Athletic Training, M.S.

Program Overview

Do you have a deep passion for learning about the human body as well as desire to aid in patient treatment and rehabilitation? Are sports and the field of competition somewhere you thrive and are passionate about? Does a career that combines healthcare and physical activity sound like the optimal environment for you?

At Point Loma Nazarene University, you can earn your Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT) alongside your bachelor’s degree in San Diego’s only master's level professional program for athletic trainers. Athletic trainers play a critical role in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of their patients.

With employment opportunities for athletic training professionals expected to grow by 21% through 2024* earning your MS-AT could be the right decision for you today.

*Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014-2024

This program will help you optimize your learning, career, and your impact on others as you develop skills in injury evaluation, functional rehabilitation, prescribing therapeutic modalities, and healthcare management. You’ll also gain the clinical proficiency necessary to pass the National Athletic Trainers Board of Certification (NATA-BOC) exam to become a certified athletic trainer at the end of your studies.

"Our program consists of extensive clinical experiences designed to provide a multifaceted learning experience that will shape the student into sound clinicians who are service-oriented and focused on providing quality patient care." 

Nicole Cosby, Ph.D., ATC
MS–AT Program Director

From current undergraduate students to those already with bachelor’s degree who are looking for a career change, our new MS-AT program is designed to prepare individuals for the dynamic and growing field of athletic training and meet the growing demand for master's level professionals. Program options are available for students at any stage of their career journey.

The MS-AT program is offered in 2 different formats:

  • M.S. in 5 (3 + 2)  program for students without a bachelor's degree. We offer an accelerated program in which you earn both a bachelor's and master's degree. The program takes five years to complete.
  • Two-year professional program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree.

Relevant Experience

Gain clinical skills through diverse internship opportunities, take courses that pair a functional, applied learning approach with the latest industry research and trends, giving you the real-world experience today to fulfill your potential tomorrow.

Professional Preparedness

Gain exposure to valuable clinical experiences designed to prepare you for your vocation while learning from faculty with diverse skill sets in athletic training, physical therapy, and medicine.

Pursue Your Purpose

Become challenged and fully equipped to become highly effective allied healthcare professionals who incorporate a Christian perspective, academic excellence, and professional/relational proficiency into clinical practice.  

Course List


Department Faculty

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Summer 2019 – July 8, 2019
  • Summer 2020 – July 2020

Application Deadline(s):

  • Summer 2019 – June 10, 2019

Start Application

The Master of Science in Athletic Training program has two routes for admission, with each route requiring the prospective student to complete the required course prerequisites. These routes include:

  1. A student who has obtained a bachelor’s degree and the essential prerequisites from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants will apply through the university’s application process.

  2. The 3+2 accelerated program in coordination with the Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science (Pre-Allied Health Concentration) and prerequisites at Point Loma Nazarene University. Advising for this route of admission is critical and applicants will apply directly through the department using an internal application.

Application Checklist For Students Already with an Undergraduate Degree

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution that reflects the following requirements:
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in last 30 undergraduate credits.
    • Prerequisite course GPA of 3.0 or higher with no course grade below a "C" and all prerequisites taken in the previous seven years.

      Official transcripts must be sent to:

      Point Loma Nazarene University
      Office of Graduate Admissions
      3900 Lomaland Dr.
      San Diego, CA 92106

      Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

  3. Submit a personal essay. Specifically, state how you would like to use your master’s degree from PLNU to further your career. Make sure you clearly touch on the two points below (one to two pages):
    • Clarify what job setting you see yourself pursuing upon completing the MS in Athletic Training and specify how this degree program will help you in that setting.
    • State how your previous education and work experiences have uniquely prepared you for success in this program.
  4. Submit a resume/vita.
  5. Submit two Letters of Recommendation which describe academic and clinical abilities (one must be from a certified athletic trainer that has observed your clinical skills and another must be from a professor/teacher who can describe your academic abilities).
  6. Submit an hours verification form (100 hours volunteering under the direct supervision of a certified athletic trainer. Please have all hours of verification submitted by July 1st of the application year. If you need help finding volunteering opportunities, please contact your enrollment counselor.)
  7. Ensure undergraduate course prerequisites are met.
  8. Has read, signed, and meets the technical standards for admission.
  9. Has read the athletic training student handbook and understands the communicable disease policy.

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite course syllabi are required at the time of application

  • Human Anatomy + Lab
  • Human Physiology + Lab
  • Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries

Recommended Courses

  • Statistics
  • General Chemistry + Lab
  • General Physics
  • General Psychology
  • Exercise Physiology + Lab
  • Kinesiology or Biomechanics

Additional Course information

  • If a combined Anatomy/Physiology course is taken, two semester or three quarter courses are required.
  • Prerequisite courses may be repeated only once; the second grade will then be used to calculate GPA.
  • Pass/Credit grades for prerequisite courses will be will be accepted if the granting institution has a C or better basis for a grade of Credit/Pass.
  • Courses which have received advanced placement credit (AP or CLEP) may fulfill prerequisite requirements. The credit hours and grade points will not be computed in the GPA calculation.
  • Students who are offered admission are required to financially commit and enrollment deposit with the Office of Graduate Admission. Generally, the deposit must be received within two weeks of notification of admission.
  • Students must satisfactorily complete all remaining prerequisite course requirements in accordance with the admission requirements before beginning MS-AT coursework.

  • Accepted students are required to meet technical standards and specific health requirements (e.g., vaccinations).

  • Persons who have been dismissed from another athletic training program are not eligible for consideration for admission to Point Loma Nazarene University.

  • Applicants who decline or are denied admission may reapply in any subsequent year. Admission requirements are subject to change, and admission in one year does not guarantee admission in any subsequent year.

  • Persons who cannot pass an FBI/Department of Justice Background Check are not eligible for clinical education rotations and are not admissible to the program.

  • Point Loma Nazarene University considers all applicants without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, special needs, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by applicable state or federal civil rights laws. Some information requested in the application is requested for federal or accreditation reporting and will not be used in a discriminatory manner.

Post-Admission Documentation

After admission into the MS in Athletic Training program, the following documentation must be submitted to the AT program director prior to the beginning of any coursework:

  • CPR Certification. Emergency Cardiac Care or CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer (note: online CPR courses and Lay Responder Certification are not accepted)
  • Immunizations record (e.g., hepatitis B, TB-test within the past 2 months, etc.)
  • Federal background check will be completed upon arrival to campus in the summer

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

Start Application

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Program Cost

Graduate Program and 5th year for traditional students 


Program Fee

Upon acceptance and enrollment in the MS-AT program, students will be required to pay an additional, one-time program fee of $1,400. Program fees are utilized to provide each student:

  • NATA membership
  • BOC certification exam fee
  • Clinical education background checks/TB testing as needed
  • Clinical education clothing
  • CPR recertification fees

Career Opportunities

PLNU’s MS-AT will prepare you for careers in education, healthcare, sports administration, business, and many other specialized fields.

Upon completion of the Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT), the successful student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate competency in interpreting evidence-based research and improving clinical standards and practice through clinical question development and research methodology
  • Develop expertise in the athletic training domains through an integrative experiential clinical model
  • Obtain the appropriate knowledge and educational foundation required for an entry-level Certified Athletic Trainer
  • Establish and understand the importance of inter-professional relationships, while collaborating with other healthcare professionals to become effective communicators
  • Prove preparation, knowledge, and skill in the delivery of comprehensive health care to a diverse set of patients with musculoskeletal injuries and conditions and illnesses in a distinctly moral and ethical manner, integrating Christian faith with clinical practice.
Professor Jeff Sullivan balances on one leg as he gives a class demonstration in the Athletic Training Center


Jeff Sullivan, Ph.D., ATC

When students ask PLNU professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology Dr. Jeff Sullivan for career advice, he tells them to find what they’re passionate about and distinctly gifted in and use that to partner with God. For Sullivan, this is more than advice; these are the words he lives by.

Read More

Some careers that MS-AT alumni pursue include:

  • Athletic Trainer
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Chiropractor
  • Sales
  • Military Settings
  • Research Positions
  • Performing Arts
Healthy Couple

How to Form Healthy Habits that Last

Whether you’re just beginning or well on your way toward a healthy lifestyle, these tips, developed by alumnus Taylor Robbins (12), can help.

Read More in the Viewpoint Online Magazine 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

The Master of Science in Athletic Training program has two routes for admission, with each route requiring the prospective student to complete the required course prerequisites. These routes include:

• Students who have obtained a bachelor’s degree and the essential prerequisites from a regionally accredited college or university.

• The 3+2 accelerated program in coordination with the Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science (Pre-Allied Health concentration) and prerequisites at Point Loma Nazarene University. Advising for this route of admission is critical and applicants will apply directly through the department using an internal application.

See the Application Information tab for additional information.

Can I work while completing the program?

Students may consider working a part-time job, but should remember that this is a full-time, rigorous degree program.

What scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available to me?

You will have the option to apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and other special types of aid through Student Financial Services. Contact your enrollment counselor for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Students who enroll in the program as part of the 3+2 accelerated program in coordination with the Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science (Pre-Allied Health Concentration) and prerequisites at Point Loma Nazarene University can expect to complete the program in five years. Students who enroll in the program with a bachelor's degree can expect to complete the program in two years.

How many days a week do classes meet?

• Two days a week in class
• Three days a week in clinicals
• Clinicals can be on the same day as class
• One clinical is always on Friday

How large will the classes be?

Class sizes are estimated to be 20 to 25 people.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

I’m a certified athletic trainer. Is this program right for me?

No. There are several types of graduate programs related to athletic training (Kinesiology and Post-Professional Athletic Training Programs). Our program is a post baccalaureate professional program designed for students interested in pursuing the Board of Certification credential.

I recently graduated from an accredited undergraduate athletic training program, but I haven’t taken the BOC exam yet. Is this program right for me?

No. There are several types of graduate programs related to athletic training. Our program is a postbaccalaureate professional program designed for students interested in pursuing the BOC credential. As a graduate of an accredited undergraduate athletic training program, you’re already eligible for the BOC exam.

What’s the difference between undergraduate and graduate degrees in athletic training?

In general, there are two types of accredited athletic training programs and several degree levels. Professional programs prepare students for entering the profession after successfully passing the Board of Certification exam. Professional programs are offered at the undergraduate (baccalaureate) and graduate (postbaccalaureate) degree levels. Both programs include the same educational content to prepare students for the BOC exam; however, some postbaccalaureate programs include an additional emphasis in specialty areas or research. The post-professional program is a second type of graduate program option for certified athletic trainers or students who are already eligible for the BOC exam and are seeking an advanced degree.

What undergraduate major is required to be accepted to the MSAT?

There is no specific major required for admission to the MSAT, but there are specific prerequisite courses that must be taken prior to entering into our program.

What undergraduate major would you suggest before entering the MSAT?

If at PLNU, we suggest the Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science (Pre-Allied Health concentration), since it includes most of the prerequisite courses (see answer to the previous question) and provides opportunities for students to achieve certifications in strength and fitness — excellent additions to athletic training. It is imperative that the student receives academic advising from a kinesiology or athletic training faculty member as soon as possible. If not at PLNU as an undergraduate, we suggest kinesiology, exercise science, applied health science or some type of health, fitness, or pre-medicine major, though any major is acceptable as long as the prerequisites are met.

What type of patients do students work with during the program?

Each student completes a minimum of seven clinical experiences while in the athletic training program. Each experience will provide exposure to a different athletic training setting. Students will experience high school, collegiate, general medical, physical therapy, and orthopedic surgical environments through a variety of sites in the San Diego area.