Massage Therapy Certification Program

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  • Uploaded May 2017

Healing hands, limitless opportunities

In recent years the medical community as well as consumers have quickly embraced massage therapy as an important approach for health and medical conditions.  In many instances, it is integrated into various sectors of the health care community as a highly effective complementary and alternative medical therapy. 

Therapeutic massage is integrated throughout the health care system today – in hospitals, long-term care facilities and private clinics.  Massage is frequently offered in spas, wellness centers, franchises, drug treatment programs, pain clinics, physician offices, hospitals and wellness centers and for hospice patients.  

Types of massage therapy training

Relaxation massage, also known as Swedish massage, is practiced in spas, wellness centers and resorts.

Clinical massage, also called deep tissue, medical, therapeutic or rehabilitative massage, is practiced in clinics, hospitals and chiropractic offices.

Take a minute to watch and hear from Massage Therapy student Jennifer Cardinal on the advantages of Northwestern's curriculum and her experience with the massage therapy training program.

Client options are varied and may include the following:

  • Individuals with injuries or undergoing rehabilitation programs
  • Individual athletes
  • Sports teams
  • Pregnant women
  • Infants
  • Seniors
  • Corporate employees
  • Spa or wellness center
  • Hospice patients

All massage therapy programs are not equal

Before deciding on a school and a massage therapy training program, determine your career goals. Some individuals elect to start with a massage therapy certificate program, and then extend their education by getting an associate’s degree. The right certificate program can position you to build on your education in the future. An A.A.S. program will provide you with the most lucrative career with the greatest number of options.

All schools are not equal. Higher Learning Commission-approved schools must meet rigorous institutional standards. Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation-accredited schools are recognized for high-quality programs. We are the only HLC-accredited school with a COMTA-accredited massage therapy program.

Our flexible-schedule programs

Program schedule, credits and contact hours

Our class schedules are flexible to meet your needs. Day students may opt to take evening class options and evening students may choose from day classes if it fits their schedule and curriculum progression.

  • Classes held Monday through Thursday (for first-trimester students)
  • Certificate: 42 trimester credits and 922.5 contact hours
  • A.A.S. degree: 60.5 trimester credits and 1207.5 contact hours

Associate of Applied Science in Massage Therapy (A.A.S.)

  • 3 to 5 trimesters, 11½ to 19½ months

An associate's degree in massage therapy expands upon the certificate curriculum to include general education courses - providing additional communication and time management skills that contribute to success in the workplace. Some employers prefer or require a degree for employment or professional advancement in your career.

You have the option to enroll in the A.A.S. program immediately or pursue an A.A.S. degree after you earn your certificate. 

Certificate in Therapeutic Massage

  • Full-time schedule: 3 trimesters, 11½ months 
  • Part-time schedule: 4 trimesters, 15½ months 

With a certificate in therapeutic massage, you can begin your career in health care in a variety of clinical settings such as chiropractic offices and hospitals. Additionally, this certificate prepares you with the skills to run a private practice. Our strong science-based massage therapy curriculum allows you to graduate in 11½ to 15½ months.

Our massage therapy certification program provides the extensive technical training, clinical experience and business skills necessary to build a successful practice. 

Certificate in Relaxation Massage

  • Full-time schedule: 2 trimesters, 7½ months
  • Part-time schedule: 3 trimesters, 11½ months 

With a certificate in relaxation massage, you are ready to enter the profession after completion of the eight-month program in settings such as franchise massage and salon spas. This certificate counts toward completion of the certificate in therapeutic massage for those who want to continue their career and enter more clinical settings such as rehabilitation centers and hospitals.

Why choose NWHSU’s Massage Therapy program?

  • Learn in an integrative care-focused environment with like-minded individuals studying chiropractic, acupuncture/Chinese medicine and nutrition
  • Take advantage of the most in-depth and varied clinical education experience of any massage therapy program—and train in hospitals, community health clinics, on-campus clinics and more
  • Enjoy flexibility with your courses, with day and evening schedules that we can customize to your life
  • Explore other health sciences career options such as chiropractic or acupuncture
  • Continue your education and increase your marketability by taking one of our advanced specialty certificates in massage therapy

We're accepting applications for summer 2019! Part time and evening schedule options are still available.

In the news

Graduates of this massage therapy program rank #4 in the nation for median income out of 420 massage therapy programs nationwide

Based on a recent study by Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education (

Dale Healey, Dean, College of Health and Wellness and Interim Senior Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at NWHSU, is part of a national team developing universally accepted competency standards for massage in hospitals. Read the article here.

NWHSU Massage Therapy Program Director Michele Renee discusses massage in integrative health care in a recent issue of Massage Magazine. Read the article here.

Career paths

This growing profession – set to increase by 22 percent from 2014 to 2024 – can lead to positions in hospitals and hospices, rehabilitation centers, salons and spas, private practices and much more. The average salary for a massage therapist is $39,860 (

Hands-on clinical experience

Maximize your hands-on contact with clients in public clinics, rehabilitation centers and hospital settings. Hours may range from morning to early evening and include Monday through Saturday.

Join our family of alumni


Wherever you practice, you’ll be among colleagues.

Where do massage therapists work?

  • Run their own business 
  • Work in a client’s home or office, at least part time 
  • Health care setting 
  • Spa setting 
  • In their own home 
  • And others

Source: American Massage Therapy Association. For more information on massage therapy as a career, please visit

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