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Athletic Training School: Application Process


The Application Process

Your application process begins in spring or summer at the end of your junior year, if you have completed the necessary requirements. Most AT programs admit students once a year, for summer or fall matriculation, but UofU MAT classes start in June. You’ll take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) if necessary, and submit an application about a year in advance of the year for which you are applying.

While applying early in the cycle has advantages, the best time for you to apply is when your application is the best it can be.

Requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information on their requirements.

Before any submitting application, have people with an unbiased eye go over each entire application to catch any errors. Your PreProfessional advisor is happy to do this for you.

Athletic Training School Application process includes 4 main components

  1. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) *not required by all schools including the UofU MAT*
  2. Application
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Interviews *dependent on the program*

Follow social media of programs of your interest, visit their website, attend webinars, and visit their campus if possible.

Choose schools that are of serious interest to you, but give your list enough variety to maximize your chances for admission.

Types of Schools to Consider

  • one or two “reach” schools where your GPA and GRE might be on the low end
  • at least one to two solid "back-up" schools at which your chances are very good
  • several school where you are likely competitive, but in the middle of the pack

Assess your credentials realistically and give your school selection careful thought. 

  • Size of School and size of individual classes.
  • Location and environment--do you prefer a large metropolitan area or a smaller city atmosphere? What about surrounding area, quality of life, etc.?
  • Simulation labs and other facilities--quality of simulation labs, tutoring and other academic support services, adequate staff, study/meeting space, open hours, etc.
  • General “personality” of School--what are your impressions from their faculty representatives you meet?  Are you looking for an intense, more competitive environment or more of a community feeling?
  • Special interest areas: combined degree programs; specialized courses, clinical programs, publications or student organizations in your area of interest; early decision program availability, early residency match, etc.
  • Student/faculty ratio.
  • Student body--How do you fit in with GPA and Standardized Test Score averages of students previously admitted? How balanced and diverse is the student body? How is the student morale? Do students have input in operation of School?
  • Faculty diversity—Are they largely all from the same background or relatively diverse with respect to race, creed, gender? Are they well-balanced in educational experiences or only from the same School or schools? What is the extent of their research and professional activities? 
  • Faculty-student relationships--Are faculty accessible and committed to teaching? Is there an “open door” policy?
  • Opportunities for clinical programs, research, international clinical rotations, student-run free clinics etc.
  • What student support programs are available? If applicable, what minority or disabled student services are available?
  • What placement services are offered for summer research opportunities?
  • What assistance is offered to help you decide your residency options?
  • What are the board certification exam passage rates?
  • Tuition costs. You cannot ignore the cost, but neither can you use it as your only criterion. Consider the cost and potential indebtedness along with the other factors, and make sure you are choosing the right schools for the right reasons.

Although UofU’s MAT program doesn’t require the GRE, there are many AT programs that do. The GRE is administered throughout the year. Taking the exam by spring will enable you to apply earlier.

The GRE is divided into three sections which are: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning (multiple choice scored on a scale of 130-170), and Analytical Writing (essay format score out of 6 points). The exam may be repeated, but the best strategy is to prepare thoroughly and take the GRE once. More information about the GRE's content and structure.

ATCAS (Athletic Training Central Application System)

  • Most AT programs are part of ATCAS .
  • Application requirements include transcripts, personal background information, extracurricular experiences, personal statements, and fees.
  • Because many programs use a “rolling” admission process (they begin reviewing applications and admitting before deadlines), it will enhance your chances if you submit your application early, regardless of when you take the GRE. ATCAS and UofU MAT recommend students to submit their application a month before the deadline at the latest.
  • Completing the application will take at least a week; most students take several weeks. Make sure you will have plenty of time to fill out the application, and to have somebody review your entire application before you submit.
  • To help us advise other students, we would appreciate it if you would release your information to the Health Professions Advisor. This information will always be kept confidential.

The personal essay is about you and your motivation for pursuing a career as an athletic trainer. Remember, why you want to be a trainer is different from how you were inspired to become one. Describe your current passion for the field with specific examples from recent experiences. Try to choose a theme rather than random thoughts. The primary application activities section provides a list of accomplishments. Your personal essay is an opportunity to provide additional, more in-depth information.

Remember, your audience is smarter, has more medical knowledge, and knows what is like to be an athletic trainer. Don’t try to impress them with your knowledge of the field.

Get feedback! Have 3 or 4 people you can trust to be honest with you (professor, doctor, medical student, parent, advisor, Writing Center, tutor, etc.) read your essay and offer feedback.  Do not ask too many people to read it. Having too many opinions can become confusing.

Use our Personal Statement Guide for more information.


DO answer the questions “Why do you want to be a physician?”

DO concentrate more on actual experiences rather than speculation about future accomplishments.

DO focus more on what you can give rather than on what you can get by becoming a physician

DO limit the number of “I” statements you use

DO share your background if it is appropriate

DO describe meaningful experiences

DO use all five senses as you tell your story

DO pay careful attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation


DO NOT devote too much space to writing about other people (family, patients, doctor you shadowed)

DO NOT summarize or simply repeat what is on the activity list on your primary application

DO NOT use overly flowery language or words you do not know how to use

DO NOT overuse medical terminology or abbreviations

DO NOT assume everyone knows what you know

DO NOT try to make jokes

DO NOT use foreign language

DO NOT begin your essay with a quote

Students are required to submit Letters of Recommendation through the ATCAS. ATCAS limits applicants to 4 letters, but most programs just require 2-3 letters. Almost all AT programs require a letter from an AT.

In addition, some schools require a letter from a professor or any supervisor of your choice, or both. Research schools early so you know what you need.

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

  • Ask if potential writers if they feel capable of writing a supportive letter. If anyone is hesitant, you should probably try someone else.
  • Get business cards with your recommenders’ contact information.
  • Ask if recommenders would welcome any written background material. You could include a brief biographical sketch or resume, your interests and activities, career goals, and motivation toward your intended profession. You could also include a snapshot, a copy of a paper or assignment from their class, or transcript.
  • For recommenders who are unsure of how to write a good letter, the PPA Advising office provides a Guide for Letter Writers.
  • Always give recommenders ample time. Two to three weeks at a minimum. Follow up to make sure that your letters have been sent.
  • Send thank you notes.
  • For more detailed information check out our How To” Guide.

The final stage of the application process is the interview. If you receive an invitation for an interview, that is an indication that a program has decided that you are a qualified applicant and they want to get to know you better.  Interviews are depend on AT programs. Check their websites for more information. UofU MAT’s interview is usually mid February.  Remember:  the entire day is the interview, not just those times when you are in a formal meeting.  Be on your best professional behavior all day!

Interviews can take many forms, so it is important to research your schools and be prepared for each kind. The PreProfessional Advising office can help you with preparation tips and practicing your interviewing skills.

The most common types of interviews are:

  • One-on-one interview
    • Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
    • 7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow up questions, or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
  • Group interview
    • May be either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.

PreAT Mock Interviews Offered Through PPA

The PreProfessional Advising Office offers traditional one-on-one mock interviews for current and former University of Utah preAT students. 

  • Our tranditional mock interviews are one hour long.  The first half will consisit of the actual interview and the second half consists of the advisor providing verbal feedback.
  • To schedule a traditional mock interview, please call our office at 801.581.5744 to have our reception team schedule this appointment.  Students cannot schedule these mock interviews online; they must call.  If a student schedules a regular 45-minute appointment online, the advisor will not conduct the mock interview


General Timeline

When to Submit

Applications are submitted approximately 12 months in advance of your desired enrollment date. However, the timing depends on when you will complete your degree and the necessary coursework, and successfully take the GRE.

Create Your Timeline

It is helpful to create a timeline for yourself when applying but your timeline should be flexible. Course scheduling, extra-curricular activities, deadline changes, etc. all contribute to the need of having flexibility in your timeline.

Check Specific Deadline Dates

For specific application deadline dates, you should always check the program's website.

Prior to Applying

Letters of Recommendation

Talk to potential writers of your Letters of Recommendation. Give them plenty of time to write the letters.

See below for helpful information on asking for letters and guidelines that you can give to your writers.

Continue Extracurriculars

Continue with your volunteer, work, and other activities. Do not stop these activities until you have an official offer of admission. It may take two or more application cycles to gain admission, so you need to be continually improving your application until you do.

Graduate Record Exam

Prepare for and take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Take it by April of the year you submit your application.

Research Programs

Research programs using the NATA website.

The Application Year

April – June

  • Write draft of personal statement and research programs.
  • Order and collect official transcripts.
  • Request letters & get contact info from letter writers at least 3 months before your application submission.
  • Take the GRE. Deadline for the last GRE score accepted depend on program. It is usually the same as the application deadline. UofU MAT does not require the GRE.

Mid July – Spring

  • ATCAS is available in mid-July till spring of following year.
    • Many programs’ deadline is fall to early spring.
  • UofU’s application should be available in ATCAS by mid-September.
  • UofU MAT priority admissions deadline is January 15.
  • Late admissions deadline is March 15.
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA , in October.
  • Supplemental Requirements & Interviews are depend on AT programs. Check their websites for more information. UofU MAT’s interview is usually mid February.
  • Prepare for and attend interviews.
    • The PPA Advising office offers mock interviews so you can practice. If you have an interview scheduled, call the office 801-581-5744 and ask to schedule a mock interview.

June – August

  • Orientation and school year begins. 
  • UofU’s MAT starts late June


Last Updated: 8/1/22