NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




NMSU kinesiology department proposes athletic training master’s degree

The Department of Kinesiology and Dance at New Mexico State University is one step closer to offering a master’s degree in athletic training.


Woman wearing a red shirt speaking to two students at an examination table
New Mexico State University associate professor and Athletic Training Program director Kim O’Connell-Brock (center) guides students Xochitl Alvarado (left) and Julie Jacquez through a knee examination and demonstration on a course of treatment in the Athletic Training room at Fulton Center. The NMSU Department of Kinesiology and Dance is proposing a master’s degree program in athletic training to be offered beginning in 2022. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)
Woman examining a plastic model of a spine
Athletic training student Xochitl Alvarado demonstrates how she would examine a backbone and spine. The NMSU Department of Kinesiology and Dance is proposing a master’s degree program in athletic training to be offered beginning in 2022. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

The NMSU Board of Regents recently approved the degree, but there are three more approvals the department has to obtain before the degree can be offered, said Phillip Post, head of the Kinesiology and Dance department.

“We have to go through the Graduate Council of New Mexico, then the New Mexico Higher Learning Commission, then to the state finance board,” Post said. “I think it’ll be a great program and meet some of the strategic initiatives of NMSU to offer more professional degree programs, particularly around allied health.”

Kim O’Connell-Brock, the athletic training director, said the proposed degree has been in the works for close to five years. The program’s accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), has stated that universities offering bachelor’s degrees in athletic training must transition to offering master’s degree after 2022.

“After that point, all programs will need to be offered at the master’s level to ensure graduating students can sit for the national board exam,” O’Connell-Brock said.

O’Connell-Brock said demand for degrees in athletic training has grown as the profession has broadened over the course of its history. Athletic trainers can help diagnose and treat sports injuries, as well as prevent injuries

“There’s a public health aspect that a lot of people forget about,” O’Connell-Brock said. “We actually are allied health professionals doing preventative medicine. The value of that for the community is if your kid plays sports and suffers an injury, you have the option of consulting with the school’s athletic trainer and saving a trip to the emergency room. That can save money for families and avoid overcrowding of emergency departments with non-life-threatening injuries.”

Many athletic trainers at area high schools, as well as professional sports teams, are graduates from NMSU’s athletic training program, including Ken Crenshaw, the director of sports medicine for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Dominic Moreno, director of sports medicine at NMSU.

“The reason I chose the athletic training program at NMSU is because my former athletic trainer in high school graduated from the same program,” said Xochitl Alvarado, a current athletic training student. “She gave me such good feedback and said it was a good experience for her, and it’s close to home so I wouldn’t have to go too far.”

Julie Jacquez, also a current athletic training student, said she thinks a master’s degree in athletic training will be a good opportunity for her fellow NMSU students.

“It’ll be a great tool and very useful,” Jacquez said. “The program challenges you to achieve and do great things, and teaches you how to learn in tough situations. Overall, I really enjoy it.”