Online Massage Therapy Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Nov 29, 2017

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online massage therapy school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, delivery methods, and common topics offered for the field of study.

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Massage therapy by nature requires a fairly physical education, so it is difficult to find programs available solely online, although hybrid programs are available. If you are interested in studying massage therapy with an online component, you must first decide what kind of massage you want to specialize in and then find a program that fits your learning schedule and goals.

How to Select an Online Massage Therapy School

Students considering online massage therapy schools must make their decision based on several key factors. Massage therapy programs are at times available in hybrid formats, though rarely if ever in a purely online form. Massage training can be found through a variety of schools, as well as private companies. Most programs have substantial clinical requirements.

Type of Massage

Massage therapy programs offer training that varies in depth and in content type depending on the program and the institution that offers it. Some are oriented to a holistic health system that involves kinesiology, anatomy, aromatherapy and other similar types of health care. Others focus on systems such as Swedish massage, sports massage, soft tissue and trigger-point therapy, spa treatment or chair massage. Most programs combine a number of these different systems to create an educational experience that is unique to each institution.


Because of the hands-on nature of massage therapy, there are very few purely online programs for massage therapy. Hybrid programs, though still rare, are more common, allowing students to fulfill general education requirements remotely, then attend on-campus classes for the hands-on portions of their massage therapy training. Some programs fit students' time requirements while others do not, and students must be sure that they are able to handle any strictly scheduled portions of a program before they enroll.

Online Program Options for Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy Certificate

A massage therapy certificate is designed for students who wish to enter massage therapy professionally with as little time spent studying as possible. Lessons are usually delivered via textbooks and other course materials, which are shipped to students, while communication is normally exchanged over the Internet, via e-mail. A certificate program teaches students the methods and knowledge necessary for a massage professional, including:

  • Various types of massage
  • Human anatomy
  • Massage ethics
  • Movement and support

Associate of Occupational Science in Massage Therapy

Normally, associate degree programs in massage are hybrid programs offered by community colleges or technical schools. Students complete general education requirements via online distance learning, using educational software that integrates forums, e-mail, online testing and assignments. Massage classes are normally held on-campus so that students can practice massage in a supervised setting with instructors present. Topics covered include

  • Forms of massage
  • Human anatomy
  • Body therapy
  • Hygiene essentials

Schools with Online Programs in Massage Therapy

Whatcom College offers a hybrid massage practitioner program at both the associate's degree and certificate levels, with eight of the core massage program classes available to study fully or partially online. Students will learn a wide variety of massage techniques, such as basic Swedish, deep tissue, sports massaging and massages suitable for pregnant women. Applicants will need to get a Washington State Patrol background check, which costs $12, in order to gain entry to this program.

At Fort Hays State University, students can enroll in a hybrid massage therapy certificate program, combining online theory classes with on-campus clinical experiences. Students will learn how to help their clients gain relief from stress and medical issues through the application of massage therapy. It can be completed in just two semesters, over the course of 500 hours. Though massage therapists in Kansas, where FHSU is located, are not required to be licensed, the massage therapy program prepares students for national licensure standards.

An associate's degree in clinical sports massage and a certificate program in massage therapy can be found at Saint Paul College; both programs are available in a hybrid format. The associate's degree program gives students the knowledge to treat sports injuries with massage techniques and promote healthy stretching and exercise regimes. The certificate program is designed to help students find work practicing their massage skills in health spas, resorts, hospitals, care facilities and other healthcare-related institutions.

Massage therapy can be studied through hybrid programs at both the certificate and associate's degree levels. These programs prepare students for careers helping people manage pain and relieve stress through massage techniques, with some schools offering programs specifically grounded in sports massage therapy.

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