Accredited Massage Schools are schools that have gone through a voluntary process of accreditation. 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. There are only about 300 massage schools out of over 1500 massage schools in the US that are accredited at this time.
The accreditation process is to help potential students choose a school that has a reputation for having high standards and a quality educational program. The process requires that schools fulfill specific criteria and explain their education system to the accrediting agency. It also may include monitoring the schools financial stability so that you can include that in your decision making process when choosing a massage school.
The following programs are recognized by the United Stated Department of Education (USDE) to accredit massage therapy schools and/or programs:
- Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) www.abhes.org.
ABHES is recognized by the United States Department of Education for the accreditation of private, postsecondary institutions in the United States offering predominantly health education programs and the programmatic accreditation of medical assistant, medical laboratory technician and surgical technology programs leading to a certificate, diploma, Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Occupational Science, Academic Associate , or Baccalaureate degree, including those offered via distance education. Accreditation by ABHES may be used to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) www.accsct.org
ACCET accredits institutions providing non-collegiate continuing education and training programs and which may be approved to award the validated CEU, certificates and/or Occupational Associates Degrees.
- Accrediting Commission of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) www.acics.org
Founded in 1912, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) works to advance educational excellence at independent, nonpublic career schools, colleges, and organizations in the United States and abroad.
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) www.accsc.org
Accrediting body approved by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit trade and vocational schools. Because the D.O.E. approves of ACCSCT, students attending any massage school accredited by ACCSCT are eligible to apply for federal scholarships and loans, such as Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, PLUS loans, etc.
ACCSC’s scope of recognition with the U.S. Department of Education includes the accreditation of postsecondary, non-degree-granting institutions and degree-granting institutions that are predominantly organized to educate students for occupational, trade and technical careers.
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education Training (ACCET) www.accet.org
ACCET was founded in 1974 for the purpose of improving continuing education and training and has been officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education since 1978 as a “reliable authority” as to the quality of education and training provided by the institutions we accredit.
- Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) www.comta.org Member directory
The only agency dedicate to only the Massage Profession created by the American Massage Therapy Association.
COMTA has identified skills, which we refer to as competencies, all capable massage therapists should have at the end of their training. The classes required by all COMTA accredited and endorsed institutions/programs teach and assess these competencies.
- Council on Occupational Education (COE) www.council.org
The Council on Occupational Education (hereinafter referred to as the Council or COE) came into existence initially in 1971 as the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions (COEI) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a regional accrediting association that serves institutions in an 11-state region.
- National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) www.naccas.org
NACCAS is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national agency for the institutional accreditation of postsecondary schools and departments of cosmetology arts and sciences,
Here is a list of agencies from www.abmp.com : Accreditation Agencies: A Comparison (ABMP)
The importance of this chart is that it shows which schools will track Placement Rate, graduate satisfaction and pass rates of exams. While this may give you some insights into the school, it still does not guarantee that you will get the best education for you.
There are some political issues surrounding the accreditation process in the massage profession. Some of the accrediting agencies were started by professional associations such as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP). While they have gone on to be separate organizations, it leaves room for questioning the intention of each agency. The other problem is that just because schools go through an accreditation process, does not necessarily mean that they are teaching up to date information and teaching you evidence based massage. Schools are still allowed to teach many topics that are not backed up by research. Some schools are still also teaching things like massage spreads cancer (which has been shown not to be true.)
Accreditation is also required by schools to get financial aid such as Title IV funding, pell grants and other funding for students. It will also require that schools track graduate placements to show how well their students do in the work force.
There also have been reports of schools falsely stating their accreditation or saying that they are in the process. If they are in the process and are not yet accredited, you risk losing your entire education if they fail to get this by the time you graduate.
So going to accredited massage schools can give you some peace of mind, but going to any massage school whether it is accredited or not, will not make you a massage therapist. It really depends on how much you put into it and it depends on your level of self-confidence and self-esteem. Accreditation does not really protect you or help you build a practice or find a job.
What you get out of a massage school no matter what accreditation it has depend on how much you put into it.
Some states might require that you attend an accredited massage school in order to obtain your professional massage license. You will have to check with your state massage therapy board for further details.