Cosmetology Schools in Northern California with Course Summaries

There are more than ten schools within Northern California that have cosmetology courses. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition information and find out which school is the right one for you.

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  • Aesthetician and Skin Care
  • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
  • Beauty Salon Management
  • Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
  • Electrolysis
  • Facial Treatment Specialist
  • Hair Design
  • Make-Up Artist
  • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing

Essential Information

Cosmetology studies in Northern California are offered at several public 2-year colleges through general cosmetology certificate programs, which may take 35-40 credits to complete. Shorter certificate programs are also available for aspiring manicurists and nail technicians, as well as estheticians. In addition, associate's degree programs are available and combine cosmetology and general education courses.

Career Requirements

In the state of California, students must complete a 1,600-hour training program in order to qualify for the state licensure examination. After passing the exam, cosmetologists are granted licensure. Those who want to be manicurists must complete a 400-hour program, while estheticians have to finish a 600-hour program in order to qualify for the state board exam in their field. There are more than ten schools in Northern California that offer cosmetology courses, but ten of the largest are discussed below. All of the following programs prepare students for state licensure.


Butte College

Butte College is found in Oroville, and its cosmetology programs can result in an Associate of Science or a Certificate of Achievement. Both programs require students to take 35 units spread out across eight cosmetology courses. In the associate's degree program, students take an additional 25 units in general education courses. Students can also find esthetician and manicuring certificate programs at this school. The manicuring program is ten units, while the esthetician program is 16 units.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate in Esthetician,
    Certificate in Manicuring,
    Associate of Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,334 (in-state)*
    $6,134 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; distant rural

College of San Mateo

A cosmetology student in San Mateo at the College of San Mateo could earn an Associate in Arts or a Certificate of Achievement. The cosmetology curriculum here is a total of 57 semester units. Students take several fundamental cosmetology classes before moving onto advanced cosmetology courses. Hair analysis, skin care, hair coloring, nail care and hair design are all topics found in this school's cosmetology coursework.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Associate in Arts in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,418 (in-state)*
    $6,010 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

Gavilan College

Students who want a cosmetology or esthetician certificate can find program options at Gavilan College in Gilroy. The esthetician program is 22 units and has coursework in scientific skin care, advanced scientific skin care, small group communication and public speaking. The cosmetology program is broken up into a beginning phase, an intermediate phase, an advanced phase and a completion phase. Depending on which courses are taken in the completion phase, the program here can be 38-48 units. Cosmetology students can also earn an Associate of Science.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
    Associate of Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,242 (in-state)*
    $6,234 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; fringe rural

Laney College

A cosmetology certificate program can be earned in Oakland at Laney College. The program can be completed in 3-4 semesters depending on whether students choose the daytime option or the evening option. The coursework is the same regardless of which scheduling option a student chooses. The curriculum covers the following: facials, hair color services, hair styling services, pedicuring and manicuring, chemical services and cosmetology theory.

  • Program Offered: Certificate in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,144 (in-state)*
    $5,704 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Marinello Schools of Beauty - Santa Clara

This Santa Clara school has certificate programs for aspiring cosmetologists and estheticians. Both programs cover safety regulations, facial techniques, health laws and makeup application. Cosmetology students explore additional topics, like hair cutting and styling. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, this school's esthetics program takes roughly five months to complete, and the cosmetology program often takes ten months.

  • Programs Offered: Cosmetology Certificate,
    Esthetics Certificate
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $18,553 (cosmetology program)*
    $9,428 (esthetics program)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, private for-profit; midsize city

Sacramento City College

Nail technology and cosmetology are the two certificate options here, while cosmetology students may also choose to earn an associate's degree at Sacramento City College in Sacramento. The nail technology program is only three courses, consisting of an introduction course, a theory class and a laboratory course for a total of 18.5 units. The cosmetology program can be finished in 3-4 semesters, and the coursework consists of basic, intermediate and advanced theory courses.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Art and Science of Nail Technology,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,104 (in-state)*
    $7,200 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

San Jose City College

Located in San Jose, San Jose City College offers an associate's degree and a certificate in cosmetology. Students pair theory coursework with laboratory classes in order to apply what is learned in the classroom to a practical environment. The certificate program and the associate's program feature the same core professional courses, but the associate's program has general education requirements as well.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Associate of Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,324 (in-state)*
    $6,946 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Skyline College

Esthetician, cosmetology, manicuring and cosmetology entrepreneurship certificate programs are just a few of the programs available for cosmetology students in San Bruno at Skyline College. Most of the certificate programs are 9-18 units, aside from the cosmetology certificate program, which is 40 units. These same 40 units are transferable into an Associate in Science in Cosmetology degree program if students are willing to take 20 additional units to fulfill general education requirements.

  • Programs Offered: Career Certificate in Cosmetology: Manicuring,
    Certificate of Specialization in Cosmetology: Entrepreneurship,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology: Esthetician,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,111 (in-state)*
    $7,471 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Solano Community College

Solano Community College in Fairfield is home to certificate and associate's degree programs in cosmetology. To earn the associate's degree, students have to complete 66 units of coursework; the certificate program only requires 37.5 units. The core of both programs consists of five courses in hair care, client communication and skin care techniques. Students can also take electives in nail systems, artificial nails, cosmetology instructor training or special hair processes.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Nail Technician Certificate,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,416 (in-state)*
    $7,326 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; fringe rural

Yuba College

An associate's degree and a certificate in cosmetology are available at Yuba College in Marysville. Both programs cover shampoo techniques, facials, manicuring and hair cutting. Those who want to earn the associate's degree need to complete an additional 18 units of general education courses. Training classes for aspiring manicurists and cosmetology instructors are available as well.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,124 (in-state)*
    $6,320 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Cosmetology Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Butte College 2-year, public; distant rural Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate in Esthetician,
Certificate in Manicuring,
Associate of Science in Cosmetology
$1,334 (in-state)*
$6,134 (out-of-state)*
College of San Mateo 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Arts in Cosmetology
$1,418 (in-state)*
$6,010 (out-of-state)*
Gavilan College 2-year, public; fringe rural Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Esthetician,
Associate of Science in Cosmetology
$1,242 (in-state)*
$6,234 (out-of-state)*
Laney College 2-year, public; large city Certificate in Cosmetology $1,144 (in-state)*
$5,704 (out-of-state)*
Marinello Schools of Beauty - Santa Clara 2-year, private for-profit; midsize city Cosmetology Certificate,
Esthetics Certificate
$18,553 (cosmetology program)*
$9,428 (esthetics program)*
Sacramento City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Art and Science of Nail Technology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,104 (in-state)*
$7,200 (out-of-state)*
San Jose City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate of Science in Cosmetology
$1,324 (in-state)*
$6,946 (out-of-state)*
Skyline College 2-year, public; large suburb Career Certificate in Cosmetology: Manicuring,
Certificate of Specialization in Cosmetology: Entrepreneurship,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology: Esthetician,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,111 (in-state)*
$7,471 (out-of-state)*
Solano Community College 2-year, public; fringe rural Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Nail Technician Certificate,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,416 (in-state)*
$7,326 (out-of-state)*
Yuba College 2-year, public; small suburb Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,124 (in-state)*
$6,320 (out-of-state)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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