The Best Online Massage Therapy Schools in 2019

Everything you need to find a quality program, understand the educational options, and start your massage therapy training.

When it comes to choosing a school for online massage therapy courses, what’s best for one person may not be the best for another. Each school has its advantages and disadvantages based on a prospective student’s unique needs. However, there are several quality standards we can apply to identify schools that are a good choice for most. Using metrics such as affordability, accreditation status, and program options, we have compiled our list of top online massage therapy schools. See who stands out in 2019. (Read how we chose our schools >>)

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To be considered for our college spotlight list, schools were required to have:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
  • Massage therapy program(s) offered at least partially online

School Metrics Explained

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Financial Aid: Percentage of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant or scholarship aid.

About Our Data

EduMed’s college lists use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: May 2019

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# School Name Type Cost Online Programs Financial Aid More Details School Information
1 Lansing Community College Public $$$$ 1 38%

Michigan’s Lansing Community College (LCC) is paving the way in maximum flexibility for its students, including those seeking a career in massage therapy. Fully accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation and approved by the American Massage Therapy Association, LCC offers a therapeutic massage Certificate of Achievement program.

The certificate program is available in both day and night tracks, with a full-time student able to complete the day track in three semesters. The night track takes four semesters. There’s also the option of taking the coursework online, or in a hybrid format for even more flexibility. Earning this certificate is very affordable, especially for residents of Michigan. For most in-state residents, the annual tuition for a full-time student is less than $3,600 while full-time out-of-state students can expect to pay just under $3,700 per academic year.

Upon completion of this 40-credit hour program, which is designed to last 60 weeks, students will be prepared to pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam and become a fully credentialed massage therapist in most states. The curriculum includes a wide range of different massage techniques and styles, including:

  • Therapeutic Massage I
  • Body System for Massage I
  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Positional Release
  • Reflexology
2 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Public $$$ 1 47%

Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MSCTC) offers more than 80 programs, including a 34-credit hour diploma program in massage therapy. To provide for maximum flexibility, MSCTC’s curriculum has both online and in-person components. The in-person portions of the curriculum are completed at the MSCTC’s Wadena campus with both day and night schedules available.

The curriculum includes some of the following coursework:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Massage Techniques and Ethics
  • Business Development
  • Sports Massage and Hydrotherapy

Through these and many other courses, students develop the foundational medical and technical knowledge to practice as a massage therapist in an effective, professional, and ethical manner. The massage therapy diploma program is also very affordable, with equal tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students. Students can expect to spend about $7,400 for their entire cost of attendance, which includes tuition and related program costs. Once graduation is complete, the MSCTC curriculum prepares them for licensure in Minnesota or North Dakota. MSCTC graduates have a 97% graduation placement rate as massage therapists.

3 Berkshire Community College Public $$$ 1 66%

Regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Berkshire Community College offers a hybrid massage therapy certificate program. Massage therapy students complete a total of 29 credits in as few as two semesters, and determine the number of clinical hours they complete, depending on the requirements of the state in which they wish to practice, with the help of a faculty member.

Required classes for the program include pathophysiology, various hands-on massage classes, business practices for massage therapists, and fundamentals of human diseases. Upon completion of this certificate, distance students are prepared to become Massachusetts state licensed massage therapists and sit the licensure exam. Berkshire alumni typically pursue work in various types of healthcare facilities or start their own private practices.

Prospective students must submit documentation of high school graduation or a GED. Additionally, incoming learners must be able to demonstrate college-level reading and writing competency through the Accuplacer exam or a successful history of college courses in the subjects. Applicants must also show that they have received at least one type of massage within the previous two years.

As of June 2019, each credit costs $223 and $457 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.

4 Colby Community College Public $ 1 48%

Established in 1964, Colby Community College offers a certificate of completion in massage therapy. Students can complete the program either in person or in a hybrid format. Hybrid students take written assignments online and the hands-on sessions during weekend classes. In-person classes take place on the school’s campus in Norton, Kansas.

In total, massage therapy students need to finish 31 credit hours. Required classes include kinesiology, advanced massage techniques, ethics and business practices, structural anatomy, and more. Most learners complete this program in one year.

CCC subscribes to an open admissions policy. Massage therapy students who meet the program's requirements and possess a GED or high school diploma receive admission. Incoming students must submit ACT, SAT, or Compass exam test scores. Students with low scores on the reading and writing portions may need to complete a remedial English class before entering the program. As of June 2019, in-state and out-of-state students pay approximately $132 and $186 per credit hour, respectively.

5 Dabney S. Lancaster Community College Public $$ 1 38%

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College offers a career studies certificate program in massage therapy. The program specializes in preparing students to promote general health and wellness and alleviate discomfort, stress, and pain through the use of soft tissue massages. After completing the required 750 in-class training hours, students may sit for the national certification exam in therapeutic massage and bodywork.

Classes take place on-campus at the school's Rockbridge Center in Buena Vista, Virginia, and utilize cutting-edge massage therapy labs, classrooms, and computer labs. Learners complete 20 credits of lecture and lab classes over the course of two semesters.

Dabney’s graduates typically pursue careers in a variety of business and healthcare settings, including doctor’s offices, personal wellness agencies, fitness facilities, chiropractic clinics, and more. Many certificate holders also find employment at recreational locations and spas.

Incoming students must be at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or GED. Applicants need to submit a completed FAFSA and their official high school transcripts. Additionally, new students must take a placement exam and schedule a meeting with an academic adviser before enrolling in classes.

As of June 2019, in-state pay $157 per credit. Out-of-state learners pay $355 per credit.

6 Front Range Community College Public $ 3 34%

Front Range Community College offers three programs that incorporate massage therapy training at its Loveland campus: a massage therapy certificate, an associate degree in integrative health professions, and a certificate in holistic health. The massage therapy certificate prepares learners for licensed therapy work in the state of Colorado. Learners follow a hybrid format, with in-person classes taking place in Loveland, Colorado, and complete a total of 20 credits over the course of three semesters.

Massage therapy students engage with a diverse curriculum that covering essential topics such as advanced neuromuscular anatomy, pathology, and kinesiology. Students also study a variety of massage practices and therapeutic techniques in hands-on settings with instructors.

Comparatively, the holistic health certificate, which incorporates some massage therapy classes, requires 15 credits in one semester. The associate degree in integrative health requires 60-62 credits, which many learners complete in four semesters. The associate degree program includes massage therapy training options and helps learners prepare to start their own wellness facilities or pursue jobs at established integrative health facilities.

As of 2019, the cost for these programs for residents is $148.90 for on-campus classes and $263.20 for online classes. Tuition for non-residents is $610.90 for in-person classes and $401.25 for online classes. Students must also pay registration, parking, program, and facility fees.

7 Horry-Georgetown Technical College Public $$$ 1 77%

Horry-Georgetown Technical College offers a massage therapy certificate in a hybrid format. Instructors at HGTC approach massage therapy as a combination of art and science to ensure that learners acquire the necessary academic and technical knowledge to pursue entry-level positions as a professional massage therapist.

In total, certificate seekers must complete 24 credit hours. In-person classes take place at the Grant Strand campus in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Required classes include essentials of anatomy, kinesiology for massage therapists, and a massage practicum. Faculty deliver courses synchronously (students and teachers work together, at the same time, not independently). Since courses are usually only offered once a year, certificate seekers typically follow the recommended course sequence over the span of two semesters. Graduates of this program typically move on to careers at resorts, hospitals, massage clinics, and spas.

Incoming students must be at least 18 years of age and pass a criminal background check and drug screening. All massage therapy students must earn a minimum grade of a "C" or better to remain in good standing.

As of 2019, students paid $8,266 for this program, including tuition, fees, and supplies.

8 Isothermal Community College Public $ 1 52%

Isothermal Community College in North Carolina features an introductory massage therapy program. The program provides basic skills for new students interested in massage therapy careers, who are looking for strong introductory training and a glimpse into professional massage therapy practices.

Over the course of 660 training hours, students complete a combination of written assignments and hands-on massage techniques. Instructors deliver courses in a hybrid format, combining online coursework and in-person training. In-person class meetings take place in the evenings three days a week.

The program curriculum covers essential topics in the field, including kinesiology, business ethics, nutrition, massage modalities, physiology, and more. Upon completion of the program, pupils are prepared to sit for the massage and bodywork licensing examination (MBLEx).

Prospective students must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma or GED. As of June 2019, not including testing, licensure, or certification fees, hybrid students can expect to spend approximately $560 in total on tuition, books, supplies, and fees.

9 Saint Paul College Public $$$$ 3 60%

Saint Paul College offers massage therapy programs in both hybrid and traditional formats. Students can pursue a massage therapy certificate, clinical sports massage associate of applied science degree, or a clinical sports massage certificate. The program specializes in teaching popular techniques such as Swedish massage, sports massage, myofascial release, active isolated stretching, travel trigger point therapy, and more.

Massage therapy certificate seekers complete 30 credit hours and at least 600 technical hours to qualify for the state licensure exam. Associate degree seekers build upon the standard certificate curriculum and further explore patient assessment procedures, patient care plans, and specific physical disorders. The associate degree requires 66 credits. Students in the 23-credit sports massage certificate program develop a foundational understanding of friction therapy, active and passive engagement techniques, cupping and drag, and advanced stretching modalities.

Required classes for each program include health and wellness coaching, functional holistic nutrition, and therapeutic exercise.

Students are advised to contact the school for specific admission requirements. As of June 2019, students pay $185-285 per credit for on-campus classes and $205 per credit for online classes.

6 Key Questions to Ask When Looking at Massage Therapy Classes Online

There are plenty of online massage therapy courses and programs to choose from. To help prospective students narrow down their list of potential schools, we’ve come up with six essential questions to ask.

1. Are the school and massage therapy program properly accredited?

There are two types of accreditation that apply to a postsecondary institution. First, there’s institutional accreditation. This refers to whether the school, as a whole, meets certain basic educational standards. Most schools receive this accreditation from a regional or national accrediting body. Next, there’s programmatic accreditation, which covers a specific program at a school. For massage therapy, the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) is what you should look for. There are also schools approved or recognized by a state certification or licensing board, even if they may not have programmatic accreditation.

Ideally, you should choose a school that has both types of accreditation and is approved or recognized by the licensing or certification board in the state you want to work. But even if a school doesn’t have all three approvals, it may still be a good option. For example, not all states have a massage therapy licensing or certification board. Some massage therapy professional organizations can provide program approval that can still indicate a particular school has a high-quality massage therapy program, even if that program is not officially accredited at the programmatic level. One good example is the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Do remember is that if a program isn’t accredited, recognized by a particular state’s massage therapy licensing board, or approved by a professional organization, make sure it at least has institutional accreditation.

2. Are the online classes designed to prepare me to take the MBLEx exam?

Practically all states that regulate massage therapists use the MBLEx as the main entry-level licensing exam. Therefore, it’s good to choose a program with a curriculum designed to facilitate the passage of this exam. If a school doesn’t specifically tout its MBLEx-based curriculum, that doesn’t mean it won’t prepare you for licensure. You’ll just need to ask additional questions as to how the curriculum prepares its students.

3. Does the curriculum meet my state’s massage therapy licensing and/or certification requirements?

The curriculum of most accredited programs generally meets most state licensing requirements. But, just because a curriculum meets the standards for one or more states does not mean the curriculum will meet the requirements for all states. For example, if you want to work in Nevada, studying through an online massage therapy program is not accepted.  Many schools present answer to this question on their website, often on a “program disclosure document.” This will have other useful information such as gainful employment after graduation, cost of attendance, and how long it takes to complete the program. The Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals website also has a helpful map that shows licensing requirements for each state as well as state board contact information.

4. Does the program meet the requirements for the professional certifications I want to pursue after graduation?

Professional certifications may not be required to work as a massage therapist in most states, but it’s still a good idea to consider obtaining them. It can increase your marketability and allow you greater choices in employment. Each certifying body has its own eligibility requirements, including completion of an approved massage therapy program. One such example is board certification from the NCBTMB, which requires graduating from an approved school. Certain specific requirements also exist, such as expecting applicants to show they have finished a curriculum with at least 200 hours of hands-on, western-based massage training at clinics or labs.

5. Where is the in-person, clinical portion of the classwork taught?

If you’re interested in enrolling in an online program, remember that you’ll have to complete the hands-on training as well. This usually means going to the school’s campus for the in-person portion of the curriculum. If a school has multiple locations, you’ll need to confirm which ones provide you the opportunity to gain your hands-on training and experience. Don’t be surprised if a school you’re interested in attending has two or more campuses, but only one of them offers the in-person training.

6. Are the classes or program eligible for financial aid?

Given the relatively short duration of a massage therapy program, they’re not the most expensive post-secondary credentials to earn. However, they can still cost a significant amount of money, so looking for financial aid is sensible. Most forms of financial aid, especially from the state or federal government, require admission into an accredited school or program. Even if your chosen school isn’t accredited, there may be other forms of financial aid available. Ask your financial aid advisor for guidance.

Program Options in Online Massage Therapy School  

Prospective massage therapy students can choose between several different program types and specializations while in school. Here’s a breakdown of the options:

Degree Levels in Massage Therapy

Diploma/Certificate

The diploma or certificate program serves as the quickest route to obtaining the necessary education and training to become a licensed massage therapist in the school’s respective state. Depending on the program, graduates may also have the necessary credentials to become licensed in many other states. The curriculum will be completely devoted to massage therapy techniques, as well as some background courses in professional obligations of massage therapists and underlying medical theories that help provide a foundational context for more advanced training.

Who it’s for: The diploma or certificate program is perfect for individuals who want to start practicing as a massage therapist in the shortest amount of time possible.

Associate Degree

The associate degree route offers all the same courses as most diploma or certificate programs, plus general education courses to provide a well-rounded education. Given that the amount of coursework is practically doubled, earning an associate degree generally takes twice as long to complete as a diploma or certificate in massage therapy. The advantage of this extra work is having a college degree and a great head start on a bachelor’s degree, should you choose to take that academic route.

Who it’s for: An associate degree in massage therapy is ideal for students who either want a full college education or who anticipate eventually moving on to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Massage Therapy Specializations

The average person may not realize there are many massage modalities and techniques, each with their own styles and benefits. Being trained in one of these specializations not only helps a massage therapist better meet the needs of clients, but also helps in professional marketability.

Reflexology

The underlying principle of reflexology is the belief that there are special “reflex” areas, usually in the hands, head, and feet, that can help achieve balance in the body. By manipulating these reflex areas, a massage therapist can bring relaxation and pain relief to almost anywhere in the body.

Sports massage

As its name implies, sports massage is commonly used to treat sports-related injuries and improve performance. Clients without a sports background can also benefit, if they suffer from pain from repetitive motion or are seeking physical rehabilitation for other problems.

Deep tissue

Deep tissue is a massage style that applies pressure at specific points of the body. While compression of tissue is common, this is also about the angle of the pressure. Deep tissue massage is a great technique to use on individuals who suffer from knots in their muscles.

Swedish massage

One of the more well-known massage styles, Swedish massage emphasizes working on the body’s circulatory system to achieve relaxation. This involves long, sweeping strokes, which is what many clients desire in a massage.

Asian bodywork

This specialization focuses on Asian-based healing theories and techniques. Students will learn how to perform various bodywork styles with Asian origins, including Thai massage, tui na, and shiatsu.

Attending Massage Therapy Classes Online: How It All Works

Most schools and colleges offer massage therapy training in a hybrid format that combines both in-person and online instruction. You can expect to complete general education and some foundational massage therapy classes remotely, or about 40 to 50 percent of your coursework. Depending on the program, online instruction may include classes such as accounting, biology, small business management, marketing, and more. The remaining require in-person, hands-on physical training or laboratory components.

Common Online Massage Therapy Courses

Required classes and training sequences vary between schools and programs.  The following is a small sample of common courses typically offered by online massage therapy programs.

Business Practices for Massage Therapists

In this class, students explore methods for developing a client base and managing day-to-day business operations. Topics include essential business skills such as bookkeeping, marketing, and taxes. Additionally, distance students learn about local and state laws as they apply to massage therapy businesses. Learners also examine ethical practices for giving and receiving referrals, records keeping, and therapist-client relationships.

Theoretical Foundations and Clinical Practice

Introduction to Kinesiology

Physiology and Human Anatomy

Swedish Massages

Primary Skills You’ll Learn

Each school has the freedom to design its own curriculum, but students will generally learn the same set of core skills, including:

Ethics

Ethics

Students learn how to establish appropriate boundaries with clients and to act in a manner that effectively facilitates the healing and wellness component of massage. Students also gain an understanding of how to factor in the cultural or social differences between themselves and their clients.

Business-Acumen

Business Acumen

As great as it is to help people improve their health, massage therapists must, at the end of the day, provide a service that’s profitable. Whether it’s making business decisions or merely understanding how someone else’s decision affects the massage therapy business, this skill is critically important.

Nutrition

Nutrition

A client’s diet can have a significant impact on their overall health and wellness. Students will gain an understanding of how good nutrition can complement their clients’ well-being, to make the most of the benefits from massage therapy.

Human-Anatomy

Human Anatomy

It is important to understand the basic vocabulary and language relating to the human body, its parts, and its processes. Students learn the basics of major organ and biological systems and the muscular and skeletal systems, and how they interact with each other.

Massage-Techniques

Massage Techniques

To maximize the level of care they can provide as well as improve their marketability, students also learn a variety of different techniques. This includes treatments designed to target certain sports injuries, and age-specific massage concerns.

How Much Does Online Massage Therapy School Cost?

The cost of earning a massage therapist credential varies widely based on a number of factors, including whether the student is earning an associate degree or certificate/diploma, state and county residency status, type of school (private versus public), and whether the school charges a different tuition rate for courses delivered online. Here are a few examples of what a massage therapist student can expect to pay for their education. Note: The following tuition figures are accurate as of May 2019. Please check school websites to confirm tuition and other costs.

U.S. Career Institute, Massage Therapy Certificate $4,989 (entire program cost)
Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Massage Therapy Diploma $198.95/credit

To learn more on how to help pay for school, check out EduMed’s comprehensive guide to financial aid.

How Much Do Licensed Massage Therapists Make?  

Before entering a new career, you want to know what kind of compensation you might earn after graduation. We’ve created the following chart to give you a range of what to expect. Keep in mind that this is nationwide data, so what a massage therapist earns in a specific state can vary.

Percentile 10% 25% 50% (Median) 75% 90%
Hourly Pay $10.26 $13.68 $19.92 $27.75 $37.64
Annual Salary $21,340 $28,450 $41,420 $57,730 $78,280

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018

Job Demand and Career Outlook for Massage Therapists  

The compensation a massage therapist can expect is promising, and the career outlook is even brighter. From 2016 to 2026, employment for massage therapists will increase by more than a 25 percent. That’s faster than the healthcare industry as a whole, which is still a sky-high 22 percent.

Job Outlook (2016 to 2026)
Job Growth 26%
# of New Jobs Available 42,100

What’s causing this demand? One of the reasons is the aging American population, which naturally demands a greater amount of healthcare and related services. In addition, the Affordable Care Act now allows a greater percentage of the population to obtain healthcare services. Finally, there’s now a greater acceptance by the mainstream medical community of the health benefits of massage therapy. What used to be seen as a fringe form of medical care and a way to relax is now being viewed as a substantial component of many medical treatments and a healthy lifestyle.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Massage Therapy Student Resources  

So you’re about to start your training to become a massage therapist, but have more questions or would simply like to learn more about the profession. This shortlist of additional resources will help you get the most out of your education and achieve your professional goals.

AMTA

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)
The AMTA is the largest professional organization for massage therapists. Its website has a host of resources, including massage therapy schools and a list of massage therapy regulations for all 50 states.

ABMP

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) 
The ABMP primarily exists to help its members obtain necessarily liability insurance to work in the field of massage and bodywork. However, it also provides a host of resources, including the free Massage & Bodywork magazine, and tools to help students get through school and pass the MBLEx.

COMTA

Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) 
COMTA is the leading organization that accredits massage therapy programs in the United States. A special section on its website outlines what prospective massage therapy students should look for when choosing a program.

FSMTB

Federation of States Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) 
The FSMTB is the primary regulating body in the United States for massage therapists. Most notably, they oversee the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) which is widely used by states for licensing massage therapists.

Massage-Therapy-Foundation

Massage Therapy Foundation 
This organization’s mission is to promote the benefits of massage therapy to the general public and advance massage therapy research.