Award Date

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology, Leadership, and Higher Education

First Committee Member

Nancy Lough

Second Committee Member

Federick Ngo

Third Committee Member

Alice Corkill

Fourth Committee Member

John Mercer

Number of Pages



In 2015 the Athletic Training Strategic Alliance made the decision to transition all athletic training programs from undergraduate level degrees to entry-level master’s degrees. This decision stems from efforts to align the athletic training profession with other allied health professions. With this decision came several concerns including the impact that it would have on the diversity within the profession. The decision presented the likelihood of unintended consequences impacting access to athletic training education for students and faculty from minoritized communities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine athletic training educators’ perceptions of the Entry-Level Masters (ELM) degree requirement on the representation of students and faculty from underrepresented communities and their access to athletic training education. This study employed survey research methodology to obtain the perspectives of athletic training program educators. Social closure theory was used to interpret the findings. Social closure theory posits that individuals who form a dominant group will engage in actions that limit resources and opportunities from a subordinate group in order to retain power. This theoretical framework provided a lens to examine the process of exclusion stemming from the transition to a mandatory graduate degree program. Three notable findings were identified including the perceived decline in student enrollment, the large disparity in the representation of faculty from minoritized racial and ethnic communities in the athletic training profession, and the lack of financial resources, such as graduate assistantships available to students pursuing athletic training graduate education.


Access to education; Degree change; Higher education



File Format


File Size

8290 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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