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Accredited Massage Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Massage schools teach students how to rub and knead patients' muscles and skin to increase relaxation and flexibility. Before selecting a massage school, prospective students should research each school's program accreditation, curriculum, time investment and cost.

Massage therapy programs are often found at 2-year schools or specialty schools, such as institutions that focus on natural healing or on massage itself. Accreditation is one of several aspects that students should check when selecting a school.

10 Schools with Accredited Massage Programs

These schools prepare students for licensure as massage therapists.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
Broward College Fort Lauderdale, FL 2-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate $2,753 in-state, $8,875 out-of-state
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick, RI 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,266 in-state, $11,496 out-of-state
Central Oregon Community College Bend, OR 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,555 in-district, $4,599 in-state, $9,135 out-of-state
Elgin Community College Elgin, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $2,868 in-district, $10,439 in-state, $11,959 out-of-state
Gadsden State Community College Gadsden, AL 2-year, Public Certificate $3,216 in-state, $5,976 out-of-state
Idaho State University Pocatello, IA 4-year, Public Associate's $6,784 in-state, $20,182 out-of-state
Kishwaukee College Malta, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $3,990 in-district, $9,750 in-state, $15,450 out-of-state
Lansing Community College Lansing, MI 2-year, Public Certificate $3,020 in-district, $5,660 in-state, $8,300 out-of-state
Manatee Technical College Bradenton, FL 2-year, Public Certificate $4,566
Moraine Valley Community College Palos Hills, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $3,996 in-district, $8,916 in-state, $10,326 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for a massage school:

  • Students should be sure the school possesses accreditation by The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) and a state health or physical therapy department or board, along with regional institutional accreditations.
  • Consider which of the eight different massage techniques, or modalities, you want to learn and which ones the school teaches.
  • Choose a school with a program length that best fits you, whether it is 500 course hours, one year of full-time study, or an associate's degree program that takes two years to complete.
  • Students should look for schools that offer clinical experience or internship opportunities.

Massage Therapy Certificate

Massage therapy certificate programs are designed to provide students with the fundamental skills required to work as a massage therapist in private facilities. Typically, programs focus on a limited number of techniques to ensure students are able to practice at least one massage modality. Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to take their state's licensure exam.

Massage Therapy Associate's Degree

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs prepare students for careers as independent massage therapists or employees of massage institutions. Students typically complete more hours of practical experience than licensing states require, which often expands employment opportunities. Individuals who hold an AAS in massage therapy often work in medical facilities like chiropractic offices and rehabilitation clinics in addition to private facilities. Program graduates are eligible to sit for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) exam.

Massage programs are typically available at the certificate and associate's degree levels. Students should consider programs that offer the specialties they are interested in, as well as programs that offer clinical experience and prepare students for licensure.

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