The 30 Best Culinary Schools

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Plenty of us enjoy cooking, but few take it to the professional level. For those who choose to go pro, the culinary industry presents a large job market with lots different options for employment and specialization, as well as mobility. However, while getting into the industry might not be difficult (there is always a need for dish washers and table bussers), working your way up to head chef or restaurant owner isn’t such a clear path.

Wondering how to become a chef? Sure, some people start at the bottom and learn in the kitchen along the way, but more often than not, there isn’t much mobility found in those entry–level positions. The kitchen hired a dishwasher because they needed clean dishes, not because they wanted to take on an apprentice, and if you have your sights set on the head spot at a five–star kitchen, good luck, but your time is probably better spent elsewhere: in culinary school.

If you want to succeed in the culinary industry, like any other industry, you will need a good education. If you want to be a mechanical engineer, you go to a mechanical engineering program; no employer would consider you without the proper qualifications. If you’re thinking about how to become a chef, the same applies to culinary school. These schools provide you with the education, qualifications, and connections you need to enter and succeed in the culinary industry, pursuing the career that you desire.

Culinary School Ranking Guidelines

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We selected schools based on the quality of the program, types of courses provided, faculty strength, school awards, rankings and reputation. This is an updated ranking. While our ranking continues weigh general culinary excellence, we have added additional consideration for cost and degree offerings through the schools and/or their partnerships with other universities.

The 30 Best Culinary Schools

1. Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park

Hyde Park, New York

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is a highly regarded culinary school headquartered in Hyde Park, New York. CIA also has campuses in Napa and St. Helena, California, in San Antonio, Texas, and in Singapore.

Its status as private and not–for–profit makes CIA unique among schools that focus solely on culinary training (most are for–profit), and helps ensure that it provides a top–notch education to its students. It is the first school to offer an Associate degree program in culinary arts (1971), as well as a Bachelor degree program (1991)

CIA offers several Associate and Bachelor degree options, which allow for varying levels of specification and flexibility in choosing a career path. You could train to become a five–star head chef, a pastry chef skilled in the art of delicate, decadent sweets, or study Food Business Management and learn what it takes to run your own restaurant.

You can start from scratch, but, notably, if you have prior experience working in a professional kitchen, you may qualify to study culinary arts in their accelerated program. Another unique offering at CIA is their BPS in Culinary Science, which would prepare you for a career in research and development in the food industry.

Besides just providing a strong education, CIA works to help students with career placement and advancement. Each degree program includes a paid externship, giving students on–the–job experience as well as professional connections. Through industry leadership conferences and a large network of alumni, CIA helps its students connect with potential employers and get lined up with a career in their field.

CIA boasts numerous celebrity chef alumni, with Anthony Bourdain being perhaps their most notable example.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration – Food Business Management
  • Bachelor of Professional Studies – Applied Food Studies
  • Bachelor of Professional Studies – Culinary Science
  • Associate of Occupational Studies – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Occupational Studies – Culinary Arts, Advanced Career Experience Program
  • Associate of Occupational Studies – Baking and Pastry Arts

Accreditation

Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

2. (Tied) Institute of Culinary Education

New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA

The world–renowned Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) is the nation’s largest independent culinary school, with a cutting–edge campuses in both New York City and Los Angeles. Founded by Peter Kump in 1975, the school has been praised by top chefs and culinary industry leaders. The school offers diplomas in Culinary Arts, Pastry and Baking Arts, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Hospitality Management, The Techniques of Artisan Bread Baking, and The Art of Cake Decorating. The curriculum is intense and comprehensive, with most students completing their programs in six to twelve months.

The Institute of Culinary Education credits its success to its innovative spirit, global curriculum, expert chef–instructors, dedication to students’ success and entrepreneurial spirit, not to mention its growing network, with over 14,000 graduates and connections to the best restaurants and food businesses in the nation. The school’s mission is to help each student find their culinary voice. Whether through a restaurant, a hotel, food media or a new food business venture, we aim to help each individual find their passion and creative spirit.

In 2016, Institute of Culinary Education was named “The Best Culinary School in America” by The Daily Meal, a leading food and lifestyle website and Culinary School of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in 2015, 2011, 2008 and 2003.

Many alumni have become recognized industry leaders, and are regularly nominated or win top industry awards such as the James Beard Award, IACP Awards, Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” and Dessert Professionals’ “Top Ten Pastry Chefs.”

Need help with housing or relocation? Check out Institute of Culinary Education’s housing options.

Diploma and Certificate Programs:
ICE students can transfer 29 credits toward an associate or bachelor's degree in one of 27 disciplines through partnership with Excelsior College.

Accreditation

The Institute of Culinary Education is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

2. (Tied) International Culinary Center

New York, New York

The International Culinary Center (ICC) is a private, for–profit culinary school headquartered in New York City.

The New York City campus is located in the famously chic and bustling Soho neighborhood, within walking distance of New York’s Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side. Originally, named the French Culinary Institute when it was founded in 1984, ICC is known internationally as a high–caliber culinary school that produces highly qualified and skilled chefs.

With seven Diploma programs on its academic menu, ICC gives students plenty of options for study and specialization. You can pursue the classic track of Professional Culinary Arts or specialize in pastry, baking, or cake design, but also have the unique option of studying the culinary arts with an emphasis on farm to table techniques. The Intensive Sommelier Training Diploma program, another unique option, prepares students for sommelier certification, with the chance for on–site certification exams. The Culinary Arts diploma comes with a 200–hour externship to give you on–the–job experience, and help with professional networking.

ICC has entered into a unique relationship with The New School (a leading university that’s home to Parsons School of Design and Mannes College of Music) in New York City. ICC grads can earn up to 60 credits toward a bachelor’s degree at The New School, or 30 toward an associate degree.

The programs at ICC are fast–track and start on a year–round, rolling basis, with the intent of getting you through school and into the workforce faster. To aid in this pursuit, ICC offers numerous career placement and advancement opportunities, including individualized one–on–one career counseling services, career fairs, and a large network of alumni in the industry who can help you get started in your culinary career.

ICC claims numerous celebrity chef alumni, including Dan Barber and Bobby Flay, as well as legendary deans, such as Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration – Professional Culinary Arts/Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) concentration (Offered through partnership with Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.)

Diploma and Certificate Programs:
Students can earn 60 credits toward a bachelor's degree or 30 credits toward an associate degree through partnership with The New School

Accreditation

The International Culinary Center is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

4. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

Austin, Texas

Taking its name from the legendary French chef, the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is a private, for–profit culinary school headquartered in Austin, Texas, with a second location in Boulder, Colorado; it also has distance programs for those seeking to get their chef training online.

At its Austin campus, Auguste Escoffier offers an Associate degree and Diploma programs designed to ensure you are well trained in the culinary arts, and are ready for a career in the industry. The programs culminate in externships that are designed to give students on–the–job experience and help develop professional connections. As a unique bonus, among its course listings, Auguste Escoffier has a farm to table course, keeping up with contemporary culinary trends.

Auguste Escoffier offers lifetime career placement assistance, starting while you are enrolled, and continuing as an alumnus, through job preparation and writing assistance, networking, industry referrals, and job listings.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Diploma – Culinary Arts
  • Diploma – Pastry Arts

Accreditation

The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is nationally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

5. L’Academie de Cuisine

Gaithersburg, Maryland

L’Academie de Cuisine is a private, for–profit culinary school located in the Washington D.C. area. Founded by the famous Francois Dionot in 1976, L’Academie is committed to developing high–caliber culinary professionals.

The schools focuses on quality over quantity, offering two Certificate program options to study Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts that are built on a dedicated focus to skill, knowledge, and job–readiness. The programs are structured in three phases, establishing fundamentals, advanced techniques, and culminating in a paid apprenticeship at a fine restaurant, to develop on–the–job experience and professional connections.

To help with career placement and advancement, in addition to the apprenticeships that are part of the certificate programs, L’Academie maintains a jobs listing board, and has a strong alumni network. The goal of L’Academie is not just to produce great chefs, but to produce great chefs with stable, lucrative careers in the industry.

L’Academie also boasts celebrity chef alumni, such as Carla Hall “The Chew.”

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Certificate – Pastry Arts

Accreditation

L’Academie de Cuisine is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

6. Johnson and Wales University

Providence, Rhode Island

Johnson and Wales University is a private, not–for–profit university based in Providence, Rhode Island, with additional locations in North Miami, Florida, in Denver, Colorado, and Charlotte, North Carolina. It is unique because it is a full–fledged university that offers Bachelor and Associate culinary degree programs in addition to more typical degree programs, such as engineering, humanities, and social sciences.

With 10 different culinary program options to choose from, Johnson and Wales presents students with plenty of opportunities for specialization, including the options to combine culinary studies with management studies. Because of this, Johnson and Wales prepares students for a wide variety of industry positions. Their degree programs include internships, so as to give students on–the–job experience and help develop professional connections.

To help you get started on a career, Johnson and Wales offers numerous career placement and advancement services, such as career fairs, seminars, networking events, and a jobs listing database. Another perk is that, as a full university, Johnson and Wales has numerous student organizations and clubs on campus that host events and activities, allowing you to have a complete college experience.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts and Food Service Management
  • Bachelor of Science – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bachelor of Science – Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service Management
  • Bachelor of Science – Restaurant, Food, and Beverage Management
  • Bachelor of Science – Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship
  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Science
  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Nutrition
  • Associate of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Science – Baking and Pastry Arts

Accreditation

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE). Its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

7. Metropolitan Community College Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska

Metropolitan Community College Nebraska (MCCN) is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers several Associate degree and Certificate options to study the culinary arts and culinary industry management.

The goal of MCCN is to provide quality, low–cost educations that prepare students for careers as chefs, restaurant managers, and more. While it may not have all the perks of a private school, its four–figure tuition price tag is hard to beat; MCCN is the school with the lowest cost of tuition on this list.

Students at MCCN can pursue paid internships, and work in the school restaurant, serving the public while gaining valuable on–the–job experience and engaging in professional networking. In addition to hands–on program curriculums, students can expand their knowledge and hone their skills through the Culinary Competition Team, which also provides opportunities for networking. The Career Services office at MCCN helps students with career placement and advancement through counseling, networking, and other means of assistance.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts and Management with option for general study, or Baking and Pastry emphasis
  • Associate of Applied Science – Hospitality and Restaurant Leadership with option for Food and Event Management emphasis, or Hospitality Entrepreneurship emphasis

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate of Achievement – Culinary Arts Management
  • Certificate of Achievement – Baking and Pastry
  • Career Certificate – Culinary Arts Foundations
  • Career Certificate – ManageFirst

Accreditation

Metropolitan Community College Nebraska is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

8. Kendall College of Culinary Arts

Chicago, Illinois

Another unique option at Kendall is the Accelerated Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts, designed for those who already have a Bachelor degree in another subject. If the Culinary Arts isn’t your first field of study, if perhaps you are coming to it later in life, this could be an attractive option for you, as it will allow you to skip the general education requirements and complete your degree faster.

Students at Kendall are offered numerous career placement and advancement opportunities, such as working in the open–to–the–public restaurant The Dining Room, as well as internships. Kendall also offers career services in the form of counseling, job fairs, workshops, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts – Business with Culinary Entrepreneurship Concentration
  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Accelerated Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Baking and Pastry

Accreditation

Kendall College of Culinary Arts is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

9. New England Culinary Institute

Montpelier, Vermont

The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) is a private, for–profit culinary school that offers numerous Bachelor and Associate degree and Certificate options, as well as online programs for those seeking an online chef school.

NECI offers thorough, hands–on programs that put plenty of emphasis on on–the–job experience through internships (requiring two each for its Associate and Bachelor degree programs). It’s options of study include Business Management in addition to Culinary Arts and Baking, in order to prepare students for a career in running a kitchen, not just working in one.

There are numerous support options available at NECI for career placement and advancement, including the internships, career counseling, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities. In addition to this, there are student clubs and organizations on campus that host events and activities for students, to make sure you are getting the most of your time spent in college.

NECI boasts notable alumni, such as celebrity chef Alton Brown.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts – Culinary Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts – Baking and Pastry
  • Bachelor of Arts – Food and Beverage Business Management
  • Associate of Occupational Studies – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Occupational Studies – Baking and Pastry
  • Associate of Occupational Studies – Food and Beverage Business Management

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Professional Cooking
  • Certificate – Professional Baking and Pastry

Accreditation

The New England Culinary Institute is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

10. Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies

Louisville, Kentucky

Sullivan University is a private, for–profit university. Although it offers numerous programs in other fields of study, such as pharmacy and business, Sullivan is probably best known for its culinary school division at its National Center for Hospitality Studies. Its main campus is located in Louisville, Kentucky, a city known for bourbon and a rapidly growing culinary scene; Sullivan has a second campus in nearby Lexington.

The programs at Sullivan are committed to ensuring career–readiness, with options to focus on becoming a chef, a baker, or working in management, as well as the unique option of studying to work as a personal chef. Sullivan offers Associate degree and Diploma programs. Through a year–round schedule broken into 11–week quarters, students can earn their titles on a fast track, with the option to complete an AS program in 18 months.

The Career Services office at Sullivan can help you with career placement and advancement while enrolled, or as a graduate, through networking, advising, and other assistance with your job search.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Science – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Associate of Science – Hotel and Restaurant Management

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Diploma – Personal/Private Chef
  • Diploma – Professional Baker
  • Diploma – Professional Cook

Accreditation

New England Culinary Institute is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

11. The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington

Arlington, Virginia

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington is a branch of The Art Institutes, a large non–profit system of colleges with multiple locations around the country. While many Art Institutes branches offer culinary programs, the Washington branch, located in Arlington, Virginia, is known as the best among them for culinary studies.

The programs offered at AI Washington are built on a career–readiness focus, designed to prepare you with the knowledge and skills you need to become an industry professional in culinary arts, baking, or management. Because of this, the programs are on a fast–track schedule, divided into year–round academic quarters. The programs include a Bachelor degree, Associate degrees, and Diplomas.

In addition to culinary training, AI Washington offers career services to assist you in securing a career in the industry. Through career advising, resume and portfolio assistance, job search support, assistance with finding internships, and more, AI is committed to getting you out of the classroom, onto the job market, and into a position as smoothly and swiftly as possible.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts Management
  • Associate of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Science – Baking and Pastry

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Diploma – Baking and Pastry
  • Diploma – Culinary Arts

Accreditation

The Art Institute of Washington is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

12. Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College

Farmington Hills, Michigan

Oakland Community College (OCC) is a public institution that offers an Associate degree and Certificate program through its Culinary Studies Institute. As a community college, OCC provides an affordable alternative to private and for–profit culinary schools, while still offering a quality culinary education.

OCC takes a straightforward approach to your training, and the AAS degree program includes an internship that is meant to give students on–the–job experience and help with professional development and networking. Students have the options of working in the on–campus café, restaurant, or bakery, which serve both the student population and the general public.

To help with career placement and advancement, OCC offers career services, such as advising, job searching, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Culinary Arts – Baking and Pastry Arts

Accreditation

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

13. San Diego Culinary Institute

San Diego, California

San Diego Culinary Institute (SDCI) is a private, for–profit culinary school that offers two Diploma program options.

Though it only has two options of study, each program is designed to give students high quality training in the classroom, the lab, and the kitchen, and get them through their training and into a career in the industry quickly; both programs have 8–month completion timelines.

The programs combine theory, skill, knowledge, and professionalism, and culminate in paid externships that give students on–the–job experience and help develop professional connections, which may even result in a job that is ready to go before graduation.

SDCI is committed to student success, and their Career Services office will assist with career placement and advancement through advising, networking, and more.

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Advanced Professional Diploma – Cuisine
  • Advanced Professional Diploma – Pastry

Accreditation

The San Diego Culinary Institute nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

14. Drexel University Center for Hospitality and Sport Management

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel University is a private, not–for profit university that offers culinary programs through its Center for Hospitality and Sport Management.

Drexel is a full–scale research university that offers a complete spectrum of programs of study. Because of this, Drexel promises that a culinary degree from its program will be a complete college degree, with a balanced curriculum, not just culinary career training focused; the BS in Culinary Arts and Sciences ensures a high–quality and well–rounded education.

Drexel offers some unique options. For one, the BS can be combined with an accelerated MBA program, allowing for both to be completed within five years, and producing very qualified students who are ready to own and operate a restaurant. Also, Drexel allows for students in other fields to pursue three different culinary minors, so they can combine interests, passions, and develop professional versatility.

The BS program includes a co–op that allows students develop on–the–job experience and professional networking; the co–op can even result in a job offer right out of college. Students also have the chance to work in the Academic Bistro that is operated by the school and open to the public. As an added perk, students of all majors at Drexel have lots of opportunities to study abroad.

There are numerous events and student organizations at Drexel that allow students to socialize, network, and compete and test their skills, ensuring that you will have a full college experience at the University. Drexel is committed to your success after graduation and assists in career placement through advising with its Career Services office, assistance with your resume, networking, planning, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts and Science, with option to complete in combination with Accelerated MBA program

Minors:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Food Science
  • Food Studies

Accreditation

San Diego Culinary Institute is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

15. St. Louis Community College

Saint Louis, Missouri

St. Louis Community College (SLCC) is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers numerous career–training options, with culinary school among them.

At SLCC, students can choose between two AAS degrees, as well as a Certificate in Food and Beverage management. As a community college, tuition costs at SLCC are low, even for out–of–state students (with tuition alone for an AAS degree priced at under five–figures), but the quality of education and career training is still high, making this an affordable, attractive option.

Beyond your education and training, each campus of SLCC has a Career and Employment Services office dedicated to helping you with career placement and advancement, through advising, resume and cover letter assistance, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Baking and Pastry Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate of Specialization – Food and Beverage Management

Accreditation

St. Louis Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

16. The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College is a private, for–profit culinary school that was founded in 1974. The school offers Bachelor and Associate degrees that are meant to be completed on a fast track, with a Bachelor degree taking 36 months, and an Associate degree taking 18. Walnut Hill also offers an extended program that allows students to complete a degree with a schedule that is built around the demands of everyday life, such as a full–time job.

The degree programs at Walnut Hill are designed to give students a complete education and prepare them for a career as a head chef, a pastry chef, or a manager or restaurant owner. The programs include internships at various sites associated with Walnut Hill, as well as the chance to work in one of four different on–site restaurants at the school, serving the public and gaining plenty of on–the–job experience. Career Services at Walnut Hill will help you transition from the classroom to the professional kitchen through advising, placement assistance, networking, and more.

As an added perk, as well as unique educational opportunity, each program culminates in an international tour, covered by your tuition, to France, England, or Disney World in Florida before cruising to the Bahamas.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Bachelor of Science – Pastry Arts
  • Bachelor of Science – Restaurant Management
  • Associate of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Science – Pastry Arts
  • Associate of Science – Restaurant Management

Accreditation

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

17. Henry Ford Community College

Dearborn, Michigan

Henry Ford Community College (HFCC) is a public, not-for-profit institution that offers a full selection of programs of study, but is well known for its culinary and hospitality programs.

HFCC offers Bachelor and Associate degree and Certificate program options to study the culinary arts, baking, and management, in order to prepare students for a variety of careers in the culinary industry. The Bachelor and Associate degree programs incorporate internships to promote on–the–job experience and help students develop professional connections.

Career services at HFCC can help with placement and advancement through advising, networking, resume assistance, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Hotel/Restaurant Management

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate of Achievement – Culinary Skills
  • Certificate of Achievement – Baking and Pastry
  • Certificate of Achievement – Restaurant Service

Accreditation

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

18. Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education is part of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), a public, not–for profit institution.

At Secchia, GRCC offers wide variety of program options, including Associate degrees and Certificates, allowing students to study and train as restaurant kitchen chefs, personal chefs, restaurant managers, bakers, and more. In addition to those, a unique program offering at GRCC is the Certificate in Craft Brewing; beef fanatics, this may be a good pick for you. The Advanced Certificate programs allow for additional, more focused study of their subjects, beyond the basic Certificate program curriculums.

Students at Secchia will engage in hands–on learning, mixed with theory and classroom discussion. As part of their education, students will engage in internships to gain on–the–job experience and develop professional connections. Secchia has a restaurant, a bistro, and a brewery, all open to the public, which students may work in.

GRCC is committed to the success of its students in career placement and advancement. In addition to internships, the Career Development office at GRCC can help you through advising, networking, resume assistance, planning, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences – Culinary Arts, with options for Culinary track, Culinary Management track, Baking and Pastry Arts track, or Personal Chef track.
  • Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences – Restaurant Management

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Certificate – Craft Brewing, Packaging and Service Operations
  • Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Certificate – Personal Chef
  • Advanced Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Advanced Certificate – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Advanced Certificate – Personal Chef
  • Advanced Certificate – Hospitality Management

Accreditation

Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

19. Pierpont Community and Technical College

Fairmont, West Virginia

Pierpont Community and Technical College (PCTC) is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers numerous degree programs in addition to culinary studies.

The Associate of Applied Science in Food Service management degree program at PCTC presents students with four options for specialization. The Culinary Arts and Baking Arts emphases are typical offerings, but Resort and Hotel Management and Dietary Manager are unique offerings that allow students to prepare for professional culinary careers beyond the kitchen. Dietary Manager, for example, trains students to consider nutritional requirements and special needs when planning meals and ordering food while employed at places such as boarding schools and assisted living facilities.

The programs include a practicum that is designed to give students on–the–job experience and help develop professional connections. Career Services at PCTC can help students with career placement and advancement through counseling, resume and cover letter assistance, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Food Service management, with options for Culinary Arts emphasis, Dietary Manager emphasis, Pastry and Baking Arts emphasis, and Resort and Hotel Management emphasis

Accreditation

Pierpont Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary program is regionally accredited by ACF.

20. The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College

New Rochelle, New York

The Culinary Institute of New York is part of Monroe College, a private, for–profit school that offers degree programs in a variety of fields.

In culinary studies, Monroe offers Bachelor and Associate degree options that are intended to prepare students for a variety of careers in the culinary industry. Each program includes a co–op (which can be paid) that allows students to learn through on–the–job experience, and develop professional connections. Students can pursue the co–op at off–campus establishments, as well as at the on–campus Dining Lab, a restaurant run by the school that is open to the public, or The Pastry Kiosk.

If you’re interested in pursuing a management position, or even owning and operating a restaurant, the Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management can be an attractive option. The BBA combines expertise and curriculum from Monroe’s business school with their culinary curriculum (for those who choose the Culinary Management emphasis). This allows students to prepare for management positions in the culinary industry with a strong business training background.

Monroe is invested in the career development of its students, and its Career Services office help with placement and advancement through workshops, job fairs, networking, counseling, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration – Hospitality Management with option for Culinary Management emphasis, or Tourism and Destination Management emphasis
  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Baking and Pastry

Accreditation

The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and its culinary programs are ACF accredited.

21. College of Southern Nevada

North Las Vegas, Nevada

The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) is a community college that offers two Associate degree and two Certificate program options for studying the culinary arts.

As the largest college in Nevada, CSN offers a full range of two and four–year degree programs, for which credits from the culinary AAS programs can transfer into, should you choose to pursue another degree after completion of the program. Each Culinary program requires the students to gain on–the–job experience through employment in a culinary position; however, this is not an internship, as students can choose their own place of employment, and can even transfer in hours from prior work experience. If you’re already working in a kitchen, this can be an attractive option, as it will minimize extra footwork.

CSN also offers a ReEntry program, designed to help non–traditional students with significant barriers to education and employment (such as single–parents, students with disabilities, ex–cons, and the displaced) get funding, earn a degree, and find a stable career path. CSN is committed to helping all students with career placement and advancement, and the Career Services office can assist in this pursuit through job fairs, networking, resume assistance, advising, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Pastry Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate of Achievement – Culinary Arts
  • Certificate of Achievement – Pastry Arts

Accreditation

College of Southern Nevada is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

22. Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington (ITCC Bloomington) is a branch of Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana’s community college system. It is a public, not–for–profit school that offers Associate degree and Certificate culinary programs, in addition to other areas of study. As a community college, it offers low tuition rates, and credits that can be transferred to other institutions and degrees.

The programs at ITCC Bloomington take a hands–on, straightforward approach to the study of culinary arts and preparation for a career in the industry. The Associate degree programs incorporate internships that are intended to give students on–the–job experience, and promote professional networking. The Beverage Management Career Certificate, which only takes a semester to complete, can aid in additional specialization, or function as a stand–alone program for those who are interested in the subject.

ITCC Bloomington is committed to the success of its students after graduation. The Career Development office seeks to assist students with placement through advising, networking, resume help, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Baking and Pastry Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Beverage Management Career
  • Certificate – Culinarian
  • Certificate – Pastry Culinarian
  • Technical Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Technical Certificate – Baking and Pastry Arts

Accreditation

Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

23. Hudson County Community College

Jersey City, New Jersey

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers Associate degree and Certificate programs.

The programs at HCCC are designed to get you out of the classroom and onto the job market as quickly as possible, with its curriculums focused on career readiness and practical knowledge. The AAS program incorporates an externship to give students on–the–job experience and promote professional networking. The certificate programs are designed for those who may already be in the industry and desire additional specialization, or for those who are considering pursuing a degree at a later point, and are just trying to establish a career at the moment.

Regardless of the path you choose, HCCC is committed to your success in securing and advancing your career, and its Career Development office can help you through one–on–one advising, networking, resume assistance, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts, with options for general study, or Baking and Pastry Emphasis

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Proficiency Certificate – Baking
  • Proficiency Certificate – Cold Food Production
  • Proficiency Certificate – Hot Food Production

Accreditation

Hudson County Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and its culinary programs are ACF accredited.

24. Pulaski Technical College

North Little Rock, Arkansas

Pulaski Technical College is a public, for–profit institution that offers numerous Associate degree and certificate options related to Culinary Arts.

The Associate Degree programs at Pulaski take a straightforward approach to the study of Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry arts, combining theory with hands–on–learning, and requiring a practicum that gives students on–the–job experience. The Certificate programs allow for students to train and enter the field quickly, but also to pursue further specialization, such as with the Technical Certificate in Wine and Spirits Studies, or the Certificate of Proficiency in Professional Study of Spirits and Mixology.

Pulaski is committed to the success of its students, and the Career Services office aids students in placement and advancement through advising, resume assistance, networking, and more. In addition to its many options for study, Pulaski also offers the “3D” program, which specializes in training developmentally disabled students and helping them prepare for careers.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Baking and Pastry Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Technical Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Technical Certificate – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Technical Certificate –Wine and Spirits Studies
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Basic Baking
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Basic Food Prep
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Basic Pastry
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Cake Decorating
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Food Purchasing
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Hospitality and Restaurant
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Professional Study of Spirits and Mixology
  • Certificate of Proficiency – Wine and Spirits Studies

Accreditation

Pulaski Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

25. Kirkwood Community College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Kirkwood Community College is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers Associate degree and Diploma program options for training to enter the Culinary industry.

Students at Kirkwood engage in hands–on training with a healthy mix of theory and classroom discussion of cooking skills and approaches. In addition to the program curriculums, students at Kirkwood get the chance to develop on–the–job experience and their professional network through working at The Class Act at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center.

The Class Act is a restaurant located in the hotel that is operated by the Hospitality program at Kirkwood. The Hotel is a fully functional hotel that can be rented out for business conferences, weddings, and more; the attached Class Act restaurant serves the public. Culinary Students working at The Class Act gain experience in a real restaurant kitchen setting, as well as experience with private event service and catering.

Kirkwood is committed to the success of its students, and helps with career placement and advancement, and its Career Services office offer advising, help with resume writing, networking, planning, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science – Restaurant Management
  • Associate of Applied Science – Hotel Management

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Diploma – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Diploma – Food Service Assistant

Accreditation

Kirkwood Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

26. Anne Arundel Community College – Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism Institute

Glen Burnie, Maryland

Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers Associate degree and Certificate options for studying the culinary arts through its Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism Institute. While the main campus of AACC is located in Arnold, Maryland, the Institute is located in nearby Glen Burnie.

At AACC, students have several options for studying and training to enter a variety of positions in the culinary industry. In addition to the typical offerings, AACC has an Event Planning and Catering certificate program, which could help you prepare specifically for a career in a different part of the culinary industry than restaurant work. The Associate degree program includes an internship in order to give students on–the–job experience and help develop professional connections. It also includes the unique option of a study abroad internship in Italy, for a specific focus on Italian cuisine and techniques.

There are several student organizations on campus, allowing for students to socialize, test their skills in competition, and network. The Career Services office at AACC is focused on helping students with career placement and advancement through advising, resume assistance, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Hotel/Restaurant Management, with options for Culinary Arts emphasis, Baking and Pastry Arts emphasis, or Hospitality Business Management emphasis

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Culinary Arts
  • Certificate – Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Certificate – Event Planning and Catering
  • Certificate – Restaurant Cooking Skills

Accreditation

Anne Arundel Community College – Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism Institute is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and its culinary programs are ACF accredited.

27. Delgado Community College

New Orleans, Louisiana

Delgado Community College (DCC) is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers several Associate degree and Certificate program options.

Students at DCC gain valuable knowledge and training for pursing a variety of careers in the culinary industry through hands–on education mixed with theoretical and classroom discussion. Additionally, students gain on–the–job experience through internships, and can develop professional connections, which might lead to a job offer pending graduation. As DCC is located in New Orleans, students have unique opportunities to study the local Cajun cuisine in one of the best–known food cities in the world.

DCC seeks to help students with career placement and advancement through its Career Services office, providing career advising, planning assistance, resume assistance, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts with options for Professional Culinarian concentration, or Baking and Pastry Arts concentration

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate of Technical Studies – Culinary Arts
  • Certificate of Technical Studies – Culinary Management
  • Certificate of Technical Studies – Pastry Arts

Accreditation

Delgado Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

28. Boston University Metropolitan College

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University is a private, not–for–profit college, a complete research university that offers a full spectrum of degree programs. Metropolitan College (BUMC) is a division of Boston University that offers specific career training programs, including its Certificate in Culinary Arts program.

The Culinary Arts program at BUMC was founded by legendary chefs Julia Child and Jacques Pépin (who remains on the advisory board) in 1989, and as it lasts only for a single semester, it is designed to get you out of the classroom and into the professional kitchen as quickly as possible. It is a full–time program with a very limited class size (only 12 students), which promises for an intense, thorough, and intimate experience in learning about and training in the subject.

BUMC also offers several professional certification programs relevant to the culinary industry, which can be useful to advancing your career, as well as wine certification programs. BUMC is committed to your success, and in addition to offering an intensive, fast–track program, the Center for Career development can help you with career placement and advancement through advising, resume assistance, networking, and more.

In addition, as Boston University is a full–scale university, there is an active on–campus student life, with numerous events and organizations for you to become involved in.

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Culinary Arts

Accreditation

Boston University Metropolitan College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE). However, its culinary program is not accredited by ACF.Boston University Metropolitan College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE). However, its culinary program is not accredited by ACF.Boston University Metropolitan College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE). However, its culinary program is not accredited by ACF.

29. The French Pastry School at Kennedy – King College

Chicago, Illinois)

Kennedy–King College, a branch of the City Colleges of Chicago, is a public, not–for–profit institution that is home to The French Pastry School.

As the name suggests, the French Pastry School specializes in the study of pastry and baking, and while it may not give you a comprehensive culinary education, it can give you a very focused, quality education in the pastry arts. Its intensive, fast–track, full–time programs are designed to get you fully trained and in the workforce as quickly as possible, with its Professional Pastry and Baking Certificate program taking 24 weeks to complete.

The program curriculums at The French Pastry School are as focused on career readiness and development as they are on pastry arts, and the Career Services office can help you with placement and advancement through advising, resume assistance, networking, and more.

Though not a Certificate program, the French Pastry School also offers a 10–week course session in the study of Artisanal Bread Baking, for extra study.

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Professional Pastry and Baking
  • Certificate – Professional Cake Decorating and Baking

Accreditation

The French Pastry School at Kennedy – King College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). However, its culinary programs are not accredited by ACF.

30. Great Lakes Culinary Institute

Traverse City, Michigan

Northwestern Michigan College is a public, not–for–profit institution that offers a variety of degrees and programs of study, including culinary programs at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute (GLCI).

The Associate degree and Certificate programs at GLCI present a straightforward approach to the study of culinary arts and professional kitchen work, including kitchen and restaurant management. Each utilizes hands–on training combined with theory and classroom discussion, as well as internships to promote on–the–job experience and professional networking. Students can work at Lobdell’s, a full–service restaurant on campus that is open to the public.

GLCI is committed to your success, and the Career Services office at Northwestern Michigan College can help you with career placement and advancement through advising, resume assistance, networking, and more.

Degree Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science – Culinary Arts

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate – Culinary Arts

Accreditation

Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

Honorable Mention

These Schools offer high–quality culinary education despite not quite making it into The Top 30 Culinary Schools.

The Culinary Institute of New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

More than once has New Orleans been called the Food Capital of the World.

The Culinary Institute of New Orleans considers itself a pioneer of the culinary world, and continuously strives to improve and update its curriculum and facilities to remain up–to–date with the industry.

Through hands–on classes and experience in many of New Orleans’ local restaurants, students receive comprehensive training for various jobs in culinary arts—–from line look to sous chef, patissiér, garde mangér, executive chef, and others.

San Francisco Cooking School

San Francisco, California

Though less than five years old, the San Francisco Cooking School has proven itself a major player for those learning how to become a chef.

The 6–month full–time (or 9–month part–time) program begins with an intensive tasting workshop and ends with a two–month externship in a top San Francisco restaurant such as Coi, Delfina, or State Bird Provisions.

Classes are limited to only 14 students, meaning each student receives personalized attention from chef–instructors and the school’s impressive list of Deans and Advisors, which includes names like Daniel Patterson, Craig Stoll, and Bill Corbett.

According to a school representative, the admissions process (which includes an interview) is rigid to ensure that everyone wants to be cooking there for the same reason.

Is There Such a Thing as an Online Culinary School?

Some schools offer students the opportunity to take culinary classes online. These programs usually require an externship, wherein students can apply their skills in a hands–on setting.

Of course, there are a lot of different culinary schools on the market, and making a choice about where to attend can be difficult. This article aims to make that choice easier by giving you a definitive ranking of the top 30 culinary schools in the U.S. right now. If you want to become a great chef, or an architect of cakes, a chocolate wizard, or a restaurant owner, or any other top position in the culinary industry, this list is where your path to success and a lucrative career begins.

What Is a Culinary School?

The term “culinary school” can refer to a variety of institutions, running a spectrum that includes schools that specialize solely in culinary education and training, as well as full–scale research universities that offer culinary studies programs; this article includes all types. While it is possible to learn how to be a professional chef solely through work experience, starting as a dishwasher in a kitchen and working your way up through apprenticeship (and plenty of practice), culinary schools will give you a formal education in the art, leaving much less to chance in regards to your professional development and success.

Culinary schools do much more than just teach you how to cook. Practical knowledge is of course important, but culinary schools also give you the theory behind what you’re doing and why it works, and your hands–on practical education is overseen by a certified professional who can ensure that you are using standardized techniques and practices. Many programs include externships or internships that, in addition to giving you on–the–job experience, help promote professional networking and career development by getting you in the door of many places that you might not have the opportunity to on your own.

Culinary schools stress professional development as much as they do cooking, and many programs incorporate coursework on basic business and management skills. While Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts programs are standard offerings, plenty of schools also offer degree or certificate programs that incorporate specialized education and training, focusing on restaurant management or entrepreneurship, catering, culinary science, and more; all this not only expands your education, but expands your career possibilities. In addition, the best culinary schools, and the institutions that house them, come with career development programs that can help you get what you need in order to get where you want to be in life.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Culinary School?

Like most things, it all depends. Because there is such a wide range of culinary schools and program offerings, there is an accordingly wide range of prices. Community Colleges, of course, will cost significantly less than private colleges, whether for–profit or not–for–profit. Does less–expensive mean better? Does more–expensive? That is difficult to answer; instead, we ask you to consider what you are looking to get out of it, and balance the cost against that.

Where do you see this taking you, career-wise? If you take out loans, are you sure you will be able to pay them back on time? Do you want a fast-track program, or a standard-length program? Do you want a full degree, or will a certificate suffice? Do you want credits that will transfer, if you plan on going to school later? What kind of benefits are you looking for, from the school? What kind of student experience do you want? These are all relevant questions that not only help determine the price of a program, but its value to you.

How Do You Get Into a Culinary School?

Culinary schools have the same basic entrance requirements as any other school. You will need a high school diploma or GED. Many do not require standardized test scores at all, while others some will use ACT or SAT scores for the purpose of placement but not for acceptance (and will offer the option of taking a different placement test if you do not have ACT or SAT scores); only a few require ACT or SAT scores in order to be accepted.

To rephrase the question, though, you might be wondering: do I need to be a good cook already? No. Many schools encourage the passionate but inexperienced to attend. After all, that is what you’re going to culinary school to learn; you may not be a good cook upon enrollment, but you will be a great chef after graduation.

How Many Years Do You Have to Go to a Culinary School?

This will depend on the school and what kind of programs they offer. Many schools use a typical calendar based on two semesters and a summer break; for these programs, a Bachelor degree will take four years, an Associate Degree will take two years, and a Certificate or Diploma will take anywhere between one semester to one year, depending on the curriculum.

Plenty of other schools, however, offer “full-time” programs, which have more in common with the classic apprenticeship model than with the traditional university model. In a full-time program, students attend schools on a similar schedule to a full-time job, five days a week, from six to eight hours a day, generally with day-time or evening program options. This can make for an intense, highly focused experience that requires much discipline on the part of the student, but it also means that programs can be completed in much shorter timespans, getting you trained, qualified, and into the workforce faster, with six to eight months being an average program length.

How to Become a Certified Chef:

The American Culinary Federation, established in 1929, exists to ensure quality and standardized cooking and safety practices among chefs, bakers, and educators in the culinary industry, offering different levels of certification, such as Master Chef, which can be earned through passing certification exams. When someone is referred to as a “certified chef,” it usually means ACF certification.

What is ACF Accreditation?

ACF also accredits culinary school programs, which essentially acts as a stamp of approval, to say that the curriculum is taught to ACF standards, will prepare students for ACF certification exams, and that the program may even offer ACF exams on campus. This is a mark of quality, and is significant. However, before you get to thinking that ACF accreditation is totally necessary for any quality culinary school (like institutional accreditation), there are a few things to consider.

For one thing, ACF accreditation is a specialized accreditation; unlike institutional accreditation, which is a fundamental requirement for any institution of higher education, specialized accreditation is more of a perk than a necessity. Secondly, you do not need to have graduated from an ACF accredited program to take an ACF certification exam. The only prerequisite for ACF certification is two years of work experience in an entry–level culinary position. If you have an Associate degree in a culinary program, then you can opt out of this requirement, but you don’t even need a degree; anyone can apply for ACF certification, if they have the work experience under their belt.

So, you will notice that some very high-quality schools on this list offer Bachelor degree programs, but are not ACF accredited, while other schools might only offer certificate programs, but are ACF accredited. Should your decision come down to this factor? We suggest that, while it is significant, your decision should be based on your individual situation and needs. Do you want a Bachelor degree? Can you afford it? Will it get you where you want to be? Is the school right for you? Let those be the most significant factors in your decision. All the schools on this list will prepare you for ACF certification exams, regardless of whether they are ACF accredited.

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