Best Schools with Athletic Training Graduate Programs: List of Schools

Oct 24, 2019

Learn about the best graduate schools for athletic training. Read on for information about the top schools to offer graduate degrees in kinesiology, as well as program curriculum and requirements.

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Overview of Graduate Schools for Athletic Training

Degrees focusing on athletic training are typically found under kinesiology programs at many colleges and universities. Find out what three top schools have to offer with their graduate kinesiology programs, then preview a list of other schools with these programs to help you decide where to attend. Kinesiology programs can be found at the associate's level as well as the bachelor's level, but this article focuses specifically on graduate programs.

The following schools represent some of the best in the nation to offer a master's in athletic training and/or kinesiology. These schools have been ranked for their excellence by U.S. News & World Report, be it for their kinesiology program or the school as a whole. Both master's and doctoral degrees in a field directly related to athletic training are offered by the universities.

Top Athletic Training Graduate Programs

Pennsylvania State University

U.S. News & World Report ranked Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, tied for 18th among top public schools for 2020. Housed in the university's College of Health and Human Development, Penn State offers a kinesiology program that allows graduate students to concentrate in athletic training and sports medicine. The concentration is heavily research-based, and graduate students have access to extensive lab and research equipment, as well as clinical populations. Depending on their program of study, students graduate with either a Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology, with a concentration in athletic training and sports medicine.

University of Illinois in Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign in Champaign, IL, ranked tied for 14th on U.S. News & World Report's list of top public schools for 2020. In the same year, the same organization also ranked the university 48th among all universities nationwide. The Department of Kinesiology & Community Health, a division of the College of Applied Health Sciences at UI, offers graduate programs in kinesiology, which lead to a Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy. Exercise physiology and athletic training is included among four areas of specialization. Graduate students in this specialization study movement efficiency, energy transfer, and work output, which prepares them for careers preventing and treating injury in athletes and other physically-active individuals.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, touts a 95% three-year pass rate for undergraduates taking the Board Certification exam, with 86% passing on the first try. The university is ranked as the 34th-best public school in the nation, according to the 2020 U.S. News & World Report listing. Michigan State offers a master's and Ph.D. in kinesiology as well as a master's degree in sports coaching and leadership. Kinesiology master's students have the option of specializing in eight different fields, including athletic training, exercise physiology, cognitive and motor neuroscience, psychosocial aspects of sport and physical activity, coaching, sports administration, strength and conditioning, and student athlete development. The first four also available for doctoral students. Sports coaching and leadership students can choose to apply for a hybrid degree and graduate certificate program, resulting in a shorter overall graduation time.

List of Athletic Training Graduate Programs

Other top graduate schools with kinesiology programs include:

School Name Location Distinction
St. Louis University St. Louis, MO The kinesiology program aims to prepare students to become 'Women and Men Serving Others' in the Jesuit Tradition.
University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR All students graduating from the graduate athletic training program passed the Board of Certification exam on the first attempt.
University of Florida Gainesville, FL The school offers several athletic training graduate assistant opportunities with high schools, athletic associations, and the Department of Recreation Sports.
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL Students have the opportunity to work with the Division 1 Varsity Athletics program.
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI The university was ranked #3 among top public schools on U.S. News & World Report's 2020 list.
University of Nebraska - Omaha Omaha, NE Students can join the university's Maverick Athletic Training Student Organization.
University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN The Master of Science in Kinesiology program offers a concentration in Exercise Physiology.

Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois in Champaign, and Michigan State University house three highly-ranked kinesiology graduate schools in the country, offering a mix of master's and doctoral degrees.

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