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Massage Today
September, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 09

USDE Approves Accreditation Program

By Editorial Staff

Although the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) has been approving massage therapy programs for at least a decade, it recently received formal United States Department of Education (USDE)-approval to accredit massage therapy programs, as well.

In May 2003, the USDE approved NACCAS under the condition that NACCAS adjust its accreditation process to include requirements specific to the massage therapy profession.

In May 2004, "the National Advisory Committee in Institutional Quality and Integrity [NACIQI] found that NACCAS had made all of the adjustments requested," said a memo to Massage Today from NACCAS Government Relations & Legal Department Director Mary E. Bird.1

"NACCAS showed that [its] bylaws had been amended so qualified massage school owners and practitioners could be nominated for positions on the board of commissioners..." the memo said. "NACCAS also showed that it is developing a cadre of qualified evaluators who are massage practitioners, and that one is on every team evaluating a school which offers massage programs."

The memo further indicated that NACCAS massage-practitioner evaluators and curriculum specialists would review massage therapy programs that are added to school curriculum between accreditation visits.1

ABMP President Bob Benson supported NACCAS' bid for USDE recognition. In a statement he made before the NACIQI, Benson indicated that, "Massage programs benefit from having accrediting choices. Accrediting entities are forced to hone their programs to be knowledgeable, well-organized, customer service focused, and affordable."2

Speaking for the ABMP, Benson also outlined his organization's position on massage-program accreditation: "Our views on accreditation...can be captured in three sentences:

  1. Accreditation should be voluntary, not coerced;
  2. For many massage schools, going through an accreditation process helps identify program areas that need shoring;
  3. Competition among accrediting agencies is good for those entities, sharpening their offerings and the quality of feedback they provide to schools; for schools, being able to proactively make an elective choice among multiple accreditors casts a positive perspective on the whole process."2

However, a letter from American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) President Laurel J. Freeman to USDE Accreditation and State Liaison Carol Griffiths, expresses doubt over NACCAS' ability to effectively oversee and accredit massage therapy programs.

"In response to the requirements of [NACCAS]...acceptance," the letter said, "NACCAS began developing standards for massage education. To do so they had to request outside assistance. We remain concerned about both their level of expertise in massage therapy education and their commitment to our profession...On behalf of [AMTA's] stakeholders, we oppose approval to the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences to accredit massage therapy programs," the letter concluded.3

Despite AMTA's opposition, the USDE now enjoys "full official USDE recognition for accreditation of massage programs...."1

For more information, visit NACCAS Web site at


  1. NACCAS and Massage. Memorandum via e-transmission from Mary E. Bird, director, Government Relations & Legal Department, NACCAS. Aug. 6, 2004.
  2. Statement of Robert Benson to the U.S. Department of Education National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity with Regard to Interim Report on NACCAS. July 10, 2004.
  3. Letter from AMTA President Laurel J. Freeman to USDE Accreditation and State Liaison Carol Griffiths. March 3, 2004.


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