a student practicing massage

Philosophy and Goals

The mission of the Downeast School of Massage is to train individuals in the art and science of therapeutic massage for an entry-level professional career, for continuing education, and for personal growth. The program content is based not only on meeting the 500-hour minimum required by most states, but also on our instructors' and administrators' years of experience in the field and their understanding of the depth and wide range of knowledge and skills that are necessary for practicing massage in a caring, competent manner.

Open to a holistic philosophy, DSM provides a wide variety of traditional and alternative subjects, giving the students a firm foundation for growth. DSM is committed to expanding with the profession by regularly reviewing and upgrading the school's curriculum. Our goal is to endeavor to provide the highest quality education to individuals enrolled in our program. DSM wants to promote the field of massage therapy by graduating individuals who have succeeded in fulfilling the program requirements. Therefore, DSM encourages each student to investigate personal growth physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually in a friendly, supportive, country environment. The curriculum at DSM supports our goals and provides student development towards career goals. Each course begins with a syllabus outlining course description, objectives, texts, (required and recommended), evaluation methods, and attendance and make-up policies. The curriculum has been divided into categories of Science and Muscle Courses, Massage & Related Courses, and Career Development Courses to easily access the descriptions presented here.

See our Location and Physical Facility

the Dail Cottage, student housinginside the Dail Cottage
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students in class

students in class

a group of happy students


About the School


The Downeast School of Massage was established in 1981 for the purpose of training individuals in the health professional career field of Massage Therapy. DSM began with the founder-director, Nancy Dail, and four determined students. As the years have passed, the school has grown with its graduates and the profession. Although the program began with a strong core curriculum of Swedish Massage and related courses, additional courses and program shifts gradually developed, as the vision of the profession became reality. DSM became committed to giving students a quality personal education that included more choice in diverse selections of Shiatsu, Sports Massage, or Body/Mind courses. The class of 1993 was the first to graduate from the new facility. Built with growth in mind, the passive solar building offers a spacious learning environment, as well as a library, supply and bookstore, student lounge, spa, and sauna. Students are able to stroll around the campus trails during breaks and off-hours, seasonally utilizing sneakers or skis. They even enjoy skating on the 30-acre pond. January 1994 launched a new program start: students are now able to start in either September or January. The September program has the widest variety of schedules, including part-time. The January program allows us to run through the summer months and comprises mostly day classes. Excluding guest speakers, currently there are 11 instructors who teach a wide variety of courses and schedules to over 50 students. The year 2006 began with new changes in our concentrations. The curriculum has been updated to reflect national trends. We have increased our clinic hours, and by popular demand added another Deep Tissue course. Sports Massage and Introduction to CranioSacral are part of the core curriculum as is Introduction to Oncology Massage. We have renamed our massage course to Therapeutic Massage to embrace other modalities besides Swedish. In the fall of 2016 our 59th class began its journey toward mastering the art and science of massage therapy.

DSM is committed to expanding with the profession to offer its students as many opportunities in the field as possible. Since 1974, Nancy Dail has promoted massage therapy in Maine, nationally, and internationally. She has served on numerous AMTA committees and the National Board. She helped create the AMTA Maine Chapter, the Commission on Massage Training Accreditation, the AMTA Council of Schools, and the AMTA National Sports Massage Team. In 1996 she was selected to work at the Olympic Village Sports Medicine Clinic, where she provided sports massage for athletes from all over the world. Nancy presented for 8 years with the faculty of David Eisenberg's annual Complementary and Integrative Medicine Symposium, sponsored by Harvard Medical in Boston. In September of 1997 she traveled to Belgorod, Russia, and was a keynote speaker at the Sports Medicine Conference at the University of Belgorod and Medical College. Nancy continues to teach workshops internationally for her text Kinesiology for Manual Therapies and for her DVD A Gift of Touch. Regardless of her outside commitments, Nancy's schedule includes teaching at DSM as a priority. Faculty joins her in commitment to the field, as many are involved in outside professional endeavors and bring their enthusiasm to all classes.

Licensing and Membership

DSM is licensed through the Department of Education, Higher Education Services of the State of Maine. As such, we have received funds for students from Vocational Rehabilitation and other state-funded programs.

The Downeast School of Massage is a member of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. The AFMTE is a national professional organization for schools, faculty, and continuing education providers dedicated to furthering education in the field of massage and bodywork.

Veterans Administration Educational Benefits. The programs at DSM are approved for the education of eligible military personnel, veterans, and their dependents under the various educational assistance programs. Programs are reviewed and approved by the State Approving Agency for Veterans' Education Programs, 147 Water St., Suite 2, Randolph, ME 04346, 207-582-2100.

Veterans Refund Policy. In the event that a veteran of the military service or other eligible person is accepted but does not commence the program, withdraws, or is dismissed therefrom at any time prior to completion, the school maintains the following policy for the refund of the unused portion of tuition, fees, and other charges. Such policy provides that the amount charged to the veteran or eligible person for tuition, fees, and other charges shall not exceed the exact pro rata portion of the total charges for tuition, fees, and other charges that the length of the program completed bears to its total length. The exact pro ration will be determined on the ratio of the number of hours of instruction completed by the student to the total number of instructional hours in the program. School policy will comply with required hours in the program. School policy will comply with required veteran policies for those eligible individuals.

The American Massage Therapy Association, a national and international organization for professional massage therapists, was founded in 1943. The AMTA focuses on continuing education, providing malpractice insurance, and promoting legislation and the profession of massage therapy. DSM encourages membership in the AMTA, to enjoy the support of over 55,000 members and to reap the benefits of the organization. DSM is an AMTA school member.