How to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island

How to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island, the requirements for massage therapy practice and education are overseen by the Department of Health.

So if you want to start a private massage school in Rhode Island.

you must have a minimum of a 500-hour program and either be accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) or have a program that is considered equivalent by the state of Rhode Island.

An equivalent program is one that is approved by the state and also, meets the curriculum outline in the massage therapy rules and regulations.

As a proprietary school, you will also have to be approved by the state of Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for Higher Education (BGHE).

Approval from the Board of Governors for Higher Education

Obtaining approval to operate a postsecondary private career school in Rhode Island is a three-step process:  (1)  Pre-application process (2) Initial approval application (3)  Annual approval renewal.

The pre-application process requires that the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education (RIOHE) review and also, assess the financial condition of your school.

So you will be asked to submit the following information:

  • Organizational documents for the proposed school and also, for any entity that owns the school;
  • Business plan for the school;
  • Contact information for your school’s bank, lawyer, an accountant/auditor, along with permission for them to discuss your school with the RIOHE;
  • The most recent audited financial statements for your school and any entity that is an owner;
  • Personal financial statements for the school’s owner(s);
  • Current annual tax return for the school and its owner(s);
  • Projected income for the first year of operation, with detailed assumptions regarding revenues and also, expenses;
  • Projected balance sheet at the end of the first fiscal year;’
  • Opening projected balance sheet for the school, including how much money the owner(s) will contribute as capital and nature thereof;
  • Projected statement of cash flow at the end of the first fiscal year.

After review of these documents, and any additional documentation requested by RIOHE.

they will determine if you have sufficient financial resources to start the school.

If they deem that you do, you will be allowed to proceed with the Initial Approval Application.

Once you have been authorized to proceed, you will have to submit your initial approval application at least six months before you intend to open your school.

There is a $1,000 non-refundable application fee.

You will also have to submit a surety bond amount in an amount of $10,000 or more, based on your expected tuition receipts.

MIST – How to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island

With your completed application, you will ask to submit the following material (you do not have to resubmit material sent in during the pre-application process unless the RIOHE determines that your previous submissions are not current).

  • Completed and notarized anti-discrimination compliance agreement;
  • Names and titles of office holders and copies of organizational documents for the school and also, any entity with ownership in the school;
  • Copies of written policies pertaining to conflicts of interest;
  • At least three written letters of reference for the officers and also, chief administrator attesting to good character and other qualifications;
  • Personnel information for the instructors and chief administrator;
  • Proposed catalogues, circulars, application forms and enrollment agreements;
  • Schedule of proposed tuition and fees;
  • Proposed calendar for a year, showing school term, holidays, vacations, and enrollment dates;
  • Curriculum for your program, showing content of courses and knowledge and skills to learned;
  • Proposed certificate or diploma;
  • Proposed forms for record maintenance;
  • Financial statements for the school and the owners;
  • Proposed advertising and promotional materials;
  • Business plan for the school;
  • Tax returns for the school and the owners;
  • Copies of lease agreements for facilities;
  • Certificates of approval from fire marshal, building inspector and health department;
  • Letter from the state building commission certifying ADA compliance;
  • Accreditation or approvals of your school by recognized agencies or associations;
  • Evidence of initial collaboration with an existing school for a teach-out plan, should your school close.
  • A final document of agreement must submit six months after initial approval;
  • Articles of Incorporation;
  • Any other documents RIOHE requests.

Regulations Governing Proprietary Schools in Rhode Island

Your documents must meet the standards in the Regulations Governing Proprietary Schools in Rhode Island.

You may require paying a consulting fee to have your program reviewed by an outside consultant chosen by the RIOHE.

Once you have corrected any deficiencies in your application.

A site visit will schedule to inspect your facilities.

After that, RIOHE will make a recommendation to the Academic and Student Affairs committee of the Board of Governors.

Once endorsed by the committee and approved by RIOHE, the commissioner will make a recommendation to the Board of Governors at a regular RIBOGHE meeting.

The Board of Governors must approve your application before you can begin operating.

Each year on August 31 the approve the renewal application.

The renewal fee is $100.

In order to renew, you will have to submit updated documents and financial information.

As well as information regarding your enrollment and completion statistics, your graduates’ pass rate on their licensing examination.

And also,  job placement information for your graduates.

Becoming an Accredited School with COMTA

Accreditation is an outside review of your school and programs by a panel of massage therapy professionals.

The COMTA accreditation is recognized by the US Department of Education.

Prior to applying for COMTA accreditation.

A school must legally organize and also, approved by the state, how to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island.

In addition, COMTA requires that your school also have at least 5 students enrolled, offer instruction on the post-secondary level.

and require completion of at least 600 hours of education to obtain a certificate.

The benefits of accreditation are that your school has been certified to meet certain minimum standards in preparing students for licensure as professional massage therapists.

It also allows your school to accept federal student financial aid funds, allowing more students to be able to afford the program.

Review of your program by COMTA  will require a significant financial and time investment.

The cost will be a minimum of $7775 in fees.

You will have to submit an application, take an online course, complete a self-study report, undergo an on-site visit.

and then wait for a findings report and response, as well as deliberation and decision.

It can take one to two years to complete the accreditation process.

In addition to the fees listed above, maintaining accreditation requires an annual sustaining fee of $1500 plus $30 per enrolled student.

How to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island Curriculum Requirements

Your school must offer at least 500 hours of massage therapy education.

That education must include

  • 100 hours of Anatomy and Physiology theory;
  • 300 hours of Massage Therapy Theory and Practice, including applied Anatomy and Physiology;
    • At least 150 of these hours must be in the practice of massage;
  • The remaining 100 hours of Massage Therapy related topics, including CPR, first aid, business, law, ethics and professionalism.


If you want to open a private massage therapy and how to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island.

Department of health requires 500 hours or program of instruction for accredited by COMTA.

And also, your school must also approve by the Board of Governors for Higher Education.

Your application will take approximately six months from the time you submit until you approve to begin operation.

The fees for applying for approval from the BGHE is $1000.

There is a $100 annual renewal fee.

If you choose to pursue COMTA accreditation, you will need to have at least a 600 hours program.

And undergo their 1-2 year approval process that will cost nearly $8000.


Rhode Island Department of Health  Massage Therapy Information

Rhode Island Massage Therapy Rules and Regulations


Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education

Regulations Governing Proprietary Schools in Rhode Island

How to Open a Massage School in Rhode Island


Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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