Master's in Cosmetology

Master's degree programs in cosmetology are not available; instead, you can study this field through a diploma, certificate or associate degree program. Find out what you'd study in a cosmetology program, and check the requirements for licensure. Review your advancement options as a cosmetologist. Additionally, read about some related topics that can be studied at the master's degree level, such as cosmetic chemistry.

What Levels of Cosmetology Study Are There?

You can pursue a certificate, diploma or associate degree in cosmetology. Many of these programs are designed to meet state requirements, so you'll be able to sit for the state cosmetologist licensing examination when you graduate. To enter a cosmetology programs, you need to be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Because this is a very hands-on course of study, no online programs are available.

Levels of Cosmetology Study Certificate, diploma, associate's degree
Areas of Study Hair styling and care, skin care, nail care, make-up application, chemistry
Master Cosmetologist Option Advanced study of cosmetology, with focus on one specialization; states have different licensure requirements for this title
Related Master's Degree Fields Chemistry or pharmaceutical science with a specialization in cosmetic science
Master's-Level Courses Chemistry, biology, toxicology, microbiology, hair and skin care formulations
Median Salary (2018)$24,730 (for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)13% growth (for all hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Topics Will I Study?

Cosmetology programs are broad in nature, and they teach you about a variety of beauty topics. You will study hair styling, hair care, skin care, nail care and make-up. You can also expect to learn about the business side of working in or running your own salon. This could include classes in accounting, management or business planning.

You will study each beauty-specific area in depth. For example, when you study nails, not only will you learn how to properly give a manicure and pedicure, you will also learn about nail diseases and disorders. You may also take classes in chemistry, anatomy and physiology to better understand how beauty and health can be related. To satisfy state licensing requirements, you will also study safety and sanitation.

While you will have traditional lecture classes, many of your classes will be lab-based. To participate in the labs, you will probably have to purchase additional supplies such as scissors, nail files and a practice mannequin head. Skills you may practice at these labs will include hair cutting, braiding, coloring and chemical manipulation (perming). You will also practice giving facials, applying make-up and performing manicures. Eventually, you'll move to a practicum setting and practice on people.

How Do I Become a Master Cosmetologist?

Once you are licensed as a cosmetologist, you can choose to continue your education and become a master cosmetologist. Completing this certification allows you to take on apprentices for training. Some states regulate the licensure of that title, so be sure to check with your state's requirements. Some states have certain educational requirements that need to be met for you to use this designation. Other states require continuing education once you are licensed.

During a master cosmetologist program, you will study topics similar to those in your cosmetology program, but at an advanced level. Multiple tracks may be available, though you'll likely concentrate on one. For example, if you choose to focus on hair, your courses will only be related to hair care, hair styling and hair diseases. Currently, no master cosmetologist programs are available online.

What Cosmetic-Related Topics Can I Pursue at the Master's Degree Level?

If you want to create cosmetic products, you can earn a Master of Science degree or a Master of Arts degree. Some programs offer degrees in chemistry, while others offer a degree in pharmaceutical science. In either scenario, you'll want to look for a program that allows you to specialize in cosmetic science. It will take approximately 2-5 years to complete your degree, and you can generally attend full- or part-time.

Programs are available on campus and online. However, programs with a cosmetic science specialization are extremely rare with either option. In an online program, you'll likely be required to complete certain lab courses in person at the school. This will probably only require one or two trips to your school over the course of your studies.

What Will I Study at the Master's Degree Level?

You can expect to take classes in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, toxicology and microbiology. Specific cosmetic science courses may include classes on skin or hair care formulations and the types of raw materials used for cosmetics or perfume creation. You will also take classes on polymer creation (how molecules bond), colors or product creation. Many of your courses will be lab-based, allowing you to practice creating cosmetics and perfumes.