‘Out of the Blue’ showcases how athletic training ...

‘Out of the Blue’ showcases how athletic training degree is ‘leveling up’ to graduate program [VIDEO]

Kristi Phillips, coordinator of Middle Tennessee State University’s new Master in Athletic Training program, spoke on this month’s episode of MTSU’s “Out of the Blue” show about the degree’s transition to the graduate level in keeping with nationwide trends across peer health care professions. (MTSU graphic illustration by Joseph Poe)

Kristi Phillips, coordinator of MTSU’s new Master of Athletic Training Program launching this summer, spoke on this month’s “Out of the Blue” episode about the program’s transition to an advanced degree in keeping with nationwide trends of peer health care professions requiring a graduate-level degree. 

“Everything (like occupational and physical therapy) is trending in the direction of master’s and doctoral degrees,” Phillips said. “Athletic training is also trying to keep up with those professions.”

Phillips is featured in one of three segments on the March 2023 edition of the university’s monthly TV magazine. Her segment is available below. 

Phillips said the typical routes students take to this advanced degree are an exercise science major or a pre-athletic training degree that includes anatomy and physiology courses.

To qualify, they need to meet GPA requirements, complete athletic trainer observation hours and earn certain health certifications.

“It’s two years,” Phillips said of the program, which will be offered year-round. “It’s 72 credit hours (because) we’re moving from three years undergrad, trying to condense that information into two years. …

“Sixty of those hours will be athletic-training specific, and then six hours will be kind of health-based (along with) another six elective hours.”

The required clinical experiences, which offer students many opportunities for hands-on learning, typically start on campus, Phillips said. 

Service to students portrait of Athletic Training faculty Kristi Phillips.
MTSU Athletic Training Program faculty member Kristi Phillips is shown in this file photo. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

“They get to assist with MTSU sports,” she said. “We like to send them out into the community after we’ve kind of groomed them, and they have an idea about what it is an athletic trainer is and does.

“Then they’ll go in the secondary school setting, or they may go out to other universities or clinics in the area. They’re really getting to experience a day in the life of an athletic trainer in various settings … getting a wide variety of experience with a lot of different demographic populations.” 

Phillips clarified that athletic trainers are allied medical health professionals, part of the network of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dieticians, psychologists and others involved in keeping people well, and they work with patients to prevent, assess, treat and rehabilitate injuries.

They are not personal trainers or strength and conditioning coaches. 

“The graduate degree is going to be demanding,” she said. “We want to make sure that we’re (attracting) students that have a very clear idea of what they want to do, and … are going to stay with the major.”

Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications
Andrew Oppmann

“Out of the Blue” is MTSU’s monthly TV magazine show hosted by Andrew Oppmann and available anytime on the university’s YouTube channel, the True Blue TV channel, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It also airs on Murfreesboro cable Channel 9 daily at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; NewsChannel5+ at 3:30 p.m. Sundays and on other cable outlets in Middle Tennessee, so check local listings. 

It is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Google Play. 

Watch previous episodes of “Out of the Blue” at  

— Stephanie Wagner (