UC program offers five-year path to Cosmetic Science master's

A&S dual degree offers fast track into a fast-growing field

By Rebecca Schweitzer  

For University of Cincinnati students like Joanna Fetzer, a degree program offered through UC’s College of Arts and Sciences was the perfect fit. Fetzer has long been interested in the study of skin care, and the program offers students like Fetzer the chance to cut time off the traditional six years it takes to earn a master’s degree while studying a subject she’s passionate about.

Offered through a partnership between the College of Arts and Sciences and the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, 4+1 opportunities such as the Chemistry and Cosmetic Science program give students the opportunity earn their master’s degree with just one additional year of study.

The program, which began in 2018, offers students an in-depth education of personal care and beauty industry applied sciences with the inclusion of co-ops. Students who have completed their undergraduate degree requirements with a 3.0 in their major are eligible for the 4+1.

In addition to chemistry-cosmetic science, A&S offers 4+1 programs in biological sciences, communication, classics, psychology and more.

Master's in Cosmetic Science candidate Joanna Fetzer

Master's in Cosmetic Science candidate Joanna Fetzer

The program Fetzer enrolled in, designed around the areas of personal care, beauty science and technology, offers areas of focus including skin and hair care, sustainability, sensory science, sun protection, formulation science and green chemistry. 

"I have always had extremely sensitive skin and skin health conditions,” Fetzer said. “While trying to educate myself on how to treat and care for my own skin, I developed a strong interest in chemistry and the cosmetic industry.” 

Upon completing the program, Fetzer hopes to join a company that works to improve the quality of life for those with skin conditions while minimizing the negative impacts of the cosmetic industry on the environment. 

 “The new Chemistry and Cosmetic Science 4+1 program offers students a chance to seamlessly move from a bachelor's to a master's program without application or taking the GRE (admissions test),” said Anne Vonderheide, associate professor educator of chemistry.

Through the program, students begin taking graduate-level courses during their undergraduate years. The first of these courses, Survey to Cosmetic Science, offers a more in-depth look at the field and career opportunities. Additional courses include Intro to Co-op; Intro to Surface, Colloid and Membrane Science and Lab; Advanced Surface, Colloid and Formulation Science; and a co-op set up for year three of the program.

Director of Cosmetic Science Kavssery Ananthapadmanabhan, who goes by Dr. Ananth, said students are hired by three types of companies: traditional consumer and personal care companies such as P&G or Este Lauder; chemical companies such as BASF and Solvay; and contract research organizations such as BioScreen Inc. and cyberDERM Inc. 

 “When companies hire students with chemistry, biology or chemical engineering degrees, they end up spending a year or two to fully train them in cosmetic science,” Ananth said. “This is a lot of time and money for the organization. BS-MS students will be ready to hit the ground running on day one. The chance of getting a quality job increases tremendously with a BS-MS degree. BS-MS combo adds the market value of students significantly.”

Cosmetic Science is an expanding field, with an expected growth rate of 5%, which is higher than the average for most occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Ananth, the field expects an estimated trillion-dollar growth by 2030.

The cosmetic science program has about 200 students currently. Many are already working in the industry but have enrolled in an effort to learn more about the science behind the technology they use.  

 “The program has been growing significantly over the past few years,” Ananth said. “We also have professional doctors, dermatologists and entrepreneurs in our program who want to start their own skincare or hair care line.  This clearly shows the interest in this ever-expanding field.”

For additional information, visit the Cosmetic Science 4+1 Program.

Featured image at top: Cosmetics. Photo/Gabrielle Henderson for Unsplash.