The University of Northern Iowa has become the first institution in the state of Iowa to receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) for its professional athletic training master’s program.
The accreditation follows a mandate from CAATE requiring universities across the country to phase out their bachelor-level programs or lose their accreditation. Institutions have until 2022 to transition their undergraduate athletic training education programs to the graduate level.
For Kelli Snyder, associate professor and athletic training program director at UNI, the accreditation is the fruition of a years-long process.
“This process started five years ago, from the beginnings of creating curriculum for the program, having that all reviewed internally, and then getting approval all the way up through the [Iowa] Board of Regents,” Snyder explained.
Snyder said it helped that UNI was transitioning from an existing undergraduate program already in good standing with CAATE, rather than starting from scratch. Nonetheless the accreditation process was arduous, requiring a complete program overhaul.
The accreditation means that graduates will be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification examination and to enter the profession of athletic training.
“Students don’t have to come here and hope that we receive our accreditation. Because we’ve achieved that and we’ve gone through that process, students know that when they finish here, they’ll be certification-eligible. There’s no risk and having to cross their fingers and hope that everything goes well with accreditation,” Snyder said.
“And we’re the only ones in the state who can say that right now.”
The newly-accredited athletic training master’s program at UNI will be a two-year program, with the first cohort of students starting classes this summer.