The Athletic Training (ATHTR) degree program is a stand-alone major in the Department of Kinesiology. Students that matriculate through the curriculum are conferred a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. It is distinctive from kinesiology in representing an allied health care professional program as recognized by the American Medical Association similar to comparable curricula like physician assistant studies, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and audiology & speech-language pathology.
Flowchart Illustrating the Phased Application Process
The Pre-Professional (i.e. Pre-Athletic Training) Phase for the program of study allows students with interest in pursuing the major to gain exposure, and experience with the curriculum, profession, and Penn State Athletic Training environment. This phase is structured to provide students with an inclusive opportunity to learn basic athletic training knowledge, interact with faculty, staff, preceptors, peers, and patients/clients to determine if the profession, and therefore major is a right fit for them. Students that reaffirm their desire to pursue the Athletic Training major, and meet the minimum requirements for consideration of admission are encouraged to apply to the Professional Phase. Those individuals that determine the major is not for them are advised to meet with their assigned academic advisor to begin pursuing other programs of interest.
The Pre-Professional Phase is open to any student at the University interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree. Courses associated with the Pre-Professional Phase are ATHTR/KINES 135, ATHTR/KINES 202, ATHTR 231, and ATHTR 233. While ATHTR/KINES 135, and ATHTR/KINES 202 may be taken at any campus offering the courses, ATHTR 231, and ATHTR 233 are exclusively offered at University Park Campus in the Fall Semester. Most students that major in Athletic Training typically enroll in Pre-Professional Phase courses in the third semester of study.
Students interested in seeking enrollment in Pre-Professional Phase courses (particularly ATHTR 231, and ATHTR 233) must complete the associated online application (link below) before the July 1st deadline. To secure a seat in these courses, it is strongly recommended that interested students complete the application as soon as possible (the earlier, the better).
Directions for completing this application can be found here.
Students at Commonwealth Campuses wishing to pursue the Pre-Professional Phase must complete an early change of campus request to relocate to University Park Campus to be able to enroll in related courses if they are not offered at the respective Commonwealth Campus (refer to the flowchart above). Please recall that ATHTR 231, and ATHTR 233 are only offered at University Park Campus in Fall Semester.
- Note: Early change of campus requests will be processed according to Academic Administrative Policy D-5. Failure to complete the Athletic Training Pre-Professional Phase in the Fall Semester upon relocating to University Park Campus will result in rescinding an early change of campus, and retuning a student to his/her prior Commonwealth Campus at the conclusion of the semester.
Transfer students wishing to enroll in the Pre-Professional Phase must satisfy certain requirements, which are outlined here.
Please Note That Eligibility To Enroll In Pre-Professional Phase Courses Does Not Imply Acceptance To The Athletic Training (ATHTR) Major
The Pre-Professional Phase involves the completion of weekly clinical observation experiences. The time requirement associated with this component typically ranges 8-10 hours a week in the University Park Campus athletic training facilities. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics requires that students completing such experiences satisfy various health screenings. An overview of these screenings can be accessed here.
Students that successfully complete the Pre-Professional Phase, and wish to continue with the Professional Phase of the curriculum must satisfy the minimum requirements for admission, and formally apply to the Athletic Training major via the Athletic Training Centralized Application Service (ATCAS) – fee required. Students are required to submit a current resume, personal statement, official transcripts for coursework from all colleges/universities (as applicable), and verification of emergency cardiac care credentialing (per BOC standards), which may be satisfied in ATHTR 233 (Emergency Care in Athletic Training). An overview of the application process to the Athletic Training major is provided here; furthermore, a detailed tutorial for completing the application via ATCAS is accessible here.
The major employs a holistic secondary application, and selection process, which reflects a balanced consideration given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics, and, when considered in combination, how the applicant might contribute value as an athletic training student, and potential future athletic trainer.
A breakdown of the minimum criteria to be considered for admission to the Athletic Training major, which must be satisfied by the conclusion of Fall Semester upon applying, are outlined below:
- Achieve a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.80*
- Achieve a minimum combined 3.00 GPA in ATHTR/KINES 135, ATHTR/KINES 202, ATHTR 231, and ATHTR 233
- Preceptor appraisals from your clinical observation experiences in the Pre-Professional Phase are taken into consideration
- Participate in an interview with a panel of Athletic Training major personnel
- Interviews are held toward the latter end of Fall Semester (before Thanksgiving Break)
Please note that acceptance to the Athletic Training major is very competitive, highly selective, and meeting the minimum requirements does NOT guarantee admission.
* Admitted applicants typically have a cumulative GPA above 3.0; current data illustrate that approximately 15% of applicants below a 3.0 gain admission to the major.
The Athletic Training major does not permit provisional admission. Students not accepted to the program are discouraged from re-applying, and instead recommended that they pursue another curriculum like the Kinesiology major, particularly if their interests revolve around human movement, and associated professions. If after denial of admission students are still interested in pursuing an athletic training degree, the faculty, and staff advise that students explore doing so via an entry-level master’s program after completing their undergraduate studies in a preparatory curriculum like the Kinesiology major. Details on the route to certification through a master’s degree can be found here.
CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE APPLYING TO EITHER PHASE OF THE ATHLETIC TRAINING PROGRAM
Student Health and Technical Standards
The Athletic Training major is a rigorous, and intense program that places specific requirements, and demands on the students enrolled in the program. There are potential risks related to some learning experiences such as, but not limited to, communicable disease[s], strenuous activity, toxic substances, and the potential for bodily harm. An objective of this program is to prepare graduates to enter a variety of employment settings, and to render care to a wide spectrum of individuals engaged in physical activity. The technical standards set forth by the major establish the essential requirements considered necessary for students admitted to this program to achieve the knowledge, skills, and competencies of an entry-level athletic trainer, as well as meet the expectations of the program's accrediting agency. Please read an overview of health-related matters as well as the abilities, and expectations all students admitted to the major must meet as provided here.
Students pursuing or enrolled in the Athletic Training major will complete the majority of clinical education experiences in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics athletic training facilities at University Park Campus, and Penn State Medical Groups at the University Park Regional Campus. As health care operations, these units have specific immunization/vaccination requirements instituted to safeguard the wellbeing of patients, and employees as well as medical, and allied health care students. As an allied health care professional preparation program, students will be expected to comply with these associated immunization/vaccination standards as a means to be able to satisfy the related clinical education experiences necessary to fulfill degree requirements.
As part of these requirements, students must also receive an annual flu vaccine in October. In the event of allergies associated with the flu vaccine, clinical education sites will make reasonable efforts to offer suitable alternatives for related students. If students elect not to receive the flu vaccine, they will be expected to wear a mask, and follow related communicated precautionary measures to all clinical education activities at associated sites.
Please be aware that the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Penn State Medical Groups do not currently accept waivers for religious, or philosophical reasons; therefore, students who do not meet these immunization/vaccination requirements will most likely not be able to meet the criteria to complete a degree in this program. Read additional information on immunization/vaccination requirements that is accessible here.
Varsity student-athletes are very unlikely to be able to complete the undergraduate Athletic Training major given conflict between the unique demands of the program (e.g. fixed schedule of athletic training-specific coursework, and accompanying clinical education requirements), and their sport/team activities; therefore, Penn State student-athletes wishing to earn an athletic training degree are strongly encouraged to do so via an entry-level master’s program. Details on the route to certification through a master’s degree are here. Varsity student-athletes should note that the undergraduate Kinesiology major is an excellent preparatory program for graduate studies in athletic training.
Dual Majors and Minors
Students wishing to frequent dual majors are very unlikely to be able to complete the undergraduate Athletic Training major given the unique demands of the program (e.g. fixed schedule of athletic training-specific coursework, and accompanying clinical education requirements), which yields high potential for conflict with other degree program requirements.
While challenging, completing a minor while an Athletic Training major is possible. It will take organization, and motivation on the part of the student as well as strategic planning, and course scheduling given that prioritizing athletic training-specific coursework, and clinical internships is a requirement of the degree program. As a reference, a very limited number of athletic training students complete a minor.
Schreyer Honors College Students
Gifted, and motivated students that are accepted, or eligible for entry in the Schreyer Honors College are certainly able to complete a degree in athletic training. The Athletic Training major at Penn State has an excellent track record for graduating students with Honors. Students that elect to complete the Honors program as an Athletic Training major may Honors option athletic training-specific coursework, and have the potential opportunity to collaborate with faculty, staff, graduate students, and peers across the breadth of the University in completing their thesis research requirement. A collection of recent Athletic Training majors, and other undergraduate students that have completed their Honors program under the mentorship of, or in collaboration with Athletic Training major faculty is found here.
Students with Considerable Time Constraints
In similar fashion, students that are not able to dedicate the time necessary to effectively complete the clinical education component of the major, due to varying conflicting commitments, are strongly discouraged from pursuing the major, and advised to consider other programs of study. While extracurricular activities are permissible (within the appropriate limits), priority to Athletic Training major coursework, and clinical internship activities are expected, and required to graduate in an orderly fashion. Please read information on clinical internship attendance expectations, which is found here.
Students Below a 2.8 Cumulative GPA
Students with a cumulative GPA below 2.80 are not eligible for admission to the Athletic Training major, and are strongly discouraged from applying to the Pre-Professional Phase or Professional Phase. It is recommended that students in this scenario consult with their academic advisor to discuss alternative plans for programs of study.
Those individuals that have an interest in pursuing a degree in athletic training, but post a cumulative GPA below 2.80 should consider the necessity to complete additional semesters of coursework to elevate their academic profile to be competitive for admission to such a program. Students in this particular scenario are strongly encouraged to thoroughly reflect on the highly selective admissions nature of allied health care programs overall, and seek guidance from their academic advisor to determine the feasibility of pursuing a degree in athletic training. Determined students in this circumstance are strongly encouraged to do so via an entry-level master’s program. Details on the route to certification through a master’s degree are here. Alternative programs of study, particularly if a student’s interests revolve around human movement, and associated professions may consist of a curriculum like the Kinesiology major, which is also an excellent preparatory program for graduate studies in athletic training.
Students Beyond the First Year of Undergraduate Studies
Prospective students beyond the first year of undergraduate studies are welcome to apply; however, it should be noted that the major has a very prescribed sequence of coursework, and clinical education requirements that must be delivered over the span of 5 semesters, which allows for very little flexibility in scheduling. Students in this scenario should also be aware that required Athletic Training major-specific courses are offered in Fall, and Spring Semesters only. There are no required Athletic Training major-specific courses offered during Maymester or Summer Sessions.
Those individuals beyond the first year of undergraduate studies that have an interest in pursuing the major should consider the necessity to complete additional semesters beyond the typical 8 usually needed in order to graduate from the University, which will carry financial implications. Prospective students in this unique situation are strongly encouraged to thoroughly reflect on the highly selective admissions nature of the major, and seek guidance from their academic advisor to determine if they are viable candidates. Given the holistic admissions process, those individuals that consider themselves competitive are certainly welcome to apply, while those that are dubious of gaining acceptance to the major are recommended to discuss other programs of study with their academic advisor.
Students in this category, despite their potential of being competitive for the undergraduate Athletic Training major, may contemplate exploring a degree in athletic training via an entry-level master’s program after completing a preparatory curriculum like the undergraduate Kinesiology major. Details on the route to certification through a master’s degree can be found here.
Students are encouraged to use the Tuition and College Cost Estimator (https://cce.ais.psu.edu/tuition-calculator-ui/#/) for an approximate gauge of expense associated with the Athletic Training major. In addition to standard tuition, and applicable fees, students in the Athletic Training major are also subject to program-specific fees tied to coursework, and clinical education experiences. A breakdown of current programmatic fees is provided here.
Furthermore, additional costs for clinical education experiences, which account for mandatory background, and medical clearances, student professional liability insurance, professional association fees, and appropriate attire are estimated to range between $600.00 - $800.00.
The Professional Phase (i.e. the official ATHTR major) consists of didactic athletic training coursework, and various directed clinical education experiences. The curricular framework represents a competency-based approach in both the classroom, and clinical settings. Using a medical-based education model, athletic training students are educated to provide comprehensive patient care in five domains of clinical practice: prevention; clinical evaluation & diagnosis; immediate & emergency care; treatment & rehabilitation; organization, and professional health & well-being.
The subject matter consists of:
- Evidence-based practice
- Prevention and health promotion
- Clinical examination and diagnosis
- Acute care of injury and illness
- Therapeutic interventions
- Psychosocial strategies and referral
- Health care administration
- Professional development and responsibility
Based on the nature of a professional program, the sequence of athletic training-specific coursework, and clinical internships is heavily prescribed, which allows limited flexibility for satisfying other related degree requirements (e.g. General Education, and Kinesiology core courses), or frequenting non-degree electives (e.g. prerequisites for various graduate degree programs). Students wishing to take non-degree electives may need to explore strategic ways to do so (e.g. taking these courses over the summer, or winter break if/as feasible). This is especially true if there is a potential for non-degree elective courses to conflict with prioritizing athletic training-specific coursework, and clinical internship activities.
- The Athletic Training major suggested academic plan, and requirements are found here.
Athletic training-specific courses are taken at the following frequency throughout a student’s matriculation:
- Spring semester upon admission = 6 credits
- Following academic cycle = 22 credits (9 credits in Fall Semester, and 13 in Spring Semester)
- Last year = 9 credits (6 credits in Fall Semester, and 3 credits in Spring Semester)
A detailed description of sequenced athletic training-specific courses, and clinical internships is provided here. All coursework typically ends before, or shortly after 2:15pm daily to accommodate clinical education requirements. Required athletic training-specific courses are offered in Fall, and Spring Semesters only.
Students that experience an event that disrupts their projected matriculation through the program of study (particularly with athletic training-specific courses, and clinical internships) may require additional time to complete the major given the accreditation standards that enforce a coherent sequencing of programmatic instruction, and student progression; therefore, waiving, or alternating prerequisites associated with athletic training-specific courses, and clinical internships is not permissible. In such instances, this may potentially result in a delay of graduation given the particular circumstance.
In the applied component of the curriculum, students complete 5 semesters of clinical education experiences that provide various exposures for students to gain competency in practice domains with hands-on learning experiences under the direct supervision, and instruction of athletic trainers, physicians, and other health care personnel serving as preceptors. These experiences typically range between 130-375 hours per semester given the particular clinical internship level. Read more about the clinical education model.