Residency & Fellowship Programs

The purpose of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) is to develop, maintain, and promote appropriate minimum education standards for quality for professional, post-professional, and residency athletic training programs. 

Residency Programs

Residency is a crucial step of professional development between graduate education and autonomous clinical practice in a core specialty as outlined by the CAATE approved specialty areas above. Athletic training residency education occurs in clinical settings that establish the foundation for practice-based and lifelong learning. Certified athletic trainers learn to provide optimal patient care under the structured mentorship of faculty members who not only instruct, but serve as role models of excellence, compassion, professionalism, and scholarship. The care of patients is undertaken with appropriate faculty supervision and conditional independence, allowing residents to attain the deep medical knowledge, patient care skills, and expertise applicable to their focused area of specialty practice. Formal clinical development, structured didactic curricula, and scholarship within the specialty area are pillars of residency programs to expand upon the foundational knowledge and experience athletic trainers have acquired during professional education.

The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) has identified specialty areas of clinical practice for athletic training residency programs in an effort to help guide the development of specialty training in the athletic training profession. Consistent with other healthcare professions, CAATE accredited Athletic Training Residency Programs are formal educational programs that prepare credentialed Athletic Trainers for advanced specialty practice in a focused area within athletic training. They advance the preparation of an athletic training practitioner, within the scope of athletic training, through a planned program of clinical and didactic education in a specialized area using an evidence-based approach to enhance patient care.

Identified areas of specialty clinical practice exist where there is a clear need for advanced/specialty practitioners.  The specialty areas of clinical practice identified by the Commission represent areas of specialty in which Athletic Trainers clearly demonstrate advanced patient-care knowledge and skills. Athletic training residency program administrators have been historically encouraged to select focused areas based upon a specific patient population (for example, pediatrics) or body system (such as orthopedics). To help guide the development and advancement of residency programs pursuing accreditation, the Commission has recently established the following eight (8) specialty areas of clinical practice.  Programs seeking CAATE accreditation should design their residency training program within one of the following areas of specialty clinical practice:

CAATE Approved Residency Specialty Areas

  • Prevention & Wellness
  • Urgent & Emergent Care
  • Primary Care
  • Orthopaedics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Behavioral Health
  • Pediatrics
  • Performance Enhancement

Residency programs that are already accredited, or that have already submitted application for accreditation, may continue within their already identified specialty area, but may also choose to align within these approved specialty areas of clinical practice.  Residency programs that are planning to submit an application for accreditation in a non-approved specialty area of clinical practice must submit additional materials prior to starting the accreditation application process so that their planned specialty area can be reviewed by the Commission.  These materials must demonstrate that there is a clearly established need for specialty practitioners within athletic training for the proposed specialty area of clinical practice.  Questions regarding this process can be directed to support@caate.net.

Click here to learn more about the BOC Orthopedic Specialty Credential. 

Fellowship Programs

Fellowship is advanced education and intensive programming beyond a core residency program for certified athletic trainers who desire to enter more subspecialized practice. A subspecialty is a narrow field within specialization. For example, manual therapy may be a subspecialty of rehabilitation and neurotrauma may be a subspecialty of primary care. Specialization and sub specialization can be nested within larger frameworks. Fellowship-trained athletic trainers provide subspecialty care and also core medical care. The prior medical experience and expertise of fellows distinguish them from residents. Formal clinical development, structured didactic curricula, and scholarship within the subspecialty area are pillars of athletic training fellowship programs that expand upon knowledge acquired during completion of residency programs or similar experience routes.

Frequently Accessed Documents:

Policy and Procedure Manual

Pursuing and Maintaining Accreditation AND Standards for the Accreditation of Athletic Training Residency and Fellowship Programs

2014 Standards Related Documents: 

2014 Residency Standards

Crosswalk for Residency and Fellowship Standards

2022 Standards Related Documents 

Pursuing and Maintaining Accreditation AND Standards for the Accreditation of Athletic Training Residency and Fellowship Programs

Crosswalk for Residency and Fellowship Standards

Residency Programs Framework Focus Group Video (Oct 2020)

Residency Programs Framework Podcast (Oct 2020)

Frequently Accessed Links:

CAATE eblasts, newsletters, analytics reports and other documents

CAATE Accredited Program Seal (download for program use)

Accreditation Fees

AT Research Agenda