Changes in exercise science and athletic training programs address needs of evolving professions

Kin170717c108-1000x500Faculty and students are excited about changes taking effect in several programs offered by the Department of Kinesiology.

Athletic training is transitioning from a bachelor’s degree program to a master’s level professional degree, in compliance with the requirement that all such programs move to the graduate level by 2022 enacted by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). After  2022, students must have graduated from a master’s program to take the athletic training national certification exam.

At UConn, all incoming athletic training students will enter the master’s program beginning in May 2019. Students who wish to pursue the the athletic training degree and certification may complete a bachelor’s degree in any appropriate discipline, such as exercise science, allied health or biology, that allows students to meet the prerequisite admission requirements for the professional Master of Science Athletic Training Program. Applications are now being accepted.

“The profession of athletic training has grown substantially,” says Lindsay DiStefano, associated professor and head of the Department of Kinesiology. “Programs at a graduate level have more autonomy and ability to ensure that students have enough time to truly become embedded into their professional preparation. We’re able to seamlessly immerse graduate students in the coursework and clinical preparation necessary to ensure they are able to secure desired professional opportunities as a highly qualified clinician.”

She continues, “Educational requirements have evolved over time and athletic training has gained more respect as a healthcare profession, and in order to continue to have that credibility, the athletic training profession needs to be a graduate level degree as it is for other healthcare professions, such as physician assistant and physical therapy programs.”

The other major change in the department involves the exercise science major. Prior to the fall of 2017, students interested in exercise science completed their first two years in an appropriate major, then applied to enter the exercise science program in their junior year. As of fall 2017, students were admitted as freshman to the exercise science BS major.

“This allows students more time to engage with faculty and peers and build a community centering around the major,” DiStefano says. “However, there are still transfer opportunities for students wishing to enter the exercise science major at other times during the undergraduate period.”

Students completing all prerequisite courses may apply by February 1 of each year to transfer into the program and will be admitted as space allows.

By Kim Colavito Markesich