- Best Online Massage Therapy Schools for 2019
- Key Questions When Looking at Massage Therapy Classes Online
- Program Options in Online Massage Therapy School
- Attending Massage Therapy Classes Online: How It All Works
- Cost of Online Massage Therapy Classes
- How Much Do Licensed Massage Therapists Make?
- Job Demand and Career Outlook for Massage Therapists
- Massage Therapy Student Resources
Massage therapy can be a rewarding career on both a professional and personal level. Working as a massage therapist allows the opportunity to help others through the power of touch by reducing stress, relieving pain and more. The ability to train for this career in two years or less and the potential to quickly begin earning a solid income has great appeal as well. Taking some of your massage therapy classes online can be a smart choice, but there are several things you’ll want to look out for when researching schools that offer this option. Keep reading for an in-depth guide about online massage therapy education, including a list of top schools, program options and course information, and vital questions you’ll want to ask before enrolling.
The Best Online Massage Therapy Schools in 2019
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 >>)
|School Name||Location||School Logo||School Type||Cost||Online Programs||Financial Aid||School Information|
|Lansing Community College||Lansing, MI||Public||$$$$||1||38%|
Michigan’s Lansing Community College (LCC) is paving the way in maximum flexibility for its students, including those seeking a career in massage therapy. Fully accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation and approved by the American Massage Therapy Association, LCC offers a therapeutic massage Certificate of Achievement program.
The certificate program is available in both day and night tracks, with a full-time student able to complete the day track in three semesters. The night track takes four semesters. There’s also the option of taking the coursework online, or in a hybrid format for even more flexibility. Earning this certificate is very affordable, especially for residents of Michigan. For most in-state residents, the annual tuition for a full-time student is less than $3,600 while full-time out-of-state students can expect to pay just under $3,700 per academic year.
Upon completion of this 40-credit hour program, which is designed to last 60 weeks, students will be prepared to pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam and become a fully credentialed massage therapist in most states. The curriculum includes a wide range of different massage techniques and styles, including:
|Minnesota State Community and Technical College||Fergus Falls, MN||Public||$$$$||1||47%|
Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MSCTC) offers more than 80 programs, including a 34-credit hour diploma program in massage therapy. To provide for maximum flexibility, MSCTC’s curriculum has both online and in-person components. The in-person portions of the curriculum are completed at the MSCTC’s Wadena campus with both day and night schedules available.
The curriculum includes some of the following coursework:
Through these and many other courses, students develop the foundational medical and technical knowledge to practice as a massage therapist in an effective, professional, and ethical manner. The massage therapy diploma program is also very affordable, with equal tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students. Students can expect to spend about $7,400 for their entire cost of attendance, which includes tuition and related program costs. Once graduation is complete, the MSCTC curriculum prepares them for licensure in Minnesota or North Dakota. MSCTC graduates have a 97% graduation placement rate as massage therapists.
|Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-San Diego||San Diego, CA||Private for-profit||$$$$||3||52%|
At the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) in San Diego, California, students can choose from several academic tracks to become a massage therapist. First, there’s the Certificate in Massage Therapy/Asian Bodywork, which is a hybrid program combining hands-on instruction in a traditional classroom with online coursework that students can complete on their own schedule. PCOM’s massage therapy program is unique in that it places a special emphasis on tui na, a type of oriental medical theory. Students will also learn different massage techniques, including shiatsu and Thai massage.
There’s also the Associate of Science in Massage Therapy/Asian Bodywork, which is comprised of 30 general education units, along with 34.5 units in clear passage therapy/Asian Bodywork.
Finally, there’s the Associate of Applied Science in Holistic Health Science. In addition to the massage therapy elements of the curriculum, students will learn about holistic healing, especially within the context of Asian bodywork therapy.
Upon completion of their respective programs, students are eligible to obtain certification from the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the state of California. They are also prepared to sit for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). PCOM is especially good at preparing students to pass the MBLEx, with an overall school passage rate in excess of 88% – the national average hovers around 66%.
|Berkshire Community College||Pittsfield, MA||Public||$$$$||1||66%|
Regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Berkshire Community College offers a hybrid massage therapy certificate program. Massage therapy students complete a total of 29 credits in as few as two semesters, and determine the number of clinical hours they complete, depending on the requirements of the state in which they wish to practice, with the help of a faculty member.
Required classes for the program include pathophysiology, various hands-on massage classes, business practices for massage therapists, and fundamentals of human diseases. Upon completion of this certificate, distance students are prepared to become Massachusetts state licensed massage therapists and sit the licensure exam. Berkshire alumni typically pursue work in various types of healthcare facilities or start their own private practices.
Prospective students must submit documentation of high school graduation or a GED. Additionally, incoming learners must be able to demonstrate college-level reading and writing competency through the Accuplacer exam or a successful history of college courses in the subjects. Applicants must also show that they have received at least one type of massage within the previous two years.
As of June 2019, each credit costs $223 and $457 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively.
|Colby Community College||Colby, KS||Public||$$$$||1||48%|
Established in 1964, Colby Community College offers a certificate of completion in massage therapy. Students can complete the program either in person or in a hybrid format. Hybrid students take written assignments online and the hands-on sessions during weekend classes. In-person classes take place on the school’s campus in Norton, Kansas.
In total, massage therapy students need to finish 31 credit hours. Required classes include kinesiology, advanced massage techniques, ethics and business practices, structural anatomy, and more. Most learners complete this program in one year.
CCC subscribes to an open admissions policy. Massage therapy students who meet the program's requirements and possess a GED or high school diploma receive admission. Incoming students must submit ACT, SAT, or Compass exam test scores. Students with low scores on the reading and writing portions may need to complete a remedial English class before entering the program. As of June 2019, in-state and out-of-state students pay approximately $132 and $186 per credit hour, respectively.
|Dabney S. Lancaster Community College||Clifton Forge, VA||Public||$$$$||1||38%|
Dabney S. Lancaster Community College offers a career studies certificate program in massage therapy. The program specializes in preparing students to promote general health and wellness and alleviate discomfort, stress, and pain through the use of soft tissue massages. After completing the required 750 in-class training hours, students may sit for the national certification exam in therapeutic massage and bodywork.
Classes take place on-campus at the school's Rockbridge Center in Buena Vista, Virginia, and utilize cutting-edge massage therapy labs, classrooms, and computer labs. Learners complete 20 credits of lecture and lab classes over the course of two semesters.
Dabney’s graduates typically pursue careers in a variety of business and healthcare settings, including doctor’s offices, personal wellness agencies, fitness facilities, chiropractic clinics, and more. Many certificate holders also find employment at recreational locations and spas.
Incoming students must be at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or GED. Applicants need to submit a completed FAFSA and their official high school transcripts. Additionally, new students must take a placement exam and schedule a meeting with an academic adviser before enrolling in classes.
As of June 2019, in-state pay $157 per credit. Out-of-state learners pay $355 per credit.
|Fort Hays State University||Hays, KS||Public||$$$$||1||43%|
Fort Hays State University’s hybrid massage therapy certificate program requires 500 clinical training hours, traditional on-campus classes, and virtual online learning sessions. Hybrid students complete introductory and core theory classes online and attend clinical experiences on campus two weekends a month.
Over the span of two semesters, certificate seekers need to complete 32 credit hours. Required courses include basic massage techniques, structural anatomy for massage therapy, pathophysiology, functional kinesiology, and more. Although the state of Kansas does not require a massage therapist to hold a particular license before entering the workforce, FHSU ensures its graduates meet national standards. Upon completion of the program, students can sit for the national certification exam.
Incoming certificate seekers need only to submit their official high school transcripts and financial aid information for consideration. As of June 2019, Kansas residents pay $171/credit for on-campus classes and $218 per credit for online classes. Non-residents need to pay $506 per credit regardless of the delivery format.
|Front Range Community College||Westminster, CO||Public||$$$$||3||34%|
Front Range Community College offers three programs that incorporate massage therapy training at its Loveland campus: a massage therapy certificate, an associate degree in integrative health professions, and a certificate in holistic health. The massage therapy certificate prepares learners for licensed therapy work in the state of Colorado. Learners follow a hybrid format, with in-person classes taking place in Loveland, Colorado, and complete a total of 20 credits over the course of three semesters.
Massage therapy students engage with a diverse curriculum that covering essential topics such as advanced neuromuscular anatomy, pathology, and kinesiology. Students also study a variety of massage practices and therapeutic techniques in hands-on settings with instructors.
Comparatively, the holistic health certificate, which incorporates some massage therapy classes, requires 15 credits in one semester. The associate degree in integrative health requires 60-62 credits, which many learners complete in four semesters. The associate degree program includes massage therapy training options and helps learners prepare to start their own wellness facilities or pursue jobs at established integrative health facilities.
As of 2019, the cost for these programs for residents is $148.90 for on-campus classes and $263.20 for online classes. Tuition for non-residents is $610.90 for in-person classes and $401.25 for online classes. Students must also pay registration, parking, program, and facility fees.
|Horry-Georgetown Technical College||Conway, SC||Public||$$$$||1||77%|
Horry-Georgetown Technical College offers a massage therapy certificate in a hybrid format. Instructors at HGTC approach massage therapy as a combination of art and science to ensure that learners acquire the necessary academic and technical knowledge to pursue entry-level positions as a professional massage therapist.
In total, certificate seekers must complete 24 credit hours. In-person classes take place at the Grant Strand campus in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Required classes include essentials of anatomy, kinesiology for massage therapists, and a massage practicum. Faculty deliver courses synchronously (students and teachers work together, at the same time, not independently). Since courses are usually only offered once a year, certificate seekers typically follow the recommended course sequence over the span of two semesters. Graduates of this program typically move on to careers at resorts, hospitals, massage clinics, and spas.
Incoming students must be at least 18 years of age and pass a criminal background check and drug screening. All massage therapy students must earn a minimum grade of a "C" or better to remain in good standing.
As of 2019, students paid $8,266 for this program, including tuition, fees, and supplies.
|Isothermal Community College||Spindale, NC||Public||$$$$||1||52%|
Isothermal Community College in North Carolina features an introductory massage therapy program. The program provides basic skills for new students interested in massage therapy careers, who are looking for strong introductory training and a glimpse into professional massage therapy practices.
Over the course of 660 training hours, students complete a combination of written assignments and hands-on massage techniques. Instructors deliver courses in a hybrid format, combining online coursework and in-person training. In-person class meetings take place in the evenings three days a week.
The program curriculum covers essential topics in the field, including kinesiology, business ethics, nutrition, massage modalities, physiology, and more. Upon completion of the program, pupils are prepared to sit for the massage and bodywork licensing examination (MBLEx).
Prospective students must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma or GED. As of June 2019, not including testing, licensure, or certification fees, hybrid students can expect to spend approximately $560 in total on tuition, books, supplies, and fees.
|Saint Paul College||Saint Paul, MN||Public||$$$$||3||60%|
Saint Paul College offers massage therapy programs in both hybrid and traditional formats. Students can pursue a massage therapy certificate, clinical sports massage associate of applied science degree, or a clinical sports massage certificate. The program specializes in teaching popular techniques such as Swedish massage, sports massage, myofascial release, active isolated stretching, travel trigger point therapy, and more.
Massage therapy certificate seekers complete 30 credit hours and at least 600 technical hours to qualify for the state licensure exam. Associate degree seekers build upon the standard certificate curriculum and further explore patient assessment procedures, patient care plans, and specific physical disorders. The associate degree requires 66 credits. Students in the 23-credit sports massage certificate program develop a foundational understanding of friction therapy, active and passive engagement techniques, cupping and drag, and advanced stretching modalities.
Required classes for each program include health and wellness coaching, functional holistic nutrition, and therapeutic exercise.
Students are advised to contact the school for specific admission requirements. As of June 2019, students pay $185-285 per credit for on-campus classes and $205 per credit for online classes.
|Whatcom Community College||Bellingham, WA||Public||$$$$||1||34%|
Whatcom Community College offers a year-long, rigorous massage therapy certificate program that qualifies learners to sit for the Washington state licensing exam and national certification exam.
Massage therapy students complete 60 credit hours over the span of three quarters. Faculty delivers courses synchronously in a hybrid format. Students must complete them in the prescribed sequence. Incoming learners without any college-level coursework may need to complete up to 15 credit hours of general education classes before taking massage therapy courses.
Upon completion of the program, certificate holders can perform various massage techniques using the knowledge gained from classes in kinesiology, physiology, anatomy, and more. Alums are also qualified to detect client medical conditions and make recommendations for their self-care. They usually find employment in private massage clinics, rehabilitation centers, and physical therapy offices.
Whatcom Community College accepts 18 students per massage therapy cohort on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications must include official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and three experience verification forms. Additionally, all applicants must pass a background check for full admission to the program.
In 2019, students paid approximately $3,170 on average per quarter in tuition. Classes cost $220 per credit for massage therapist courses, and the cost varies for all other courses, depending on the amount of credits taken each quarter. The college holds regional accreditation from Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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|
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.
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)|
|# 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This organization’s mission is to promote the benefits of massage therapy to the general public and advance massage therapy research.