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How to Choose a Massage Therapy School or College

Massage therapy is the manipulation of skin, muscles and tissues designed to relieve stress and reduce tension. Continue reading to learn about how to choose the best massage therapy program for you, and to view some massage therapy schools in the U.S.

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Massage therapy programs can be taken at the diploma, certificate and associate degree levels. Programs that prepare individuals for proper licensure can be found at community colleges through their health services department or at some massage therapy colleges.

Ten Schools with Massage Therapy Programs

These schools offer accredited programs that will prepare students to become licensed massage therapists.

University/College Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
Arizona Western College Yuma, AZ 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,540 in-state, $9,530 out-of-state
Black Hawk College Moline, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $4,050 in-district, $7,500 in-state, $7,650 out-of-state
Broward College Fort Lauderdale, FL 2-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate $2,753 in-state, $8,875 out-of-state
Essex County College Newark, NJ 2-year, Public Certificate $4,213 in-district, $7,358 in-state, $7,358 out-of-state
Lake Land College Mattoon, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $3,459 in-district, $7,282 in-state, $13,084 out-of-state
Miami Dade College Miami, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate $2,834 in-state, $9,661 out-of-state
Olney Central College Olney, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $3,146 in-district, $9,079 in-state, $11,070 out-of-state
Parkland College Champaign, IL 2-year, Public Certificate $3,945 in-district, $9,555 in-state, $14,355 out-of-state
Sheridan College Sheridan, WY 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,952 in-state, $6,936 out-of-state
Stark State College North Canton, OH 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,686 in-state, $6,794 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics

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School or College Selection Criteria

Consider the following as you choose a massage therapy program:

  • Since regulations vary among states, applicants to a massage therapy program are encouraged to make sure the school's curriculum adequately prepares them for state licensure.
  • Students interested in specific massage specialties or modalities, such as Swedish massage, hydrotherapy, Chinese massage and sports massage, may wish to enroll in programs with courses and facilities that teach these disciplines.
  • Clinical experience is valuable in preparation for professional practice. Students may find a variety of opportunities within a program to provide enhanced development of skills.
  • Massage therapists with advanced training may offer increased value to those in need of massage services. Diploma or associate degree programs that offer transfer options give students the necessary training to start a career while advancing their education.

Diploma in Massage Therapy

Diploma programs in massage therapy may commonly be completed in less than one year. Graduates typically qualify for licensure and certification at local and state levels.

Certificate in Massage Therapy

Certificate programs in massage therapy may be completed in two or three semesters and often prepare graduates for licensure and practice. Typically, one or two modalities are taught.

Associate Degree in Massage Therapy

Associate degree programs in massage therapy may require general education requirements and could transfer into a bachelor's degree program. Massage techniques and modalities may be practiced in a clinical setting during an internship opportunity.

Massage therapy programs may include different specialties, which is one important consideration for prospective students. Other considerations may include program cost, program length and more.

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