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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Athletic Training

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Athletic Training


The University of South Florida was awarded the title of best online master's degree in athletic training for value. This public four-year institution is based in Tampa and serves nearly 40,000 students, including a growing number of distance learners. Their reputation for strong academics, excellent faculty, reasonable tuition rates, and liberal financial aid awards make the University of South Florida an excellent choice for prospective online students. In addition, statistics from's Return on Investment Rankings show that in-state graduates can expect an average ROI of 7.3% once financial aid is factored into the equation. Out-of-state graduates still had a strong expected ROI at 5.4%, despite the increased cost of attendance.

Featured Online Programs


The best online master's degree in athletic training for flexibility is Fresno Pacific University. This small, private, not-for-profit school was ranked 57th on U.S. News & World Report‘s rankings of the best regional universities in the West. The school's graduate-level athletic training program is available fully online and typically takes 14 months to complete. The curriculum is designed with maximum flexibility to allow students to continue working while earning their degree and still have time to balance their family responsibilities.

Financial Support

The University of South Florida topped the list as the best online master's degree in athletic training for financial support. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 99% of incoming students received financial assistance. Of those who were awarded aid, 97% received some scholarship or grant money as part of their financial aid package. Approximately 47% of students also took out loans through federal programs to help pay for their continued education. This track record of support, combined with reasonable tuition rates, helped place the University of South Florida first in this category.

Student Engagement

The title of best online master's degree in athletic training for student engagement was awarded to the University of South Florida. Ranked 8th on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the top up-and-coming schools, this large public institution has dedicated itself to building a dynamic learning environment for their diverse student body, including a growing number of online students. Faculty members skilled at working with online students, academic advising, and tutoring services all help USF stand out in this category. In addition, online students can easily interact with their peers through chat, e-mail, discussion boards, social media outlets, or even by participating in clubs or locally organized study groups.

Faculty Credentials

The University of South Florida was also recognized as the top online master's degree in athletic training for faculty credentials. Ranked among the top 100 public schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, USF is committed to providing the same quality academic programs to online students as those on campus. For example, students enrolled in online programs will learn from the same faculty members that teach on campus. These professors are also often experienced professionals in their field, bringing a wealth of practical knowledge with them to the classroom. For this reason, USF topped our list in this category.

Alumni Engagement

Georgia Southern University was selected as the best online master's degree in athletic training for alumni engagement. Individuals who join the alumni association receive benefits such as insurance and travel discounts, library and computer lab privileges, and access to the recreational facilities on campus. In addition, the school recently launched an online community called Eagle Connect to help students interact with their peers and stay informed about school news and events. Graduates are also encouraged to take advantage of the alumni association's career services and networking opportunities.

New Student Orientation

The University of South Florida was chosen as the best online master's degree in athletic training for new student orientation. Before enrolling, students can complete the online learning readiness quiz provided by the Florida Distance Learning Commission. This will help potential students assess their learning style and decide whether or not there are prepared for the demands of an online master's degree program. In addition, once enrolled, new students have access to a number of online tutorials to help familiarize themselves with the virtual classroom. These tutorials are available as videos or downloadable quick guides.

Explore a Master's Degree in Athletic Training

Athletic training is the practice of treating and preventing injuries in athletes. An athletic trainer's duties may include diagnosing an injury and then implementing a training regimen to strengthen a specific area of the body or applying protective tape to prevent injury. An online master's degree program in athletic training allows current athletic trainers to advance their careers without having their lives interrupted by attending class on a campus. An athletic training master's degree program may take one to two years to complete, although the length of the program may vary depending on the college or university.

Class Curriculum

A master's degree program in athletic training is designed to prepare currently certified athletic trainers for post-professional clinical practice. As such, the program's curriculum may include courses in human anatomy, patient-oriented assessment, medical examination and management, performance enhancement in physical activity, and more. Read on for a closer look at three athletic training courses:

  • Healthcare Outcomes. A healthcare outcomes course examines evidence-based quality and patient safety programs with the objective of training students to be a driving force in the improvement of health care. The course also covers effective and ineffective leadership in quality and patient safety, leadership skills, and tools to measure quality.
  • Human Anatomy. At the graduate level, this course examines the structures of the human body and the variation among different humans. This course includes instruction in the muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and organs of the human body and how they interact with the bones.
  • Performance Enhancement in Physical Activity. A performance enhancement in physical activity course examines the scientific principles and methodologies used to enhance athletic performance. Students learn proper technique for free weight exercises, the muscle groups strengthened by specific exercises, aerobic training methodology, resistance program design, and more.

Graduate students in an athletic training program may be assessed by their performance on quizzes, exams, and research papers. They may also be required to complete reading assignments from scientific textbooks and short response essays that show their comprehension of the material. Students may also complete multiple practicum experiences at approved sites and conclude their program with a comprehensive examination.

Building a Career

A graduate of an athletic training master's degree program may be qualified for employment as an athletic trainer at a college, university, or other school, fitness center, elementary and secondary school, or physician's office. Athletic trainers prevent, diagnose, and treat muscle and bone injuries, apply protective or preventative devices such as tape or a brace, and plan comprehensive training programs to prevent injury. They may work with people of all ages, including children and college or professional athletes.

Athletic trainers earned a median annual salary of $41,600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that employment of athletic trainers is expected to increase 30% from 2010 to 2020 because people are becoming more aware of sports injuries in young children. However, the BLS states that the field is small, so the increase will mean a growth of about 5,500 new jobs. These statistics are no guarantee of actual salary or employment opportunity, which is determined by the state of the economy, employer, and location.