Project Option - Select One: 2 units
      • Comprehensive Exam Option: 2 units
      • Culminating Project Option: 2 units

    Take the following 59 units with a Grade of "C" or better:
  • Clinical Education Component (14 units)

  • Comprehensive Exam or Culminating Project Option - Select One (2 units)
    • Comprehensive Exam Option (2 units)

      • AT 597 (2 units) Students enrolled for AT 597 must take and pass a written comprehensive exam.
    • Culminating Project Option (2 units)

      • AT 655 (2 units) Students enrolled for AT 655 will work with faculty on a culminating project.
  • 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.

  • Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program

    This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan. Accelerated Programs provide the opportunity for outstanding undergraduates working on their bachelor’s degree to simultaneously begin work on a master’s degree. Departments may allow students to complete both degrees in an accelerated manner by approving up to 12 units applicable toward both degrees. Students must apply to the accelerated program and the master’s program by the application deadline, and meet all requirements as listed on the Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year. Be sure to speak with your advisor regarding your interest in Accelerated Programs.

Additional Information
  • 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.

  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $2000 per year has been approved for this program on the Flagstaff Mountain Campus and a program fee of $3000 per year for the Phoenix Biomedical campus.