Athletic Training

What to Expect from a Master’s in Athletic Training Degree


Perhaps you’re a former athlete looking to transition from player to trainer. Or maybe you’re an exercise science major who has your sights set on working with your favorite sports team. Either way, earning a Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) degree could be your ticket to a spot next to the player’s bench.  

This rewarding field is rapidly growing and changing. To help give you a better idea of what to expect from an MSAT degree, we enlisted Dr. Tony Brosky, Professor and Dean of the School of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences at Bellarmine University. Keep reading for an overview. 

First, what do athletic trainers do? 

It may be news to some, but being an athletic trainer is not synonymous with working as a strength coach or fitness instructor. Certified athletic trainers are highly trained healthcare providers who must be licensed.  

Often, athletic trainers are the first on the scene after an injury takes place. In these instances, they must quickly assess the situation. Certain conditions, like a bloody wound or a rolled ankle, can be treated immediately so the athlete can return to practice or competition. Athletic trainers must decide whether what the athlete is dealing with is a more serious injury requiring further diagnostic testing or more significant treatment before competing again. 

The full scope of their duties spans much further than this though. According to the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), athletic trainers collaborate with physicians to provide: 

  • Preventative services 

  • Emergency care 

  • Clinical diagnosis 

  • Therapeutic intervention 

  • Rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions 

What does a master’s in athletic training degree program entail? 

The goal of Bellarmine’s MSAT program is to prepare competent, ethical and compassionate healthcare professionals. Experienced faculty guide students through a dynamic and hands-on curriculum that takes place in the classroom and in clinical settings. Of course, you can expect to learn the basics, like injury prevention and first aid, but the curriculum goes much deeper than that. 

“Our students will spend time learning how to relate to the mentality and psychology of an athlete,” Dr. Brosky explains. “You have to know how to develop a rapport with athletes of all kinds, from kids to high school to professionals.” 

Examples of common MSAT courses include:

  • Functional Human Gross Anatomy 

  • Assessment: Head & Spine; Lower Extremity; Upper Extremity 

  • General Medical Conditions 

  • Principles of Therapeutic Modalities 

  • Performance Enhancement 

  • Pharmacology for Rehabilitation 

  • Interprofessional Experience 

  • Transition to Clinical Practice 

  • Rehabilitation Techniques & Practice 

  • Diagnostic Imaging for Rehabilitation Professionals 

  • Health Policy 

  • Bioethics 

Bellarmine’s MSAT program intentionally immerses students in diverse sports and environments. This prepares them to handle any situation that arises on the job.  

“Bellarmine is a great place for aspiring trainers. We have 22 sports teams here at the university, which is a lot for any school.”  

“Bellarmine is a great place for aspiring trainers. We have 22 sports teams here at the university, which is a lot for any school,” Dr. Brosky says. “Louisville as a whole is a kind of mecca for athletics. There’s always a football game, marathon, triathlon, some kind of sporting activity going on every weekend.” 

Students complete internships and rotations with all kinds of teams – local, national, collegiate and professional. Throughout the two-year program, student trainers will work with: 

  • Athletes of all genders 

  • Athletes of all ages, from kids to college age and adults 

  • Non-traditional athletes (people who work in manufacturing, construction and other industrial jobs that require heavy lifting and repetitive motions)  

  • Non-contact sports players (tennis, golf, swimming, running, gymnastics, track and field, biking) 

  • Contact sports players (basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer) 

  • Collision sports players (American football, lacrosse, ice hockey, rugby) 

  • Military veterans 

Bellarmine also places a high value on inter-professional education. All MSAT students work alongside Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) students and faculty in the training facilities on campus, in classes and in clinical settings. Bellarmine MSAT students also have the option to study abroad in the Dominican Republic and treat local sports teams on the island.  

Upon completion of the program, students will be skilled in: 

  • Critical thinking 

  • Effective communication 

  • Informed decision making 

  • Providing ethical care to diverse populations 

  • Developing collaborative relationships with other health care professionals 

  • Applying the tenets of evidence-based practice in the provision of care to active individuals. 

  • Articulating the importance of lifelong learning for personal and professional development 

What are the admission requirements for the MSAT program? 

Requirements vary according to program and university. Aspiring candidates for Bellarmine’s Athletic TrainingdegreeTraining degreesubmit the following as part of their application

  1. Submit online application at the Athletic Training Centralized Application Service (ATCAS) 

  1. Minimum pre-requisite GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 

  1. Satisfactory completion of all program prerequisites  

  1. Grade of “C” or better in all prerequisite courses 

  1. If overall cumulative GPA is below a 2.75, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) must be taken with scores (within the last 5 years) sent to Bellarmine University (School Code 1056). 

  1. The ability to meet Technical Standards 

  1. Final official transcript(s) from each college or university attended, submitted directly to ATCAS 

What can you do with a master’s in athletic training degree? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2020 to 2030, nearly three times faster than the average for all occupations. Some of this growth can be attributed to economic recovery after the COVID-19 recession that began in March 2020.  

The need for trainers in schools should continue to increase as people become more aware of the effects of sports-related injuries. Concussions are dangerous at any age. But their effects can be severe and long lasting in children, whose brains are still developing.  

Athletic trainers with master’s degrees are in demand at: 

  • Colleges and universities 

  • High schools 

  • Professional sports teams 

  • Physician’s practices 

  • Hospitals 

  • Corporate and government workplaces 

  • Military and veteran facilities 

Launch your career at the intersection of sports and medicine 

Now that you know more about this exciting healthcare role, you may be ready to take the next step. Check out our CAATE-accredited Master of Science in Athletic Training degree today and get the education you need to pass the certification exam. 

Haven’t decided on an undergraduate major yet? Bellarmine offers early admission for Bachelor’s of Exercise Science students, allowing them to complete both a bachelor’s degree and the MSAT in five years.  

Have questions or need help with your application? Contact the Office of Graduate Admission at 1-800-274-4723 (ext. 8258), 502-272-7200, or


Tags: Athletic Training

About Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.