Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, has announced a historic expansion of its curriculum.

The liberal arts college’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program will now include a concentration in cosmetic chemistry for students majoring in chemistry and offer a minor in cosmetic science for students with outside majors, according to a news release. The announcement reportedly marks Spelman College as the first-ever Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to offer such a cosmetic science program.

The expansion’s purpose is to provide students with technical knowledge for working in beauty and raise awareness about career opportunities in the ever-growing industry. Moreover, the school’s mission is to “ensure a gendered and racial perspective in product formulation and development” as only 2.5% of the beauty market is occupied by Black-owned brands, the news release notes.

“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 shared in a statement. “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.”

Dr. Leyte Winfield, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and division chair for the natural sciences and mathematics, added, “I am excited that we now offer a course of study that connects students’ Spelman experience to the beauty and personal care industry. The new major concentration and minor will ensure our students’ competitiveness for advanced study and careers in the field. I am equally excited that this endeavor positions us to offer a culturally relevant perspective that is needed in the conversation on black hair and skin care and the development of cosmetics.”

Initially, Spelman College’s cosmetic science curriculum was an online program launched in January 2023, and students would earn a certificate after completion. However, the spike in applications resulted in the school’s decision to offer the major concentration and minor. 

The new program, which “focuses on the molecular sciences related to product formulation and development,” is slated for the fall 2024 schedule.