Header Image - BOC Partners

Strategic Alliance


The Strategic Alliance is a group of four leading organizations committed to the athletic training profession and to the delivery of quality healthcare to the public. The four member organizations are the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC), the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the NATA Research & Education Foundation (NATA Foundation).

Each member of the Strategic Alliance serves a distinct group of stakeholders, yet all members have a shared interest in advancing the athletic training profession. Members collaborate to research and deliberate current topics of interest to the profession; solicit feedback from the public; and communicate findings and positions to all stakeholders. The Strategic Alliance offers its joint statements in an informed manner based upon what is best for students, patients and the profession.

To date, the Strategic Alliance has issued the following statements:


Professional Degree Statement

Click here for a statement about the professional degree.


FAQ About the Professional Degree

Current ATs

No, ATs who are currently certified do not need to obtain a master's degree to maintain their certification. This change in degree level will affect future athletic training students. It will take no less than seven years for the change to occur, so the first students who will be impacted are not yet in high school.
Because the BOC exam is recognized in all states that have statutory regulation, we specifically looked at the effect a change in the professional degree could have on state practice acts.

We have confirmed that a change in the professional degree is unlikely to have an immediate effect on the regulation of Athletic Trainers. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum standard of eligibility for state regulation. All current and future ATs will meet this requirement.
At this time, a master’s degree is not a requirement for reinstatement.

AT Education

Current students enrolled in a program will not have to obtain a master's degree to be eligible for the exam. When the CAATE establishes the implementation date, future students will know how to select their institutions to ensure they meet the requirements
If candidates who became eligible via the internship route are still eligible, meaning they have a current application and have taken the exam in the past 12 months, they can sit for the exam. Contact the BOC directly with questions about eligibility.
Yes. About a quarter of the jobs posted through the NATA Career Center are positions such as graduate assistantships or internships. More investigation is being conducted to determine how to best change this employment model. The NATA Executive Committee for Education has taken on that task and will be addressing it over the next year, long before the transition takes place.
The extra 1-2 years of school does mean debt will increase; however, when you compare ATs who have master’s degrees with those who don’t, ATs with a master’s have more longevity in the profession and higher rates of full time employment. These factors often correspond to increased salaries. Even though the debt is higher, having a master’s could help contribute to increased salary, thus reducing student debt at a quicker rate.
We will have to defer to the CAATE on that question.

BOC Exam

The BOC exam is based on the Practice Analysis, which reflects changes that have occurred in practice – not anticipated changes. The BOC exam will not immediately change.

International Partnerships

The BOC, Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) and Athletic Rehabilitation Therapy Ireland (ARTI) will re-evaluate the current agreement after the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) establishes an implementation date.

The Profession

There is data to prove ATs with a master’s degree earn more than those with a bachelor’s; however, as part of the review process, a healthcare economist conducted a study specific to athletic training education. The research shows degree level alone is not a strong indicator of salary increase. But, years of full time employment plus an advanced degree can lead to an increased salary. In addition, ATs who have a master’s are more likely to stay in the profession, and that is one of the components that leads to increased salary.
It was found that greater diversity exists at the graduate level of athletic training programs than it does at the undergraduate level. In addition, minorities represent a high population of student athletes. Therefore, the degree level change may also open up the opportunity for more minority students to become ATs because athletes can complete athletic training coursework once their undergraduate playing days are completed.
The perception of Program Directors, who oversee programs at the master’s level, is that students at the graduate level show an increase in maturity, are more committed to the profession and benefit from a higher quality of clinical experience. This will aid the public’s perception of athletic training and ensure proper alignment with other healthcare professions. It’s also been shown that the retention of ATs who have a master’s is better than those who don’t. This longevity also impacts reputation.
A study by a healthcare economist found that the degree level had almost nothing to do with the reimbursement process. With a lack of recognition of athletic training, healthcare facilities assume insurers will not reimburse and choose to not attempt billing. However, it is believed that changing the professional degree to the master’s level will heighten the perception of the athletic training profession and could aid in the reimbursement process.


The change does not have a direct impact on certification and licensure. It does have an impact on the athletic training profession and its longevity, as the Strategic Alliance believes that the changing nature of healthcare and an increased emphasis on inter-professional practice will make the master’s level of education very important in the future.
We will have to defer to the CAATE on that question.
The profession has engaged in a discussion about education of our future healthcare professionals since its inception. In the 1996 NATA Education Task Force Report, provision #2 encouraged the profession and our educators to develop different models for entry-level education, including entry at the master’s level.

A white paper, Professional Education in Athletic Training, started serious discussion on this topic 18 months ago. We are not unique in having this discussion. Most healthcare professions face this issue because the knowledge base is changing and increasing rapidly.
As a member of the Strategic Alliance, the BOC has been actively involved in discussions and research over the past 18 months. We had the opportunity to provide data, to monitor public comments and consultant reports, and to assist in making an informed decision.
A considerable amount of time and resources went into making this decision. The Strategic Alliance investigated everything possible to determine which outcome was in the profession’s best interest. This was not investigated and decided by a single person or entity. The research included:
  • Program Director focus groups
  • A study by a healthcare economist focused on athletic training education
  • Expert opinion from CAATE Commission physician and administrative members
  • CAATE’s call for open comments
  • Numerous open-discussion sessions at state, district and national meetings
  • A white paper, Professional Education in Athletic Training
The Strategic Alliance has been investigating this transition for the past 2.5 years. The research included Program Director focus groups; a study by a healthcare economist focused on athletic training education; expert opinion from CAATE Commission physician and administrative members; CAATE’s call for open comments; numerous open-discussion sessions at state, district and national meetings; and a white paper, Professional Education in Athletic Training.

It would have actually been easier to succumb to analysis by paralysis and to continue to gather evidence over the next 7–10 years. However, that could halt the profession’s progress significantly when the degree change is important to cementing our role in the healthcare team.


This page will be updated with future news or joint statements from the Strategic Alliance.