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Cosmetology Schools and Universities in the U.S.

Studying cosmetology prepares students for careers as hair stylists, skin specialists, manicurists or pedicurists. Prospective cosmetology students have the option of completing either a certificate or an associate's degree.

Cosmetology programs are intended to train students to work in and run salons that offer cosmetology services. Many colleges and schools offer both one-year certificate and two-year associate's degree programs in cosmetology, so prospective students may want to consider which better suits their goals.

Ten Schools with Cosmetology Programs

Many two-year schools offer cosmetology programs, giving students a lot of choice about where to study. These are just some of the schools across the country that offer relevant programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Houston Community College Houston, TX 2-year, Public Certificates, Associate's $1,632 in-district, $3,360 in-state, $3,756 out-of-state
Lone Star Community College Houston, TX 2-year, Public Certificates, Associate's $1,504 in-district, $3,184 in-state, $3,544 out-of-state
Riverside City College Riverside, CA 2-year, Public Certificates, Associate's $1,426 in-state, $7,366 out-of-state
Santa Monica College Santa Monica, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $1,136 in-state, $8,078 out-of-state
Spokane Community College Spokane, WA 2-year, Public Associate's $3,388 in-state, $8,726 out-of-state
Everett Community College Everett, WA 2-year, Public Associate's, Certificate $3,643 in-state, $8,981 out-of-state
El Paso Community College El Paso, TX 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,386 in-state, $4,042 out-of-state
Cerritos College Norwalk, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $1,346 in-state, $7,926 out-of-state
San Diego City College San Diego, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $1,142 in-state, $4,670 out-of-state
Pitt Community College Winterville, NC 2-year, Public Certificate $2,317 in-state, $8,376 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Some of the considerations students should bear in mind when looking for a cosmetology school are:

  • Students should consider program length. Certificate programs can take less than a year to complete whereas an associate's degree program takes two years of full-time study to complete.
  • Students should consider a school that provides an approved educational program that is recognized for state licensing requirements.
  • Cosmetology encompasses many different possible careers, like hair coloring, manicuring, and hair styling, so prospective students should look for a school that offers a program with a focus that matches his or her professional goals.
  • Students interested in opening their own salon should seek out programs with strong business courses.

Certificate Program

Certificates in cosmetology can take less than one year to complete, and even the longer cosmetology certificate programs ready students for careers with less than two years of classes. Certificate programs can be less expensive than associate's degree programs in cosmetology, due in part to their shorter length.

Associate's Degree

An associate's degree in cosmetology takes two years of full-time study to complete, but covers more general education and cosmetology areas. Courses cover topics such as the principles of cosmetology, skin care, hairstyling, chemical services and haircutting. Some associate's degree programs may also cover business practices and basic accounting to prepare graduates to open their own salons.

Whether students choose to enroll in a certificate or associate's degree program in cosmetology, there are many different options to choose from. Before choosing a school, students should consider program length, program focus, tuition costs and more.

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