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10 Best Cosmetology Degree Programs 

Written by College Cliffs Team At CollegeCliffs.com, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: February 23, 2024, Reading time: 17 minutes

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Modern society overemphasizes physical beauty. Now more than ever, individuals across all ages are demonstrating interest in looking like their favorite celebrities and staying on top of beauty trends. The upside of today’s beauty-focused world is that it is opening doors to diversity in body image and beauty standards.

Today, physical attractiveness—which cosmetics and similar products can enhance—gives individuals confidence and boosts their morale.

Best Cosmetology Degree Programs - fact

These realities make pursuing businesses or landing jobs in the beauty industry promising prospects. To get started, students can choose from numerous associate and bachelor’s degree programs in colleges and universities in the US, as well as local trade schools.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Benefits of Studying a Cosmetology Program

You will thrive in a fun work environment.

If you’re not a fan of monotony, being a cosmetologist or working in the beauty industry could be the exciting and fun work environment you’re looking for. Becoming a cosmetologist gives you the most flexibility options. Being exposed to clients from all walks of life, you’ll have new, unexpected situations that challenge your capacity in this field.

After completing Cosmetology school and passing the licensing exam, individuals may find employment in a variety of settings. Professional cosmetologists are needed at spas, salons, hotels, barbers, and other workplaces offering beauty treatments. 

You can work on a flexible schedule.

Cosmetology can be the ideal job for you if you’re someone who wants to work with no fixed schedules. Most beauty experts and cosmetologists would like to have flexibility with their work setups. With flexible schedules, you can tend to other commitments and personal obligations.

Some hair stylists or salon workers are also freelancing in other jobs or businesses. In the beauty sector, there are many options to work a flexible schedule as a freelance makeup artist, commission stylist, or self-employed barber. You may customize your schedule in salons and spas by selecting the number of days and hours you work each week.

You can help others gain confidence and feel good about themselves.

Working as a beautician allows you to help others. After all, a profession in Cosmetology can help you make others feel and look more attractive. When your calling and purpose is to help others, this job will definitely give you that boost in morale.

Also, as you work in the industry, you’ll build rapport with loyal customers, forming deeper and higher-quality relationships. 

You can establish genuine relationships and grow your network.

Building networks is an integral part of any career. As you work in the Cosmetology industry, you’ll form genuine relationships that can expose you to wider networks. This not only allows you to broaden your pool of clients, but you can meet future colleagues and business partners.

As you earn their trust, you will have more doors of opportunities for the future.

You can be happy with what you do.

A cosmetologist has the opportunity to promote self-confidence directly to clients. The fulfillment that comes from making your customers feel and look their best is what gives a profession in Cosmetology purpose.

Enrolling in a beauty school or Cosmetology training facility might provide you with the knowledge of cutting-edge techniques to treat your clientele. Having the ability to suggest hairstyles and treatments to others promotes clientele growth and grows your customer loyalty. 

You can be your own boss!

One common pathway for Cosmetology graduates is to pursue their own business. Whether you specialize in nails, cosmetics, or hair, there are several ways to start your own business. Look for business opportunities and be open to ideas that are outside of the box.

When you work for yourself, you may have total control over your business. You have more control over your operations and schedules compared to being employed. 

Job Outlook for Cosmetology Graduates

The nation’s Labor Statistics Bureau has projected that in 2032, there will be an 8% increase in the employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists. If you’re planning to pursue a career in the field, this is the best time to enter it. A booming sector and high demand make this a great time to pursue your dream job!

Your artistic skills continue to be in high demand while you pursue a desire that is in high demand in the modern workplace. You can learn the daily tasks of a cosmetologist by attending Cosmetology or beauty school.

Possible Jobs for Cosmetology Graduates

A job as a cosmetologist is fantastic if you appreciate making people feel good about themselves. Those with an interest in the science and art of nails, skin, and hair could also think about pursuing a profession in this area. Here are some possible jobs that you can apply for after studying for a Cosmetology degree:

Barber

A barber is a licensed professional hairdresser with expertise in trimming and styling men’s facial hair. A barber and a hairstylist vary mostly in who they service and what they work on. While hairdressers generally cut both men’s and women’s hair, barbers are more focused on men’s hair and facial hair.

Studying a certificate, diploma, associate, or bachelor’s degree allows someone to qualify for this job position. 

Salon Manager

If you have skills or background in management, it’s a good job opportunity to become a salon manager. Many businesses in the beauty industry require managers who can oversee all parts and aspects of operations. They ensure that the business functions well and is profitable in the long run. They also make sure that the legal side of businesses is taken care of.

It is the salon manager’s responsibility to handle marketing, customer service, inventory, and maintenance. While a Cosmetology or business degree is an asset to land this job, it’s also invaluable to have work experience. 

Nail Technician

In addition to providing manicures and pedicures, nail technicians perform creative nail art for their clients. Nail art has been the biggest beauty trend for many years and is now a mainstay in the beauty field.

A nail technician might work at a hair salon, a country club, a spa, a resort, or a nail salon. You must be well-versed in the latest trends for nails, such as colors, accessories, acrylics, and other types of nail methods. 

Beauty Magazine Editor

If you love writing and want to contribute to beauty and self-care, it’s a wonderful job to be a beauty magazine editor. You can write topics that are related to beauty, makeup, well-being, and self-care. Various publications, including magazines, newspapers, and online platforms, rely on them to create, edit, and curate content.

Keeping up with the most recent trends and advancements in the beauty business is the responsibility of a beauty editor. They conduct a lot of research, join industries, and even hold interviews with other key people in the sector. It’s a plus to have finished a journalism or Cosmetology degree to land this career.

Beauty Consultant

Beauty consultants impart their understanding and expertise of the beauty business to others. They advise customers in retail settings to assist them in picking which beauty items or regiments to buy, and they supply companies with information to help them make decisions that lead to greater success.

Consultants might work at beauty and cosmetics stores or as independent contractors.

Braiding Specialist

If you want a more specialized job position in the Cosmetology industry, it’s worth exploring the job of a braiding specialist. Some Cosmetology degrees that specialize in hair styling or cutting may expose you to different kinds of hair braid styles like twists, box, french, and cornrows.

A professional who can weave hair extensions into natural hair and create a variety of braided hairstyles is known as a braiding specialist. 

To create, style, and elaborate exquisite braids for their clients, braiding professionals usually possess a great deal of expertise and experience. Some states have licensures for braiding specialists to practice work in their cities.

Cosmetology Trainer

If you have a passion for teaching or training, it’s worth landing a job as a Cosmetology trainer. Cosmetology educators will need to have a degree in Cosmetology or education. Certain aspects of Cosmetology, like skin and hair care, may be areas of specialization for instructors.

They frequently work in beauty schools where they provide practical training to others aspiring to become certified cosmetologists. Instructors in Cosmetology are knowledgeable about both the profession and educating others in the area.

Hairdresser or Hair Stylist

Salons and barber shops are almost everywhere. Thus, it would be easier to apply for a job as a hairdresser or hair stylist. Hairdressers trim, color, style, and take care of their clients’ hair. They also perform hair and scalp treatments.

A hairstylist who works alone or in a salon often develops their clientele. They may specialize in specific styles or cater to specific clients. At the upper end, hairdressers might work on weddings, fashion shows, events, or TV shows. 

Makeup Artist

If you have existing skills in makeup, it’s worth pursuing to be a makeup artist. Makeup artists are in demand for many events and occasions like parties, anniversaries, weddings, and many more. To ensure that their customers appear flawless for picture sessions, makeup artists frequently collaborate with wedding coordinators or photographers.

Typically, makeup artists work as independent contractors at salons and spas or in movie theaters and television programs. In order to achieve the ideal image, makeup artists are adept at highlighting a client’s natural traits and hiding flaws with makeup.

Product Representative

Many businesses and beauty companies are hiring product representatives. Product representatives provide hair care and cosmetics supplies to various businesses, such as salons and spas. Representatives urge companies to offer these goods to their clients. Their goal might be to close sales or market their products on behalf of beauty companies. 

Beauty Blog Writer

Nowadays, many men and women rely on virtual content about beauty and wellness through blogs. If you want to own your time and generate passive or extra income, it’s worth pursuing a career as a beauty blog writer. You may launch your blog or produce content for a blog firm or a beauty business with digital media.

You have to have a deep understanding of beauty products and the skills and talents for formal writing. A thorough understanding of current trends in hair, skin, cosmetics, and beauty is necessary for this work. You can be required to rewrite articles by editors before publication, and your work may also require you to travel.

10 Best Cosmetology Degree Programs

Brunswick Community College

Brunswick Community College

Associate Degree in Cosmetology

Brunswick Community College is keen on how the beauty industry is growing year by year. The goal of their Cosmetology curriculum is to impart information based on competence, scientific and artistic concepts, and practical skills related to the Cosmetology field. Students can acquire practical and hands-on skills in a simulated salon setting that is provided by the curriculum.

Graduates of this associate program ought to be eligible to take the State Board of Cosmetic Arts test. Graduates will get a license after completing the State Board test. Jobs in beauty parlors and associated industries are available for students after graduation. 

Sample courses for this associate degree include the following:


Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University

Associate Degree in Cosmetic Science

Arkansas Tech University teaches students who want to pursue Cosmetology careers about the science of enhancing beauty through maintaining hair, skin, and nails. The Cosmetology curriculum teaches students every facet. Students participate in clinical activities and gain practical experience that highlights their technical abilities. Students will also be trained to perform skin care like facials, do makeup, perform manicures and pedicures, and apply hair color and treatments. 

To be eligible for the state Cosmetology licensure test, a person must complete 1500 clock hours, according to the Arkansas State Health Department Cosmetology Division. A student seeking a temporary training permit must also submit the necessary paperwork for acceptance to the program, along with a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript, and evidence of GED.

Sample courses of this associate degree include:


Utah State University

Utah State University

Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology

Utah State University offers face-to-face classes with the instructors in its Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology degree. After completing this program, students become qualified and prepared to sit for the State Board Exam and get a license as cosmetologists.

Students have practice in Cosmetology, barbering, nail art, and skincare throughout the curriculum. In addition, students create a portfolio that they may bring to job interviews. Every Cosmetology program graduate is qualified to work in a full-service salon. Additionally, students have the option to finish the Lash, Barbering, or Nail Technician programs.

Sample courses for this AAS in Cosmetolo0gy program are:


Skyline College

Skyline College

Associate in Science in Cosmetology

If you want to be a certified cosmetologist, it’s a good headstart to enroll in Skyline College’s Associate in Science in Cosmetology. Comprehensive instruction in beauty services, spanning 1,000 hours, is mandatory for the Cosmetology program.

The theoretical underpinnings, practical manipulation abilities, business understanding, career growth in the sector, and professional and ethical training required for certification via the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology are the main topics of study in the Cosmetology curriculum. Students who are well-prepared and with entry-level abilities can find employment in several aspects of the beauty business.

To be considered for admission to the Associate in Science degree program with a Cosmetology major, a unique application packet must be completed. Applications for admission are not accepted until all required paperwork is completed and submitted to the Office of Admissions and Records.

Here are the courses required for this associate degree:


University of Toledo

University of Toledo

Bachelor of Science – Pharmaceutical Sciences in Cosmetic Science & Formulation Design

If you want to study for a bachelor’s degree with four years of study, it’s a good option to go for the University of Toledo’s Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design. They are the only other university in the nation that offers an undergraduate degree in this field. The graduates of UToledo are in high demand in the cosmetic science and personal care industries.

This bachelor’s degree requires an internship. Students will get knowledge on creating, formulating, and manufacturing makeup and personal hygiene items. They research rules and evaluate the quality, performance, and safety of items. During internships, research and development, marketing, and formulation are just a few of the fields where interns have worked.


Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara City College

Associate of Science in Cosmetology

Study at Santa Barbara City College and enroll in their Associate of Science in Cosmetology. Get ready to thrive in the field of Cosmetology with this associate of science degree.  A fulfilling career in Cosmetology is especially fit for those who love fashion and style and are intrigued with the newest hairstyles and skin care products.

This degree is best for those who are self-motivated and love socializing with others. Students attending Santa Barbara City College’s 1800-hour Cosmetology program prepare for the final test required for certification by the California State Board of Cosmetology. Some of the beauty services you’ll be trained in are shampooing, hair styling, hair curling, scalp treatment, nail art, hair coloring, and many more. 


National American University

National American University

Associate Degree in Health and Beauty Management

National American University’s Associate Degree in Health and Beauty Management is ideal if you have a background in Cosmetology, Cosmetology education, esthetics, massage therapy, barbering, or nail tech and would like to add business skills to your repertoire. Ninety credits are required for this degree program.

In this program, you may be eligible for transfer credits toward up to 75% of your degree if you hold a current state or federal license or certification from an approved school in massage therapy, esthetician, Cosmetology, or Cosmetology instruction.

This is contingent upon providing the necessary paperwork and articulated program hours. Acceptable combinations of the listed licenses are also possible. The amount of transfer credits granted might change depending on the state’s criteria for schooling and licensure.


City Colleges of Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago

Associate in Applied Science in Cosmetology

With an Associate in Applied Science in Cosmetology offered at City Colleges of Chicago, students may learn about the business and get practical experience in skincare, nail care, chemical treatments, haircutting, and style. To best position themselves to take on important consulting roles within the industry and to own and operate their salon successfully, students will also learn about running and managing a business.

Some of the emphasis of the curriculum includes training with live models and consultations with specialists in the beauty business, which emphasize a wide range of job prospects in the sector. 

In order to achieve the criteria set by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, the program includes required competency examinations as well as exam preparation/reviews.  Every discipline course is instructed by certified instructors utilizing facilities that have been authorized, industry-standard equipment, and a high-caliber curriculum that satisfies industry standards.

Aside from their general education and core courses, extracurricular courses in art or theater may be taken to improve perception and visual acuity for hairstyling and design. 


Central New Mexico Community College

Central New Mexico Community College

Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology

In this Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology, students can master basic Cosmetology techniques and methods. The degree exceeds the State Board’s minimal requirement of 1,600 clock hours by requiring 62–63 credit hours in Cosmetology and general education.

After completing the state test, students can become licensed by the New Mexico Board of Barbers & Cosmetologists. Fall and spring terms are the only times this program offers courses during the first semester.

Some of the courses you’ll take in this program are:


San Juan College

San Juan College

Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology

Discover a rewarding job where you can use your creativity to make people feel and look their best. Obtaining an associate degree in barbering or Cosmetology, available at San Juan College, enables you to operate with your hands and try out various techniques. Along the way, you’ll interact with a variety of clientele and develop deep connections.

There are many pathways to choose from with this Cosmetology degree program. You may have greater control over your working life if you pursue a job in Cosmetology or barbering. You may become your own boss and establish your own hours in a salon skincare or beauty business if you have the necessary skills and expertise.

The Cosmetology AAS program at San Juan College teaches both theoretical and practical lessons in the discipline for students to get a license as a cosmetologist. For people who are currently employed in the hair and beauty industry, it offers supplementary skills.

You’ll be well-versed in topics such as makeup and airbrushing fundamentals, manicures and pedicures, and skin care theories. There are three semesters available for admission to this selective program: fall, spring, and summer.

Sample courses of this associate degree include:

Additional Information: