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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates | Fall 2021 Plans

New Master of Science Athletic Training Program Accepting Applications

Undergraduate students in Athletic Training program in 2019

January 25, 2021

Applications are now being accepted to the new Master of Science in Athletic Training program at the University of Northern Colorado.

Athletic training was previously offered at UNC as a bachelor’s degree until key stakeholders in athletic-training education agreed to standardize the professional degree in athletic training at the master’s level.

Top image: Students receiving hands-on experience in the previous Athletic Training bachelor's degree program in 2019.

Jim TurkJim Turk, a senior lecturer and Athletic Training Program director at UNC (image at left), said that the accrediting body found that requiring only a bachelor’s degree to become an accredited athletic trainer was “inconsistent” with expectations in today’s health care programs.

The program is a stand-alone, two-year professional master’s program for students wishing to obtain credentialling as an athletic trainer. After students complete the graduate-level program, they can take the national certification exam to become a certified athletic trainer.

The first cohort of students in the new program will start in the fall 2021 semester, and there’s no cap to the number of students accepted into the program.

Gary Heise“In the prior undergraduate cohort for this program, we had an average size of 10 students per cohort with around 20 students in the program at a given time,” said Gary Heise, Ph.D.(image at right), director of UNC’s School of Sport and Exercise Science. “Our goal is to have at least 30 graduate students in this new program at one time.”

The first year of the program focuses on knowledge and skill development in a classroom setting as well as hands-on experience in simulated patient care and lab settings with some clinical exposure. During the first summer session, students will begin their first clinical-immersive experience under the supervision of a professional athletic trainer. The last year of the program is heavily focused on immersive experiences to help students develop skills in a real-world setting.

After completing the program, students are required to take the national exam, also known as the BOC Certification Exam, to become certified athletic trainers.

“We have a really high pass rate on the national exam with 100% of our graduates becoming certified over the last seven of nine years,” Turk said. “Our student pass rates are above the national average, which varies year over year and tends to hover in the mid to upper 70 percentile.”

UNC has the longest standing and first accredited athletic training program in Colorado, first offering the bachelor’s degree program to students in the ‘70s.

“It’s the only athletic training program in Colorado that’s housed in an institution that sponsors athletics at the NCAA Division I level,” said Gary Heise. “This makes UNC unique in this area; we also have a large, diverse alumni network across the country with many working in major league and professional sports as well as other clinical settings.”

Learn more about the Master of Athletic Training program

—Written by Katie Corder