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 prepared to take the massage therapy licensing exam, the next step in acquiring an NCLMBT license. Our holistic program draws on modalities from both Western and Eastern approaches, with a strong emphasis on the mind-body connection, self care, and developing strong business skills. We teach you not only where to put your hands to heal, but also how and why. Our graduates finish school equipped to choose whether massage therapy is a full-time career or a part-time source of income that fits well with another job or family life. After graduation, the next step toward licensure is the MBLEx test. Our graduates’ first-time MBLEx pass rate in 2018 and 2019 is 91.3 percent—over 10 points above the state average and 15 points above the national average. Contact us today to discuss how CMI can help you help people.


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.

2021a Diploma Program

We meet Monday–Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. In addition to regular classes, students are also required to complete clinic hours, which are scheduled Tuesday afternoons. We’ll start in January and end in June—dates are coming soon.

2021b Diploma Program

We meet Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30–8:30 p.m., and, on scheduled weekends, Friday 5:30–8:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon–6:30 p.m. We’ll start in April—dates coming soon.

In addition, you’ll do student clinic on Tuesday afternoons.

Apply Now

Applications are being accepted for all these programs—start yours today! We also encourage you to contact us to schedule a tour and meet current students; to schedule a massage in our student clinic to see the style students develop; and to attend an Intro to Massage workshop to meet the staff and start learning!


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.

Swedish Massage I: Swedish Massage I introduces the history, theory, and modern practices of massage. Students will be taught modern massage practices such as client intake, charting, and note taking. 21 hours

Swedish Massage II: Swedish Massage II trains the student in proper techniques, and by the time this class is finished students will know a full-body massage routine. 39 hours

Swedish Massage III: Swedish Massage III builds on II with more advanced Swedish techniques and progresses on the previous routine to enable students to better understand time management. 39 hours

Myofascial Release: Students will learn multiple ways to work with the connective tissue holding the entire body together, fascia. This class will describe multiple myofascial release techniques, including pin-and-stretch and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, using Tom Myers’s Anatomy Trains model.  Students will also build on the Anatomy II class by understanding how the muscular system is connected and works together. 102 hours

Bodywork Modalities: This course introduces students to a variety of massage modalities through lecture and demonstrations. By the end of this class students should be able to understand that massage therapy has a much broader scope of practice, and see which modalities they would like to explore after course completion. 39 hours

Eastern/Energy: Eastern/Energy Overview introduces the theory and practical application of Eastern Medicine and acupressure as an adjunct to massage therapy. Discussions include Eastern Medical energetic theory as well as the therapeutic effects of acupressure. Additionally, Qigong exercises will be taught to cultivate student’s energetic sensitivity and personal health. 24 hours

Anatomy & Physiology I: This introduction to Anatomy and Physiology briefly reviews the multiple systems found in the body and explains their purpose. This basic understanding of the human body is the foundation for the following two Anatomy & Physiology units. 51 hours

Anatomy & Physiology II: In this class, we cover the nervous, muscular, and skeletal anatomy. By the time this class is finished students will know all the bones, as well as muscle origin, insertion, and nerve innervation. 48 hours

Anatomy & Physiology III: Anatomy and Physiology III goes into greater detail about the human body, describing physiology, pathology, and contraindications. 15 hours

Somatic Psychology: The course introduces the concept of conditioned responses and patterning as it relates to human behavior and the body. Experiential exercises will clarify the relationship between the psychology that determines human behavior and embodiment. Included is identification and exploration of the psychological barriers that can affect the client/therapist relationship. 21 hours

Mindfulness: This course includes a combination of lecture, discussion, and student practice to integrate mindfulness practices into treatment sessions for clients and therapists, to understand the interactive/networking nature of multiple systems in the body and how massage can support these systems, to develop tools and strategies to promote self-care, healthy boundaries, and effective treatment plans. 21 hours

Professionalism and Communication: This course introduces students to school administrative policies, time management skills, goal setting, learning styles, and various study tools. This course identifies NC Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy rules and regulations. This course identifies professional practices in the workspace and skills for preparedness. 39 hours

Business: Business introduces basic strategies, detailed business planning, and ethical areas of concern for massage therapists. The culmination of this course is a student business plan project which will prepare the student for the first year of professional practice, whether as a sole proprietor, an independent contractor, or an employee. 18 hours.

Ethics: This course in Ethics outlines topics such as 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. 18 hours

Self Care: This course includes teacher-led movement and meditation, demonstration and application of self-massage, strategies and tools for support (professional and peer), as well as discussion of anatomy, physiology, and pathology as it relates to self-care. 27 hours

Practicum: Practicum consists of supervised massage therapy sessions provided by students to non-student clients. Approximately 10-12 treatment sessions will be completed by the student in this course. 15 hours

2019 daytime class

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.

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.



  • Early bird discount: $6,500 (save $3,000), 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 $800 for textbooks, a massage table, and miscellaneous supplies.

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: Our students have a 93 percent pass rate the first time they take the national certification exam, the MBLEx—over 20 points above the national average. Our curriculum covers all topics in the 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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