Best 11 Cosmetology Schools in Denver (2022)

Ready to start your journey to becoming a cosmetologist in the Mile High City? Check out the top 11 cosmetology schools in Denver, including information on cosmetology programs, required courses, student reviews, and graduation rates.

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Top Cosmetology Schools in Denver

#1 - National Beauty College
#2 - Emily Griffith Technical College
#3 - Stacey James Institute
#4 - Aveda Institute-Denver
#5 - Cheeks Beauty Academy

Top Cosmetology Schools in Denver (Full List)

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National Beauty College is an independent beauty school that opened in 2001. Unlike many other beauty programs in Denver, it's located in a residential area near restaurants and businesses, providing students with opportunities to work with local clients in a salon-like environment. The school prides itself on instilling professionalism in each student, with courses emphasizing professional services and networking.

The cosmetology program is 1,500 hours of theory and practical coursework, which requires 62.5 weeks of full-time study. Courses include information on proper work habits, safety and sanitation, and preparation for the Colorado cosmetology exams. The program takes place from Tuesday to Friday, with practical courses on Saturdays. Classes are available in English, but the school offers tutoring sessions in Vietnamese and Spanish.

National Beauty College also offers hairstylist, nail technician, esthetician, and permanent makeup programs.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  95.10 %
School Profile

Emily Griffith Technical College is a trade school in downtown Denver with an impressive 4.5-star rating on Indeed. A previous student who completed the cosmetology program at Emily Griffith says, "This is a great school! I wouldn't have gone anywhere else; I highly recommend this school. It was diverse clientele which has put me a step ahead of the game since I got [to] practice… and I wasn't intimidated by any haircut or any chemical service."

The cosmetology program is available either full- or part-time, so you can find the option that best suits your schedule. If you attend full-time, you can complete the program in as little as 11 months. The program is split between theory courses taught by industry experts and guest lecturers and hands-on experience working with clients in the school's salon.

The school also has a Career Opportunity Network, which can help you find a job after completing the program, and tons of scholarship opportunities.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  86.90 %
School Profile

At the Stacy James Institute, you have the opportunity to prepare for a career in a high-end salon. The school has many positive ratings on Facebook, including one from Mariah Harris that says, "it's a great school and I love that all of the teachers are loving and caring towards the students."

In the 1,500-hour cosmetology program, students learn how to perform hair color techniques like balayage, highlights, and all-over color. You also learn how to cut hair, complete manicures and pedicures, wax eyebrows, apply makeup, and offer beauty services like spray tanning or wrap contouring.

Your courses prepare you for the theory and practical exams needed for licensure in Colorado, and classes are only available in English. The school offers programs in esthetics and barbering as well. Programs start every five to 10 weeks.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  86.20 %
School Profile

The Aveda Institute in Denver has strong reviews across various platforms, with former student Casey Halpern exclaiming, "I've learned so much there! It's a great school."

The cosmetology program is a well-rounded experience that expands students' creativity and sharpens their talent. Expect your real-world education to prepare you for a rewarding beauty career. The instructors focus on a mixture of classic hairstyles and modern techniques, and the award-winning curriculum builds on the foundations of hair cutting, color, and texture with cruelty-free, vegan products.

Unlike other beauty schools, the Aveda Institute teaches you more than what you can find in a textbook. You also learn other important skills, such as applying makeup, nail care, gaining and retaining clients, and business development. Plus, you can gain valuable experience working in the student salon.

The Denver Aveda Institute also offers programs in esthiology and massage therapy.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  81.80 %
School Profile

Established in 1984, Cheeks Beauty Academy's North Loveland campus is well-known and loved for its training and salon services. A previous student, Tara Leone, shares her experience, saying, "As a recent cosmetology graduate, I personally know how great this salon is. So I would just like to let everyone know what they are getting when they come here for a service, or an education. The instructors put so much time and care into the student's futures, while helping to make sure the customers love the service. All of them have years of experience under their belts so if a student hits a roadblock and doesn't know what to do next, they'll be right there to help you."

The 1,500-hour cosmetology program includes comprehensive training in the basics of hair, skin, and nails. Classes focus on hair cutting, coloring, and styling, hair removal, facials, manicures and pedicures, applying artificial nails, and more. Students also learn about management, ethics, and salesmanship.

In addition to cosmetology, Cheeks Beauty Academy offers hairstyling, esthetics, and instructor training programs. The school provides a barbering program at the Wyoming location only.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  74.40 %
School Profile

Pickens Technical College in Aurora offers many educational programs and opportunities. The 1,800-hour cosmetology program trains you in hair, skin, and nails. The classes take place for four to eight hours per day year-round.

Training starts with theoretical subjects, then moves to hands-on learning in a laboratory-like setting where students work on patrons and mannequins. Because this is a technical college, you must pass every course with at least a C or higher to qualify for the licensing exams.

Full-time program hours are Monday-Friday, 7:50 a.m. to 4:25 p.m. Part-time hours are Monday-Friday, 7:50 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. or 12:25 p.m. to 4:25 p.m., or Monday-Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The school also provides other beauty training, such as esthetician, nail technician, and barbering programs.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  69.40 %
School Profile

IBMC College is a nurturing environment with knowledgeable instructors, which probably accounts for the positive reviews on Facebook. Hayley Smothers shares, "IBMC College is the best college! They have amazing teachers who really care about your education."

The cosmetology program covers 1,500 hours of training over 13 months of full-time study, where you learn the basic foundations of haircutting, coloring, styling, makeup artistry, and manicuring. Theoretical training occurs in a classroom setting, and students get hands-on experience working with guests and models in the Student Beauty Services Clinic. Plus, students can volunteer to practice their skills at off-campus events.

IBMC offers other beauty-related certificates and diplomas in cosmetology, esthetics, hairstyling, barbering, and massage therapy. You may also be able to complete your education at the school's other locations in Longmont or Greeley—both of which have excellent ratings. 

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  61.30 %
School Profile

Elevate Salon Institute creates salon-ready professionals by utilizing talented educators. In a recent Google review, Brooke Mendez says, "I am currently a student here at Elevate and by far the best school experience that I've got because I was in a different school previously. Teachers are very intuitive with the class. Communication is thorough. Very happy with my decision on coming here."

The cosmetology program includes 1,500 hours of training in a classroom and student salon setting. The courses cover a wide range of topics, including business, client relations, and social media training to help students increase their earning potential after graduation. You can attend full or part-time, and the school offers many financial aid options for those who qualify. At Elevate Salon Institute, you also get a student kit full of top-notch tools and access to technology to complete your education.

At Elevate Salon Institute, recognized by L'Oréal Professional for excellence in education, students can also participate in a hairstyling, esthetics, nail technician, or barbering program.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  61.20 %
School Profile

At the Avalon School of Cosmetology-Aurora, students get a truly unique experience. On Indeed, a former student explains, "The best thing about this school was their strong focus on 'mock state boards' to prepare you for the real thing."

The cosmetology program encompasses three main stages covering basic theory in hair, skin, and nail care, advanced theory, and career development courses. Students can choose from a 52-week day schedule (Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) or an 81-week night schedule (Monday-Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) to find an option that meets their needs.

When you attend the Avalon School of Cosmetology in Aurora, you also have rare opportunities you can't find at other schools. You can sign up for art exhibits and highly regarded performances, check out nearby wildlife, and study using online textbooks.

Avalon also provides programs in esthetics and instructor training. At the Aurora campus, students even have the option to take add-on courses like makeup artistry and advanced hair extensions.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  60.00 %
School Profile

Empire Beauty School offers a well-rounded education. In a Google review, Carley Dankert says, "Where do I begin!... They made this transition smooth sailing from the beginning. In spite of my traveling to and from Florida they were understanding, helpful all along the way."

The 1,500-hour cosmetology program includes hands-on instruction in hair cutting, coloring, chemical services, nail and skin care, marketing and communication, business, and more. Training includes working in a student salon to help students gain real-world experience, and highly trained educators teach the interactive classes in Littleton. The program includes a student kit, complete with professional tools, products, and mannequins needed to complete your education.

Empire Beauty School in Littleton also provides esthetics, nail technology, and educator training programs.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  57.90 %
School Profile

Paul Mitchell the School is well-known in the beauty industry for producing highly qualified Future Professionals, and the Denver location is in a suburb with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. In her Google review, Chanay McKenzie says, "Started on the 14th and love it so far! The staff is amazing! You're pretty much hands on by the second day and that's great."

The cosmetology program covers 1,500 hours of training. The curriculum begins with foundation courses covering the basics of skin, nails, and hair. Toward the end of your education, you move into a salon-like environment to practice with real clients.

You get more than a classroom and salon-based education when attending a Paul Mitchell beauty school. This school comes with complete digital support, meaning you can access your assignments, school news, and career tips online. Every student gets an iPad with their comprehensive student kit.

Paul Mitchell the School in Denver also offers a 600-hour esthetics program.

3-Year Average Graduation Rate
2018 – 2020 average:  51.90 %
School Profile

How We Ranked Denver Cosmetology Programs

The cosmetology schools ranked are accredited or state-approved to provide cosmetology programming according to the licensing requirements in the state. We researched schools that qualified as Title IV institutions and had an average of at least 25 students enrolled in the most recent 3 academic years of available data (2018 - 2020). These schools are all within 50 miles of a major city center and had a weighted 3-year average graduation rate (2018, 2019, and 2020) greater than 50%. After filtering for those requirements, we sorted the remaining programs by the highest weighted average graduation rate to determine the top 11 cosmetology schools in Denver.

Graduation rate and student enrollment data are from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports. Schools with key data points missing from IPEDS reports may be omitted from the ranking, as are schools with data that is unattributable to its beauty programs. Many excellent educational institutions—including community colleges—offering a wide variety of vocational programs may, as a result, not be represented on these rankings of top beauty schools.

Editorial Transparency and Anti-Bias Statement
This program ranking and others on our site were created by Beauty Schools Directory editorial staff based on both proprietary and publicly available data. In providing this information for our readers, our team makes editorial decisions independent from any commercial partnerships with any educational institution.