There are 21 massage therapy schools in North Carolina. Some are committed entirely to bodywork, while others offer multiple career programs. There are privately owned institutes and public community colleges.
All the schools award certificates, which generally take less than a year to earn. Two-year associate degrees are available on some campuses. Students attend classes and labs, and get real-world experience in clinics.
Massage therapy is a rapidly growing field in North Carolina. A government agency predicts 740 additional positions each year during the decade ending in 2026.
You might also be interested in viewing massage therapy schools in other states.
This state office regulates the practice of massage “to ensure standards of competency and to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.”
The board determines the qualifications of therapists, authorizes them to practice, and enforces license renewal and continuing education requirements. It approves schools that meet standards for curricula, instructors, staff, and admission policies. Another duty is to investigate complaints of alleged illegal or unethical behavior, taking disciplinary action when warranted.
The board is comprised of seven members, including five massage and bodywork therapists, one medical doctor, and one public representative. They are unpaid, and serve no more than two consecutive three-year terms.
The governor appoints one therapist, the physician, and the public member. The speaker of the state House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate each names two therapists. The board represents various geographic locations and clinical specialties.
To become a massage therapist in North Carolina, it all starts with either a high school diploma or a GED. Schools with competitive admissions policies may favor applicants who have taken college-level health and science classes in high school.
A student needs to enroll in an accredited postsecondary school that has the state board’s approval.
The curriculum must provide at least 500 clock hours of classes and clinics, including:
Much of the remaining time may involve giving massages at a student clinic or private establishment. Programs differ in the massage techniques they cover. Some train students in establishing and operating a business.
Graduates need to apply to the board for licenses to practice in the state. They must pass two tests to qualify. The Massage Board Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), which charges a fee of about $200. Students take the exam on computers at Pearson VUE testing centers.
The second requirement is passing a jurisprudence exam that assesses an applicant’s knowledge of North Carolina laws governing massage therapy.
Practitioners must receive 24 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their licenses.
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.
This private school in downtown Asheville has earned recognition by the prestigious Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).
The massage therapy certificate program provides 600 clock hours of classes and clinics, including 184 hours of science courses. During another 208 hours, students learn Swedish massage, neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, pregnancy and geriatric massage, hydrotherapy, spa treatments and aromatherapy, chair massage, Shiatsu, integrative massage, energy-based work, reflexology, diet and nutrition, and herbology.
Day and evening class schedules are available. Students spend 60 hours in an on-campus clinic administering massages. The school provides lifetime job-placement assistance and continuing education.
Located at the Independence Mall in Wilmington, this for-profit career school offers a therapeutic massage diploma program. Students can earn certificates in just six months by attending day or evening classes.
The 740-clock-hour curriculum exceeds state standards. In addition to the required coursework, there are classes in Chinese Techniques, Spa Elements, and Holistic Relationship of the Body & Mind. Students take part in 120-hour clinical practicums.
More opportunities for practical experience are found at an on-campus clinic, where students give aromatherapy and hot stone massages to real clients.
Formerly known as the Medical Arts School, this campus is one of six that LTT Enterprises Inc. owns. Gwinnett awards a certificate in massage therapy.
Students receive the state-mandated instruction and more. They learn Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, neuromuscular therapy, chair massage, reflexology, and sports massage. At a student clinic, program participants give one-hour, 90-minute, and two-hour massages to the public. Graduates receive diplomas in professional massage therapy.
The school provides job-placement assistance and other career services, as well as continuing education classes for practitioners.
This small, private school in Raleigh also operates as the Living Arts Institute in Winston-Salem. It offers three medical certificate programs, including one in massage therapy.
The curriculum, which students can complete in as little as 12 months, provides instruction in a wide range of bodywork modalities. Among the techniques are Swedish massage, integrated deep tissue massage, reflexology, sports massage, neuromuscular therapy, and Shiatsu. Graduates receive free, portable massage tables.
The school boasts an excellent 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Minorities, primarily African-Americans, make up about two-thirds of the student body.
A branch of Platt College, MMC has campuses in Cary, Fayetteville, and Wilmington. The school, which traces its history to 1916, offers a massage therapy certificate program that students can finish in as few as eight months.
Classes teach Swedish, therapeutic, seated, sports, and special populations massage methods. An Energy Based Modalities class covers spa techniques, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Thai massage, craniosacral therapy, and reflexology.
Students also take Aromatherapy & Hydrology, Somatic Psychology, College Mathematics, and Organizational Dynamics. They spend 140 hours at the school’s massage teaching clinic, administering at least 54 treatments.
This for-profit institution began in 1994 as the Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy. It has since expanded to offer multiple programs and include two campuses in South Carolina.
The 900-clock-hour MT certificate curriculum takes eight months full time, or 12 months part time, to complete. It teaches Swedish massage,, cranial sacral therapy, Thai massage and other Eastern techniques, lymphatic drainage, medical massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, reflexology, breath work, Ayurvedic medicine, and nutrition.
Program participants give 50-minute massages to real clients during 100 hours in a student clinic. The school provides continuing education classes for its graduates.
Located in Murphy, TCCC offers two massage therapy options.
A two-semester, 44-credit-hour certificate program covers state requirements. Students also take Outcome Based Massage, Writing & Inquiry, and a psychology course. In an Advanced Skills of Massage class, they learn neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques.
A five-semester, 72-credit-hour associate in applied science program adds general education requirements. In addition, students take College Student Success, Basic PC Literacy or Computer Concepts, Math Measurement & Literacy, Professional Research & Reporting, and Nutrition. Class sizes are limited to 10 students.
This school in Morehead City awards certificates and associate in applied science degrees. The nine-month, 688-hour certificate program is available full or part time, with daytime or evening classes.
The five-semester, 66-credit-hour AAS program covers the same state-mandated classes as the certificate curriculum. There are also core courses in Writing & Inquiry, Critical Thinking or Cultural Studies, General Psychology or Interpersonal Psychology, Public Speaking, and Introduction to Sociology.
The AAS program accepts no more than 14 students, who must either pass placement tests in English and reading or take college-prep courses. There is an on-campus student clinic.
This Kinston school offers two levels of massage therapy education.
A certificate program, with 750 clock hours and 34 credit hours, requires nine months of day classes to complete. Students take the basic coursework, in addition to classes in Human Relations, Nutrition, and College Student Success. There are also three general education courses: Writing & Inquiry, General Psychology, and Public Speaking.
An associate in applied science degree involves 1,000 hours and 70 credits. Day and evening class schedules are available. The curriculum features all the classes in the certificate program, with more advanced training in massage therapy.
This Pinehurst school has one of the oldest massage therapy schools in North Carolina. Students learn traditional and Asian concepts in two programs.
A three-semester, 41-credit-hour certificate program delivers the standard coursework. Additional classes are Success and Study Skills, General Psychology, Writing & Inquiry, and Therapeutic Massage Management. A five-semester associate in applied science program adds general education courses; Small Business Management; Advanced Skills of Massage; Outcome Based Massage; and electives in physical education, communications, and humanities or fine arts.
Students give Swedish, sports, and pregnancy massages — as well as reflexology treatments — at an on-campus clinic.
Located in Sylva, SCC awards certificates and associate in applied science degrees.
The 616-hour, 40-credit certificate program entails 12 months of evening classes in two semesters. Along with the state-mandated courses, students take Writing & Inquiry, Introduction to Computers, Therapeutic Massage Management, and General Psychology. They administer Swedish and chair massages in an on-campus clinic.
The five-semester, 73-credit AAS adds classes in College Student Success, Professional Research & Reporting, Critical Thinking, Outcome Based Massage, Nutrition, and Developmental Psychology. Students learn neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques.
This school primarily serves students from Davidson and Davie counties. Massage therapy programs take place on the campus in Thomasville.
Students receive certificates after completing 37 credits in three semesters. In addition to classes that the state requires, there are core courses in Therapeutic Massage Management, Writing & Inquiry, and General Psychology.
Another option is a five-semester, 66-credit associate in applied science degree. It covers the same curriculum as the certificate program, plus classes in Nutrition, Introduction to Interpersonal Communications, Outcome Based Massage, Critical Thinking, Introduction to Sociology, and Fit and Well for Life.
On its main campus in Winston-Salem, FTCC offers certificate and associate in applied science programs.
Earning a certificate requires earning 37 credits in three semesters. The curriculum satisfies state requirements, and adds classes such as Writing & Inquiry, either General Psychology or Interpersonal Psychology, and an English elective. Applicants with low SAT or ACT scores must take placement tests.
The AAS program involves 69 credit hours in five semesters. Additional courses include College Student Success, Therapeutic Massage Management, Human Relations, Work-Based Learning, and an elective in humanities or fine arts. Students learn advanced skills like manual lymphatic drainage and outcome-based massage.
This school in Smithfield has two full-time massage therapy programs with day classes and evening clinics.
A certificate curriculum consists of 32 credit hours. It covers the state-required subjects, as well as “therapeutic approaches throughout the lifespan.” Students also take Outcome Based Massage and Therapeutic Massage Management. They administer chair and relaxation massages at the school’s Spa & Wellness Clinic.
A 62-credit degree program adds classes in Writing & Inquiry, Interpersonal Psychology, Personal Health/Wellness, Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Sociology, and either Music Appreciation or Critical Thinking. Students learn sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques.
This community college in Dallas provides several massage therapy options.
A three-semester diploma program involves 656 clock hours and 40 credits. A massage practitioner certificate curriculum consists of 27 credit hours. A spa specialization in either program includes esthetics technology certificate courses.
Earning an associate in applied science degree requires completing 69 credit hours. Among the classes are College Student Success, Writing & Inquiry, General Psychology, Interpersonal Communication, Outcome Based Massage, Yoga, Developmental Psychology, and a humanities or fine arts elective. Students learn neuromuscular therapy, sports massage, soft tissue release, spa approaches, Oriental therapies, and energy techniques.
A public school in Winterville, Pitt offers a diploma program and an associate in applied science degree.
The curricula include all the courses that state authorities require. Students learn about therapeutic massage, nutrition, and psychology. Classes teach “selected therapy approaches throughout the life span.”
The diploma program, which consists of 43 credit hours, takes four semesters of full-time study to complete. Classes include CPR Certification, Therapeutic Massage Management, General Psychology, Writing & Inquiry, and College Student Success.
This Raleigh school offers a certificate program on its Perry Health Sciences Campus.
The curriculum totals 944 clock hours, including 688 in massage classes, 144 in sciences, 48 each in English and psychology, and 57 in hands-on experience. There is also a nutrition course. Program participants give 55-minute massages in a student clinic, as well as chair and sports massages at community events.
The two-semester, 33-credit-hour program takes 12 months to finish. It exceeds state requirements. Class sizes are limited to 20 students. Classes start in July. The school provides continuing education classes for its graduates.
The typical practitioner in this state can expect to earn an annual salary of about $39,600 or an hourly wage of over $19. That is a bit less than the national median of around $41,400 a year or $20 per hour.
The elite 10 percent make more than $59,100 or about $28.50 in North Carolina, less than the nationwide average of about $78,300 or $37.60. The lowest 10 percent take in around $22,400 or $10.80 in the state, better than over $21,300 or about $10.25 nationally.
The Tar Heel State employed 5,100 massage therapists in 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting an increase to 6,560 by 2026. That would be a 29 percent jump, faster than the projected 26 percent nationally.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop
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