The 8 Best Colleges for Athletic Training

Where you can get the best education in the field

If you’ve always loved sports and have an interest in medicine, then a degree in athletic training might just be what you should study. Athletic training programs combine integrated sports medicine and kinesiology practices with therapy for athletes and non-athletes who suffer an injury or just need a little extra help. 

It’s a great degree program with many different concentrations of study within the field, so you likely won’t ever get bored. Athletic training is also a profession that is highly in demand at the moment, so job prospects are likely to be favorable for students who choose to pursue this degree program. 

But before you get a job in this field, you’ve got to go to school first. Athletic training is similar to many other degrees in the world of medicine in that it is not typically offered to undergraduate students. For most schools, the first requirement for entry into an athletic training program is a bachelor’s degree. All of the colleges on this list reflect that and only offer master’s degrees in athletic training. But a few schools do provide ambitious students with the option to get an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree in athletic training together. 

Where can you work with a master’s degree in athletic training?

Because athletic training is a pretty specialized degree, there isn’t too much variation in the types of career opportunities you can do. With this degree, you’ll likely spend most of your time treating injuries. 

But where you can be an athletic trainer varies widely. This career path offers potential students great opportunities to practice in their field in a ton of different industries. Below are just a few: 

  • Colleges and universities
  • Professional athletic teams 
  • Performing arts 
  • Different branches of the military 
  • Olympic sports 
  • High school and middle school sports teams 

So now that you know what athletic training is and where you can go with this degree, let’s look at the best colleges for athletic training. 

The University of Georgia 

Aspiring athletic trainers and football lovers will want to keep an eye on the University of Georgia for their degree. This school offers students who want to study athletic training the unique opportunity to complete their clinicals in the Southeastern Conference. You’ll get up close to the action in a setting that is incredibly high stakes, so this school definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. 

But the University of Georgia also has many different opportunities for athletic training students beyond the football field. Students have the chance to get their emergency medical technician credential in addition to their studies, which is a great addition to have on a resume. And, if that wasn’t enough, students at the University of Georgia also have the chance to study abroad during the course of their degree!

The University of Wisconsin-Madison

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, students looking into athletic training will have an immersive experience in the field as it’s connected to sports medicine. This university, like the University of Georgia, focuses its athletic training program on the sports that are offered at the college. And the University of Wisconsin-Madison is big on its sports. 

Students will complete their clinicals throughout the duration of their degree, a full 24 months, and be involved with collegiate sports the entire time. Not many schools offer such a long period of time to complete clinicals, and even fewer have students spend their time so closely connected with the college sports team. So being an athletic trainer in a collegiate setting is something you want to pursue, check out this school. 

Physical training
Temple University has a more unique setup for students looking to complete their clinicals. At the university, students must take two different kinds of clinicals: a long and a short clinical. 

The University of South Carolina 

This southern university offers two types of master’s degrees in athletic training: an MS in Athletic Training and an MS in Advanced Athletic Training. The former is for students who are brand-new to the field, while the latter is advanced training for existing professionals. 

The University of South Carolina has great programs for each degree and the school can meet you wherever you are at in your athletic training journey. 

The University of South Carolina also offers students a fellowship program that awards students with a stipend and an out-of-state tuition waiver for non-South Carolina residents. 

Add on the fact students who attend this university have the option of taking their last clinical anywhere in the world, and you have a school that you don’t want to miss. 

Temple University 

This private university in Philadelphia has a great master’s degree in athletic training. The program places a lot of emphasis on hands-on clinical experience, with students completing two types of clinicals: short clinicals, and semester-long clinicals. This is a great blend of experience that helps to give students a broader outlook on their clinicals. And students don’t have to complete these clinicals in Philadelphia, either. For the student with a wanderlust spirit, they are able to complete their clinicals in areas that match up with their personal goals. 

But clinicals aren’t the only great part of Temple University’s athletic training program. The school also has seven research labs that work on groundbreaking studies in the field. So for students looking to have it all in their athletic training degree, Temple University might just be the place for you. 

Thomas Jefferson University 

This school is perfect for excited undergraduates who are ready to dive right into their subject of interest. The athletic training master’s program at Thomas Jefferson University is a combined undergraduate and master’s program that is completed in five years, however, they do offer a non-accelerated master’s program as well. 

Here, students who pursue the accelerated master’s degree will graduate with more experience in the field than most. The accelerated degree totals over 160 credits, which is amazing for those who want to complete their degree in a short amount of time — but don’t worry, at Thomas Jefferson University, you won’t be skipping out on the education. 

Sacred Heart University 

This small, private college on the East Coast has a lot to boast about its master’s program in athletic training. But the best thing about their program might just be the 100% pass rate for their graduates on the national license exam. It’s hard to beat that. 

But in addition to an outstanding pass rate on the national license exam, the school has a bunch of other perks for aspiring athletic trainers. Like Thomas Jefferson University, Sacred Heart also offers an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree in athletic training which gives excited students the chance to jump into their subject area right away. 

Another great thing about the school? Its small size. Sacred Heart is tiny compared to other big state universities. But Sacred Heart’s small class sizes mean more time and attention for you and your academic pursuits. 

A person walking up stairs
The University of Michigan is a great option for students who want to pursue a degree in athletic training. One of the best parts about their program is how they structure their clinicals. Students get four full semesters to practice athletic training in the field, an amount of time that you’d be hard-pressed to find at some other schools. 

The University of Michigan 

The University of Michigan is one of those state schools that’s pretty amazing all around — especially when it comes to athletic training programs. Students who study athletic training at this university go in-depth into their field. Each degree requires students to devote significant time to their clinicals: four full semesters. This large amount of time spent learning hands-on experience is unique, but ultimately incredibly useful for students who want to graduate prepared to succeed in their field. 

And if you need a little extra help supporting yourself while studying for an athletic training degree, the school offers a scholarship that’s awarded to select students each semester to help pay for school.  

The University of Louisiana 

When you think about getting your master’s degree in athletic training, the University of Louisiana is a great place to go. The school’s program in athletic training is the best in the state, if not the entire American South. 

One of the biggest perks that students get to enjoy is working with other students — a lot of other students. Those in the athletic training degree program get to interact with over 500 college-level athletes so that they can get direct experience providing medical treatment to high-level competitors. 

Another neat aspect of the program is that some students will have the chance to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam at the conclusion of their program, which will only add to their expertise in the area of medicine. 

No matter which school you choose, all of the colleges on this list offer a great education and lots of opportunities for potential athletic training students. This is a great career field that is in high demand and is fulfilling for many who choose to pursue it — so if you decide to follow your dreams and become an athletic trainer, you’ll be well set up to be successful in this field. 

Sophia Carlisle
Sophia Carlisle is a professional writer.
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