15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois in 2023 | How to Apply

Numerous massage colleges in Illinois are excellent options for anyone wishing to further their education and obtain their massage therapist certification. 

The Prairie State has many schools designed to satisfy the needs of all types of students.

However, massage is often taught through in-class lectures, textbook instruction, and hands-on practice in a student clinic setting. 

Students can study at an Illinois massage school in an urban setting like Chicago or Pretoria or in a more rural setting like one of Illinois’ numerous smaller communities and villages.

Read on to learn more about the best massage therapy schools in Illinois.

See Also: 15 Best Massage Therapy Schools in Philadelphia

Are there Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois?

There are many massage therapy schools in Illinois. Some of them are:

  • William Rainey Harper College
  • Moraine Valley Community College
  • College of Lake County
  • Illinois Central College
  • Elgin Community College
  • Waubonsee Community College
  • Southwestern Illinois College
  • Lake Land College
  • Parkland College
  • City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College
  • Rend Lake College
  • John A Logan College
  • Kishwaukee College
  • Illinois Valley Community College
  • Midwest Technical Institute

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How Does One Become A Massage Therapist in Illinois?

Programs that provide at least 600 clock hours of classroom education and clinical experience are approved by the state board. 

However, some institutions offer 750-hour or more programs that the National Certification Board recognizes for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

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 must all be covered in state board-approved schools’ curricula.

Students are exposed to a variety of Eastern and Western massage treatments. The techniques covered by programs differ. 

Some provide courses in hydrology, reflexology, and aromatherapy. Others emphasize health, diet, and nutrition.

Also, student-to-teacher ratios must not exceed 20:1, and instructors must meet education and experience requirements.

To become a massage therapist in Illinois, individuals must complete high school or obtain a GED. 

They must then graduate from a recognized postsecondary school with a state-approved program. A minimum of 70% in all coursework is required.

The next step is to contact NCBTMB and apply online for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). 

This entails paying a fee of around $200. The exam, which students take on computers, consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. 

Interestingly, it is offered by Pearson VUE testing sites in Chicago, Springfield, Peoria, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, Granite City, and Marion.

The Pearson VUE submits exam results to the state board, determining whether a prospective massage therapist qualifies for licensing.

Also, every two years, practitioners must renew their licenses. This requires 24 hours of continuing education, including two hours of ethics.

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What are the Best Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois?

We chose the colleges listed below based on their curriculum, accreditation, student population, graduation rate, and reputation.

1. William Rainey Harper College

Graduation Rate-33%

Student Population-13749

This community institution in the Chicago suburb of Palatine offers a massage therapy certificate program worth 34 credits. 

Full-time students finish the program in 11 months. Part-time students may complete their studies in as little as 16 months.

Trigger-point therapy, sports massage, myofascial therapy, cross-fiber friction, neuromuscular therapy, clinical massage, and therapies for particular populations are among the relaxing and rehabilitative techniques taught in the curriculum.

Also, Hydrotherapy and Integrated Palpation classes are offered in addition to the standard necessary courses. 

An Introduction to Massage Therapy class is required for enrollment. The student-to-teacher ratio in most classes is 14:1. Students work with real customers at an on-campus teaching clinic.

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2. Moraine Valley Community College

Graduation Rate-29%

Student Population-14620

This Palos Hills school offers a 12-month therapeutic massage certificate program of 24 credit hours.

Also, Swedish, sports, chair, stone, and prenatal massage techniques are taught to students, as well as traditional Chinese medicine and energy anatomy. 

The program places a strong emphasis on interpersonal communication. The final prerequisite is to complete a practicum in the actual world.

All classes, limited to 20 students, are taught by licensed massage therapists. The lecture hall is surrounded by ten “semi-private studios,” two of which have hydraulic massage tables. There is a public student clinic on-site and continuing education seminars.

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3. College of Lake County

Graduation Rate-29%

Student Population-14590

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

For two semesters, students attend classes in the morning or evening four or five days per week. 

Furthermore, Eastern and Western modalities and integrative, rehabilitative, and advanced massage techniques are covered throughout the program.

The class size is limited to 20 students. Every member of the faculty is a licensed health practitioner. 

Also, students frequently sit in circles rather than at desks. The program focuses on “personal growth and transformation.” Prospective students are strongly advised to get at least one professional massage.

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4. Illinois Central College

Graduation Rate-39%

Student Population-9266

This extensive community college in Peoria provides an 874-hour, 37-credit degree that can be completed in 12 months of full-time evening classes.

Medical Terminology, Introduction to Psychology, Professional Issues for the Bodyworker, and Concepts of Holistic Health are mandatory classes in addition to the standard core courses. 

Additionally, high school students are encouraged to take college-level First Aid, Anatomy & Physiology, Introduction to Health Careers, Introduction to Psychology, and Medical Terminology, classes.

Students work 60 hours at an on-campus clinic providing Swedish massages to the general public. They also offer chair and sports massages at community events for 30 hours.

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5. Elgin Community College

Graduation Rate-34%

Student Population-9599

ECC, located in the same city, was named one of the top 150 schools in the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Day and evening classes are available for the 38.5-credit massage therapy certificate program. 

The curriculum is planned to be completed in three semesters of full-time study; however, there are part-time possibilities. A course in Introduction to Massage Therapy is required.

Also, Swedish, craniosacral, prenatal, baby, and hot stone massage are among the techniques taught in the curriculum. 

In addition, manual lymphatic drainage, myofascial release, and body cleanses are also taught to students. They spend 16 hours at community events offering massages.

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6. Waubonsee Community College

Graduation Rate-31%

Student Population-9518

WCC, which has campuses in the western suburbs of Chicago, is widely regarded for its affordability. Sugar Grove has access to the school’s massage therapy certificate program.

It could take students up to 18 months to complete 680 clock hours of teaching and training. There are full-time and part-time positions and day and evening shifts. 

Also, massage methods, Asian and energy-based bodywork, stress-reduction techniques, hydrotherapy and temperature therapies, aromatherapy, and spa treatments are all covered in the curriculum.

Two 30-hour clinic assignments are available at on-campus or off-campus massage facilities. Students then attend a 16-hour lecture following each event.

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7. Southwestern Illinois College

Graduation Rate-31%

Student Population-8859

The Body Therapy Center & School of Massage in the Swansea this community institution offers massage therapy certificates and degrees.

Three practicums and the standard core courses are included in the one-year, 37.5-credit certificate program. The mandatory classes of Rhetoric & Composition I, General Psychology, Social Media Tool, and Yoga 1 or Tai Chi.

The two-year, 61.5-credit associate in applied science curriculum comprises 759 clock hours across five semesters. 

The first year consists of certificate program coursework. Classes in the second year include social/behavioral science, computer applications, business mathematics, and Eastern practices such as yoga and Tai Chi.

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8. Lake Land College

Graduation Rate-44%

Student Population-4965

LLC, a community college in the small town of Mattoon, primarily serves students from the east-central Illinois region.

Massage therapy students attend classes at the Kluthe Center in Effingham, which offers an on-site clinic two or three days weekly. 

However, the 40-credit-hour certificate program is completed in four semesters and 18 months. It consists of two clinical experiences as well as a 30-hour practicum.

Each fall, 16 students are admitted to the program. Before beginning the regular curriculum, students are “encouraged” to take college-level reading, arithmetic, and English classes. Small Business Management is one of the required courses.

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9. Parkland College

Graduation Rate-28%

Student Population-7159

On the main campus in Champaign, this community college offers an associate in an applied science degree program in massage therapy.

Students can finish the two-year, 60-credit-hour curriculum full-time or part-time throughout the day, nights, and weekends. 

Basic Anatomy & Physiology, Interpersonal Communication, Composition I, Introduction to Psychology, and Human Growth & Development are all required general education courses. Reading or English classes may also be necessary due to assessment testing.

Also, students participate in two practices and receive 30 hours of clinical experience. They also give massages for 15 hours of “community outreach at public events.”

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10. City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College

Graduation Rate-24%

Student Population-6713

This is the state’s largest community college and one of the largest in the country, located on the near west side of Chicago. It is the oldest city college in Chicago, founded in 1911.

The advanced massage therapy certificate program is divided into four semesters and requires 46 credit hours. 

Student development in therapist-client communication, ethical massage practice, professionalism, business skills, self-care practices, and cultural competence is emphasized in the curriculum.

Also, reading, English, and math are all obligatory classes. Following a semester on Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology, the rest of the program is devoted to massage theory and practice.

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11. Rend Lake College

Graduation Rate-61%

Student Population-2333

Southern Illinois’ RLC is a tiny community college. Its therapeutic massage certificate program is located on the Mt. Vernon Marketplace campus.

The 600-hour, 29-credit program provides students with human body education; clinical experience; and business, professional, and personal development. 

Also, the curriculum, which includes rotations at an on-campus student clinic, lasts one year.

RLC, unlike the majority of these colleges, does not have an open admissions policy. Applicants must complete a pre-entrance exam that assesses their reading, verbal, and math ability. They must also become members of a national massage organization.

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12. John A Logan College

Graduation Rate-30%

Student Population-3933

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

The massage therapy certificate program is a 12-month, 768-hour, 31-credit curriculum. Students learn professional communication, Tai Chi, neuromuscular trigger-point therapy, and myofascial release in addition to the standard core curriculum. 

Also, Swedish, sports, and deep tissue massage are among the massage techniques taught in the curriculum. Students gain practical experience in labs and via community service.

The first 20 program candidates who match the admission standards are accepted. Classes begin in the fall and spring semesters. Incoming students are required to take a Human Biology general education course.

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13. Kishwaukee College

Graduation Rate-33%

Student Population-3417

The rural campus of this public community college is located just outside the tiny northern Illinois hamlet of Malta. It primarily serves students from DeKalb, Lee, and Ogle counties.

Full-time students must complete the 664-hour, 31-credit massage therapy certificate program in 15 months (three semesters). 

Also, there is a part-time schedule. Classes begin in May and August. A Therapeutic Massage Licensure Seminar provides the curriculum’s final credits.

At an on-campus clinic, students provide massages and other therapies to consumers. The school supports graduates in finding work.

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14. Illinois Valley Community College

Graduation Rate-28%

Student Population-3241

This school is located in the small community of Oglesby in western Illinois.

Students who complete 928 hours of study obtain therapeutic massage certifications. 

They provide both full-time and part-time positions. The school runs a student clinic, offers career counseling, and provides continuing education.

Furthermore, IVCC launched an advanced certificate in clinical massage program in the fall of 2019.

The curriculum includes two mandatory courses that “address advanced assessment of pathology, orthopedic conditions, professional development, and specific massage therapy techniques for both acute and chronic conditions.”

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15. Midwest Technical Institute

Graduation Rate-83%

Student Population-1038

MTI was founded in 1992 as a welding school and has since grown to offer diplomas in allied health disciplines. Massage therapy students take classes in either Springfield or East Peoria.

The 720-hour curriculum lasts nine months and consists of 29 semester hours. The curriculum requires graduates to be well-versed in wellness, nutrition, medical ethics, and body trigger points. 

There are classes in Nutrition & Diet Therapy, Clinical/Swedish Massage, and Specialized Modalities I and II in addition to the required courses.

Additionally, students participate in practicums, which provide hands-on experience in real-world settings.

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How Long are Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois?

A 600-hour massage therapy course is required in Illinois to become a licensed massage therapist. 

Candidates must pass the NCBTMB or MBLEx national exams administered by national certification bodies. 

In Illinois, licenses are valid for two years, and massage therapists must complete 24 hours of continuing education to preserve their licenses. 

Moving on, massage therapy colleges teach students the fundamentals of bodywork, such as physiology and anatomy, as well as popular massage techniques, ethics, and business practices. 

Students will practice their massage talents during the supervised time in student massage therapy clinics. 

Some Illinois massage therapy schools allow students to participate in community outreach activities such as wellness fairs, schools, colleges, senior citizens’ homes, women’s clubs, cancer survivor groups, and media-sponsored events. 

Also, students may pursue further coursework to get certified in specialty massage techniques such as sports massage. 

In addition, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees massage therapist licensing in Illinois.

How Much are Massage Therapy Schools in Illinois?

The cost of tuition varies considerably based on the curriculum, although it can be less expensive than a four-year college degree.

Most schools require 500 to 1,000 hours of study to become certified massage therapists, and more rigorous programs cost more money to enroll in.

As you consider your educational alternatives, have the right financial advice.

Schools that teach massage therapy charge a wide range of tuition. Community colleges may charge as little as $5,000 to $7,000 for their courses. Some people will charge you up to $20,000 for one year.

How Much Do Massage Therapists Make in Illinois?

The average Illinois physician earns more than $44,700 per year (or approximately $21.50 per hour), which is more than the national median of about $41,500 per year (or about $20 per hour).

The state’s top 10% of earners receive roughly $76,400 ($36.75), a little less than the national average of approximately $78,300 ($37.75). 

In Illinois, the lowest 10% earn about $19,800, or $9.50, compared to about $21,300, or roughly $10.25, nationally.

However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 5,090 practitioners worked in this state in 2016. By 2026, the organization projects that there will be 6,130 more. 

That would be a job growth rate of 20%, which is slower than the nationally expected rate of 26% for massage therapists but faster than most occupations.


Illinois massage therapy colleges provide a wide range of opportunities for people interested in advancing their education to become registered massage therapists. 

In addition to studying in rural areas of the state, students can also do so in urban areas like Chicago. 

Academic and technical expertise, clinical expertise, sensitivity, and the capacity for manual labor are all necessary for massage therapy. 

Massage therapy students must be committed to learning the skills necessary to become registered massage therapists and have a strong desire to serve others. 

Also, the body may use its resources to heal from stress and injury when methods like massage treatment are used.

I hope you find this article helpful.


How do I get a massage license in Illinois?

You must complete a minimum 500-hour didactic massage program approved by Illinois to obtain a license. After completing your massage training, you must pass the MBLEx, also known as the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination, the recognized state exam.

How do I transfer my massage license to Illinois?

The applicant must submit different forms from the initial and current states of licensure. Massage therapists from other states may obtain a license via endorsement or pass an exam. In either situation, they will have to prove that they have fulfilled the standards set by Illinois.

Is draping required for massage in Illinois?

Except for the head, every portion of the body is covered with a sheet at all times unless it is being worked on. We are required by Illinois law to follow draping guidelines at all times.


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