Augustana to Offer Master’s Degree in Athletic Training

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Augustana University today announced details for its new master’s of science degree program in athletic training.

University officials say the new program comes at a critical time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for athletic trainers is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2026.

Augustana’s athletic training master’s program will offer three tracks:

  • Two degrees in five years: First-year undergraduates can choose to enroll as an advanced track bachelor’s/master’s student and will be accepted into the athletic training master’s program at the start of their second year. At the end of five years, they will hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of science degree and be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC-AT) Exam.
  • Pre-physical therapy: Students who wish to pursue a career in physical therapy can utilize the athletic training program to build hands-on clinical experience and earn graduate credit in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic conditions as an undergraduate. Pre-physical therapy track students can choose to:
    • Apply to a physical therapy program after their fourth year, citing their clinical experience and graduate coursework as competitive advantages for admission.
    • Stay for five years, earning both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of science degree, and sit for the BOC-AT Exam. From there, these students may apply to a physical therapy program as a licensed health care professional.
  • Master’s degree only: This two-year program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree. Following completion, students will hold a master’s of science degree in athletic training and be eligible to sit for the BOC-AT Exam.

Classes for the new master’s program will begin in fall 2018. Applications are due by Sunday, April 1. Apply at

Growing Demand

According to James Day, director of Augustana’s athletic training program, the demand for athletic trainers has never been greater.

“Between the national health care shortages to the nationwide fitness boom, athletic trainers are helping fill a vital link between patients and the medical system,” Day said.

Athletic trainers are primary care medical professionals who focus on the care of active patients, he said.

“From concussion assessment and management to decreasing the risk of arthritis following joint injuries, athletic trainers are in demand from high school athletics to professional sports and beyond.”

— James Day
AU Athletic Training Program Director

Career Opportunities

Traditional settings for certified athletic trainers are with college, high school and professional sports teams, Day said.

“Athletic trainers work in a variety of different ways with these organizations, but most commonly are associated with a team or several teams where they provide onsite health care during practices and events as well as diagnosis and rehabilitation for injuries and illnesses,” he said.

New and emerging pathways for athletic trainers include roles such as an intake specialist. Intake specialists can work at a physician’s office or in sectors such as the military, the performing arts or public safety to conduct initial evaluations and patient education.

“Many companies are seeing the value in hiring athletic trainers to work on site as prevention and rehabilitation experts,” Day said. “In doing so, the company decreases the need for outside referrals and minimizes productivity losses.”

Why Augustana

Augustana’s athletic training program is unique because of its curriculum, the clinical learning opportunities and its partnership with Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Day said.

“Our curriculum is brand-new and is focused on putting knowledge into practice according to how athletic trainers perform their jobs,” he said. “With the focus on patient care, our courses are holistic in nature, allowing the student to experience the entirety of patient care in each class, thereby allowing for faster and easier application of classroom knowledge into clinical practice.”

Hands-on, clinical learning is the center of Augustana’s education model, Day said.

“At Augustana, we believe that students learn best when they don’t have to wonder why they need to know something or when they are going to use it. Our students are heavily involved in clinical experiential learning throughout their program, enabling them to build real-life context while applying their new skills on patients,” he said.

In addition to providing students with hands-on learning opportunities, Augustana’s partnership with Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine also offers AU students the chance to build valuable professional connections, paving the way for professional success after graduation.

“Sanford is a vast provider of sports medicine services throughout the region,” Day said. “Our partnership with Sanford allows students to experience a variety of clinical settings — from providing care at sporting events hosted by Sanford, to viewing surgeries, to doing rehabilitation and reconditioning with athletes, the clinical experiences available right here in Sioux Falls are seemingly endless.”

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Media Relations