Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Athletic Training








Context: The examination of the appropriate professional degree for preparation as an athletic trainer is of interest to the profession. Descriptive information concerning universal outcomes is needed to understand the effect of a degree change.

Objective: To obtain and compare descriptive information related to professional athletic training programs and a potential degree change and to determine if any of these factors contribute to success on existing universal outcome measures.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Web-based survey.

Patients or Other Participants: We contacted 364 program directors; 178 (48.9%; 163 undergraduate, 15 postbaccalaureate) responded.

Intervention(s): The survey consisted of 46 questions: 45 questions that dealt with 5 themes (institutional demographics [n = 13], program admissions [n = 6], program outcomes [n = 10], program design [n = 9], faculty and staff [n = 7]) and 1 optional question.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Descriptive statistics for all programs were calculated. We compared undergraduate and postbaccalaureate programs by examining universal outcome variables.

Results: Descriptive statistics demonstrated that 33 programs could not support postbaccalaureate degrees, and a substantial loss of faculty could occur if the degree requirement changed (553 graduate assistants, 642 potentially underqualified instructors). Postbaccalaureate professional programs had higher 2011-2012 first-time Board of Certification (BOC) passing rates (U = 464.5, P = .001), 3-year aggregate first-time BOC passing rates (U = 451.5, P = .001), and employment rates for 2011-2012 graduates employed within athletic training (U = 614.0, P = .01). Linear multiple-regression models demonstrated that program and institution type contributed to the variance of the first-time BOC passing rates and the 3-year aggregate first-time BOC passing rates (P < .05).

Conclusions: Students in postbaccalaureate athletic training programs performed better in universal outcome measures. Our data supported the concerns that this transition could result in the loss of some programs and an additional immediate strain on current staff due to potential staffing changes and the loss of graduate assistant positions.


"Consistent with the Budapest open access initiative (BOAI), all articles are free for users to access, read, download, and print. Information can be used providing that the source is appropriately acknowledged and/or referenced. An institution may post an author's manuscript in a digital repository. Any other posting on servers or replication of any content can be done only after obtaining permission from the NATA's publication office."


0000-0002-6754-7938 (Van Lunen)

Original Publication Citation

Cavallario, J. M., & Van Lunen, B. L. (2015). Preparation of the professional athletic trainer: A descriptive study of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. J Athl Train, 50(7), 760-766. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-50.1.13