Massage Therapy

Associate in Occupational Studies Degree Program 64 semester credits

Massage therapy is a licensed profession in New York State. The Massage Therapy degree program prepares students to take the New York State licensure exam, achieve licensure and enter the profession. Students use massage techniques to promote relaxation, reduce pain and treat a variety of medical conditions—all with a goal of wellness and healing.

We consider our integrated approach, involving both Western and Eastern theory and techniques, to be unique. Students learn classical Swedish massage and then add Five Element Shiatsu. They will learn advanced applications in Western techniques (such as sports massage, trigger point therapy and myofascial release) and will be introduced to complementary modalities such as Thai massage, Tuina, and reflexology. In-depth preparation in anatomy and physiology, massage-related pathology, neurology, and kinesiology provide the foundation for effective client assessment and treatment. Coursework in the ethics of client care, communication skills and client safety ensure that practice will be at a high professional level.

Extensive practice in the college’s stress reduction and therapeutic clinics and at community service externships prepares students for their future professional careers. Employment opportunities for licensed graduates are varied and include spas, health facilities, gyms, hospitals, corporate fitness centers, physical therapy clinics and chiropractic offices, or the option of establishing a private practice.

Graduates are awarded an Associate in Occupational Studies degree (AOS) as authorized by the New York State Board of Regents.


The objectives of Swedish Institute’s Massage Therapy Program are to:

  • Educate students to design and implement safe, effective individualized Western and Eastern massage sessions to enhance wellness and relaxation, reduce pain and other symptoms, facilitate structural and energetic balance, and offer healing on many levels.
  • Provide students with a comprehensive knowledge base in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and Eastern energetics, which they will utilize in establishing safe and effective treatment approaches based on the best available evidence.
  • Facilitate development of effective communication skills, boundary setting skills and client-centered ethical decision-making, supported by knowledge of the professional responsibilities essential in the client/therapist relationship.
  • Provide students with essential business skills, including marketing tools, knowledge of the legal, collegial, and ethical aspects of professional practice and the skills necessary to operate a successful practice in massage therapy.
  • Cultivate in students an awareness of efficient body mechanics, and a commitment to on-going self-care, to help ensure longevity and comfort in practice.
  • Foster student confidence and development of clinical skills through the practice of therapeutic massage with different client populations in the Swedish Institute clinics and at community offsite experiences.
  • Prepare students to take the New York State licensing examination, become New York State licensed massage therapists, and stay informed about changes in regulations related to the profession.
  • Provide students with the skills and motivation to continue learning throughout their lifetimes.


  • Profession: Profession: Find out more about the profession of massage therapy from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (SOC code 31.9011.00).
  • Skills: Skills: Find out more about the skills needed for a massage therapy career from the U.S. Department of Labor's O*net.
  • Program Costs (if completed on time):
    • Tuition: $28,032
    • Fees: $888-$1,184
    • Books and supplies: Approximately $1,300
  • Typical student loan debt of graduates:
    • 81 percent of the 150 students completing the program in the last reporting period (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013) had obtained loans in addition to grants and scholarships to finance their education.
    • The median cumulative debt from Federal loans was $16,170
    • The median cumulative debt from private loans was $7,000.
  • On-time graduation rate: The Massage Therapy Program is offered as a full-time or part-time course of study. Full-time students can choose a five-semester scheduling option that takes 20 months to complete, or a four-semester scheduling option that takes 16 months to complete. Part-time students complete the program in eight semesters, which generally takes 32 months to complete.
    • Within the period of July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, 71% of full-time graduates completed the program on time within four semesters, and 48% of part-time graduates completed the program on time within eight semesters.
  • Graduate employment rate: The Massage Therapy Program is a 64.0 semester-credit-hour program. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive an Associate in Occupational Studies degree. They are also eligible to sit for the New York State licensing exam in massage therapy. Our graduates pass the exams with a high rate of success; 87.7% percent of first-time Swedish Institute takers passed the exams given in 2012.
    • The 2013 in-field job placement rate for graduates available** for employment was 84 percent for graduates of full-time cohorts who started the college between May 2010 and January 2011 and 81 percent for graduates of part-time cohorts who started between April 2008 and January 2009. These figures are reported annually to our ac-crediting body, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The current ACCSC graduate employment rate minimum standard is 66 percent.

**"Available graduates" excludes those going on for further education and those who cannot work due to medical problems, military commitment, incarceration or foreign student status.