Bloomington, MN — Aug. 4, 2011 — Northwestern Health Sciences University recently added an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in massage therapy to its growing list of degree offerings. The two-year degree offers students an alternative to a certificate in massage therapy.

“We wanted to respond to the trend in the marketplace, employer’s outlook, and provide a broader educational experience,” said Dale Healey, D.C., dean of the School of Massage Therapy. With employment options for massage therapists expanding into hospitals, chiropractic offices and other health care environments, the demand for academic credentials beyond the certificate grows. “The associate degree reflects the growing sophistication of massage therapy careers these days,” said Michael Wiles, D.C., provost.

“More than half the students in the School of Massage Therapy are enrolled in the new degree program,” said Healey. “The student response is overwhelming.”

The difference between the degree and certificate is the general education requirements for the degree. The degree requires 60 semester credits where as the certificate requires 41.5 credits. Students who pursue the degree will need to take an additional 15 general education credits, a half credit hydrotherapy course plus three elective credits. Students can complete the degree in four to six trimesters. “The additional general education credits give students a broader experience,” said Healey.

Adding the associate degree fit well with the overall goal of expanding university degree offerings. Northwestern Health Sciences University recently added a Master of Health Sciences degree in diagnostic imaging and is currently seeking to offer a Master of Health Sciences degree in clinical nutrition. “The massage therapy degree is part of the continuum of degrees offered at Northwestern, now ranging from certificate programs to doctorate studies,” said Wiles.

Northwestern Health Sciences University offers a wide array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and human biology. The university has nearly 900 students on a 25-acre campus in Bloomington, Minnesota.