Can You Go to Cosmetology School Without a High School Diploma?

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Cosmetology is a popular field for individuals passionate about beauty and personal grooming. Many aspiring cosmetologists wonder whether they can pursue a career in this field without a high school diploma. 

Now the question remains to be, “Can you go to cosmetology school without a high school diploma”? Yes, if the school accepts an alternative program, such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Let’s explore the requirements and possibilities of learning cosmetology if you didn’t attend high school.

Educational Requirements to Pursue Cosmetology

Completing high school or obtaining an equivalent diploma, such as a GED, is generally advisable for several reasons. A solid educational foundation can enhance communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and career prospects. 

The state board often sets rules and guidelines for the cosmetology license, including the prerequisites for entering cosmetology programs. Hence, some states may require a candidate to complete a high school diploma program or GED test, while others may have more lenient requirements.

Additionally, some schools may consider applicants currently enrolled in high school and are planning to graduate. Therefore, if you’ve been asking, do you need a GED for cosmetology school if you don’t have a high school diploma?

Yes, a GED diploma is a suitable alternative.

What is a GED Program?

The GED test, which stands for General Educational Development, is a set of high school equivalency tests in the United States and Canada. This test suits individuals who did not complete their traditional high school education but wish to earn a credential equivalent to a high school diploma program. 

As such, the GED program allows people to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in mathematics, science, social studies, reading, and writing. These are typically the same as a high school curriculum.

A high school diploma program involves attending classes, completing assignments, and meeting specific graduation requirements set by the school or educational district. However, a GED does not require attending high school. The state board sets the requirements. 

A student studies independently or attends GED preparation classes, followed by passing the GED tests. The time needed to prepare for and earn a GED can vary depending on individual readiness.

Other Admission Requirements to Pursue Cosmetology 

One of the most common questions is, can you go to cosmetology school without a high school diploma, but there are also other requirements you shouldn’t overlook.

Admission requirements for pursuing cosmetology in a trade school or community college may vary depending on the specific school and its location. However, there are common prerequisites and steps you can expect when applying to such programs. The following are some of the admission requirements:


Start by applying to the trade school or community college of your choice. Some schools may have an online application process, while others require a paper application.

Interview or Orientation

Schools may require you to attend an interview or orientation session. It’s an opportunity for you to learn more about the program and for the school to assess your interest and commitment.

Financial Aid Application (if applicable)

To apply for financial aid, such as grants or student loans, you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the financial aid papers relevant to your country. The requirements may include a high school or GED diploma.


Some schools may ask for your high school transcripts or GED test scores as part of the application process.

Entrance Exam or Placement Test

A community college or trade school may require you to take an entrance exam or a placement test in subjects like math or English to assess your academic readiness.

Health Requirements

Cosmetology programs often involve working closely with clients and handling various chemicals. As a result, you may need to provide documentation of immunizations or health screenings to ensure you can safely participate in the program.

Criminal Background Check

Some schools ask for a criminal background check for the safety of their students and clients.

Application Fee

Be prepared to pay an application fee, which can vary from school to school.

Letters of Recommendation (Optional)

While not always required, submitting letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, or professionals in the beauty industry can strengthen your application.

Personal Statement or Essay (Optional)

Some schools may request a personal statement or essay explaining your interest in cosmetology and career goals.

It’s essential to research and contact the particular school you’re interested in to understand its unique admission requirements and procedures. Additionally, a state board may have specific requirements before they give you a cosmetology license, which may involve additional training and examinations after completing your cosmetology program.

An Overview of the Requirements of 3 Cosmetology Schools

Ogle School

Ogle School, a well-known cosmetology institution in Texas, approves applications from students who are at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Ogle School may require applicants to pass an entrance exam or complete an interview to assess their motivation and passion for the cosmetology field. 

Aveda Institute

With locations across the United States, Aveda Institute generally asks for a high school or GED diploma. Aveda Institute also values creativity and a passion for the beauty industry. Hence, it requires candidates to demonstrate enthusiasm for cosmetology.

Empire Beauty School

Empire Beauty School requires a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). Additionally, prospective students complete an admissions interview to assess their passion and motivation for entering the cosmetology program at Empire Beauty School.


While a high school diploma or equivalent benefits your personal and professional development, you can attend cosmetology school without one. Admission requirements vary by institution and state, so it’s essential to research the specific criteria of the school you are interested in. 

Additionally, consider the state’s cosmetology license requirements to ensure you’ll get one after pursuing cosmetology without a high school diploma.


What is the youngest age to pursue a cosmetology program?

The age requirement for cosmetology school typically ranges from 16 to 18 years old, with some variation depending on the specific school and state regulations. Hence, check with the cosmetology program you’re interested in to confirm their age eligibility criteria.

Can I attend cosmetology school without a high school diploma?

In many cases, yes. Cosmetology schools typically have their admission requirements, and while a high school diploma is preferred, some schools may accept students who do not have one but meet other criteria, such as GED.

Are there alternative options for individuals without a high school diploma to pursue a cosmetology career?

Yes, there are alternative education paths. Some individuals without a high school diploma may opt to obtain a GED or explore private cosmetology schools with more flexible admission policies to fulfill their dream of becoming a cosmetologist.