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  • Yes! An up-to-date calendar of courses to sharpen your skills can be found on our website.

  • Yes! An up-to-date calendar of courses to sharpen your skills can be found on our website.

  • It is the policy of PCI Academy to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act which are Federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. PCI Academy does not discriminate on the basis of disability against a qualified person with a disability in regard to application, acceptance, grading, advancement, training, discipline, graduation, or any other aspect related to a student’s participation in a program at PCI Academy.

    This applies to all students and applicants for admission to the school and PCI Academy will provide reasonable accommodations to students with learning differences.

    Our school must provide academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities, that are necessary to ensure students are not denied the benefits of, or excluded from participation in, the school’s program. Our school must make modifications to its academic requirements that are necessary to ensure that the requirements do not discriminate against students with disabilities. Our school must ensure that it provides physical access to students with disabilities. It is also the responsibility of PCI Academy to permit students with disabilities to use service dogs on campus. However, due to State Board regulations, an evaluation of the type of dog may take place.

  • This year we celebrate 44 years of continued joy of sharing with people whose hearts are one growing toward common professional goals, toward dreams come true.

    PCI Academy began as a Professional Cosmetology Institute, the realization of founder Marian Lokken’s dream. She opened the first school in Ames Iowa in June 1978.

  • PCI Academy does not provide on-campus student housing or dorms; however, our Admissions team can help direct you to housing options.

  • Fill our out contact form and let us know in the comments if you would like to schedule a tour.

    During a PCI campus tour:

    • You'll receive information that will help you decide if a career in Cosmetology and or Esthetics is the best path for you.
    • We will take you "behind the scenes" to the classrooms, the salon clinic floor, the spa clinic rooms, the dispense area, and more.
    • You’ll learn how students in different parts of the program spend time in different parts of the school. You’ll also have the chance to see how students work and how instructors interact with their classes.
    • We encourage you to ask questions! We want you to leave feeling informed, confident, and excited to begin your career journey.
    • You will want to allow about one hour for your tour.

  • PCI Academy, Ames, Iowa, is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS), 3015 Colvin Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. Phone (703) 600-7600. PCI Academy, Plymouth, MN and PCI Academy, Iowa City, IA are both accredited branch campuses of PCI Academy, Ames, Iowa.

    NACCAS is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national agency for the institutional accreditation of postsecondary schools and departments of cosmetology arts and sciences, including specialized schools.


General Program

  • We offer lots of different schedules for you to work a job while going to school.

  • Each student is assigned to a coach. You can reach your coach in person; or a zoom call, or even an email, at any time.
    The coaches schedule bi-monthly personal meetings with each student, to meet with them. There is a Student Experience Coordinator, (SEC), who can assist all students’ questions and concerns, and we have a Financial Aid office, who is available as well.

  • Absolutely! At PCI Academy we have great pride in our attention to business building. We consider ourselves a business school as well as a beauty academy. Our Summit level system can inspire people to grow their business while they are in school. You will grow yourself as well and take this with you when you graduate.

  • Our Ames & Iowa City, IA campuses offer Cosmetology, Esthetics, and Massage Therapy.  Our Plymouth, MN campus offers Cosmetology, Esthetics, and Advanced Practice Esthetics.

  • We have a variety of start dates depending on the program(s) you location you plan to attend.  Check out our program details for each location.

  • You will need a High School diploma or GED*, a US photo identification, and a submitted application with a $100.00 application fee.

    *If educated outside the U.S., education documents must be evaluated by SpanTran at student expense (effective July 1, 2016). Complete the online application at attach a copy of the credential report to the application. This report must verify the completion of an education equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma. If it does not, a GED will be required for admission. For more information, contact SpanTran at 713-266-8805 or

    • The state of Iowa requires 2100 hours for cosmetology, 600 for esthetics, and 600 for massage therapy.
    • The state of Minnesota requires 1550 for cosmetology, 600 for esthetics, and 500 for advanced practice esthetics.

  • After the fundamental portion of the program, you can request to change your schedule. Changes can be made every 3 months.

  • You can connect with your coach regarding hours available for make-up tests and missed hours.

  • Between now and 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment in this category to increase by 13 percent, with 87,600 jobs being added in this field during that time period. The BLS expects increases in the country's population to drive the demand for more beauty experts.

  • A transfer student may be accepted after careful evaluation of the student's academic records. Each transfer is evaluated individually. We do not recruit students already attending or admitted to other schools offering similar programs.

  • Yes and we offer assistance for a life-time.

  • • Submit the application and $100 application fee.  
    • Submit high school transcripts with graduation date or G.E.D certificate to the academy.
    • Schedule an interview.

    Apply Now 

  • Application Fee $100 is due when student completes the enrollment application.

    The application fee is waived if a student takes another program with PCI Academy. If a student needs to move their start date more than 1 time, they may be charged another $100 application fee.  We will waive the application fee for Wright Tech cosmetology Students and STEP* Cosmetology Students if they attend PCI Academy within one calendar year of graduation from the Wright Tech or STEP* program.

    *The STEP program is only for out Plymouth, MN campus.

  • Books, kits and products used to provide services are provided at no charge for all programs. Students provide their school supplies.

  • We take pride in being part of the Summit Business Academy network. The business-centric curriculum is incorporated into every aspect of the students learning, both in the classroom and on the clinic floor.

    PCI Academy utilizes the Summit Salon Systems which are a proven method for growth in the professional beauty industry. These business building skills mean that, if you choose to, you can build a long-term career doing what you love. Our students learn:

    • Business Skills to Grow a Clientele
    • Tools to Track and Measure
    • Mentorship and Personal Development
    • Graduates have used the Summit Salon Systems to earn $100,000 annually.

  • We use a blend of Pivot Point International, Milady-Cengage, and L'Oreal/Redken Access curriculum.

    • Pivot Point International, the driving force behind digital learning and development for hair and beauty education, has been pushing the industry forward for over 60 years.
    • For more than 95 years, Milady-Cengage continues to meet the needs of today’s learners, educators, and employers and sets the gold standard for our industry.
    • L'Oréal ACCESS brings together all 12 L'Oréal Professional brands' educational and inspirational content.

  • PCI Academy has an exclusive relationship with Redken that includes avant-garde education, competitions, and creative opportunities for PCI students. We're also partnered with high-performance professional lines such as Mizani, Pureology, CND, Bioelements, and SkinCeuticals.

Massage Therapy Program

  • Your kit includes an massage oil holster along with the books Milady’s Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, Over the Top, and a Planner Kit.

    (subject to change or vary by location)

  • At PCI Academy we have a 600-hour course. The first 20 weeks are spent in class every day and in the last 10 weeks students start using their practical skills on clients.

  • In class, we spend a lot of time learning anatomy, medical terminology, kinesiology, and many other topics including business and the therapeutic effects of massage. Check out our catalog for the full breakdown.

  • Make sure to have a notebook, writing utensils and a device that can connect to the internet.

    You will receive your books on the first day of class, we recommend purchasing a Trail Guide to the Body book or Trail Guide flashcards for the musculoskeletal system.

  • Massage is more popular now than ever. It is no longer viewed as a luxury service and is respected as maintaining or improving overall well-being. You can expect job opportunities in many settings including chiropractic, hospice, gyms, spas and medical settings.

Cosmetology Program

  • Your kit will include Cosmetology Fundamentals books and lab, along with a blow dryer, curling iron, flat iron, manicure kit, tweezer, shear, texture shear, razor, clipper/trimmer set, diffuser, and mannequins.  (Subject to change or vary by campus location)

Esthetics Program

  • Ames & Iowa City Campus:  You will learn facials, facial upgrades, body/facial waxing, hydrafacial, microdermabrasion, chemical peel, ALL THINGS LASHES, brow and eyelash tinting, lamination, and lash lift, makeup, and more!

    Plymouth Campus:  You will learn Facials, facial upgrades, body/facial waxing, all things lashes, and Makeup 

  • Your kit at our Ames and Iowa City, IA locations includes tweezers, a 5pc tool kit, and brow scissors.  You will also receive the Salon Fundamentals Esthetics books and lab.

    Your kit at our Plymouth, MN location includes tweezers and brow scissors.  You will also receive the Salon Fundamentals Esthetics books and lab.

    (subject to change and vary by location)

Advanced Practice Esthetics

  • Your kit will include the Milady Standard Advanced Esthetics textbook, a workbook, an exam review book, an Over the Top book, and a Planner Kit.  In addition, you will receive a derma blade handle and a 5pc tool kit Accessories.

    (subject to change)

Financial Assistance

  • Federal Financial Aid is available to students who qualify for Cosmetology and Esthetics. We participate in Pell Grants, Direct Student Loans and Parent PLUS Loans. Subsidized loans and Pell Grants are a need-based options. Unsubsidized and Parent PLUS loans are a non-need-based option.  State Financial Aid is available to students who qualify for all programs. We participate in Minnesota SELF Loans for our Minnesota Campus students.

    Reduce your Financial Aid and student loan debt by borrowing as little as possible. PCI Academy offers 0% interest on tuition payments. Tuition must be paid in full before graduation.

    Other options to help reduce your student loan debt:

    • High School Scholarships
    • Beauty Industry Scholarships
    • 529 Plan
    • ETV Grant
    • VA Benefits
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

    PCI Academy is approved by the Department of Education and NACCAS to offer financial aid to those who qualify. PCI Academy offers quality education for future professionals who desire to be in the top of the beauty industry. Our friendly, knowledgeable team is here to assist you during the various stages of the financial aid process and will help answer questions regarding financial aid options and costs of tuition.

    Federal Financial Aid options available to help with tuition and living expenses:

    • Federal Pell Grants (does not need to be repaid)
    • Federal Direct Loans
    • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans (for dependent students)
    • MN SELF Loans (Plymouth campus ONLY)

    You can complete a FREE Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

    The school codes are:

    • PCI Academy – Ames  #015245
    • PCI Academy –Iowa City  #E40493
    • PCI Academy – Plymouth  #E01054

    The U.S. Department of Education provides grants and loans to eligible students attending participating colleges or career schools. The Department is the source of nearly 70 percent of all student aid awarded in the U.S. each year. The vast majority of the Department’s aid is not based on academic merit. For further information, visit the Department’s website:

    You may call the Federal Student Aid Information Center: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
    TTY for the hearing-impaired is 1-800-730-8913.

    If you are not interested in using financial aid to cover the cost of tuition, PCI Academy offers interest-free monthly payments for the duration of the program you are enrolling in.

Guest Services

  • We offer a variety of services including:

    • Hair design, color, texture, & treatments.
    • Manicures, pedicures, and acrylic nails.
    • Waxing, facials, hydrafacials, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.
    • Body treatments and microtreaments.
    • Makeup application, lashes, and brow tinting.
    • Massage and Heated stone massages with a variety of upgrades. (Iowa locations only)

    To see our full services, visit our salon and spa services page 

  • Yes, we do take walk-ins.  To ensure we have availability, you can book an appointment online.

  • PCI Academy has an exclusive relationship with Redken that includes avant-garde education, competitions, and creative opportunities for PCI students. We're also partnered with high-performance professional lines such as Mizani, Pureology, CND, Bioelements, and SkinCeuticals.