Licensure and Oversight of Private Occupational Massage Therapy Schools

To: Massage Therapy Schools and Other Interested Parties
From: Division of Professional Licensure
Re: Licensure and Oversight of Private Occupational Massage Therapy Schools
Date: August 13, 2012

This memorandum supersedes a March 2008 memorandum from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and a September 10, 2010 memorandum from DESE and the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL), regarding the licensure of massage therapy schools.

On June 29, 2006, Chapter 135 of the Acts of 2006 was enacted, creating the Board of Registration of Massage Therapy (Board) within the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL). The Board has promulgated rules and regulations governing the licensure of Massage Therapists and Massage Therapy facilities. While the Board is authorized to license massage therapy schools (G.L. c. 112, §233), it has not yet promulgated regulations for this purpose.

Consequently, because the Board has not promulgated school regulations, private occupational schools that offer courses or programs in massage therapy have been licensed by the DESE Office of Proprietary Schools under its general authority to license private occupational schools, rather than by the Board.

On August 1, 2012, Chapter 106 of the Acts of 2012 became effective. Under this law, oversight of private occupational schools was transferred from DESE to DPL. Thus, until further notice, DPL will license private occupational schools that provide massage therapy instruction.

Massage therapy schools subject to Board jurisdiction must offer programs that meet the licensure requirements of the Board in order to be licensed by DPL to operate as an occupational school. Specifically, to qualify for licensure, applicants must be graduates of an integrated 650-hour course of in-classroom study that includes 550 hours of academic courses and 100 hours of unpaid, supervised clinical experience. Within the 550 hours of academic courses there must be 100 hours in the Anatomy & Physiology of the Body; 45 hours in Pathology; 45 hours in Kinesiology; 60 hours in Ethics, Professionalism & Business Practices; and 300 hours of supervised classroom Massage Theory & Technique. The theory and techniques must be pertinent to Massage Therapy as defined by the Board's statutes and regulations. Courses or topics such as First Aid, Reflexology, or other excluded modalities may not be included in the 300-hour minimum.

Schools that are not subject to Board jurisdiction are not subject to these specific curriculum requirements but still must be licensed by DPL in order to operate as occupational schools.

For additional information regarding the requirements of the Board of Registration in Massage Therapy, please visit the Board's website,, or contact Ana Garcia, Executive Director 617-727-1747.

For additional information regarding the requirements of the DPL Office of Private Occupational School Education, please visit its web site,, or contact us at

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