Your Massage School Accreditation Guide
Attending an accredited massage therapy school puts a stamp of approval on your massage education. Read the question and answer below to get in-depth massage therapy accreditation information, including the organizations that accredit massage schools, the importance of attending an accredited massage school and a list of accredited massage schools.
What is massage therapy accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process of review that is available to schools. The U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs describes accreditation's purpose:
"The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency."
Although many massage schools have chosen to pursue accreditation, many excellent massage schools have chosen not to pursue accreditation. How this impacts you will depend on your massage therapy specialty and where you want to practice. The best thing to do is to research the school and determine whether the massage courses and programs offered match your career endeavors.
What organizations accredit massage schools?
There are several accrediting bodies that accredit massage schools and colleges. Most accredit all kinds of trade schools and are now federally sanctioned by the Department of Education. The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) has also been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a specialized accrediting agency for massage therapy and bodywork programs and institutions.
Federally-sanctioned massage school accrediting boards include:
- Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS)
Accreditation by one of the above organizations opens the way to federal loan and grant eligibility, both of which, can only be paid to students attending federally accredited schools.
Should I consider accreditation status when choosing a massage school?
Accreditation is one of many factors to consider when choosing a massage training program. Primary considerations are the focus of the training program and your intended goals as a massage therapist. A visit to the school before making a decision is of primary importance as is the "feel" of the school. Do you feel welcomed and comfortable in the school environment? Does the school representative seem to understand the massage profession and how their training prepares you for the profession?
Source Answers provided by our online advisor for massage, Martin Ashley, J.D., L.M.T., the author of Massage: A Career At Your Fingertips.