College of DuPage cosmetology program navigates crucial hands-on experience amid COVID-19

  • The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn is one of only a few schools in the state to offer an Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology.

    The College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn is one of only a few schools in the state to offer an Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology. Courtesy of College of DuPage

Updated 10/24/2020 1:10 AM

The College of DuPage Cosmetology program is overcoming limitations resulting from COVID-19 to provide students with hands-on learning experiences in the college's professional salon.

Melissa Victor, cosmetology program instructor, said students need practical experience to develop the skills necessary for professional employment, as well as to attain state licensure from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.


"What we do and how we serve clients is nearly all hands-on, practical work," she said. "You can't learn that out of a textbook alone. Our students not only have to develop technical skills like cutting hair and doing makeup, but also soft skills like communicating with and managing relationships with clients. We also cover safety elements such as handling shears, dealing with chemicals and managing sanitation."

Full-time cosmetology program students currently spend 15 to 20 hours in the salon each week developing their skills and applying theoretical concepts they learn during the online component of the class. While the salon is not accepting clients now, the students are able to practice on mannequins in a safe and professional environment.

Adhering to the college's COVID-19 policy, students are required to undergo temperature checks before entering the salon. Once they have entered the space, they wear face shields and masks, and adhere to social distancing standards once they have entered the space.

Victor said COD is one of only a few schools in Illinois to offer an Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology. She added that in addition to the college's state-of-the-art facilities, the program offers many additional benefits that students may not find in a private cosmetology school.

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"Because we are based out of a college and offer a credit-based program, we can provide more focus on academics and teach students more advanced techniques," she said. "Our smaller class sizes offer much more support for the students. Also, we cover business management and other elements of the business side of the industry, so our students are prepared to go into higher positions right away. In addition, other resources at the college, such as Career Services resume-building offerings, provide an even greater level of support and preparation for students in their career."

The cosmetology program at College of DuPage provides professional-level skills in the field of personal beauty. Students gain knowledge and skills in a broad range of disciplines, including aesthetics, business, chemical processes, hair design, nail technology, safety, salon operations and sanitation. Students are eligible to apply for a cosmetology license from the state of Illinois upon successful completion of the program.

Registration for College of DuPage's spring semester will open for all students Nov. 12. The 16-week and first eight-week sessions begin Jan. 25. The 12-week session and second eight-week session begin Feb. 21 and March 16, respectively.

To search for classes and to register, go to

For more information about registration at College of DuPage, visit

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