Northwestern College to start athletic training master's program

Athletic trainer assisting football playerNorthwestern College is starting a Master of Science degree program in athletic training and expects to enroll the first cohort of 15 students in May 2020.

Northwestern has offered an undergraduate program in athletic training since 2001, but the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) has determined that all athletic training education has to occur at the graduate level, so the NWC program is in the process of transitioning to a graduate degree. Northwestern anticipates obtaining CAATE approval for the master’s program by spring 2020 and graduating the first class in May of 2022.

“Athletic training is a growing field; the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for athletic trainers to increase by 23% by 2026,” says Dr. Rick Loutsch, director of Northwestern’s athletic training program. “Athletic trainers are multi-skilled health care professionals who treat patients in a variety of settings, collaborating with physicians and others to provide prevention and health care to active patients of all ages.”

Northwestern’s master’s degree program consists of six semesters. The first year is primarily residential, while students have an option in the second year to be placed at clinical sites in different locations and to do some coursework online.

Northwestern’s program is faith-based and focused on hands-on experience, with opportunities offered with the Red Raider athletic department, high school athletics, physical therapy clinics, family practice clinics and orthopedic clinics. Following completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to sit for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam to become certified athletic trainers. Students from Northwestern’s undergraduate program have a 100% BOC exam pass rate over the last two years.

Loutsch has been a member of Northwestern’s athletic training faculty since 2010 and previously served on the athletic training staff for five years. He earned a doctorate in athletic training at the University of Idaho and a master’s in exercise science from the University of Iowa. Among other Northwestern faculty members is Dr. Doug Maury, who previously directed the athletic training program and health/physical education department at Bethel College in Kansas. He earned a doctorate in athletic training from A.T. Still University and a master’s in sport administration from Wichita State University.

Applicants to the athletic training master’s program must have a bachelor’s degree and have taken prerequisite science courses as an undergraduate. Most applicants will likely have undergraduate degrees in exercise science, kinesiology, biology or a related health professions major, and Northwestern graduates will be given preference in the admissions process.

The application process is now open. For information or to apply, visit or contact Chelsie Robins, enrollment counselor, at or 712-707-7359.