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 - Here
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.