Considerations When Selecting a Massage Therapy School
Making the decision to attend a massage school is not something to take lightly. While massage education is largely different than traditional types of education, it is nonetheless a huge investment. Depending upon the school you choose, your location, education delivery, credential earned, etc., your financial investment could range from $6,000-$20,000.

Here are a few suggestions to help you choose a school:

​​School Research

​• Visit at least 2 schools, 3 is better. Do not limit your options to the first program, or the one who immediately         “accepts” you as a student. Change your mindset—you’re not being accepted, they are being considered!

​• Ask if the school is affiliated with any professional massage therapy organization or association. The most   
   ​common are the American Massage Therapy Association (, and Associated Bodywork &
   ​Massage ​Professionals ( If not, ask why. A responsible school will maintain some sort of   
   ​affiliation with a ​professional organization to ensure that they are “in the know” when it comes to changes and
   ​trends within the ​profession.

​​​External Research

• Visit at least 3 local massage therapists and ask how their school prepared them for their career. This is very
  ​important information that can only come from those who are actually “making it.”

​• Check out the school website and social media presence. Do they have a Facebook page? Are students talking
  ​about their experiences?

Who is teaching and what are they teaching?

• When contacting the school for a visit, ask that an instructor be made available as well. Depending on the size of
  ​the school, it is entirely possible that an admissions representative will be your point of contact. If you don’t ask,
  ​you may not see an instructor until your first day of class. Ask them questions like “What do you think massage
  ​students can do/can avoid to have the best experience possible.”; “Do you practice massage in addition to
  ​teaching?”; “What do you think the future of massage therapy looks like?”

• Also, ask to see the curriculum. With the exception of generic requirements by licensed states, massage therapy
  ​curriculum content varies greatly. For example, business courses are typically allotted a very small amount of 
  ​time ​despite the fact that most massage therapists are sole practitioners, or self-employed. Some schools focus
   ​more ​on the clinical aspects of massage, while others focus on wellness. It’s important to be clear what type of   
   ​therapy ​interests you, and what your intentions are following graduation before making a commitment.

Accredited vs. Non-Accredited

​​​• One of the biggest sales tactics used to get a prospective student to enroll in a massage school is to use the
  ​“accreditation” label. The one distinct benefit of attending an accredited school is that students are eligible to
  ​apply for federal financial aid, or Title IV funding. That said, there is more to accreditation than meets the eye.

• The US Department of Education says: Accreditation is a good basic indicator of quality, although not every
   ​school ​chooses to be accredited. If a school is accredited by a nationally recognized agency, it means it has met
   ​certain ​quality standards established by the accrediting agency.” Accreditation basically means that the school 
   ​has ​voluntarily agreed to have an external agency review their administrative processes and policies. With VERY 
   ​few ​exceptions, the actual massage classes are only reviewed for having a syllabus, and for having a teacher who
   ​has ​met requirements that the state or the accrediting body has determined are “adequate.”

• Consider this:
  ​Massage School A has institutional accreditation. It has multiple campuses and advertises on television. In
  ​addition to massage, they offer many other courses of study. Because they have accreditation, they are able to
  ​offer their students financial aid. They enroll about 25-35 students per class and they graduate about 15-20. One
  ​year later, 10-12 of those graduates are still practicing in massage, but only 3 of them are practicing full time. Of
  ​those practicing full time, 1 is able to earn a living in massage therapy without any other source of income.
  ​Tuition ​cost: 15,000 - 20,000

  ​Massage School B is not accredited. The only program they teach is massage. Because they are not accredited,
  ​they cannot offer financial aid, but they do have a payment plan. The average class size in Massage School B is
  ​10, and they graduate 8 on average. One year later, 7 of those graduates are still practicing massage, but only 5
  ​of them are practicing full time. Of those practicing full time, 4 are able to earn a living in massage therapy 
  ​without ​any other source of income. Tuition cost: 6,000 - 11,000.

  ​Which would you choose? How are these two schools able to produce such different results, especially when it  
  ​appears one has such a big advantage? One has to balance the needs of the students with the needs of the
  ​organization at a very high level. One has to focus on the success of the students to ensure survival. If you refer
  ​one of your friends to Massage School A, it doesn't have a great impact. If you refer one of your friends to
  ​Massage School B, it can have a significant impact. Who is more focused on making sure you are successful 
  ​when ​you graduate?

  Accreditation isn't the end all be all of choosing a school, but it’s certainly one factor you can consider. 
  ​If you believe that accreditation is a must, learn more about the organizations below that accredit massage  
  ​schools, and be sure to check out their experience with massage therapy programs.

  ​​​After you've done your research, you’ll feel much more confident about your choice, and your income potential as
  ​a ​massage therapist. Good luck!​
  • ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools)
  • ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training)
  • ACICS (Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools)
  • COMTA (Commission on Massage Therapy Education)
  • COE (Council on Occupational Educator)
  • NACCAS (National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences)