The CAATE has compiled frequently asked questions for students, professionals and post-professionals. Find answers to your questions below.


Athletic Trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

Students should contact their program director to obtain proof of graduation from an accredited program. The CAATE no longer provides certificates for professional programs as verification of graduation from an accredited program, as all candidates for the Board of Certification (BOC) examination must graduate from a CAATE accredited program.  State licensing boards have been notified of this change in certificate issuance and no longer requires a certificate from the CAATE as proof of graduation from an accredited program.

To become an athletic trainer, candidates must graduate with a degree in Athletic Training from an accredited athletic training program and successfully pass the Board of Certification (BOC) exam.  To practice as an athletic trainer in most states, the individual must also be credentialed within the state.  Degrees in physical therapy, exercise science, strength and conditioning or others DO NOT qualify the candidate to sit for the BOC examination.

The CAATE accredits Athletic Training programs at colleges, universities and other institutions across the country. The (CAATE) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Texas. The CAATE is recognized as an accrediting agency by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA), but the CAATE is not an educational institution.


There are three different types of CAATE accredited programs

Professional Programs

  • Professional programs lead to eligibility to sit for the Board of Certification (BOC) examination and to enter the profession of athletic training.
  • Professional programs are currently available at both the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels.
  • This is the degree for you if you are either:
  • A soon-to-be high school graduate interested in athletic training OR
  • A graduate of a baccalaureate program with a degree in a related field such as exercise science that would now like to pursue athletic training.

Post-Professional Degree Programs

  • Post-Professional Degree programs lead to a degree (currently masters or doctorate) for students that are already credentialed as athletic trainers and expand the depth and breadth of the applied, experiential, and propositional knowledge and skills of athletic trainers through didactic, clinical, and research experiences.
  • These programs DO NOT qualify the learner to sit for the BOC exam.
  • This is the degree for you if you have already:
  • graduated from an accredited professional program AND
  • taken, or are currently eligible to take, the BOC credentialing examination

Post-Professional Residency Programs

  • Post-Professional Residency Programs are formal educational programs that offer structured curricula, including didactic and clinical components, to educate Athletic Trainers. They are designed to build upon and expand the Athletic Trainer’s knowledge and experience acquired during professional (entry-level) education.
  • These programs may be contained within an institution of higher learning or within a health care facility, such as a hospital
  • These programs DO NOT qualify the learner to sit for the BOC exam.
  • This is the program for you if you have either:
  • Graduated from an accredited professional program AND/OR
  • Graduated from either an accredited post-professional degree program OR have graduated from another post-baccalaureate degree program after achieving your credential in athletic training

BOC exam candidates who are enrolled and/or registered in their final semester/quarter prior to graduation from a CAATE accredited program are eligible to sit for the BOC exam. Qualified candidates for the BOC exam must receive confirmation of their eligibility on their exam application by the Program Director indicating that they have earned or will earn their Bachelors or Masters degree. This confirmation is of eligibility only, not an endorsement of skill/competence to pass the BOC exam. If the Program Director of a CAATE accredited athletic training program refuses to confirm eligibility for the exam application to allow a candidate to sit for the BOC exam, the student may mail the BOC an official transcript with degree and date of degree posted in a university sealed envelope and a written request for the BOC to confirm eligibility. The Program Director cannot prevent an eligible student from sitting for the BOC examination. If the program wishes to set up criteria for students to progress within the program or for graduation, the program may do that, provided that criteria are consistent with institutional policies and communicated to the student upon entrance into the program. It is assumed that if a student is not competent to practice, then such a student would not have been able to progress through, complete, and graduate from the program.

If the camp/internship falls outside of the program’s educational requirements, then the individual is not defined as an athletic training student by the CAATE.  If these experiences are solely sought out by the student (and are not a part of the program’s educational/clinical requirements), the program would not be required to prove compliance with applicable Standards. However, to protect the student, we would encourage you to check with your state practice act (and those of the state the student may be participating), as some state practice acts specify what defines an athletic training student. If they are functioning outside of that definition, they may not be protected from liability if they are participating outside of the actions of a CAATE accredited educational program. Thus, the student may be open to unlimited liability or potential violation of state practice acts and may not be protected in these scenarios.

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