Gaston College is transitioning two programs from curriculum to continuing education

In order to better serve students and to adapt to changes in enrollment numbers, Gaston College will transition two of its programs from regular curriculum for credit to continuing education. Making the transition are the Therapeutic Massage program and the Nutrition and Foodservice Professional Training (also known as Dietary Manager) program.

Moving these programs to the Continuing Education division will allow students to complete their certification in a more effective timeframe. Students can finish within a shorter period and enter the workforce sooner because the Continuing Education division does not require general education coursework, such as English and Biology classes. The specific coursework for the two programs remains the same and faculty will teach with the same rigor. The programs can be more cost-effective for students, as well.

Therapeutic Massage Program

Gaston College’s Therapeutic Massage program competes with five proprietary schools that offer North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy approved programs in counties neighboring Gaston County. These other schools do not require general education coursework. “Running the Gaston College massage program as a certificate option through Continuing Education would allow us to more closely compete with the proprietary schools,” said Dr. Allison Abernathy, Dean of Health and Human Services. “Furthermore, completing the Therapeutic Massage program through Continuing Education will cost the student substantially less than the curriculum program.”

An associate degree or a diploma, which curriculum program students earn, does not command higher wages than a certificate earned through the Continuing Education division. A license in massage is all that is required to work in the field. Students are licensed by the state board of Massage and Bodyworkers after completing Massage Practitioner I and II courses, passing the MBLEX Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, and then applying for their N.C. State License for Massage and Bodywork.

Therapeutic massage student performing a massage on client

Therapeutic Massage is a theory and hands-on program. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gaston College initiated online theory classes and postponed the hands-on coursework. Currently, with the use of Personal Protective Equipment and strict adherence to safety precautions and guidelines, students and faculty are back in the classroom and lab.

Prospective students must meet compliance requirements to enter the Therapeutic Massage program. For information about the compliance requirements, contact Monica Phillips, Program Chair, at or 704-022-2270. For more information about the Therapeutic Massage program, click here

Nutrition and Foodservice Professional Training Program

The Nutrition and Foodservice Professional Training program is approved through the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals. The program is targeted to foodservice employees and managers in long-term care, retirement communities, hospitals, school nutrition, meals-on-wheels, prison nutrition, and any other foodservice institution.

Students are required to complete 120 hours of online curriculum and 150 hours of field experience activities in order to be eligible to sit for the credentialing exam as a Certified Dietary Manager, Certified Food Protection Professional through ANFP. With the program transitioning to the Continuing Education division, Gaston College students can complete the NFPT certificate in a shorter period of time. Also, students who complete the certificate and successfully pass the credentialing exam can earn higher salaries as a result of management responsibilities and number of supervised employees.

The cost for the program through Continuing Education can be less for students, however some student fees will remain the same due to clinical agency contracts which require students to have certain clinical compliance items completed in order to obtain clinical facility practice hours.

“We are also partnering with the Apprenticeship 321 program to look at a possible pathway for long-term and assisted living facility employees to receive their coursework and certification through the Dietary Manager and/or ServSafe coursework,” said Dana Rudisill, Program Chair. Participants in the Gaston College Apprenticeship 321 program receive job-specific training and a cost-free education from Gaston College while earning a salary from local employers.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, coursework for the NFPT program is online, and ANFP is permitting programs affected by COVID-19 to allow 75 of the 150 required field experience hours to be completed through alternative experiences.

To be eligible to participate in the admission process for the Nutrition and Foodservice Professional Training program, an applicant must complete the following application steps:

  • Submit a Gaston College Continuing Education application.
  • Submit official high school (and college, if applicable) transcripts.
  • Fill out and submit a registration packet. Contact Dana Rudisill at to request the packet.



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