Best 13 Cosmetology Schools in Tennessee (2022)
If you're passionate about the beauty industry and love the idea of helping clients care for their hair, skin, and nails, cosmetology school may be the perfect fit.
Check out the top 13 cosmetology programs in Tennessee and learn what they offer, including class schedules, cosmetology courses, graduation rates, and more.
Top Cosmetology Schools in Tennessee
Top Cosmetology Schools in Tennessee (Full List)
The Salon Professional Academy is a top-ranked Nashville cosmetology school that partners with Sam Villa, winner of the Educator of the Year Award at the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) 2021.
At this beauty school, the main goal is to set students up for flourishing careers with small class sizes and state-of-the-art facilities. Cosmetology students have the chance to train in a lively, high-end salon atmosphere, blending salon life and classroom education. Expect to learn the ins and outs of cosmetology, including hair, esthetics, nails, and business skills.
Designed for hands-on learning, the cosmetology curriculum is based on trends and industry changes. After the first eight weeks, when everyone must attend full-time, students can choose full-time study (34 hours per week) or sign up for a part-time flex schedule (29 hours per week) for the remainder of the program.
Graduates of The Salon Professional Academy work at more than 6,000 Redken Club 5th Avenue Salons all over the country.
Students love the Image Maker Beauty Institute for its comprehensive beauty school education and unique beauty.
Former student Megan Bowman says on Google, "I'm a licensed stylist that graduated from Image Maker in June 2021 and I recommend this school to anyone and everyone. The staff is interested in the complete well being of its students and provide a well rounded education in cosmetology. I was well prepared for my state board exams and for life in the salon that followed. Did I mention that it's absolutely beautiful?? Most clients didn't even realize it was a school with the full working salon inside."
The 1,500-hour cosmetology program is available for full- or part-time study. While the classes cover the basics of hair, skin, and nails, the education also includes rare opportunities like DVD presentations, field trips, industry trade shows, and group projects. Image Maker Beauty Institute is especially adept at walking students through the Tennessee state requirements and licensure process for aspiring cosmetologists.
According to current and former students, The Hair Academy in Fayetteville has "Absolutely amazing students, teachers, and staff! It's a great school to go to if you are looking for a career in these fields!"
The cosmetology program at The Hair Academy covers 1,500 hours of training, including classroom demonstrations and clinical practice. The hours are split between 300 hours of general shop, sales, law, and sanitation courses; 600 hours learning about chemicals for coloring, relaxers, and permanent waves; and 600 hours in physical training like hairdressing, shampooing, manicures and pedicures, and facials.
You can get assistance to help pay for your beauty school education with federal financial aid options and private scholarship opportunities for those studying at the school. The Hair Academy also offers esthetics, nail technology, and cosmetology teacher training programs.
The cosmetology course at the Tennessee School of Beauty of Knoxville covers 1,500 hours of training in 45 weeks or about 10 months. You can complete classes during the day or evening. Day classes typically take place Tuesday through Friday for the first eight weeks, followed by additional hands-on practical experiences every other Saturday for the remainder of the program.
Night classes are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The night program generally takes 18-19 months.
The Tennessee School of Beauty of Knoxville offers other unique opportunities, including certifications in hair and lash extensions and instructor training in cosmetology, esthetics, and nail technology. Students have enjoyed their time at this well-liked cosmetology school. In a Facebook review, Jessica Haney says, "This program is absolutely wonderful and my experience was amazing!"
Teaching students since 1941, Arnold's Beauty School aims to provide an excellent student experience with a 1,500-hour cosmetology program that covers it all. Students learn how to dress, color, curl, wave, cut, cleanse, and bleach hair, as well as care for wigs and hair pieces, perform manicures, apply false eyelashes, and provide basic skin care and hair removal services.
Students can choose from nine start dates throughout the year, and the full-time program takes about 14 months to complete. Classes run Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Classes occur at the school's downtown Milan facilities, consisting of three theory classrooms, three clinic classrooms, a clinic area, two facial clinics, eight pedicure stations, and a manicure area. Students even have access to two break rooms and lockers to hold any personal belongings.
At Austin's Beauty College, cosmetology students train based on the highest standards in the industry. The program curriculum encompasses 1,500 hours and includes training on modern hairstyles, nail artistry, and basic skin care techniques. In addition, the school offers professionalism and business training, so you can learn more about budgeting, sales, and retailing. Instructors also help students prepare for state board exams.
New classes start every month, and the program takes about 12 months (49 weeks) to complete for students who choose the day (35 hours/week, Monday-Friday) class schedule. Night class options include 24, 20, and 16 hours per week that take 68, 81, and 103 weeks to complete, respectively.
Previous student Tiffany Hopkins says on Google, "Austin Beauty College is an excellent college. The instructors and staff are great… This school make sure that you are well prepared for your state board and becoming a future stylist. I would recommend anyone to go there. You will have a wonderful experience."
Shear Perfection Academy of Cosmetology provides guidance and instruction in all areas of a student's educational experience, with many happy graduates. On Google, Brittaney Wilson exclaims, "Ok, so I love this school. First and foremost, the instructors and administrators have a wonderful open door policy. They keep you on track with your education and hours. Financial aid admin kept it simple. I felt like they actually cared about me as a student but also as a person."
The specialized cosmetology program includes 1,500 hours of beauty industry training and hands-on learning. The course requirements include 600 hours of chemical training, 600 hours of physical training, and 300 general training hours.
You can complete the cosmetologist training program in 11 months of full-time study or 14 months part-time, taking classes from Monday through Friday. The school also offers esthetics, nail technology, and cosmetology teacher training programs.
Paul Mitchell the School—Memphis aims to produce successful beauty industry professionals with a 1,500-hour cosmetology program that includes classroom and hands-on practical training.
Learning Leaders guide students through three program phases—Core, Adaptive, and Creative—as they take on more advanced techniques. Motivated students who want an additional challenge can opt for an intensive Phase Two course of advanced training in real-life salon conditions.
Students at the Memphis location can donate their skills to various charities in the area through events like cut-a-thons, fashion shows, and other fundraising events. This Paul Mitchell school offers other programs as well, like an advanced makeup program and instructor training.
The cosmetology program at Franklin Hair Academy School of Cosmetology covers everything you need to become a successful cosmetologist in 1,500 training hours. The comprehensive classes typically take place Monday through Friday, with choices of day or evening classes and full-time and part-time schedules.
The program is flexible, but students must complete a minimum of 15 hours per week. The class structure allows you to learn at your own pace, and the instructors are always available to help support your education.
During the 10 years this school has been in business, many graduates have gone on to work in some of the most exclusive spas and salons in the U.S. Franklin Hair Academy also has programs in esthetics, manicuring, and cosmetology instructor training.
Dedicated to high-quality education for beauty professionals since 1934, Empire Beauty School in Nashville offers a rare combination of advantages in the cosmetology training space, and students appreciate the well-rounded experience. In a Facebook review, previous student Candy Evans said, "I had/have the best instructors. I would recommend anyone to come and check out this school."
The cosmetology program includes 1,500 hours of classroom and hands-on training in haircutting, coloring, chemical services, and basic nail and skin care.
The course includes business/retail training, with a focus on resume creation and job search skills to help with career placement after graduation and grow your marketing and communication skills to better attract and serve clients. The school also offers esthetics, nail technology, and cosmetology instructor training programs.
The cosmetology program at Elite College of Cosmetology provides 1,500 hours of training in basic manipulative skills, safety, and the proper work habits needed to obtain licensure as a cosmetologist in Tennessee.
Classes take place during the day from Tuesday to Friday, and students can choose from 11 start dates throughout the year. The full-time program at Elite is 32 hours per week for 48 weeks, while the part-time program is 20 hours per week for 75 weeks.
You can expect to work with products like Redken, OPI, and Paul Mitchell in the student salon. Unlike some beauty schools, Elite College of Cosmetology has financial aid available for those who qualify.
Paul Mitchell the School—Murfreesboro provides aspiring cosmetologists a well-rounded and team-oriented educational experience.
Students (known as Future Professionals) complete 1,500 hours of classroom and hands-on learning in the core cosmetology program, covering the fundamentals of hair cutting, coloring, styling, texture, and skin and nail care. The school gives each student a professional kit and an iPad to complete coursework on the go and have online access to assignments, school news, and career tips wherever they are.
Students can donate their time and skills to charities and join the school's Green Team to help educate and find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. This special-purpose institution even helps students pass the state board examinations and gain employment. Paul Mitchell the School has esthetics and cosmetology instructor training programs as well.
Queen City College works hard to prepare students for the Tennessee cosmetology license exam. Previous student J Walker says on Google, "This school taught me everything I needed to know to take and pass my exam. The staff is great at their profession and go above and beyond for the students and clientele. I recommend anyone who is desirous of learning a trade to complete any program."
New classes begin at Queen City College on the first Tuesday of every month, so it's easy to enroll. Students can choose from various daytime schedules to meet their needs, including 24, 30, 35, and 40 hours per week options. The cosmetology program is 1,500 hours and covers the basics of hairdressing and practical applications. Students also learn how to do manicures, artificial nails, facials, and makeup.
The school offers esthetics, nail technology, barbering, and various instructor training programs. It even has a unique barber to cosmetology crossover 300-hour training course for licensed barbers who want to become cosmetologists.
How We Ranked Tennessee 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 13 cosmetology schools in Tennessee.
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.