James Madison University

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an athletic trainer?

An athletic trainer (AT) is an allied health professional specializing in the prevention, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses.

How do I become an athletic trainer?

To become an athletic trainer, you must first earn a degree from an accredited athletic training education program. Accredited programs include formal instruction in areas such as injury and illness prevention, first aid and emergency care, assessment of injuries and illnesses, therapeutic modalities, therapeutic exercise, nutrition, anatomy and physiology. Classroom learning is supplemented by hands-on clinical education experience with a variety of patients and in a variety of settings. Once you have completed your degree, you must then pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification. Once certified, continuing education requirements must be met to remain certified.

What are the different job opportunities after I become certified?

Traditionally, athletic trainers have worked with high school, college and professional athletic teams. However, today, athletic trainers can be found working almost anywhere people are physically active. This includes sports medicine clinics, hospitals, the military, industrial and commercial industries, the performing arts, auto racing, rodeo, and the traditional settings listed above.

I'm currently in high school, how can I improve my chances of being accepted in the JMU Athletic Training Program?

If possible, volunteer to help an athletic trainer at your high school or local physical therapy/sports medicine clinic. If you can't do that on a regular basis, see if you can at least job shadow for 1-2 days. Ask as many questions as possible.

Take classes such as anatomy to see if you like learning about the human body.

Becoming certified in first aid and CPR can also be very beneficial. The following organizations have classes throughout the year:

How long is the JMU athletic training program?

Students apply for acceptance into the JMU athletic training program at the end of their sophomore year to begin the professional phase of their education at the start of their junior year. However, during those first two years, students are taking prerequisite courses such as Introduction to Athletic Training, Injury Recognition and Management, and Anatomy along with observing staff athletic trainers and athletic training students to assure this is the right major for you. Once formally accepted, students are required to complete 4 semesters of course work and clinical education.

Do I enroll at JMU as an Athletic Training Major?

Yes, students who have not formally been accepted into the athletic training program should declare athletic training as their major upon enrolling at JMU. Students are not formally admitted to the  program until after their sophomore year and upon formal application and acceptance.

When do I submit my application to the athletic training program?

After acceptable completion of pre-requisite courses, students submit their application to the athletic training program. Due to course sequencing, class space availability and when courses are offered, this usually occurs during the Spring semester of your Sophomore year.

What does the "application" to the athletic training program consist of?

The written application requires students to provide thoughtful written answers to five questions, demonstrate successful completion of prerequisite coursework, complete on-campus OSHA training, provide evidence of Emergency Cardiac Care certification and First Aid, and provide assurance that you understand the risks and demands of entering a healthcare profession. The application also includes letters of recommendation, observation hours and evaluations from the observation experiences. In addition to the written application, there is a formal interview process.

How competitive is the application, interview and acceptance process?

Traditionally, 60-70 students enter JMU as freshmen each year intending to major in athletic training. Like many college students, many decide to change their major. Typically, by the time of formal application, approximately 25 students meet the criteria for application and decide to formally apply. From that pool of applicants,  a maximum of 18 students are accepted each year. Students not accepted are encouraged to address their weaknesses and reapply the following year. Prior to application, students are encouraged to become active in the Madison Athletic Training Student Association (MATSA), become members of the National Athletic Trainers' Association, and obtain as many observation experiences as possible through the JMU athletic training program and other affiliations such as their high school or a local sports medicine clinic.

What will my schedule be like if I'm accepted into the Athletic Training Program?

A typical day consists of classes in the morning followed by clinical education experiences in the afternoon. Athletic training students should anticipate devoting approximately 20 hours per week to clinical education, including some hours on the weekends and in the evenings when competitions are taking place. Clinical education consists of being assigned to an athletic trainer working with a team, school or clinic and provides hands-on learning where you are expected to demonstrate the transfer of knowledge learned in the classroom to real world applications. You should also anticipate returning to campus early (around August 1st) to participate in team building and orientation activities, assist with pre-season physical examinations, and gain valuable clinical experience during pre-season practices.

I would like to transfer to JMU for the athletic training program. What should I do?

Because each student's situation is different, you are encouraged to contact the Program Director, Dr. Jamie Frye, to discuss your situation.

Why should I choose JMU Athletic Training Program?

JMU offers a wide variety of activities campus-wide and within the athletic training program to develop leadership skills and explore personal interests. Many athletic training students participate in intramural sports, community service activities, professional development activities and student organizations such as the Madison Athletic Training Student Association (MATSA). The Athletic Training Program is one of the oldest and most established programs in the country. It has been approved or accredited since 1982 and produced many well-known and productive athletic trainers.

JMU offers diverse opportunities for clinical experience. Students may gain experience at local high schools, sports medicine clinics, Division III Colleges and Universities and of course with the highly successful JMU Athletic Teams.

Experienced and devoted academic and clinical staff work hard to assure each student's success and to help each student attain their post-graduation goals. A welcoming staff works hard to achieve a family environment and maintain excellent communication between the various academic and clinical portions of the program.

Student pass rates on the BOC exam far exceed national averages. In a typical year, first attempt success on the exam has ranged from 87 to 100 percent compared to about 75% nationally. Most other JMU graduates passed on their second attempt.

Our large, diverse Athletic Training Staff and extensive alumni network assist JMU graduates in finding jobs and graduate assistantships upon leaving. Approximately 80% of JMU graduates go onto graduate school in athletic training or other health related fields of practice…most with assistantships to help cover their expenses.

Technology is blended into classroom learning/teaching and into clinical experiences. However, the low faculty to student ratio allows frequent interaction with students and allows for students to work directly with classroom instructors and preceptors in numerous hands-on learning experiences. The campus, located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, provides an excellent backdrop for students to learn, interact and socialize with their peers, teachers and mentors.


  • On May 20, 2015, the Athletic Training Strategic Alliance announced that the CAATE Standards for Accreditation of Professional Athletic Training Programs will be changed to require that professional programs be at the master’s degree level.  James Madison University is dedicated to meet this accreditation requirement in order to continue providing excellent education to produce strong athletic training health care providers.  Our transition to the master’s degree has begun and will influence students entering JMU as freshman in the fall 2018 semester and thereafter.  These students should refer to information on our Master of Science in Athletic Training Program

    For students who entered JMU in the fall of 2017 or are considering transferring to the University, please note the last admission cycle to the professional phase of the Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree program will occur in spring 2019. Students who have completed all required AT courses and general education courses by the end of the 2019 first summer session are eligible to submit their admission application in April 2019.  Admission decisions will be made in July 2019 once the first summer session is complete.  All future students will need to apply to the Master of Science Program.  The final cohort of students seeking the BSAT degree will graduate in May 2021.


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