There are many schools in California that offer education programs in massage therapy, though many of the schools are for-profit institutions. Most schools offer massage therapy certificate programs, though associate's degree programs are also available. These programs are most commonly found at 2-year schools.
Massage therapy programs often include practical experience, which may come in the form of an internship or working in an associated clinic. Courses may be offered on the weekends or in the evenings for convenience. Some programs are also designed to help students prepare for state or national certification.
De Anza College
Located in Cupertino, De Anza College offers degree and certificate programs in massage therapy. The training focuses on deep tissue, sports and international massage techniques. These programs are based on a medical model that includes coursework on physiology, anatomy and medical terminology. All programs require an internship, whether hands-on or as a teacher's assistant. Some of the classes examine athletic injuries, tai chi, stress management and stretching. Graduates are eligible for the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. The degree program requires 1,020 hours, the certificate of achievement program is 516 hours and the certificate of achievement advanced program requires 876 hours. A minimum of a 'C' is required in all courses.
Fullerton College in Fullerton offers certificate programs in therapeutic and sports massage therapy. The level I certificate program requires 600 hours of instruction, while the level II program requires 400 hours of training. These programs focus on holistic education and training and include courses on human biology, sports massage, kinesiology, athletic injuries, advanced massage and massage pathology. All courses must be complete with a 'C' or better. Students must present proof of a current CPR card and first aid training.
Located in Oceanside, this college offers massage practitioner and massage therapist certificate programs. The 250-hour massage practitioner program meets California state requirements to be certified as a massage practitioner. The program covers areas such as medical terminology, pathology, physiology and anatomy. It also provides theoretical training and practical experience. The 500-hour massage therapist program builds upon the massage practitioner program and includes courses in other massage modalities.
Monterey Peninsula College
This Monterey-based college offers an associate's degree and two certificate programs in massage therapy. These programs require courses in human physiology and anatomy, first aid, kinesiology and fitness anatomy. Units earned through the massage practitioner and massage therapist certificate programs may be applied toward the associate's degree program, which requires 60 units. Students keep a massage practice log to track training hours. All courses require a grade of 'Pass' or 'C' to graduate.
Students looking to develop their knowledge and skills in massage therapy and wellness can find training at this San Bruno college's certificate program in massage therapy. This 500-hour program covers topics such as anatomy, business practices, ethics and massage theory. Students work in a massage clinic to develop proficiency and practical experience. This program prepares students for state and national certification exams to work as a massage therapist.
South Baylo University
Located in Anaheim, South Baylo University offers two certificate programs in acupressure-Tui Na massage. The 300-hour massage practitioner program includes courses in various massage modalities, including reflexology, acupressure and Tui Na. It also includes courses in personal fitness, alternative bodyworks therapies, business ethics and professional development. The 600-hour massage therapist program includes the same courses, but also covers nutrition and diet.
Southern California University of Health Sciences
Southern California University of Health Sciences in Whittier offers a 12-month certificate program in massage therapy. This 750-hour program is designed for working adults and college students, and the program can be taken at night or on weekends. Aside from clinical work in the school's health center, classroom subjects cover the practice and theory of therapeutic massage, kinesiology, massage business practices and advanced bodywork.
West Valley College
A Certificate of Achievement in Massage Therapy can be earned at this Saratoga college. This program trains students in basic massage modalities including shiatsu, deep tissue and Swedish massage. Courses include medical terminology, communication for health care professionals and structure of the human body. An internship is also required. Practical sessions and clinical internships are required. This program may be completed in three semesters. A grade of 'C' or better is needed in all courses to earn the certificate.
Prospective massage therapists in California may wish to earn voluntary certification to demonstrate their skills to potential employers. Before applying for certification, the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) requires that massage therapists have 500 hours of training and massage practitioners have 250 hours of training. Individuals in both positions should have passed an exam approved by the CAMTC and received training at a school approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) or a national accrediting agency.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Massage Therapy Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|De Anza College||2-year, public; small city|| Certificate of Achievement in Massage Therapy,
Certificate of Achievement - Advanced in Massage Therapy,
Associate in Arts in Massage Therapy
| $1,561 (in-state)*
|Fullerton College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Level I Achievement in Therapeutic and Sports Massage Therapist Certificate,
Level II of Achievement in Therapeutic and Sports Massage Therapist Certificate
| $1,138 (in-state)*
|MiraCosta College||4-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate of Achievement - Massage Practitioner,
Certificate in Achievement - Massage Therapist
| $1,336 (in-state)*
|Monterey Peninsula College||2-year, public; midsize suburb|| Certificate of Achievement - Massage Practitioner,
Certificate of Achievement in Massage Therapy,
Associate in Science in Massage Therapy
| $1,176 (in-state)*
|Skyline College||4-year, public; large suburb||Certificate in Achievement in Massage Therapy|| $1,461 (in-state)*
|South Baylo University||4-year, private not-for profit; large city|| Certificate in Massage Practitioner,
Certificate in Massage Therapist
|Southern California University of Health Sciences||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Certificate of Completion in Massage Therapy||$7,000*|
|West Valley College||2-year, public; large suburb||Certificate of Achievement in Massage Therapy|| $1,463 (in-state)*
Sources: *NCES College Navigator.