Cosmetology Schools in California with Program Descriptions

Research cosmetology programs in California, which currently has nearly 150 schools offering programs. Read an overview of programs, tuition information and program options for the ten largest schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

Cosmetology certificate and associate's degree programs are offered by 2-year colleges in California. Some non-degree programs are also available. Programs can be completed full or part time, and some programs also offer classes in the evening. Some programs include hands-on labs to help students practice what they've learned.

Career Requirements

In the state of California, cosmetologists are required to be licensed by the state to practice. To become licensed, students must complete a 1,600-hour cosmetology program and pass a state examination. Following are brief overviews of the ten largest California schools that offer cosmetology programs, as well a table comparing individual program offerings and tuition info.


Cerritos College

Cerritos College is in Norwalk, and enrolled students can earn a certificate or associate's degree in cosmetology. The cosmetology program has full-time day and part-time evening sessions. Students that graduate from this 1,600-clock hour program receive a Certificate of Completion. By also completing general education requirements, they can instead obtain an Associate of Arts degree. The cosmetology curriculum covers areas like hair cutting, hair coloring, manicuring, skin care and pedicuring.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology
    Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,340 in-state; $6,072 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

El Camino Community College District

An associate's degree program and a certificate program are available for cosmetology students at El Camino Community College District in Torrance. The certificate option takes 37-46.5 units to finish while the associate's degree option requires a minimum of 60 units. Cosmetology coursework is offered through introductory, intermediate and advanced classes that address topics such as sanitation and safety, cosmetology equipment usage, styling techniques, waves, facials and chemical straightening. Students can attend evening or daytime courses, depending on their schedules.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,142 in-state; $6,204 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Fullerton College

Located in Fullerton, Fullerton College offers a cosmetology certificate and an associate's degree program in cosmetology. Major requirements for both of these programs are 52 units in length. In these 52 units, students take five cosmetology courses. Chemical texturizing, nail application, scalp treatment, corrective makeup and hair styling are just a few of the areas covered. The difference between the programs is that the associate's degree option requires additional general education coursework.

  • Programs Offered: Cosmetology Certificate
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,138 in-state; $6,010 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsized city

Pasadena City College

A cosmetology program is available in Pasadena at Pasadena City College. In this 1,600-hour program, students can learn from demonstrations conducted by instructors and then practice what they've learned on doll heads. Additionally, instructors issue written tests to monitor students' progress. The state licensing exam pass rate for program graduates is 90%.

  • Program Offered: 1,600-hour Cosmetology Program
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,152 in-state; $6,504 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsized city

Riverside City College

Students in the Riverside area can pursue a cosmetology program at Riverside City College. Students who take day classes can finish the program in one year, while those who select night courses can complete the program in two years. The curriculum encompasses nail care, skin care and hair care. To graduate, students have to receive a 2.0 GPA or higher. Upon graduation from this 1,600-hour program, students receive a Certificate of Completion.

  • Program Offered: Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,413 in-state; $6,813 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Sacramento City College

Sacramento City College in Sacramento is home to a certificate and an associate's degree program in cosmetology. Cosmetology coursework in both programs totals 47 units. Students in the associate's degree program have to take at least 13 additional units to graduate. The program is designed to allow students to take a theory course and a laboratory class side by side. This provides the opportunity for them to apply knowledge from the theory course in a laboratory setting.

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

Saddleback College

Found in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College has programs in cosmetician and cosmetology. The cosmetician program is a single, 16-unit course that takes 600 hours to complete. It can be finished in 1.5-3 semesters, depending on if the student attends on a full-time or part-time basis. The cosmetology program takes four semesters for full-time students and twice that length for part-time students. Each class is 12 units, and four courses comprise this 1,600-hour program.

  • Programs Offered: Occupational Skills Award in Cosmetician
    Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $762 in-state; $4,694 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

San Diego City College

A Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology and an Associate in Science in Cosmetology can be obtained in San Diego at San Diego City College. The programs have similar curricula. Classes cover rules, regulations and physiology; chemistry and chemical services; basic business practices; cosmetology fundamentals; intermediate cosmetology; and advanced cosmetology. Students in the associate's degree program also take general education classes, as well as courses in chemistry and business.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,140 in-state; $5,532 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Santa Barbara City College

Students at Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara can enroll in a program that results in a cosmetology certificate. Classes are offered year round. A student enrolled on a full-time basis can finish in about 13 months, if he or she is willing to take summer classes. Students have the opportunity to learn about sanitary and safety procedures, hair shaping and cutting, hair lightening and coloring and hair removal techniques in this 1,800-hour program. By taking additional general education courses, students can earn an associate's degree instead of a certificate.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology
    Associate in Science in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,374 in-state; $7,254 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

Santa Monica College

Cosmetology students at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica graduate with a certificate or an associate's degree. To finish either program, students have to complete at least half of their coursework at this school and earn a 'C' or better in their classes. The cosmetology program consists of 38 units in nail care, skin care, permanent waving, curly hair techniques, hair coloring, hair styling and hair cutting. Additional general education coursework must be taken in the associate's degree program to obtain the necessary 60 units.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
    Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $1,140 in-state; $6,012 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Cosmetology Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Cerritos College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology,
Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
$1,340 in-state;
$6,072 out-of-state*
El Camino Community College District 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,142 in-state; $6,204 out-of-state*
Fullerton College 2-year, public; midsized city Cosmetology Certificate,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,138 in-state; $6,010 out-of-state*
Pasadena City College 2-year, public; midsized city 1,600-hour Cosmetology Program $1,152 in-state;
$6,504 out-of-state*
Riverside City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology $1,413 in-state;
$6,813 out-of-state*
Sacramento City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,104 in-state; $7,200 out-of-state*
Saddleback College 2-year, public; large suburb Occupational Skills Award in Cosmetician,
Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology
$762 in-state;
$4,694 out-of-state*
San Diego City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,140 in-state;
$5,532 out-of-state*
Santa Barbara City College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology,
Associate in Science in Cosmetology
$1,374 in-state;
$7,254 out-of-state*
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Cosmetology,
Associate of Arts in Cosmetology
$1,140 in-state;
$6,012 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Barranquitas
    Areas of study you may find at D'Mart Institute include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Aesthetician and Skin Care
        • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
        • Hair Design
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
        • Permanent Cosmetics and Tattooing
  • School locations:
    • Poplarville
    Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Barber and Hair Cutting Services
  • School locations:
    • Marquette
    Areas of study you may find at Northern Michigan University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
      • Culinary Arts and Culinary Services
  • School locations:
    • Russellville
    Areas of study you may find at Arkansas Tech University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
  • School locations:
    • Dunwoody
    • Kennesaw
    • Lawrenceville
    • Arlington Heights
    • Hanover Park
    • Lisle
    • Boston
    • Malden
    • Owings Mills
    • Concord
    • Matthews
    • Hooksett
    • Laconia
    • Portsmouth
    • Somersworth
    • Bordentown
    • Cherry Hill
    • Laurel Springs
    • Astoria
    • Brooklyn
    • New York
    • Exton
    • Hanover
    • Harrisburg
    • Lancaster
    • Lebanon
    • Monroeville
    • Moosic
    • Philadelphia
    • Pittsburgh
    • Pottsville
    • Reading
    • Shamokin Dam
    • State College
    • Warminster
    • West Mifflin
    • Whitehall
    • Williamsport
    • York
    • Midlothian
    • Richmond
    Areas of study you may find at Empire Beauty School include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
  • School locations:
    • Milwaukee
    Areas of study you may find at Milwaukee Area Technical College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Hair Design
      • Culinary Arts and Culinary Services
      • Funeral Related Services
  • School locations:
    • Joplin
    • O'Fallon
    • Saint Joseph
    • Sunset Hills
    • Memphis
    Areas of study you may find at Vatterott College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
  • School locations:
    • Berwyn
    Areas of study you may find at American Career College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Cosmetology, Hair, and Nail Instructor
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist
  • School locations:
    • West Palm Beach
    Areas of study you may find at Lincoln College of Technology include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Beauty Salon Management
      • Culinary Arts and Culinary Services
  • School locations:
    • Ocean
    Areas of study you may find at Concorde School of Hair Design include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
      • Cosmetology and Related Services
        • Aesthetician and Skin Care
        • Nail Technician - Manicurist

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