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Applying to the Master of Athletic Training (MAT) Program

The curriculum employs a holistic approach to admissions. This entails a balanced consideration given to experiences, attributes, academic metrics, and how the applicant might contribute value as an athletic training student and potential future athletic trainer. Selection is highly competitive and based on those students who demonstrate the greatest potential for success in graduate study.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in October, with a final deadline of February. Because transcripts and test scores can sometimes take several weeks to arrive, we highly recommend that prospective students submit their application as early as possible. Early applications also ensure full consideration for financial aid and other funding opportunities.

Offers of admission are only made in March/April. Selectees that accept this offer will enroll in Summer Session I, which begins in May.

Application Information


General criteria for admission to the Athletic Training program icon-olus-circle
  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or international equivalent.
  • An undergraduate major in the health sciences is preferred, but this is not a mandatory requirement.
  • An applicant should ordinarily have an overall cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 and an overall science GPA of at least 3.0 (based on a 4-point scale).
Prerequisites icon-olus-circle
  • Foundational knowledge is required for admission consideration. Listed below are the subjects and corresponding number of credits applicants must complete before enrollment. For applicants on a trimester schedule, 5-to-6 quarter hours at minimum satisfy a prerequisite.
    • Anatomy and Physiology (including labs): 6-8 credits
    • Biomechanics: 3 credits
    • Chemistry (including lab): 3-4 credits
    • English Composition or Intensive Writing: 3 credits
    • Exercise Physiology: 3 credits
    • General Biology (including lab): 3-4 credits
    • Nutrition: 3 credits
    • Physics (including lab): 3-4 credits
    • Psychology: 3 credits
    • Statistics: 3 credits
  • A minimum letter-grade of C is required in each course linked to this list. Furthermore, coursework in these subjects have a five-year currency. This currency requirement may potentially be waived for an applicant who has been working full time and continuously in the health care field since completing the coursework. Although completion of coursework is not required until the time of enrollment, no more than two courses specifically linked to this prerequisite list can be outstanding at the time of application.
  • Advanced placement credit accepted at an undergraduate institution can satisfy a number of prerequisites, including biology, chemistry, psychology, statistics, and English composition courses. College-Level Examination Program credit may also satisfy course prerequisites. Any course that an undergraduate institution deems as having satisfied a “writing intensive” requirement will suffice. This course can be in any major and does not need to be an English major-based course. Additionally, if an applicant’s bachelor's degree incorporates writing across the curriculum, they should share this information with the admissions committee
Optional preparation icon-olus-circle

The following coursework is not required, but strongly recommended.

  • Basic Emergency Care (1-4 credits)
  • Medical Terminology (1-4 credits)
Emergency Cardiac Care certification requirements icon-olus-circle

Applicants must hold current certification through one of the following programs:

Standardized exam scores icon-olus-circle

Scores from the most recent standardized exam(s) an applicant has completed within the last five years. This requirement may be satisfied through one or a combination of the following:

  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
  • American College Test (ACT)
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
English proficiency for international applicants icon-olus-circle

Test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Shadowing/observation hours icon-olus-circle
  • Applicants must demonstrate evidence of adequate exposure to the field of athletic training and understanding for the depth, breadth, and scope of practice through shadowing/observation or volunteer experiences in various practice settings.
  • A minimum of 50 hours is required, with at least 25 hours being completed in a college/university setting and at least 25 hours in a secondary school or other non-college/university setting.
  • Demonstration of an appreciation for the diverse patient populations athletic trainers interact with is highly preferred.
  • Prospective students must have completed a minimum of 35 shadowing hours at the time of submitting their application.
  • Complete this form and upload it to ATCAS to verify your experiences.
Personal statement icon-olus-circle

A personal statement must accompany application materials and include why an applicant is pursing the degree program, with focus on how their background and interests match well with the curriculum. Applicants should also preset a brief summary of short- and long-term goals relevant to career planning.

Letters of recommendation icon-olus-circle

Three letters of recommendation are required for review.One letter from each of the following individuals is necessary:

  • An athletic trainer the applicant interacted with during their shadowing or volunteer experience
  • A faculty member from the applicant’s college/university studies
  • A supervisor/employer, preferably from a health care related experience/job

The letters should address the applicant's academic, professional, and personal attributes, as well as potential for successful graduate study.

Interview icon-olus-circle
  • Selected candidates will be required to meet with the admissions panel for a personal interview. The panel looks for attributes such as maturity, empathy and compassion, motivation, ability to communicate, cultural sensitivity, critical thinking skills, and potential to achieve career fulfillment as an athletic trainer. 
  • Interviews may be conducted in-person or remotely, and provide an opportunity for candidates and the panel to interact.
  • Discussion will center on how the program’s mission and applicant’s goals align. Additional dialogue will include rationale for entering the profession and pursing a degree at Penn State.
Attestation of essential technical standards icon-olus-circle

Applicants offered admission to the Master of Athletic Training program must review the technical standards deemed essential for successful completion of the curriculum. Prior to and every semester after enrollment, students are required to attest that they meet the technical standards either with or without reasonable accommodations. Upon completion of the attestation, Penn State reserves the right not to admit any applicant who cannot meet the technical standards. This right to not admit or the right to rescind admission applies in cases where reasonable accommodation cannot be provided, would result in a fundamental alteration to the technical standards, or would compromise patient/client care or the safety of the prospective and/or currently enrolled students.

Background checks and medical clearances icon-olus-circle

In addition to these admission requirements, participating clinical education sites (on- and off-campus) may require specific background checks and/or medical clearances in order to host a student for experiential learning purposes. Examples include screening of state or federal criminal records and vaccination records. Sites may choose to deny a student’s placement in their facilities based on the information in these records. Such instances may create a barrier for students to satisfy compulsory clinical education activities and therefore not complete degree requirements necessary for graduation.

Two-step application process icon-olus-circle
  1. All candidates must first submit their materials through the Athletic Training Centralized Application Service
  2. Candidates selected for admission must then complete a secondary application through The Penn State Graduate School.
Nittany Lion welcoming you with students in the background

Ready to apply? Get started by completing your application through the Athletic Training Centralized Application Service.