The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) has granted accreditation to Tarleton State University’s Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program.

The program, headed by Dr. Jennifer Lancaster, is an entry-level degree for students wanting to become certified and licensed athletic trainers. The accelerated track allows students to complete a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with an athletic training concentration and the MSAT degree within five years.

Accreditation took about two years to attain and included a self-study, which was submitted in the summer of 2017, and a site visit, during which faculty, students, administrators and off-site medical preceptors were interviewed.

The program follows a cohort model and only 12 students will be admitted each year. This allows for small class sizes and more student/instructor interaction. The first class graduates in May.

The MSAT replaces an undergraduate athletic training licensure track.

“With the undergrad program, our students were able to sit for the licensure exam for the state of Texas,” Lancaster said. “With this accreditation, our graduates can sit for the national board of certification exam. That way they can work anywhere in the U.S. There are even some international locations that accept this certification.”

Athletic trainers are part of healthcare professionals in many settings other than the sidelines.

“The scope has expanded to where athletic trainers are working in corporate settings, too,” Lancaster said. “Our graduates could work for NASCAR, American Airlines or Toyota. Also in the performing arts. It really opens a lot of doors for these students to offer healthcare for individuals in a lot of different settings.

“Now we are on the official accreditation website, that will help us draw even more students.”