Diploma Program

Carolina Massage Institute is a North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy–approved massage therapy school in Hillsborough, in central North Carolina. Graduates of our diploma program are qualified to apply for an NCLMBT license.


Our massage therapy diploma program is designed to start you on your new career path quickly, while allowing you both time to process what you learn and time to work in your current job.

2018a Diploma Program

Classes run 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with a 30-minute lunch break at 1:00 p.m.

We meet January 8–June 21, 2018, with these days off:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: January 15, 2018
  • Spring break: March 26–30, 2018
  • Memorial Day: May 28, 2018

This program is full; you are welcome to apply for the wait list.

2018b Diploma Program

Classes run 10:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with a 30-minute lunch break at 1:00 p.m.

We meet July 2–December 13, 2018, with these days off:

  • Independence Day: July 4, 2018
  • Labor Day: September 3, 2018
  • Thanksgiving break: November 21–22, 2018

Applications are being accepted now—start yours today!

2018c Diploma Program

Classes run 5:30–8:30 p.m. Fridays through Mondays.

We meet September 7, 2018, through Sunday, April 20, 2019. Holiday dates will be posted soon.

Applications are being accepted now—start yours today!

learn to give massage


Our massage school teaches modalities to ground future massage therapists in both Western and Eastern approaches. Our students graduate with a balanced sense of creativity and rationality to serve each unique client for the benefit of the individual and the greater community.

Upon completion of the program, you’ll be qualified to register as an LMBT. And because of our attention to career development, you’ll be positioned to start immediately on a prosperous, rewarding journey of helping people with healing touch.

Our program includes these courses, distributed progressively in a format designed to keep students engaged and to allow ample time for processing.

Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Kinesiology (AP or APPK) teaches you the structure and function of the human body you’ll need to know as a massage therapist. We pay special attention to muscles, fascia, and the skeleton (MFS) and to conditions (pathologies) that should not be treated with massage. This course includes 104.5 hours of instruction. You’ll reinforce the topics you learn in APPK during all your other courses, which will help you master the material.

Business: Our business course (15 hours) introduces basic strategies, detailed business planning, and ethical areas of concern for massage therapists.

Clinical Integration: As a massage therapist, you are part of your clients’ health care team. This course teaches you how to work with other members of the team. Learn to issue specific treatment sessions based on information provided by health care providers, including general practice doctorss, oncologists, surgeons, physical therapists, and athletic trainers. In each class (24 hours total) we will discuss a case, develop, and implement massage therapy treatment plans.

Clinical Communication: While in Clinical Integration you learn how to act on information from your client’s health care providers, Clinical Communication teaches you how to describe muscle, fascia, and skeleton (MFS) injury or pathology and when and how to communicate with other healthcare providers. 22 hours.

Eastern/Energy: Our 25-hour Eastern/Energy overview teaches you why and how to apply Eastern Medicine and acupressure alongside massage therapy. You’ll enjoy Qigong exercises to build your energetic sensitivity and personal health.

Ethics: Impeccable ethics are critical to you as a massage therapist and CMI graduate. Our course in ethics covers the professional code of ethics, scope of practice, conflict resolution, boundaries, legal issues, confidentiality, management of patient health information, and license regulations required at the federal, state, and local levels over 15 hours.

Lymphatic Massage: Learn about the lymphatic system and its relationship to immune functioning in the body and learn sequences for use in traditional massage or alone. This course consists of 14 hours of lecture and 9 hours of hands-on work, totaling 23 hours.

Mind/Body: We’ll discuss and apply what you learn in APPK. Every mind/body class (20 hours total) includes a combination of lecture, discussion, and student practice. You’ll learn to integrate mindfulness practices into treatment sessions for both yourself and your clients; to understand the interconnection of multiple systems in the body and how massage can support these systems; and to develop tools and strategies to promote self-care, healthy boundaries, and effective treatment plans.

Myofascial Massage: Learn both theory and specific technique to identify and treat pain and dysfunction in the body by recognizing patterns of holding tension. This tension can lead to loss of differentiation in the musculoskeletal system, so that the body winds up doing much more work than necessary. The course emphasizes the role of fascia in tensional relationships that adversely affect balance, posture, movement patterns, and the breath cycle. 44 hours of lecture and 57 hours of practical work total 101 hours.

Professionalism: We’ll get clear on school administrative policies, professional best practices in the workplace, and how to be prepared and manage your time well over 16 hours.

Practicum: Take your classroom learning and apply it to real-life clients in a supervised situation. In the 15-hour practicum, you’ll give 8–10 treatment sessions to clients who aren’t your classmates.

Self-Care: You must first care for yourself before you can serve your clients. Massage therapy can be demanding work, and we want you to graduate with tools to make it a lifelong career. Your self-care teachers lead movement and meditation, show you how to do self-massage, offer strategies and tools for support (from both professional organizations and peers), and review APPK as it relates to self-care. Your 25 hours in the course will set you up for a lifetime of self-care.

Swedish Massage: You’ll learn theory and techniques of Swedish Massage. We start with the basic strokes before progressing through regional sequences and then into full-body massage treatments of varying lengths. You’ll learn appropriate body mechanics, which will both keep you safe and ensure effective delivery of each technique to your client. Along the way in this 100-hour course, you’ll learn the history of massage, when and when not to use massage, and the physiological effects of massage as you develop clinical reasoning and session planning skills.

Student Obligations

Application Requirements

Students must be over 18, possess a high school diploma or its equivalent, and demonstrate on the application and in an interview the maturity and drive to complete the program. Students must also accept the ethical guidelines of the school.

Start your application now—you can save and return to it as often as you like before submitting. There is a one-time $50 application fee due upon submission.

Graduation Requirements

  • Students must receive a grade of P (Pass, >70%) in all required courses in order to graduate and earn their Certificate of Completion.
  • Students must give 10 massages (15 hours: 10 practical, 5 documentation, setup/cleanup, evaluation) in our student clinic with at least 80 percent positive feedback from clients.
  • Students must meet with an advisor at least once to discuss course progress, employment opportunities, and any other concerns the student and instructors deem appropriate.

Upon completing all requirements, students are granted a diploma.

Learn to help others as a licensed massage therapist

Student Benefits

Special Rates on Self-Care

We take self-care seriously and want you to, as well. You must refill your own well so you can best serve your clients. To that end, we offer these special rates while you are enrolled in the diploma program.


Not only will you be giving 100 hours of practicum, you’ll also be receiving 100 hours from your classmates.



Daytime Programs

  • Early bird discount: $8,000 (save $1,500), for tuition paid in full at least six weeks before the start of the program
  • Full tuition: $9,500, due in full on or before 7 days before the start of the program.
  • Please budget $200 for textbooks, $300 for a massage table, and $100 for miscellaneous supplies.

Evening Programs

  • Early bird discount: $9,000 (save $1,500), for tuition paid in full at least six weeks before the start of the program
  • Full tuition: $10,500, due in full on or before 7 days before the start of the program.
  • Please budget $200 for textbooks, $300 for a massage table, and $100 for miscellaneous supplies.

Payment Plan

We are happy to offer a payment plan for our daytime programs on this schedule, to total $10,500:

  • $500 deposit upon acceptance
  • Five payments of $2,000 due two weeks before the program begins, February 1, March 1, April 1, and May 1 for the 2018a track; and on August 1, September 1, October 1, and November 1 for the 2018b track.

We are happy to offer a payment plan for our evening programs on this schedule, to total $11,500:

  • $500 deposit upon acceptance
  • Five payments of $2,200 due two weeks before the program begins, October 1, November 1, December 1, and January 1

Work Study

Depending on enrollment, one or two opportunities for a work study tuition discount of $1000 are available. Work study duties include set up/clean up of classrooms, light cleaning duties, and assisting the teachers or directors as requested. Work study students are expected to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of class and to stay 30 minutes after the end of class daily to carry out these duties.

Additional Financing Options

You can secure a personal loan through credit unions like the SECU and private banks like Wells Fargo.


Upon acceptance, a $500 nonrefundable (except in the case of cancellation of a program by CMI) deposit is required to reserve your place. This deposit is applied to your tuition balance.

Cancellation Policies

Should a student choose to cancel enrollment within 72 hours of signing a student enrollment agreement, all monies paid less a $100 processing fee will refunded.

Should a student choose to withdraw from a program before the program start date, all monies paid less a $100 processing fee and $500 nonrefundable deposit will be refunded.

Should a student choose to withdraw from the program after the program start date, no refund will be issued. Should there be extenuating circumstances that require the student to withdraw from the program for good cause, tuition paid will be refunded or applied to a future program at the discretion of the director.

Should a program be cancelled by CMI, all monies paid will be refunded in full.

Career Outlook

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for jobs in massage therapy is rosy. The BLS predicts a 22 percent growth in massage therapy jobs between 2014 and 2024. Read more here.

The American Massage Therapy Association, or AMTA, is a professional association for massage therapists. The AMTA’s Career Guidance page offers useful resources for both new and experienced massage therapists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I expect to work straight out of CMI?

A: You might choose to work for yourself, in a health care provider’s office, or at a spa, gym or walk-in massage clinic.

Q: What are other typical next steps after massage school?

A: The national certification exam and state licensing application are requirements to practice massage and to charge for it. Another important step is developing professional connections with other massage therapists, health care providers, or potential employers. Consider the areas where you might like to specialize and find the best instructors for your continuing education.

Q: Does my North Carolina license apply in other states?

A: Please confirm with the state board you’re wondering about. North Carolina has the same requirements as Virginia and South Carolina and, as we understand it, massage therapists can apply to their licensing boards. Some states require significantly higher training hours, like New York, and your work hours and CEU hours can allow you to meet their criteria without meeting it through our diploma program. Contact the state board directly; you can find contact information at https://www.amtamassage.org/regulation/stateRegulations.html. You will find a full list of state requirements at http://www.massagetherapylicense.org/.

Q: Where can I find CMI’s national certification exam pass rate?

A: We are welcoming our first class of students in 2018; therefore, we do not yet have a pass rate. Our curriculum covers all topics in the national certification exam, MBLEx. Our intention is to prepare all students for a career in massage therapy, and this preparation includes MBLEx test prep. The information on the certification exam that is accepted and required for licensure by the state of North Carolina is here: https://www.fsmtb.org/mblex/. It is administered by a federation of state massage therapy boards and is accepted by 44 states and a few territories.

Q: How many hours a week should I expect to work?

A: A full load is somewhere between 12 and 20 table hours a week. Add to that time for prepping the room, returning calls and emails, sending reminders, laundry, and self-care. Add 30 minutes of prep or admin work for every appointment. A 15-session week will then look more like 22.5 hours at work.

Q: What kind of schedule will those hours follow?

A: Massage therapy allows you to set a flexible schedule. You’ll do best when you offer a consistent set of hours for your clients. CMI’s careful attention to the business of massage therapy will equip you to find the right balance between consistency and flexibility.

Q: Don’t your hands get tired giving all that massage?

A: No, your hands quickly grow strong! CMI will teach you proper body mechanics (how to use more than just your thumbs!) and self-care so that you don’t wear out or injure yourself. Your legs will show fatigue first, but good standing surfaces, ergonomics, and shoes help a lot.

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