Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea L. Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. Gayle Thompson

Third Advisor

Dr. D. Eric Archer


Athletic training, Program development, Entry level master's programs, Athletic training programs, CAATE


Athletic training is an allied health profession in which individuals receive education in prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnoses, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation for injuries and medical conditions. Currently, the route for an individual to become a certified athletic trainer is to graduate from an institution accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Most commonly, entry-level education for athletic trainers is gained at the 331 institutions that host a bachelor’s level professional program. However, there is a recent desire to change the educational requirements and to require a professional master’s degree. If the degree change would occur, athletic training would have a stronger alignment with other health care professions and support the increasing knowledge base needed for certified athletic trainers.

If a degree change is mandated, there is the potential for significant programmatic changes at the institutions which currently host baccalaureate athletic training programs. Program development is influenced by many factors within the institution and also external factors. The purpose of this research was to examine which of those factors have influenced the development of six current entry-level master’s athletic training program. Using a multiple case study design, 11 individuals were interviewed on the processes and influences that impacted the creation of the CAATE accredited entry-level master’s athletic training programs. Although each institution had a unique journey in the development of their professional master’s program, the most common influential factors on the development of these programs were institutional support, faculty load and structure, resources, graduate-work expectation, and accrediting agencies. This research helps to provide a guiding framework for a substantive degree change and can help institutions navigate through the process of changing degree requirements.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access