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Schools for Theater Makeup Artistry: How to Choose

Aspiring makeup artists who want to work in theater, movies or television can pursue studies in theater makeup artistry. Courses in this field are typically offered through bachelor's degree programs in theater, non-degree programs or in a standalone format.

Few schools in the United States focus solely on theater makeup artistry. However, some colleges, universities and technical schools offer degree and certificate programs in theater, fashion, design or cosmetology that can help prepare students for behind-the-scenes careers in theater.

Theater Makeup Schools:

These schools offer programs that can prepare students for theater makeup artistry work:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Blue Ridge Community College Weyers Cave, VA 2-year, Public (Cosmetology) Certificate, Diploma, Associate's In-state $5,019; Out-of-state $10,857
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private (Design) Bachelor's, Master's $50,665 (undergraduate)
Greensboro College Greensboro, NC 4-year, Private (Theater) Bachelor's $26,900
Marymount Manhattan College New York, NY 4-year, Private (Design) Bachelor's $28,700
Montclair State University Montclair, NJ 4-year, Public (Makeup Artistry) Certificate In-state $11,773; Out-of-state $20,320
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas Helena, AK 2-year, Public (Cosmetology) Certificate In-district $2,593; In-state $2,968; Out-of-state $4,325
Shenandoah University Winchester, VA 4-year, Private (Theater Design and Production) Bachelor's $30,760
Stephens College Columbia, MO 4-year, Private (Theatrical Costume Design) Bachelor's $29,176
Webster University Saint Louis, MO 4-year, Private Wig and Makeup Design Course; Bachelors' in Costume Design $25,500

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a theater makeup program there are several things to consider.

  • Students may want to consider the history and alumni success of a program when looking at schools and the school's location may be an important consideration, as there may be more employment opportunities in industry cities, such as Los Angeles and New York.
  • Hands-on experience can be highly beneficial in a makeup program, and students may want to consider whether a school offers this type of training through workshops, field trips, internships or other methods.
  • Most states require a license to be a practicing makeup artist, and the standards for this license can sometimes be rigorous; students should consider licensing requirements and assistance when looking at programs.
  • Students may want to take into consideration whether or not a school is accredited and offers membership in professional organizations, such as the American Association of Cosmetology Schools and the National Cosmetology Association.

Courses in Theater Makeup Artistry

Students in theater makeup artistry courses are exposed to the full array of makeup and cosmetology techniques. Some programs offer students the chance to apply their skills in an on-campus television studio.

There are only few programs in theater makeup, though students can pursue studies in theater design, costume design or cosmetology. Considerations of programs can include hands-on experience, location and professional memberships offered at varying schools in this field.

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