Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois

There are 28 massage therapy schools in Illinois, most of them at community colleges and technical institutes. Some are beauty schools with multiple programs, while others focus exclusively on massage and bodywork.

Curricula consist of classroom instruction, lab work, and practical experience in student clinics or private massage facilities. Certificate programs generally take between six months and a year to complete. Some schools offer two-year associate’s degrees.

The average earnings of Illinois massage therapists are higher than in most other states. Officials expect about 670 job openings in the state every year during the decade ending in 2026. You might also be interested in viewing massage therapy schools in other states.

Seal of Illinois

Illinois Massage Licensing Board

This regulatory agency sets educational standards for massage therapy school programs and faculty. It also determines the qualifications for the licensure of practitioners, issues licenses to those who meet the criteria, and enforces license renewal and continuing education requirements.

The board ensures “professional conduct” by disciplining massage therapists who violate rules, regulations, or ethics.

There are seven board members, six of whom are licensed massage therapists who have practiced in the state for at least three years. The other member represents the public.

Minimum Education Requirements for Massage Therapy Programs in Illinois

The state board approves programs that provide at least 600 clock hours of classroom instruction and clinical experience. Some schools offer programs with 750 or more hours, which qualify for recognition by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Curricula at state board-approved schools must cover human anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology, massage therapy theory, contraindications, benefits, universal precautions, body mechanics, history, client data collection, documentation, ethics, business and legalities of massage, professional standards including draping and modesty, therapeutic relationships, and communications.

Students learn a range of Eastern and Western massage modalities. Programs vary in the types of techniques they cover. Some have courses in methods such as hydrology, reflexology, and aromatherapy. Others stress wellness, diet, and nutrition.

Student-to-teacher ratios may not exceed 20:1, and instructors must meet standards regarding education and experience.

To become a massage therapist in Illinois, students need to first graduate from high school or earn GEDs. They then must successfully complete an accredited postsecondary school with a state-approved program. A minimum 70 percent grade in all coursework is required.

The next step is to contact NCBTMB to file an online application for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). This involves paying a fee of about $200. The test, which students take on computers, features 100 multiple-choice questions. It is available at Pearson VUE testing centers in Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, Granite City, and Marion.

Pearson VUE reports exam results to the state board, which decides whether a prospective massage therapist is eligible for licensure.

Practitioners must renew their licenses every two years. This entails 24 hours of continuing education, which is to include two hours of ethics.

Source: Illinois Massage Licensing Board

Our Top Massage Therapy School Picks in Illinois

We selected the schools below based on the programs that they offer, accreditation, student population, graduation rate and reputation.

View our Ranking Methodology to learn more about how we rank schools.

Best Massage Therapy Schools Badge

26. National University of Health Sciences

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A private, nonprofit institution established in 1906, NUHS has a campus in Lombard (20 miles west of Chicago).

The school offers a number of health profession programs, including two options for prospective massage therapists. Students earn certificates in three trimesters (45 weeks) of day classes, or with a year of evening classes. The 705-hour curriculum covers massage techniques such as Swedish, trigger-point, craniosacral, sports, pregnancy, infant, pediatric, geriatric, orthopedic, chair, and hot stone.

An associate of applied science degree in massage therapy is available for those who complete general education course requirements before taking the same program as certificate seekers.

25. Soma Institute-The National School of Clinical Massage Therapy

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Student Population


Located in Chicago, Soma bills itself as “the only school in America that offers a diploma in clinical massage therapy.”

The 705-hour program teaches Swedish massage, relaxation treatments, sports massage, deep-tissue therapy, hydrotherapy, trigger-point work, lymphatic drainage, and facial techniques. The Soma Student-Teaching Clinic provides experience treating actual clients.

Classes take place only two days per week, with daytime and evening/weekend options. The maximum size of lecture classes is 54, and lab courses have a student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1. Free individual tutoring is available four nights a week.

24. Estelle Medical Academy

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This school, formerly known as the European Massage Therapy School, is just outside Chicago in Skokie.

Students can complete the 610-hour Professional Massage Therapy Program in as little as eight months. They learn Swedish, chair, hot stone, and deep tissue modalities. There is also instruction in physical therapy techniques, body mobilization techniques, cupping therapy, acupressure, reflexology, and manual lymphatic drainage.

Full- and part-time class schedules are available. The school boasts “instructors with industry-leading experience, continuously updated curriculum to stay on point with industry trends, lifelong job-placement assistance, and state-of-the-art multimedia technology.”

23. Universal Spa Training Academy

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Student Population


This school in Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb, offers a 650-hour massage therapy program that takes seven months to complete.

Students learn aromatherapy, Ajurveda, reiki, yoga, meditation, cupping, nutrition, connective tissue therapy, reflexology, and the following massage methods: Swedish, deep tissue, lymphatic, craniosacral, sports, pregnancy, hot stone, and chair. The curriculum also covers energy work, basic skin care, career planning, client retention, and licensure exam preparation. There is a student clinic on campus.

Tuition includes the state licensing fee and a massage table. There are no prerequisite classes for admission. Internships are available.

22. University of Spa & Cosmetology Arts

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Students on this campus in Crystal Lake benefit from “small class sizes” and “personalized instruction,” according to the school.

The 792-hour, 40-week massage therapy program takes place for either eight hours, two days per week; or four hours, four evenings per week. Students learn aromatherapy, reflexology, neuromuscular therapy, and energetic techniques. There are classes in Swedish, chair, sports, hot stone, deep tissue, and special populations massage.

In addition, students take courses in Five Elements/Eastern Massage and Self Awareness. They work 160 hours at the Healing Arts Center, an onsite student clinic.

21. Cortiva Institute-Chicago

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This award-winning massage therapy and skin care school has campuses in several states, including a site in Crystal Lake.

The 815.5-hour, 53-credit Professional Massage Therapy Program entails 32 weeks of day classes or 52 weeks of evening classes. Students must commit to attending school at least half-time. In addition to the usual core coursework, there are these classes: Introduction to Acupressure & Eastern Theories, Craniosacral Massage, Hydrotherapy & Spa Preparation, Reflexology, Russian Sports Massage, Shiatsu, and Trigger Point Therapy & Techniques.

The curriculum includes five clinical internships. Students are automatically members of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, the largest such national organization.

20. First Institute

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Student Population


Students on this campus in Crystal Lake benefit from “small class sizes” and “personalized instruction,” according to the school.

The 792-hour, 40-week massage therapy program takes place for either eight hours, two days per week; or four hours, four evenings per week. Students learn aromatherapy, reflexology, neuromuscular therapy, and energetic techniques. There are classes in Swedish, chair, sports, hot stone, deep tissue, and special populations massage.

In addition, students take courses in Five Elements/Eastern Massage and Self Awareness. They work 160 hours at the Healing Arts Center, an onsite student clinic.

19. Madison Media Institute-Rockford Career College

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Student Population


This venerable institution was founded during the Civil War. It has programs in the fields of animal science, business, medical, legal, and skilled trades.

The Diploma in Massage Therapy program involves 850 hours (61 credits) of instruction and training. Following the typical courses, the curriculum concludes with classes in Bodywork Survey, Student Success Strategies, and Professional Success Strategies.

Students learn Swedish and Eastern massage modalities, as well as advanced techniques. Externships provide practical experience. Students spend twice as much time doing out-of-class work than they do in lectures and labs.

18. Southeastern Illinois College

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This community college offers a certificate program that begins each spring on campuses in Harrisburg and Carmi.

The 34-credit-hour curriculum features all the common core coursework, plus classes covering neuromuscular therapy, craniosacral therapy, ortho-bionomy, myofascial release, positional release, deep tissue massage, sports massage, infant and newborn massage, hydrotherapy, metabolism and nutrition, aromatherapy, stress reduction, time management, consumer service skills, and first aid and CPR.

Students practice their skills at the SIC Massage Clinic.

17. Olney Central College

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This school has been ranked as the No. 1 community college in Illinois, and among the best 150 nationwide.

The part-time, 43-credit massage therapy certificate program takes students two years to finish. In addition to the common core courses, there are Introduction to Medical Terminology, Musculoskeletal Systems, and Pathophysiology classes. It is “suggested” that students also take a Topics/Issues in Massage Therapy course.

Students treat real clients with reflexology, Swedish massage, sports massage, hot stone massage, and other techniques at an on-campus clinic. Certifications in CPR and first aid are program prerequisites.

16. Morton College

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This school in Cicero, a Chicago suburb, dates to 1924. It is the state’s second-oldest community college.

Students can pursue either a Therapeutic Massage Career Certificate or a Therapeutic Massage Associate in Applied Science Degree. The two-semester certificate program involves 39 credits of coursework that state officials and accrediting organizations require.

The three-semester, 65-credit associate’s degree adds the following classes: Rhetoric I, Nutrition, Research in Massage, Business Computer System, Principles of Public Speaking, a behavior/social science elective, and a humanities elective. Students in both programs get experience at an on-campus clinic.

15. Midwest Technical Institute

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Established as a welding school in 1992, MTI has since expanded to offer diplomas in allied health fields. Massage therapy students attend classes on either the Springfield or East Peoria campus.

The nine-month, 720-hour program consists of 29 semester hours. The curriculum ensures that graduates are “well-versed in wellness, nutrition, medical ethics, and trigger points of the body.” Besides the usual required courses, there are classes in Nutrition & Diet Therapy, Clinical/Swedish Massage, and Specialized Modalities I and II.

Students take part in practicums that provide experience in real-world settings.

14. Illinois Valley Community College

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This school is in the small western Illinois town of Ogelsby.

Students earn certificates in therapeutic massage by completing 928 hours of instruction. They have full-time and part-time options. The school operates a student clinic, provides career assistance, and offers continuing education.

In the fall of 2019, IVCC began an advanced certificate in clinical massage program.The curriculum features two required courses that cover “all aspects of health care throughout the lifespan; and address advanced assessment of pathology, orthopedic conditions, professional development, and specific massage therapy techniques for both acute and chronic conditions.”

13. Kishwaukee College

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This public community college’s rural campus is just outside the tiny northern Illinois community of Malta. It primarily serves students from DeKalb, Lee, and Ogle counties.

The 664-hour, 31-credit massage therapy certificate program takes full-time students 15 months (three semesters) to complete. There is a part-time schedule, as well. Classes begin in May and August. A Therapeutic Massage Licensure Seminar provides the curriculum’s final credits.

Students perform massages and other therapies on customers at an on-campus clinic. The school assists graduates in securing employment.

12. John A Logan College

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Student Population


This southern Illinois community college is in Carterville, part of the Carbondale-Marion metropolitan area.

The 768-hour, 31-credit massage therapy certificate program lasts 12 months. In addition to the typical core coursework, students learn professional communication, Tai Chi, neuromuscular trigger-point therapy, and myofascial release. Among the massage techniques the curriculum teaches are Swedish, sports, and deep tissue. Students get hands-on experience in labs and community service.

The school accepts the first 20 program applicants who meet admission criteria. Classes begin in the fall and spring. Incoming students must take a Human Biology general education class.

11. Rend Lake College

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Student Population


RLC is a small community college in southern Illinois. Its therapeutic massage certificate program is on the Marketplace campus in Mt. Vernon.

The 600-hour, 29-credit curriculum gives students an “education in the human body; clinical experience; and business, professional, and personal development.” The program, which includes stints at an on-campus student clinic, takes one year to complete.

Unlike most of these schools, RLC does not have an open-admissions policy. Applicants must pass a pre-entrance exam that assesses their competency in reading, verbal skills, and math. They also have to join a national massage association.

10. City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College

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Located on the near west side of the Windy City, this is the state’s largest community college and one of the biggest in the country. Founded in 1911, it is the oldest of Chicago’s city colleges.

The advanced massage therapy certificate program entails four semesters and a minimum of 46 credit hours. The curriculum “focuses on student development in therapist-client communication, ethical massage practice, professionalism, business skills, self-care practices, and cultural competence.”

There are required classes in reading, English, and math. Following a Functional Anatomy & Kinesiology course, the remainder of the program is devoted to massage theory and practice.

9. Parkland College

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This community college offers an associate in applied science degree program in massage therapy on the main campus in Champaign.

Students may complete the two-year, 60-credit-hour curriculum full or part time — during the day, or in the evenings and on weekends. Required general education courses are Basic Anatomy & Physiology, Interpersonal Communication, Composition I, Introduction to Psychology, and Human Growth & Development. Reading or English classes also may be mandated, based on assessment testing.

Students get 30 hours of clinical experience and take part in two practicums. They also perform 15 hours of “community outreach” giving massages at public events.

8. Lake Land College

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A community college based in the small city of Mattoon, LLC serves mostly students from the east-central Illinois region.

Massage therapy students attend classes two or three days per week at the Kluthe Center in Effingham, which has an on-site clinic. The 40-credit-hour certificate program takes four semesters and 18 months to finish. It includes two clinical experiences and a 30-hour practicum.

The program enrolls 16 students each fall. Students “are encouraged” to take college-level reading, math, and English classes before the regular curriculum begins. The core courses include Small Business Management.

7. Southwestern Illinois College

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This community college offers certificates and degrees in massage therapy at The Body Therapy Center & School of Massage in Swansea.

The one-year, 37.5-credit certificate program features three practicums and the typical core courses. Other required classes are Rhetoric & Composition I, General Psychology, Social Media tool, and either Yoga 1 or Tai Chi.

The two-year, 61.5-credit associate in applied science program involves 759 clock hours over five semesters. The first year reflects the certificate program coursework. The second year includes classes that cover social/behavioral science, computer applications, business mathematics, and Eastern practices of yoga and Tai Chi.

6. Waubonsee Community College

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With campuses in the western suburbs of Chicago, WCC is highly rated in terms of affordability. The school’s massage therapy certificate program is available in Sugar Grove.

Students may take as long as 18 months to complete 680 clock hours of instruction and training. There are full and part-time, as well as day and evening options. The curriculum teaches various massage modalities, as well as Asian and energy-based bodywork, stress-reduction techniques, hydrotherapy and temperature therapies, aromatherapy, and spa treatments.

There are two 30-hour clinic assignments at on-site or off-campus massage facilities. Following each experience, students attend a 16-hour seminar.

5. Elgin Community College

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Student Population


Located in the city of the same name, ECC has been ranked among the top 150 schools in the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The 38.5-credit massage therapy certificate program has day and evening schedules. The curriculum is designed to be completed in three semesters of full-time study, but part-time options are available. An Introduction to Massage Therapy course is a prerequisite.

The program teaches Swedish, craniosacral, prenatal, infant, and hot stone massage. Students also learn manual lymphatic drainage, myofascial release, and body scrubs. They spend 16 hours giving massages at community events.

4. Illinois Central College

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Student Population


This large community college in Peoria offers an 874-hour, 37-credit program that takes 12 months of full-time evening classes to complete.

In addition to the usual core courses, there are the following required classes: Medical Terminology, Introduction to Psychology, Professional Issues for the Bodyworker, and Concepts of Holistic Health. The school encourages high school students to take college-level First Aid, Anatomy & Physiology, Introduction to Health Careers, Introduction to Psychology, and Medical Terminology.

Students spend 60 hours in an on-campus clinic giving Swedish massages to the public. They also administer chair and sports massages for 30 hours at community events.

3. College of Lake County

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Student Population


A community college based in Grayslake, CLC hosts a 712-hour, 33-credit massage therapy program with a student clinic on its Southlake Campus in Vernon Hills.

Students attend classes either in the morning or evening, four or five days per week, for two semesters. The program teaches Eastern and Western modalities, as well as integrative, rehabilitative, and advanced massage techniques.

Class sizes are limited to 20. All faculty are licensed health practitioners. Students often sit in circles instead of desks. The program is “personal growth and transformation-oriented.” Prospective students are urged to receive at least one professional massage.

2. Moraine Valley Community College

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Student Population


This school in Palos Hills offers a 24-credit-hour therapeutic massage certificate program that is designed to take 12 months to finish.

Students learn Swedish, sports, chair, stone, and pregnancy massage techniques; in addition to traditional Chinese medicine and energetic anatomy. The program emphasizes interpersonal communication. The final requirement is completing a practicum in a real-world setting.

Licensed massage therapists teach all the classes, which are limited to 20 students. Ten “semi-private studios,” two with hydraulic massage tables, circle the lecture area. There is an on-site student clinic that serves the public, as well as continuing education classes.

1. William Rainey Harper College

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Student Population


This community college in the Chicago suburb of Palatine has a 34-credit massage therapy certificate program. Full-time students complete the curriculum in 11 months. Part-timers may graduate within 16 months.

The program teaches relaxation and rehabilitative techniques such as trigger-point therapy, sports massage, myofascial therapy, cross-fiber friction, neuromuscular therapy, clinical massage, and treatments for special populations.

Along with the typical required courses are classes in Hydrotherapy and Integrated Palpation. An Introduction to Massage Therapy class is an admission prerequisite. Classes have student-to-teacher ratios of 14:1 or better. Students work on real clients at an on-campus teaching clinic.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Massage Therapist Career Outlook & Salary in Illinois

Hourly Wage


Annual Wage


Growth Trend


The average Illinois practitioner makes an annual salary of over $44,700 (or an hourly wage of about $21.50), more than the national median of about $41,500 a year (or around $20 per hour).

The top 10 percent of earners receive about $76,400 or $36.75 in the state, a bit less than the national average of about $78,300 or nearly $37.75. For the bottom 10 percent, the pay is about $19,800 or $9.50 in Illinois; compared with over $21,300 or around $10.25 nationally.

There were 5,090 practitioners in this state in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency predicts the number will increase to 6,130 by 2026. That would be a 20 percent job-growth rate, faster than in most professions but slower than the projected national rate of 26 percent for massage therapists.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop

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