Best 49 Cosmetology Schools in Illinois (2022)
Illinois can be a great place to pursue your beauty school education and career, whether you live in the Chicago metro area, near Springfield, or a less urban area in the state. But with more than 100 licensed cosmetology schools in Illinois, it can be time-consuming to figure out which one will best suit your goals and lifestyle. To help you on your journey, we’ve identified the top cosmetology schools in Illinois, along with descriptions and highlights of their programs.
Top Cosmetology Schools in Illinois
Top Cosmetology Schools in Illinois (Full List)
With various programs and a welcoming campus, Paul Mitchell the School Normal provides a foundational beauty education for would-be industry professionals.
New cosmetology students can enroll in the 1,500-hour cosmetology course that develops increasingly advanced techniques and skills as it proceeds through the program’s three levels. Beauty professionals who’ve already completed a cosmetology program can choose the 250-hour refresher course. The school also offers a 750-hour esthetics course and teacher training (500 hours for cosmetology teachers and 750 hours for esthetics teachers). All students receive an iPad and student kit.
Paul Mitchell the School Normal encourages its Future Professionals to donate their time and talent to local charities while they’re in school and provides financial aid and scholarships to qualified applicants.
As part of the world-renowned Aveda network, Douglas J. Aveda Institute has an excellent reputation and offers cosmetology, esthiology, massage therapy, and barbering programs. The school’s 1,500-hour cosmetology program provides students with opportunities to learn and improve their skills in haircutting, styling, skin care, nail care, and makeup application in a practical, hands-on setting. Cosmetology students work with guests in the salon to become comfortable working in a real-life, professional environment.
The cosmetology curriculum has five phases: Intro, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Salon Life. Students start with building a solid foundation in cosmetology and then expand their knowledge in different areas. The curriculum’s last phases emphasize students’ business and customer service skills to help them market themselves as licensed cosmetologists.
Located in the Western suburbs of Chicago, Paul Mitchell the School Lombard offers cosmetology, barbering, and teacher training programs for aspiring beauty professionals.
With 1,500-hour and 1,600-hour program options, cosmetology students receive a comprehensive theoretical and technical beauty education that progresses through the school’s three levels: Core, Adaptive, and Creative. A 250-hour cosmetology refresher course can help professional cosmetologists stay up to date on current practices. The 1,500-hour barbering and 1,000-hour teacher training programs also provide additional educational opportunities for up-and-coming beauty professionals.
All Future Professionals receive a student kit, iPad, career advice, and extensive digital support via the school’s online portal. Paul Mitchell the School Lombard offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid options for those who qualify.
Trenz Beauty Academy’s cosmetology program trains students in a variety of hair care treatments, including hair cutting, hairstyling, braiding, weaves, sew-ins, and hair coloring. The school operates a flexible class schedule with day and evening classes and full- and part-time options.
The school is unique in its multicultural aspect, offering cosmetology classes in English and Spanish at its Calumet City campus. Trenz Beauty Academy also offers refresher courses in nail technology, cosmetology, and esthetics, along with hair braider and instructor programs. The school’s facility has a theory room, break room, facial area, nail area, and clinic floor.
The “G” in G Skin & Beauty Institute stands for “green,” so this school’s curriculum emphasizes environmentally friendly practices in the beauty industry. The school focuses on client health and safety by minimizing harmful chemicals in their beauty treatments, and their skin care education prioritizes natural and organic ingredients.
The school’s Schaumburg campus trains students in theory, sanitation, hair treatment, hairstyling, and shop management. The Schaumburg beauty school allows for one-on-one training, so students receive significant personal attention. Students also have the chance to work with real customers. In 2019, 100% of cosmetology students earned their license, and over 87% were employed in the field.
Tricoci University of Beauty Culture is an award-winning school offering a flexible cosmetology program designed for different students’ needs, schedules, and budgets. Full-time students can complete their education in a year, and part-time students can complete the program in 20 months. The school prioritizes business and marketing skills in their teaching, and the Libertyville salon is one of the fastest-growing in the nation.
Libertyville’s campus provides students with modern facilities evenly split into theory and practical learning spaces. The campus is complete with a salon and spa where students can practice with guests.
Tricoci University’s cosmetology program prepares students for a wide variety of careers in cosmetology and teaches them how to best market themselves as beauty professionals after graduation. The faculty also helps students discover possible job opportunities upon finishing their course.
Founded in 1995, Midwest Technical Institute provides vocational training in a variety of in-demand fields. The Moline campus offers 1,500- or 2,100-hour hands-on cosmetology programs that take 13 or 17 months to complete, with classes available in the daytime or evenings.
Cosmetology students focus on basic hair cutting, styling, and coloring skills, in addition to learning about skin and nail care. The cosmetology program emphasizes hygiene, sanitation, salon management, Illinois rules and regulations, and customer relations.
Most students at Midwest Technical Institute receive financial aid in federal grants and loans, and students can apply for assistance any time before the program’s start date.
The University of Spa and Cosmetology Arts offers programs in cosmetology, esthiology, barbering, nail technology, massage therapy, and teacher training. The 1,500-hour cosmetology program combines theory, practical application, and clinical work to help students learn the latest techniques in hairstyling, hair treatment, nail care, makeup application, and skin care. The curriculum focuses on both beauty and business management to help students achieve professional success after graduation.
Students learn in spacious, professional clinic areas with the most up-to-date equipment. Since its inception, the school has graduated 2,250 students with alumnus employed across the Midwest and in Canada and New Zealand. Students have access to a flexible class schedule with full- and part-time options and a mix of in-person and distance learning.
The environmentally-conscious beauty school’s Oak Brook campus is a world-class facility offering students practical experience in a salon and spa environment. Beyond their eco-friendly identity, the institute trains students on the latest styling trends in American and European cosmetology techniques.
The school also boasts an impressive alumnus made up of television makeup artists, employees in spas in top tourist destinations like Las Vegas, and professionals working alongside dermatologists and other medical professionals.
The cosmetology curriculum consists of hair treatment, hairstyling, sanitation, business management, and interpersonal relations. Students also take classes in nail technology and esthetics. The Oak Brook campus trains students in cosmetology, nail care, skin care, esthetics, and makeup application.
Founded by celebrity stylist John Amico, the John Amico School of Hair Design trains students in cosmetology, barbering, esthetics, makeup application, and nail technology. The cosmetology program is broken into four levels. Students establish a basic foundation in level one, move onto more advanced techniques in level two, and prepare for salon business management in levels three and four. Cosmetology students become experts in hair coloring, keratin treatments, hair design, barbering, and braiding.
The school offers online education in addition to hands-on learning and flexible class schedules. The John Amico method emphasizes self-esteem and confidence-boosting as well as strong customer service relations.
Beauty school students appreciate the state-of-the-art 17,000 square foot facility and abundant training opportunities at Paul Mitchell the School Bradley, located in the Kankakee metropolitan area.
With programs in cosmetology, barber, esthetics, nail technician, and teacher training, aspiring beauty industry professionals have several options to explore. Students pursuing the 1,500-hour cosmetology program can choose from a full-time or part-time schedule and elect the distance education version, which provides 10% of the course online. The 250-hour cosmetology refresher course also offers full-time and part-time options.
Future Professionals at Paul Mitchell the School Bradley receive a student kit and an iPad, which gives them online access to schoolwork, career advice, cutting and coloring apps, and more. Student-led teams organize public outreach and fundraising events, help with social networking, and work on environmental issues.
Paul Mitchell the School Chicago has a unique location on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. This beauty school is located in a luxury dorm and offers students the college experience, with access to university meal plans, dorm living, a recreation center pass, and more.
Students can choose from cosmetology, barbering, and teacher training, including 1,500-hour, 1,600-hour, and 250-hour cosmetology programs—all of which guide students through Paul Mitchell’s industry-leading Core, Adaptive, and Creative levels. Part-time (Monday-Wednesday) and full-time program options are available.
A full student kit gives cosmetology students the tools they need to advance their skills, and the school-issued iPad enables them to connect online to schoolwork, career advice, and beauty apps. Paul Mitchell the School Chicago provides financial aid assistance to students who qualify.
The Chicago Norwood Park location is Tricoci University’s flagship campus. Established in 2005, the school’s facilities are newly renovated and boast top-notch equipment and resources. The campus is approximately 11,600 square feet and conveniently accessible for many students living in the Greater Chicago area.
The school’s dynamic education prepares students for a host of cosmetology careers, including hairstylist, hair colorist, wedding stylist, makeup artist, and salon manager. To best accommodate their students, the school offers flexible schedules with full- and part-time options. In addition to hands-on experience, the school’s curriculum includes a digital, interactive learning platform called PRO that’s best suited for today’s modern society.
Tricoci University’s Urbana campus offers programs in cosmetology and esthetics. Students learn in a professional, hands-on environment where they have access to live clients in student-run salons and spas. In addition to the hands-on education, cosmetology students learn through electronic methods using Apple iPads and other digital tools, including the school’s interactive learning platform.
Prospective students have access to several financial aid opportunities to assist them in paying for their cosmetology education. Tricoci University’s financial aid staff help students find scholarships, access federal financial aid and loans, and assists with on-campus tuition programs.
Tricoci University’s Bridgeview campus offers programs in cosmetology, barbering, esthetics, and teacher training. The location’s amenities include a clinic area, theory room, wet room, lounges, classrooms, dispensary, and library. Students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience by practicing on salon guests, and they can take advantage of the school’s suburban location by participating in beauty events in Chicago and surrounding communities.
The campus helps students adjust to salon life by offering flexible schedules, including afternoon and night classes, and students can learn at their own pace with full- and part-time education options. The institution’s financial aid professionals help prospective students determine an affordable payment plan for their schooling.
The Tricoci Rockford campus provides a high-quality cosmetology education, and students receive training in a professional and supportive environment offering hands-on learning. The 1,500-hour cosmetology program begins every six weeks with full- and part-time options.
Tricoci University’s award-winning education encompasses a challenging cosmetology curriculum, digital interactive learning, and business management knowledge to give aspiring cosmetologists the tools they’ll need for career success.
The school’s digital learning tool complements its hands-on experience with a modern, tech-savvy touch. And the Nuts and Bolts Training Program teaches students how to market themselves as beauty professionals in today’s self-starter workplace culture.
Founded by beauty industry icon Mario Tricoci in 2004, Tricoci University of Beauty Culture has won multiple awards throughout its history: Excellence in Education Award from Modern Salon, Intercoiffure Mondial’s Best World Academy Award, and Repêchage’s President’s Award for School of the Year.
Tricoci University’s Peoria campus offers cosmetology and esthetics programs. The cosmetology program’s challenging and versatile curriculum comprises training in makeup application, hairstyling, and nail care. Students can hone their beauty and business skills as they prepare for cosmetology licensure. Faculty help students connect with employment opportunities after completing the course.
How We Ranked Illinois 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 49 cosmetology schools in Illinois.
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.