Spelman College Becomes First HBCU To Offer A Cosmetic Science Program For Students


March 28, 2024

Spelman College is working to ensure that the beauty products Black women use are developed by people of color with people of color in mind. Spelman is introducing a new Cosmetic Science Degree program for students under the liberal arts college’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program. This is the first program of its kind at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

“This expansion of our curriculum speaks to Spelman’s innovation and commitment to giving voice that empowers Black women,” Spelman Provost Dr. Pamela Scott-Johnson said in a statement from the university. “The program will be far-reaching and will support our students and faculty in making a difference in a field that caters to Black women as consumers, fueled by the scientific expertise in this area. We are thrilled to continue this evolution of creating new academic offerings that address industry demands.”

Research from the university has shown that while Black women spend more than $7.4 billion on cosmetic products, Black-owned beauty brands only make up 2.5 percent of the market. Spelman hopes the new cosmetic science program will offer students a chance to pursue career opportunities in the growing beauty industry.


Classes under Cosmetic Science will focus on the molecular sciences related to product formulation and development. Courses will enhance the technical knowledge of students seeking to work in the beauty industry or pursue advanced studies in cosmetics and ensure a gendered and racial perspective in product formulation and development. 

The cosmetic science curriculum was initially launched in January 2023 as a certificate offering in the eSpelman online program. Students were very interested in the program, which grew from 150 to 750 applications for its fourth term, emphasizing a need for an expanded undergraduate program. The program will now include a concentration in cosmetic chemistry for students majoring in chemistry and a minor in cosmetic science for students with other majors.

Spelman will also offer a one-week Cosmetic Science Summer Lab Intensive that will focus on fundamental cosmetic formulations. This event will be held June 2 – 8, 2024 and will bring together Black women product developers, formulators and researchers to convene for informative seminars and panels. 


The new cosmetic science program is scheduled to start in the Fall semester.

Cover photo: Spelman College Becomes First HBCU To Offer A Cosmetic Science Program For Students / Photo credit: Spelman College

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