BPSS Curriculum Guideline: Appearance Enhancement (leading to DOS licensure)

Please note that these Guidelines on Appearance Enhancement include information on: Cosmetology, Esthetics, Nail Technicians, Natural Hair Styling, and Waxing, leading to licensure by the New York Department of State. These Guidelines ONLY concern NYSED and/or BPSS expectations for curriculum review. Prior to submitting your new curriculum for review, please make sure to follow the instructions and advice below:

General Technicalities

  • When uploading curriculum material to my.ny.gov, always use the tab for <Coursework Details> in the drop-down menu, instead of the tabs for <Other> or <Miscellaneous>.
  • For new curriculum, expect up to 90 days for review. Note that an approved curriculum may sometimes have to be revised/updated at a later date.
  • Curriculum title MUST be descriptive and clear, with NO advertising or cutesy name (such as “The Cutz!”).
  • The sole goal of these curricula is to make students eligible to take the NYS licensing exams and obtain their license. There is no other educationally legitimate purpose for these curricula. Please note that the exams are set by the Department of State. The DOS-Division of Licensing Services is the final authority over matters related to Appearance Enhancement examinations.
  • For curriculums offering exams in a language other than English, please consult the Teaching in LOTE (Language/s Other Than English) BPSS Curriculum Guidelines and Checklist

General Content

  • The BPSS entrance requirement for these specific curricula is High School Diploma/GED/TASC or, if your school opts to admit those students without such secondary education certificates, an Ability-to-Benefit test at the 6th/7th grade level, such as TABE or Wonderlic Basic Skills Test scores of 200 verbal/210 quantitative. Note that your school is NOT required to admit those students without High School Diploma/GED/TASC.
  • Note that the DOS may exclude certain students from taking the exams based on prior convictions. If a prospective student might have such issues from the past, have him/her contact DOS for clarification (and which documents may be needed to override past issues, such as a Certificate of Good Conduct).
  • The minimum curriculum length and content is mandated by the Department of State. You can include additional subjects as long as you add additional hours; or you can add more hours than the required minimum (in order to have students eligible to take the state boards in a neighboring state, etc.) For details on the state-mandated curricula, see the BPSS summary here.

Method of Instruction

  • At this time, all instruction for programs leading to licensure MUST be <Classroom>. No distance education is allowed for any of these 5 programs leading to licensure in NYS.

Textbooks and Instructional Aids

  • Your students MUST use a textbook.
  • It is strongly advised that students be introduced to the relevant NYS DOS Division of Licensing Services Rules and Regulations on Appearance Enhancement (April 2017).

Equipment List

  • Divide List into 3 categories: Classroom Equipment (identify brand & model; for Cosmetology and Nails must incl. sinks with running water); Classroom Expendables; and Student Kit. The Student Kit MUST contain at least the items that students will need to take to their practical exams. DOS and BPSS specifics on the minimum equipment for each of the 5 subjects can be found online. Note that older Equipment Lists on approved curricula need to be revised to include the new and currently required equipment items.
  • For Nail Technicians, this additional equipment is required since 2015.

Content Outline and Performance Objectives

  • The Appearance Enhancement Law, 19 NYCRR, Part 162 lists the mandatory units, with mandatory hours. THIS IS THE LAW. The mandatory sub-units do NOT have assigned hours, giving each school some flexibility about how much time to spend on each sub-unit, as long as the overall hours mandated for the unit are met. Note that for most of these curricula, DOS-issued performance objectives do exist.
  • While the units in each curriculum are best taught sequentially, BPSS has historically accepted flexible schedules for these mandated curricula. The critical issue with such flexible schedules is tracking attendance correctly by mandated hours, units, and sub-units. At any given time, schools MUST be able to show how the student has progressed through the DOS curriculum (e.g. for when a student transfers to another school and needs a transcript). The up-to-date progress report MUST match other school records, notably attendance records for regular classes and make-up classes.
  • If a school does NOT want to teach units sequentially, it is advised to keep the DOS structure for attendance/tracking, by having e.g. unit 1 in the morning, and unit 2 in the afternoon. Attendance for each unit MUST be taken separately. Each day’s schedule should also mention the sub-unit covered that day, using the exact wording utilized by DOS. BPSS is developing sample tracking booklets allowing to track units and sub-units in a straightforward manner. Note that the hours spent repeating parts of the previous unit relevant to the new unit do not count towards the previous unit when the topic was first introduced, e.g. repeating basic tool disinfection techniques during the haircutting unit does not count for disinfection, but for haircutting because tool disinfection is a part of professional haircutting.
  • Note that some schools like to rearrange the Department of State units into units with different names and content. When doing so, it is important to remember that no matter what you do, the legal curriculum is the Department of State curriculum, and none else. Your school needs to be able to track how students progress through the state curriculum at all times. Schools in such cases would file with BPSS a “walk-through” that shows how their plan matches the mandated DOS curriculum, including the corresponding tracking forms, paper or electronic, used for tracking.

-No matter what arrangement BPSS approves as acceptable for its own purposes, schools need to be aware that:

“This approval covers only matters within BPSS oversight. If your school receives funding or requires approvals from other entities, these may have their own reporting and other requirements. In such case, you will have to fulfill these requirements in addition to the BPSS requirements. You must contact these other agencies concerning their requirements.”

-Note that other agencies are under NO obligation to accept your BPSS-approved “walk-through” if it does NOT meet their own reporting requirements.


  • There are NO internship routes for these curricula, except for Nail Technicians. Since 2015, a Nail Technician traineeship can be arranged only through a licensed nail salon, and NOT through a school. The latter should NOT apply to offer internships. A school can only teach the 26-hour Nail Specialty Trainee Curriculum that trainees need to take.


  • Indicate any and all changes in a letter uploaded under <Coursework Details>. Upload the complete, previously approved, curriculum (including approval letter) in one PDF under <Coursework Details>. Then upload the revised/amended curriculum as a second PDF.
  • Note that changes in books and equipment, as well as minor changes in structure, are done by a letter, and NOT by amendments. Please email the letter to bpsscurriculum@nysed.gov


  • After the curriculum is approved, BPSS will notify the Department of State, Division of Licensing Services. DOS will then issue you a testing number. Be advised that this process may take time. Please note that the DOS uses an electronic licensing system to validate student training. You need to become familiar with the DOS system.

General Caveats

  • Note that NO BPSS CURRICULUM APPROVAL, EVEN WHEN GIVEN IN ERROR, CAN OVERRIDE THE LAW! Just because BPSS approves the curriculum does NOT mean that the NYSDOS or funders like USDOE will also approve. You MUST be familiar with the legal requirements in your offering.

Any further questions, please contact bpsscurriculum@nysed.gov