Athletic training students practice their examination skills.
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To equip students for an evolving field, Carthage now offers a five-year track to a master’s degree in athletic training.

Open to incoming freshmen, the new program leads to a Master of Arts in athletic training as well as a Bachelor of Arts in allied health science. It can shorten the typical route to a graduate degree by a full year.

Carthage has been phasing out its long-running undergraduate athletic training program to meet changing professional standards. By 2026, all new athletic trainers will need a master’s degree to be eligible for certification.

The new 3+2 program consists of a three-year pre-professional phase and a two-year professional phase — all at Carthage. Professor Laurie Jensen, Athletic Training Program director, says the goals are “to develop health care professionals who can critically think, and to cultivate well-rounded health care providers.”

She says the graduate track features a large research component, allowing students to explore the cutting edge of their field, showcase their work at the annual Celebration of Scholars, and participate in broader industry conferences. Carthage has been at the forefront of concussion research for more than a decade.

Community stands at the heart of the program. It’s designed for students to build relationships with professors, students, and working professionals in athletic training.

“We hope to expand field placements, setting up partnerships with new organizations nationwide,” says Prof. Jensen.

By taking advantage of J-Term study tours like the popular medical mission to Nicaragua, Carthage athletic training students can also learn about health care from a global perspective.

“It is so important for young people to travel,” says Prof. Jensen. “In health care work especially, it is important to have global experiences because we work with all types of people.”

Down the line, a traditional master’s track in athletic training will be available to aspiring practitioners who already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. The College intends to accept applications for that two-year program beginning in January 2023.