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Cosmetology School Accreditation & NACCAS
What does accreditation mean for you?
Choosing a cosmetology school is an important life decision, and you need the best information possible to make an educated, confident choice. During your selection process, the topic of accreditation is bound to come up. Beauty Schools Directory is here to explain exactly what accreditation means to you as a student, and how schools become accredited in the beauty industry. To look for accredited beauty schools near you, simply enter your zip code in the box to the right and click “Find Schools.”
Jump to Your Question:
- What does being an "accredited cosmetology school" mean?
- Why is it beneficial to attend a school with accreditation?
- What is the NACCAS?
- Which beauty schools are accredited?
- What agencies may accredit beauty schools?
Beauty schools that are labeled "accredited" have met certain academic and institutional requirements established by the cosmetology school accrediting organizations. Typically these organizations comprise schools with similar training programs and curricula, and they establish consistent eligibility criteria and an index to measure beauty schools against. NACCAS is not a government agency, but the United States Department of Education recognizes their authority in accrediting cosmetology schools and beauty schools. Accreditation helps preserve the integrity and quality of education in the cosmetology field.
Some of the factors that accrediting organizations look for are the cosmetology school's curriculum, quality of education, facilities, staff, and admission policies. NACCAS in particular accredits schools based on standards and criteria in a number of different areas:
- Educational Objectives
- Institutional Evaluation
- Instructional Staff
- Administrative Services
- Admissions Policies & Procedures
- Student Support Services
- Financial Practices & Management
- Instructional Space & Facilities
- Student Evaluations
- Courses of Study & Programs
The steps to NACCAS accreditation for beauty schools includes getting the school properly licensed, attending an accreditation workshop, completing an institutional self-study and having a candidate consultation visit, filling out the necessary applications and paying the required fees, and then having an initial accreditation full team visit, among other steps. Accredited schools are re-evaluated at least every six years, and they must continue living up to the established standards to keep their accreditation active. If they fall short of the requirements, they are assigned an amount of time to correct the issues. (Note that massage school accreditation follows different criteria.)
Being accredited means that the school meets national education performance standards established by the agency. While an unaccredited beauty school may live up to the same standards, being accredited is a reliable signal that the school has been objectively evaluated and meets high standards for quality in serving students. Attending an accredited beauty school can also improve your chances of finding employment after graduating and getting licensed, because many employers look for people who got their education at certified institutions. The primary advantage of choosing a cosmetology school that is "accredited" is its ability to offer federal financial aid resources to beauty school students who qualify. All that said, while accreditation is important to most beauty schools, there are still tons of excellent beauty schools available that are not yet accredited but are working on attaining that status.
The largest accrediting agency for beauty and cosmetology schools is NACCAS, which stands for the National Accrediting Commission for Career Arts & Sciences. The agency is based in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1981, a merger incorporated the Cosmetology Accrediting Commission (CAC) into the organization. NACCAS is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an accrediting authority. NACCAS currently accredits approximately 1,500 institutions that serve more than 120,000 students nationwide. These schools offer more than 20 courses and programs of study under the NACCAS scope of accreditation – including all the cosmetology arts and sciences, massage therapy, esthetics and skin care, hair braiding, shampooing, makeup artistry, barbering, electrology and hair removal, manicurists and nail technology, and many more specific programs within the field.
To contact the NACCAS directly:
Phone: (703) 600-7600
Fax: (703) 379-2200
Address: 4401 Ford Ave., Suite 1300
Alexandria, Virginia 22302.
You can find an extensive list of accredited beauty schools that receive recognition from the NACCAS in our featured beauty schools section. Or for a list of cosmetology schools with accreditation status in your state, you can also contact your state cosmetology licensing board or use search the NACCAS list. When viewing the featured school pages for campuses on our site, look for this NACCAS logo.
Other accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education include:
- ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges)
- ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continued Education & Training)
- COE (Council on Occupational Education)
- NACCAS (National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences)
- SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
In addition to these accrediting bodies, look for beauty schools that are members of notable professional organizations, such as the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS). Membership in these associations can be a strong indicator of a high-quality school that participates in the beauty community and places a high priority on networking and continuing education.
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