Athletic Training, M.S.

Athletic Training, M.S.


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 Board of Certification (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.

    • For more information on the 3+2 route and the application process please click here to visit our undergraduate web page which provides information on the Health and Human Performance major and your route to transition into the MS-AT. 

  • Two-year professional program for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. Please continue to explore this website.

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.

Please Click Here to See a List of Clinical Sites Associated with PLNU's MS-AT Program.

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.  

CAATE Program Information and Outcomes Page

State Authorization

State authorization is a formal determination that PLNU is approved to conduct educational activities regulated by that state or U.S. Territory. PLNU is not required to obtain state authorization in every state or U.S. Territory, and the university has opted at this time not to seek authorization in certain states and U.S. Territories. Additionally, PLNU meets the criteria for exemption from authorization in certain states.

At this time, PLNU does not have authorization in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Territories. 

Authorizations in specific states may change periodically. PLNU recommends contacting PLNU admissions at (800) 733-7770 for the latest information.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and meets the requirements to sit for the board of certification examination in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for Professional Licensure. Information about out-of-state requirements in Athletic Training can be found within each state's licensing act. Please consult the CAATE website for other questions regarding the field of Athletic Training. 

For more information on State Authorization and Program Licensure, please refer to our disclosures page.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Summer 2023 Quad II – July 3, 2023

Application Deadline(s):

  • Summer 2023 Quad II – June 14, 2023

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 Health and Human Performance (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 60 undergraduate credits.
    • Prerequisite course GPA of 3.0 or higher with no course grade below a "C".

      (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

      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:

      *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.

  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 (50 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 Ryan Nokes, clinical education coordinator at
  7. Ensure undergraduate course prerequisites are met.
  8. Completes an interview with the athletic training program selection committee. All applicants will be scored by each selection committee member using a standardized interview rubric to reduce interviewer bias.

*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.

Post-Admission Documentation

After admission into the MS-AT program, the following documentation must be submitted to the MS-AT Program Director/Clinical Coordinator prior to the beginning of the first fall academic semester:

  • Has read, signed, and meets the technical standards for admission.
  • Has read the athletic training student handbook and understands the communicable disease policy. Students will sign a communicable disease policy and handbook verification form upon admittance into the program.
  • Provides a valid, up-to-date CPR Certification. CPR Certifications must be Emergency Cardiac Care or CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer (note: online CPR courses and Lay Responder Certification are not accepted).
  • Provides Immunizations Records and completes the Immunization Record form.
  • Completes a Student Health Assessment physical examination. Physical examination must be done by physician/physician assistant/nurse practitioner.
  • Completes a federal background check and live scan fingerprinting service upon arrival to campus in the summer.

Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite course syllabi are required at the time of application

  • Anatomy and Physiology with a lab

  • Physics (please contact program director for questions regarding this course)

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Psychology

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 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.

Graduation and Retention

Academic Requirements

The MS-AT program requires all athletic training students to maintain a 3.00 graduate GPA. Failure to meet the 3.00 GPA requirements automatically places the student on academic probation (Probation Level I). If the student fails to re-establish a graduate GPA of 3.00 after one semester, or has a semester GPA below a 2.75, he/she will be placed on Probation Level II and be removed from the program.

The minimum passing grade for any athletic training graduate course is a C. If a student does not meet the minimum passing grade, the student will be required to re-take the course. Since the MS-AT program follows a cohort model of education where courses are offered yearly, re-taking a course will require the student to re-take the course the following year. In that case, there is no guarantee the re-take course will fit into the planned course schedule of the student. There is a strong possibility that re-taking a course will delay the student's graduate date and his/her ability to take the Board of Certification Examination.

Graduation Requirements

Each student must be in good standing with Point Loma Nazarene University and the Athletic Training Program to graduate. The following are the graduation requirements:

  • Completion of all academic courses with a minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • All courses in the program must be taken for a letter grade
  • Student must not be on academic probation at time of graduation
  • Each student must satisfactorily complete all assigned competencies and clinical proficiencies
  • Each student must complete all clinical rotations

Academic Probation and Retention

The MS-AT's academic retention and probation policy was adopted from the policies listed in the University's Graduate and Professional Studies Catalog

Probation I
Criteria (must meet one of the following):

  • Single semester graduate GPA below 3.00
  • One course grade below a C
  • Failure to maintain the MS-AT Health and Safety policies
  • Violation of the MS-AT Student Code of Conduct

Consequences (dependent on probation criteria):

  • The student is encouraged to find a tutor for all athletic training courses.
  • Regular meetings with the Program Director and/or Clinical Coordinator to ensure academic/behavioral progress.
  • Retake any course that is less than a C. 

Probation II
Criteria (must meet one of the following):

  • Single semester and/or overall GPA below 2.75
  • Subsequent or repeated semesters GPA below 3.00
  • Two or more course grades below a C in a single semester
  • Repeated failures to maintain the MS-AT Health and Safety policies
  • Repeated violations of the MS-AT Student Code of Conduct

Consequences (dependent on probation criteria):

  • Removal from the program.

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

Career Opportunities

PLNU’s Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT) will prepare you for careers in education, healthcare, sports administration, business, and many other specialized fields. PLNU even has its own Athletic Training Clinic, which provides students and future athletic trainers a state-of-the-art sports treatment, recovery, and training facility to hone their craft.

Upon completion of the 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 interprofessional 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 Dean of the College of Health Sciences 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 MS-AT Career Routes Include:

  • Athletic Trainer

  • Physical Therapist

  • Occupational Therapist

  • Chiropractor

  • Military Settings

  • Research Positions

Job Outlook for Athletic Trainers

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of athletic trainers is projected to grow 23% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

Athletic training will always be a valued skill that correlates with a high-demand degree and job outlook, especially as sports programs for any age and experience level continue to grow and flourish in today's society. Athletic trainers that can provide high-quality treatment, injury prevention, and injury detection are highly sought after by employers. As more and more people become aware of the long-term effects and detriments that injuries can cause, many employers and insurers strive to onboard athletic trainers can attend to employee injuries. These trainers also work to create programs meant to reduce injury rates in the first place. Furthermore, depending on the state, some insurance companies recognize athletic trainers as healthcare providers and reimburse the cost of an athletic trainer’s services.

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

Available Scholarships

The MS-AT program awards 3 incoming students a $1,000 one-time scholarship. Only students who complete their application for admission into the MS-AT before March 12th of each application year are eligible for consideration.

The program also offers scholarships for students once enrolled. Scholarship amount will vary and will be based on students meeting the minimum requirements below. Interested students should complete their admissions application by January 7th of the academic year.

Scholarship Criteria

  1. Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA in the MS-AT for the fall
  2. Complete the scholarship application

The scholarship committee will review applications and collectively decide who has been awarded a scholarship. Students receiving a scholarship will be notified approximately 3 weeks after application submission via an email from the program director. Students who do not receive a scholarship will be notified as well and given feedback on their application.

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:

Attendance at Local Conferences

Students are not required to attend local conferences but are highly encouraged. Program fees can be used to cover the cost of registration for a local conference, however, students must apply and a committee will determine which students based on application will be selected to attend the conference.

Finger Printing

Students in the athletic training program may be required to have fingerprinting and background checks performed. This depends on the clinical site assignment. Fees for these two processes can range from $25-$75 and will be covered by the program using the program fee.

Gross Anatomy Lab Fee

Students in the MS-AT will take Gross Anatomy Dissection. The lab fee for this course is $500. This fee is covered by the program.

Maintenance of CPR certification

Students are required to maintain CPR certification as per the CAATE guidelines and standards, the cost of certification will be covered by the program.

Required Clinical Clothing

Some required clinical clothing is provided for the ATS, the required clothing is purchased using program fees. In the spring semester decisions are made regarding the clothing required for the following fall semester. Students are notified as to the clothing that will be required, provided to them, and the optional clothing they may purchase. The Head Athletic Trainer is the administrator responsible for the required clinical clothing. The Head Athletic Trainer serves on the institutional logo committee and consults her colleagues and students regarding style, size, required and optional clothing.

Additional Costs Not Included in Program Fees

Cost of Immunizations

Students are responsible for the costs of their own immunizations, the currency of which must be documented and placed on file in the Program Director's office.

PLNUCostVons Immunizations Minute Clinic 
Flu Shot$25Hep B$80Hep A/B$139 ea.
MMR$85Gardasil$125Flu Shot$31.99
Menactra   MMR$129.99
TB Testing$25 - PPD
$55 - IGRA
Physical Exam$25    

Costs of Transportation

The student is responsible for transportation and the costs associated with that transportation to clinical affiliate sites which are utilized in the clinical courses. Students are encouraged to ride share and/or cost share.

Costs of Parking

The student is responsible for any costs as it relates to parking. The cost of parking will vary for each clinical site but should not exceed $100 in a given semester.

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 Health and Human Performance (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 Health and Human Performance (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 Health and Human Performance (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.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Athletic Training, M.S. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Department Faculty