Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) Degree

Master of Science in Athletic Training

Offered By: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

The Master of Science (MS) in Athletic Training program at Grand Canyon University (GCU) prepares graduates for employment as athletic trainers in various clinical and educational settings, including secondary schools, colleges and universities, rehabilitation clinics and hospitals, as well as emerging settings in amateur and professional sports.

This athletic training degree is offered by the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions at GCU. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as an allied healthcare profession.1

Benefits of the MS in Athletic Training Program at GCU

As a student in the MSAT degree program, you will participate in on-campus lectures, hands-on labs, simulations and clinical experiences at local athletic and rehabilitation facilities. This is an excellent career choice, as sports programs of all ages continue to create demand for athletic trainers.2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for athletic trainers to increase by about 16% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 5,200 jobs in the field.3 If you are passionate about anatomy, physiology, injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education and helping others, this highly specialized field may be right for you.

The athletic training degree will equip you with skills and knowledge in each of the five domains of professional practice:

  1. Injury and Illness Prevention and Wellness Promotion
  2. Examination, Assessment and Diagnosis
  3. Immediate and Emergency Care
  4. Therapeutic Intervention
  5. Healthcare Administration and Professional Responsibility

As an MSAT degree student at GCU, you will learn critical competencies in the following areas:

  • Effective communication: Construct effective communications, appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes and occasions.
  • Critical thinking: Learn how to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate and challenge ideas and arguments.
  • Christian worldview: Express aspects of the Christian worldview, which affect human value and dignity, ethical decision making, academic disciplines and vocation.
  • Leadership: Recognize and apply ethical, moral and values-based leadership by collaborating respectfully with individuals and encouraging others to achieve their goals.

The MS in Athletic Training program at GCU prepares you for a career in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Upon successful completion of the coursework in this MSAT degree program, you will be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam to obtain athletic training certification.

MSAT Degree Program Admissions at GCU

To be eligible for the Master of Science in Athletic Training degree at GCU, specific program requirements, including admissions, clinical requirements and the application process is required.

Admission to the Master of Science in Athletic Training program requires you to meet the following academic requirements:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from a conferred baccalaureate degree earned at an accredited institution
  • Minimum grade of C (2.0) or better on all required pre-requisite coursework listed below:
General Biology lecture and lab* BIO-181, 181L
Human Anatomy lecture and lab, four credit minimum* BIO-201 and 201L OR BIO-210 and 210L
Human Physiology lecture and lab, four credit minimum* BIO-202 and 202L OR BIO-211 and 211L
General Chemistry lecture and lab, four credit minimum* CHM-113 and 113L
General Physics lecture and lab, four credit minimum* PHY-111 and 111L
Exercise Physiology EXS-340 and 340L
Introduction to Psychology* PSY-102
Introduction to Nutrition NSC-150 or BIO-319
Kinesiology EXS-335 and 335L

*CAATE requirement (Standard 54).

  • For applicants, conferred baccalaureate degree will be evaluated for courses that are equivalent to the required pre-requisite coursework.
  • For the stacked ranking process for prerequisite GPA, the most recent attempt (maximum of two total within the previous seven years) will be considered for admission. The weight of each criterion for stack ranking is: 50% Cumulative GPA and 50% pre-requisite GPA. For the stack ranking process for pre-requisite GPA, the most recent attempt (maximum of two total within the previous seven years) will be considered for admission.
  • Completed GCU background check (within the last six months of the application deadline)

The application process to the MSAT program at GCU is usually swift and seamless as long as you adhere to specific application requirements and meet application deadlines, such as:

  • Meet the above requirements for application
  • Student submits application prior to the deadline
  • If not admitted into selected term, re-application will be required for subsequent term deadlines and start dates
Feb. 1 Summer
July 1 Fall
Oct. 1 Spring

To meet all CAATE accreditation standards and guidelines, as well as liability and health precautions, all students must complete the following information 30 days prior to starting their first clinical course to the Office of Field Experiences:

  • Certification in first aid
  • Certification in Emergency Cardiac Care (Approved by the Board of Certification, Inc.)
  • State of Arizona DPS Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card
  • Health History and Physical Examination form
  • ATP Technical Standards form
  • Provide immunization records
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of valid professional student liability insurance
  • Completed HIPAA and FERPA confidentiality acknowledgement form
  • National Athletic Trainers Association membership

Failure to meet these standards and guidelines may result in the loss of your clinical spot and require reapplication to the MSAT degree program.

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MS in Athletic Training Program Topics and Labs

This advanced, on-campus Master of Science in Athletic Training program requires a total of 65 credits for completion. Some core topics you can expect to cover in this advanced degree program include:

  • The process of evaluating and diagnosing medical conditions
  • Emergency management
  • Athletic training research methods and statistics
  • Biomechanics
  • Psychosocial conditions
  • Analyzing upper and lower kinetic chain and spine

As an athletic training degree student, you will also complete a capstone project at the end of the program. This project prepares you to be a clinical scholar and distribute research that is relevant in the field of athletic training. You will also complete supervised clinical hours in a professional setting to demonstrate your athletic training skills.

Career Paths for MSAT Degree Graduates

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, colleges and universities are one of the largest employers of qualified athletic trainers in order to support NCAA athletic divisions as well as intramural and club sports programs. Jobs with an athletic training degree are also commonly available in:3

  • Hospitals
  • Fitness centers
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Law enforcement and military
  • Professional sports teams
  • Performing arts organizations

Requirements will vary by state, but almost all states require athletic trainers to be licensed or certified before they can practice. Professional licensure disclosures for this program are available here. Upon successful completion of the required credentials, professionals are ready to pursue a variety of rewarding jobs in the athletic training field.

Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) Degree FAQs

Athletic trainers have a passion for both science and helping people heal. If you think athletic training is the career for you, GCU has prepared answers to your most frequently asked questions about the degree program that will assist you in reaching your career goals.

The MS in athletic training program at GCU consists of 26 courses with a total of 65 credits, allowing you to complete your MSAT degree in approximately two years. This timeframe may vary depending on whether you attend classes full- or part-time.

Every athletic training degree has specific eligibility requirements such as a required GPA or course-specific grade requirements. One prerequisite for the MSAT program is an undergraduate degree in a related major. This undergraduate time is also your opportunity to build out-of-classroom experiences and pursue volunteer opportunities.

The athletic training industry is a relatively small one, therefore jobs, especially with professional or high-level sports teams, are competitive. With this in mind, it’s even more important to earn your MS in athletic training program from an accredited university that offers a challenging, well-rounded program and prepares you to be a top candidate for future employers.

While these both have a focus on athletic health, they work differently within the industry. Sports medicine is a medical discipline that focuses on treating athletes with sport-related injuries. Meanwhile, athletic trainers help create plans to rehabilitate athletes, prevent sport-related injuries, and often work on-the-spot to assist athletes during live contests.

Physical therapists and athletic trainers require different schooling and credentials. However, you can apply for physical therapy school with an undergraduate athletic training degree. You will need to earn your doctoral degree in physical therapy to practice as a physical therapist.

1 Retrieved from National Athletic Trainers’ Association, What Is Athletic Training? in Jan. 2022

2 Retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook for Athletic Trainers in November 2022

3 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, the data shown is effective September 2022, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Athletic Trainers, retrieved on March 15, 2023.

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 65
Campus: 15 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

Major:
65 credits
Degree Requirements:
65 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course provides students with an introduction to the foundations of professional athletic training practice. Students learn about the various health professions that comprise the sports medicine team and the appropriate communication strategies in patient care. These concepts are rooted in rules, regulations, and profession documents that comprise the athletic trainer’s scope of practice and standards of care. Students also learn about injury and illness prevention strategies such as health and wellness, nutrition, athletic taping and bracing, and sports regulations (NCAA, NAIA, etc.). Lastly, students learn about the Core Competencies: patient-centered care, interprofessional education (IPE), evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and health care informatics. Prerequisite: Formal acceptance into the MS – Athletic Training program. Co-Requisite: ATP-500L.

Course Description

This lab complements and supports the principles taught in the lecture course. This course encompasses: the principles of health and wellness, injury and illness prevention basics, nutrition planning, taping, bracing and padding for the extremities and spine, communication strategies in sports medicine, and sports-specific equipment fitting. Prerequisite: Formal acceptance into the MS – Athletic Training program. Co-Requisite: ATP-500.

Course Description

This course provides foundational knowledge in general evaluation skills for an athletic trainer. This course also provides knowledge, skills, and assessment techniques for general medical conditions and associated pathologies of the physically active, as well as information applicable to athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers of all levels. The systems instructed in this course are: Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Abdominal, Genitourinary, Gynecologic, Reproductive, Neurology and Concussions, Ears, Eyes, Nose, Throat, Infectious Disease, Systemic Conditions, Dermatology, and an Introduction to Psychosocial Conditions.

Course Description

This course includes the study of the proper techniques for managing patients with acute or emergent conditions. Students learn to perform a primary and secondary survey, as well as triage medical emergencies. Skills and knowledge instructed in this course include establishing and maintaining an airway, maintaining neutral spine alignment with an athlete wearing protective equipment, wound management, immobilization, management of shock, anaphylaxis, mental health emergencies, transfer techniques including spine boarding, core body temperature, and caring for athletes with systemic conditions. All this content is founded in the development of an Emergency Action Plan. Prerequisite: Formal acceptance into the MS – Athletic Training program. Co-Requisite: ATP-515L.

Course Description

This lab complements and supports the principles taught in the lecture course. This course encompasses: establishing and maintaining an airway, maintaining neutral spine alignment with an athlete wearing protective equipment, wound management, immobilization, management of shock, anaphylaxis, mental health emergencies, transfer techniques including spine boarding, core body temperature, and caring for athletes with systemic conditions. Prerequisite: Formal acceptance into the MS – Athletic Training program. Co-Requisite: ATP-515.

Course Description

This course provides students with the specific knowledge and practical skills required to perform proper orthopedic evaluations. Students learn to palpate body and soft tissue structures, and perform active, passive, and resistive range of motion testing, neurological testing, and special ligament tests for the major synovial joints in the body. The body regions that are taught in this course include: Foot/Toes, Ankle/Lower Leg, Knee, and Pelvis/Thigh. Students also learn appropriate documentation strategies for orthopedic evaluations. The evaluation process is rooted in the use of evidence-based practice and students learn the basics in the application of this concept while making clinical decisions. Prerequisite: Formal acceptance into the MS – Athletic Training program. Co-Requisite: ATP-511L.

Course Description

This lab complements and supports the principles taught in the lecture course. This course encompasses evaluation of the Foot/Toes, Ankle/Lower Leg, Knee/Thigh, and Hip/Pelvis. Students will use an electronic medical records (EMR) system. Prerequisite: Formal acceptance into the MS – Athletic Training program. Co-Requisite: ATP-511.

Course Description

This course is a study of various therapeutic modalities that aid in the healing process of injuries. Students learn the theories of pain relief and management, the phases of the healing process, and the viscoelastic properties of tissue. These concepts are woven into each of the electrophysical agents taught in this course such as manual therapies, electrical stimulation, cryotherapy, thermotherapy, ultrasound, diathermy, LASER, and other contemporary modalities. The course also covers treatment planning, goal setting, and the appropriate prescription of therapeutic agents. Prerequisite: ATP-500. Co-Requisite: ATP-520L.

Course Description

This lab complements and supports the principles taught in the lecture course. This course encompasses: manual therapies, electrical stimulation, cryotherapy, thermotherapy, ultrasound, diathermy, LASER, and other contemporary modalities. Prerequisite: ATP-500. Co-Requisite: ATP-520.

Course Description

This course introduces the student to statistics and research design in medicine. Students learn how to identify clinical and research problems. The main purpose of the Research Methods and Design and Statistics for Athletic Trainers course is to introduce students to quantitative and qualitative methods for conducting meaningful inquiry and research. Students gain an overview of research formulation, specifically: design, methodology, format, data management, data analysis, and data presentation. The course helps students develop the ability to use this knowledge to become more effective sports medicine researchers. This course also teaches students about: injury and illness surveillance systems and public data sources, incidence and prevalence rates, screening data, and patterns and trends in epidemiology. This course is an introduction to basic public health concepts and will be scaffolded upon later in the program.

Course Description

This course provides a clinical setting in which athletic training students clinically apply and demonstrate proficiency in athletic training skills. Students are assigned to a preceptor who provides supervision daily through constant visual and auditory interaction, providing feedback to students on their progression. The mode of delivery is student-to-student demonstration and a clinical exam testing students' proficiency at a clinical site (high school, college, or professional) on real patients. The emphasis of this clinical is on developing critical thinking skills, reasonable clinical decision making and clinical competency in emergency response, general medical evaluations, injury prevention strategies, lower extremity evaluations, and therapeutic modalities. Clinical hours: 135.

Course Description

This course builds on the knowledge and skills from ATP-511. This course provides students with the specific knowledge and practical skills required to perform proper orthopedic evaluations. Students learn to palpate body and soft tissue structures, and perform active, passive, and resistive range of motion testing, neurological testing, and special ligament tests for the major synovial joints in the body. The body regions that are taught in this course include: Fingers, Hand, Wrist, Forearm, Elbow, Upper Arm, Shoulder, and Spine. Students also learn appropriate documentation strategies for orthopedic evaluations. The evaluation process is rooted in the use of evidence-based practice and students learn the basics in the application of this concept while making clinical decisions. Prerequisite: ATP-511. Co-Requisite: ATP-512L.

Course Description

This lab complements and supports the principles taught in the lecture course. This course encompasses evaluation of the Fingers, Hand, Wrist, Forearm, Elbow, Upper Arm, Shoulder, and Spine. Students will use an electronic medical records (EMR) system. Prerequisite: ATP-511. Co-Requisite: ATP-512.

Course Description

This course covers the specific and applied use of manual therapies and therapeutic exercises. Students are introduced to the principles of rehabilitation, including, exercise prescription, injury prevention programs, clinical evaluation, collecting and analyzing patient-rated outcome measures to make clinical decisions, and developing a plan of care, to include objective return to play criteria. Students in this course are prepared to work with members of the sports medicine team, through interprofessional collaboration, to optimize patient-centered care, function, and return to play. This course has a foundation in the ICF model to guide patient care to address all contextual and personal factors in the rehabilitation process. Prerequisite: ATP-520. Co-Requisite: ATP-521L.

Course Description

This lab complements and supports the principles taught in the lecture course. This course encompasses the principles of rehabilitation, including exercise prescription, injury prevention programs, clinical evaluation, collecting and analyzing patient-rated outcome measures to make clinical decisions, and developing a plan of care that includes objective return-to-play criteria. Prerequisite: ATP-520. Co-Requisite: ATP-521.

Course Description

This course prepares students for NASM’s corrective exercise specialist credential. Students learn about human movement patterns, foundations in kinesiology, sports biomechanics, static and dynamic postural assessments, assessments for movement, strength, and range of motion, foundations in corrective exercise, and corrective exercise interventions.

Course Description

This course provides a clinical setting in which athletic training students clinically apply and demonstrate proficiency in athletic training skills. Students are assigned to a preceptor who provides supervision daily through constant visual and auditory interaction, providing feedback to students on their progression. The mode of delivery is student-to-student demonstration and a clinical exam testing students' proficiency at a clinical site (high school, college, or professional) on real patients. The emphasis of this clinical is on developing critical thinking skills, reasonable clinical decision making and clinical competency in upper extremity evaluations, orthopedic rehabilitation, and a review of skills from the previous clinical class. Clinical hours: 135.

Course Description

This course establishes a framework for health care administration and management, tasks and techniques required in athletic training, health care programs, the health care industry, and interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics. Students assess their personal and professional readiness for management and leadership and acquire skills necessary for effective administration and leadership within the industry. This knowledge and skills include: documentation in EHR/EMRs, leadership concepts, management (human resources, payor systems, budget, grant funding or other income sources), organizational concepts, facility design, scope of practice and legal aspects in sports medicine. This course also builds on the foundations in public health and includes topics such as advocacy groups, group interventions, public education on specific pathologies, population health, regional identification of health-related problems, and other advanced public health concepts. This course contains a culminating project that proposes a solution to an identified public health problem.

Course Description

This course examines current theories and practices of pharmacology as related to athletic training and sports medicine. Students learn about the drugs used to treat musculoskeletal injuries, respiratory conditions, cardiovascular system, GI disorders, metabolic disorders, and infectious diseases. This course also covers the FDA approval process, supplements and banned substances in international sport. The course also examines how to appropriately create a plan of care for a patient utilizing therapeutic modalities, rehabilitation, and pharmacologic interventions.

Course Description

This clinical allows students to experience the totality of care rendered by an athletic trainer. Students are assigned to a preceptor who provides supervision daily through constant visual and auditory interaction, providing feedback to students on their progression. The mode of delivery is student-to-student demonstration and a clinical exam testing students' proficiency at a clinical site (high school, college, or professional) on real patients. Clinical hours: 180.

Course Description

In this course, students propose their capstone project. This includes: Problem Statements, a PICO question, Methodology, Review of Relevant Literature, CITI Training, Formal Proposal, and IRB Submission (if applicable). This course culminates into the second research class in preparation for data collection, publications, professional abstract submission, and final capstone presentations.

Course Description

This course provides content in the recognition and management of mental health conditions, motivation of the athlete, and self-care strategies for the athletic trainer. This includes skills and knowledge in communication strategies, motivational techniques, appropriate referral strategies, intervention planning and mental health first response. Focus on the development and application of interpersonal communication strategies, motivational techniques, and referral strategies commonly used for psychosocial interventions in athletic training.

Course Description

This course provides a clinical setting in which athletic training students clinically apply and demonstrate proficiency in athletic training skills. Students are assigned to a preceptor who provides supervision daily through constant visual and auditory interaction, providing feedback to students on their progression. The mode of delivery is student-to-student demonstration and a clinical exam testing students' proficiency at a clinical site (high school, college, or professional) on real patients. The emphasis of this clinical is on developing critical thinking skills, reasonable clinical decision making, clinical competency, and integration of knowledge and skills from all domains of athletic training. Clinical hours: 270.

Course Description

In this course, students complete and present their capstone project. This includes: IRB Approval (if applicable), Data Collection, Data Analysis, Completion of Final Project, Dissemination of Results, and Future Research/Directions. This course prepares students to be clinical scholars and disseminate research that is practice-based and relevant to current practice.

Course Description

This course prepares students to sit for the Athletic Training Board of Certification (BOC) exam. Students examine professional regulations and certification requirements and use practice exam questions to prepare for the certification exam. Students also develop a timeline for preparation for the BOC examination.

Course Description

This course provides a clinical setting in which athletic training students clinically apply and demonstrate proficiency in athletic training skills. Students are assigned to a preceptor who provides supervision daily through constant visual and auditory interaction, providing feedback to students on their progression. The mode of delivery is student-to-student demonstration and a clinical exam testing students' proficiency at a clinical site (high school, college, or professional) on real patients. The emphasis of this clinical is on developing critical thinking skills, reasonable clinical decision making, clinical competency, and integration of knowledge and skills from all domains of athletic training. Clinical hours: 180.

Locations

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