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Can you complete cosmetology school online?

    If you aspire to become a makeup artist, esthetician, or stylist or pursue any other career within the beauty industry, receiving a cosmetology degree and license may open doors for you.

    Continue reading to learn more about cosmetology school and whether it’s possible to attend this type of school online to receive your license.

    What’s cosmetology school?

    Cosmetology programs can be found at community colleges, beauty schools, or vocational and trade schools. You can receive a certificate or an associate degree in cosmetology.

    Students in cosmetology school take a range of beauty courses, including advanced courses in specializations that include skin care, hairstyling, hair coloring, makeup, nail services, safety, and sterilization. Students get to practice their skills on mannequins, on their classmates, and on real clients in a salon-like setting under the supervision of experienced instructors.

    Cosmetology schools also often include business marketing classes to help students who aim to start their own businesses.

    After graduating from cosmetology school, you’ll need to complete a licensing exam to obtain your cosmetology license necessary to work. This license is required in all states in the U.S.

    While researching cosmetology school, you may see the term “beauty school” being used interchangeably, and you may think that both mean the same thing. However, beauty schools and cosmetology programs aren’t usually the same, so it’s important to know the differences between them as you weigh your options.

    While some beauty schools offer comprehensive cosmetology programs, they also may offer specialized programs, such as makeup artistry, hairstyling, esthetician training, barbering, and many others. If you opt for a specialized beauty school program and not a cosmetology program, you’ll still need to complete the state licensing requirements after completing your program to work, but you may not have to complete as comprehensive of a program.

    What are the requirements for entering and graduating from cosmetology school?

    Each cosmetology school’s entrance requirements are different, so research the requirements for the school you’d like to attend.

    In addition, to apply, you must be at least 16 years old and have graduated from high school or have an equivalent diploma unless your high school offers a cosmetology program.

    As far as the requirements to complete a cosmetology program, while every program has different requirements, it’s worth noting that every state has its own requirements for the amount of training or apprenticeship hours needed to graduate cosmetology school, so you'll need to check what your state requires to make sure you stay on track.

    How long is cosmetology school?

    The time it will take to complete cosmetology school depends on the school, the program you’re enrolled in, and whether you’re a full or part-time student.

    Generally, cosmetology programs can range from nine months to two years. A certificate program usually takes about nine months to complete, a diplomas program may take you between 12 to 18 months, and associate degrees typically take two years to complete.

    Can you complete cosmetology school online?

    Due to the nature of cosmetology, and the hands-on training required to receive your cosmetology degree, no cosmetology programs are fully online. However, you’ll be able to find hybrid programs where you’ll be able to do online coursework and complete in-person training.

    Completing some cosmetology classes online includes benefits such as:

    • The ability to save time and money on a daily commute to campus, as you’ll only need to commute for the in-person requirements, including in-person training
    • Online classes may give you more flexibility, which can be helpful if you’re also working full-time, have family obligations, or other needs
    • Depending on the program you’re enrolled in, the online component of the program may be self-directed, which will allow you to work at your own pace

    Some downsides to consider are:

    • While hybrid programs offer in-person training, it may not be as comprehensive as traditional in-person cosmetology school programs, which may lead to potential gaps in practical skills
    • Compared to full-time in-person programs, hybrid cosmetology programs may offer fewer opportunities for networking and mentorship within the beauty industry

    Can you get financial aid for cosmetology school (including online programs)?

    Federal financial aid is available to cosmetology students who attend an accredited cosmetology program at least half-time. You must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to be eligible for federal financial aid.

    Outside of federal financial aid, you may also be eligible for scholarships and grants, so research the options available to you.

    Final thoughts

    If you’re able to find a cosmetology program that offers online courses, it’s important to check your state’s requirements, as in-person practice and training are often necessary. You want to make sure you fulfill all the requirements required to complete the program and take your licensing exam, so you can fulfill your goal of becoming a licensed cosmetologist.