PhD in Cosmetology

Cosmetology is not available as a graduate field of study, though you can earn a master's degree in cosmetic science to learn to create cosmetic products and perfumes. If you want to become a cosmetologist, you'll want to enroll in an undergraduate program in cosmetology. Explore the coursework in these programs, check the availability of online study, and get career info for cosmetologists and scientists.

What Degrees Are Available in Cosmetology?

While no Ph.D. programs are available in cosmetology, graduate degrees in cosmetic science are available at the master's degree level, if you're interested in pursuing a career creating products for the cosmetic industry, or working with technology in a lab setting. Some programs require an undergraduate degree in a science major, such as biology or chemistry.

If you're just getting started with college, you can pursue a number of associate's degrees and certificates that prepare you for work as a hair stylist, makeup artist or skin care professional, among other specialties. Although specific requirements vary by state, a license to work as a cosmetologist may typically be obtained after completing a state-approved training program, such as an associate's degree or certificate program, and passing a state licensing exam, which is generally a written test, but may involve a styling skills test or an oral component.

Degree OptionsCosmetology Ph.D. programs not offered; cosmetology associate's degrees and cosmetic science master's degrees are available
Cosmetology CoursesSalon operations, hair coloring, chemistry, sanitation
Cosmetic Science CoursesMolecular biology, skin care, pharmacology, biopharmaceuticals
Online AvailabilitySome online cosmetology courses may be available; online cosmetic science programs are uncommon
Career PossibilitiesDepending on the degree, you could find work as a cosmetologist in a salon or spa; cosmetic scientists could find work in a lab setting
Median Salary (2020)$27,380 (for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists)*
Job Outlook (2019-29) 2% decline (for all hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn How To Do?

Courses in associate's degree and certificate programs prepare you to work in a number of settings, from salons to spas. Coursework covers a number of topics, such as safety, sanitation, hygiene, cosmetic products and the instruments used in the field. Associate's degree programs also cover general education and business courses. Some of the topics you can expect to explore in this type of program include:

  • Salon operations
  • Hair coloring
  • Light therapy
  • Hair removal
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Chemistry

Master's degree programs in cosmetic science cover topics ranging from research methodology and biopharmaceuticals to quality assurance and regulatory compliance, including the role of the FDA in the cosmetics industry. In addition to coursework, you'll typically also be required to complete a capstone project. Some of the courses you can expect to take include:

  • Molecular biology
  • Cosmetic microbiology
  • Dermatological formulas
  • Pharmacology
  • Science of hair care
  • Skin care
  • Bio materials

Are Programs Available Online?

Cosmetology programs are typically offered in a campus-based format, due to the hands-on nature of the training and practice necessary for licensing. However, courses are available online in various related subjects, such as manicures or skin care, if you're interested in finding additional courses that can help build your career.

Graduate programs in cosmetic science can be found online, although distance learning programs in this field are rare. You may be able to take some individual online courses in cosmetic science as a non-degree-seeking student. Online programs are generally delivered asynchronously, allowing you to access coursework at your convenience, while still providing you with access to instructors and other students.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

As a licensed cosmetologist, you may find a job working in a salon or spa performing a number of duties from cutting and styling hair and giving manicures and pedicures. You could also specialize in a particular area, such as skin care or massage.

With a master's degree in cosmetic science, you may find yourself working in a lab formulating products or directing product development activities. You may also pursue a career in other areas, such as research or sales.