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Athletic Training: What to Expect

The Athletic Training program at the University of South Carolina is designed to create a family atmosphere, pairing each student with faculty members and certified athletic trainers across Columbia, greater South Carolina, and the United States to incorporate the lessons of the classroom with athletic training in the field. As an Athletic Training major, you will benefit from an education that is individualized to maximize your potential. You will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through a variety of authentic clinical experiences. Students graduating from the program will be prepared to sit for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam to become a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer and contribute to the athletic training profession at a variety of levels.  Recent graduate sitting for the BOC exam have a first time passage rate of 80 percent compared to a national average of less than 45 percent. As an Athletic Training major at Carolina, you will leave with a wide variety of clinical experiences, research opportunities, and networking activities.

The following courses fulfill the education core for a Bachelor of Science with a major in Athletic Training:

  • Introduction to the Description and Analysis of Human Movement
  • Philosophy and Principles of Physical Education
  • Motor Learning in Physical Education
  • Observational Analysis of Sports Techniques and Tactics
  • Human Child/Adolescent Growth
  • The Physiology of Muscular Activity (and Lab)
  • Medical and Scientific Terminology

On average, student-faculty ratio in major specific courses is 16 to 1. Our clinical instructors utilized in our clinical experiences are typically set in a 1 to 1 ratio to maximize the learning opportunities available to students. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major.  Athletic Training students have studied abroad in China, Australia, and a variety of locations in Europe. Through study abroad, Athletic Training students will receive additional opportunities to grow as an athletic trainer while experiencing the nuances of another culture. You will develop the skills necessary to be well rounded and adaptable to the needs of the future athletic trainer as the profession globalizes.  You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Website for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. The South Carolina Athletic Training Students Association offers a wide variety of activities and opportunities for students to participate on the collegiate level. These include leadership, educational, and philanthropy opportunities for all of our students. In additional to annual meetings, the organization hosts a fall and spring meet and greet for all students, clinical instructors, and faculty. The organization also participates in several fundraisers throughout the year, which help support student activity in local, regional, and national conferences for athletic training students. Students can also engage annually in the South Carolina Athletic Training Student Quiz Bowl. You can find other student organizations on campus that interest you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Athletic Training students attend a wide variety of schools depending on their career goals. Unique to the profession, Athletic Training graduate student receive full tuition waivers and stipends for their work as Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainers.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Dr. James Mensch has pioneered research in the use of Athletic Trainers in the military. Dr. Toni Torres-McGehee is nationally renowned in disordered eating in physical active populations, while Jeremy Searson focuses his research on instructional technology and integration into Athletic Training education. Each faculty member brings a unique background and provides an extensive network to benefit Athletic Training students at Carolina.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding students. The College of Education offers more than 30 scholarships each year for education majors.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Athletic Training students have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings that reflect their personal career goals. You are required to complete six clinical rotations to gain valuable hands-on experience. A large network of alumni also offers ample opportunities for additional internships in areas including performing arts including Rockettes and Cirque du Soleil, Major League Baseball, National Football League, University of South Carolina Athletics, and a number of other settings.  Many Athletic Training majors have also received the University Magellan Scholar for research in the field.

Student Spotlight

Athletic Training major Dillon Smith landed two great internships with the NFL and MLB. Dillon gained invaluable experience interning with the New Orleans Saints during training camp and preseason and the Washington Nationals Farm Team during spring training. He worked more than 12 hours each day during his internships. Dillon got hands-on experience with field prep, treatments and rehab, pre-practice taping and treatments, and post-practice treatments. “During my internship, I met people that others dream to meet, and I actually got to know them on a personal level,” he said. Dillon’s experiences and interactions at Carolina, helped prepare him for his internships. “My professors taught me the skills I needed to do research and taught me how to network to obtain my internships,” he said. Dillon encourages current students to take every opportunity they get. “Always try to better yourself because there is always room for improvement,” he said. “There are opportunities everywhere, and what we do does matter.”  Dillon was also a Magellan Scholar and conducted research entitled “Descriptive Epidemiology of Injuries Occurring During Recreation Activities and Intramural Sports.”

Career Opportunities

Athletic Training graduates from the University of South Carolina cover a variety of positions including athletic trainers in Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association, performing arts, the military, college settings, high schools, and physician extenders. Students have also successfully complete coursework to gain additional credentials including Doctorate degrees in higher education, physical therapy, and physician assistants. Within the first five years after graduation, Athletic Training majors typically earn a salary of $35,000 to $50,000, depending on the setting and level of education.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

Athletic Training graduate, Dennis Williams, gets to see top basketball athletes day in and day out. He has had the opportunity to expand his knowledge and become acquainted with some of the best physicians in the country. Dennis is currently the Assistant Athletic Trainer for Charlotte Bobcats Sports and Entertainment in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his current position, Dennis assists the head athletic trainer with the daily treatment, rehab, and prevention of injuries to the team. He also travels with the team and handles travel catering. Dennis has had the opportunity to travel and see many places and work with great athletes. His time at Carolina helped prepare him for his career. “The University of South Carolina challenged me to learn and become a professional,” he said. “The curriculum was tough and the hours to become an athletic trainer long, but this not only broadened my horizon as an athletic training, but also as a person.” While at Carolina, Dennis did internships, shadowing, and volunteering. “These increased my abilities not only physically and mentally, but socially,” he said. Dennis encourages current students to not only focus on academics, but to take time to get to know others. “Learn all you can, but never forget to take the time to meet people and learn about them,” he said. “Make as many friends as you can and cherish each friendship.”

About the College of Education

The College of Education prepares students for professional careers as educators or athletic trainers through focused studies and extensive field experiences in personal settings.  The College offers five majors including Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle Level Education, Physical Education, and Athletic Training. All undergraduate programs emphasize putting theory, methods, and skills into practice in real professional settings. Students are also exposed to extensive fieldwork in schools throughout the program for those seeking teacher certification and in athletic training settings for those enrolled in the athletic training program. The College also offers Masters in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Early Childhood Education, Language and Literacy, and Teaching. Doctoral degree programs in Early Childhood Education, Language and Literacy, and Teaching and Learning, and curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in curriculum studies are also available.

Points of Pride

  • All teacher preparation programs in the College of Education are fully accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teach Education (NCATE).
  • The Athletic Training program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

 Additional Resources
Athletic Training Website
College of Education Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin