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Blending practical kitchen training with theoretical food services training, culinary school prepares graduates for competitive careers in food services.

Graduates can work as head chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, and private chefs. They can also pursue careers in hospitality management or culinary arts management.

During culinary school, students learn foundational kitchen techniques, international cooking styles, and knife skills. Hands-on cooking classes cover skills like sauce preparation, baking and pastry techniques, and menu planning. In addition to cooking courses, culinary programs include classes on topics like food sanitation, inventory and cost control, and kitchen management.

Top 10 Culinary Schools 2020

#1 Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park Hyde Park, NY
#2 Institute of Culinary Education New York, NY
#3 International Culinary Center New York, NY
#4 Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Austin, TX
#5 L’Academie de Cuisine Gaithersburg, MD
#6 Johnson and Wales University Providence, RI
#7 Metropolitan Community College Nebraska Omaha, NE
#8 Kendall College of Culinary Arts Chicago, IL
#9 New England Culinary Institute Montpelier, VT
#10 Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies Louisville, KY

Table of Contents

Prospective culinary students can use the following ranking of the best culinary schools to find the right program for their goals and interests.

The Best Culinary Schools

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4

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts 

Austin, TX

About this school

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
5

L’Academie de Cuisine 

Gaithersburg, MD

About this school

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
6

Johnson and Wales University 

Providence, RI

About this school

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
7

Metropolitan Community College Nebraska 

Omaha, NE

About this school

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
8

Kendall College of Culinary Arts 

Chicago, IL

About this school

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
9

New England Culinary Institute 

Montpelier, VT

About this school

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
10

Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies 

Louisville, KY

About this school

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
11

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington 

Arlington, VA

About this school

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
12

Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College 

Farmington Hills, MI

About this school

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
13

San Diego Culinary Institute 

San Diego, CA

About this school

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
14

Drexel University Center for Hospitality and Sport Management 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

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
15

St. Louis Community College 

St. Louis, MO

About this school

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
16

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

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
17

Henry Ford Community College 

Dearborn, MI

About this school

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
18

Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College 

Grand Rapids, MI

About this school

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
19

Pierpont Community and Technical College 

Fairmont, WV

About this school

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
20

The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College 

New Rochelle, NY

About this school

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
21

College of Southern Nevada 

North Las Vegas, NV

About this school

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
22

Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington 

Bloomington, IN

About this school

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
23

Hudson County Community College 

Jersey City, NJ

About this school

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
24

Pulaski Technical College 

North Little Rock, AK

About this school

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
25

Kirkwood Community College 

Cedar Rapids, IA

About this school

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
26

Anne Arundel Community College - Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism Institute 

Glen Burnie, MD

About this school

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
27

Delgado Community College 

New Orleans, LA

About this school

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
28

Boston University Metropolitan College 

Boston, MA

About this school

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
29

The French Pastry School at Kennedy - King College 

Chicago, IL

About this school

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
30

Great Lakes Culinary Institute 

Traverse City, MI

About this school

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
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Culinary Schools

Best Culinary Schools Ranking Guidelines

We selected schools based on quality, curricula, faculty strength, school awards, rankings, and reputation. This is an updated ranking. While our ranking continues to weigh general culinary excellence, we added additional considerations for cost as well as degree offerings through the schools and their partnerships with other universities.

What Is a Culinary School?

Culinary school trains students for jobs as chefs and cooks. Learners study cooking techniques and cultivate knife skills. Culinary arts programs incorporate classes on topics like cooking meats, baking, and plating and presentation. Many culinary arts programs include an internship to give students hands-on kitchen training.

Culinary arts programs incorporate classes on topics like cooking meats, baking, and plating and presentation.

In addition to cooking courses, culinary arts schools include classes on food safety, cost control, and inventory management. Some programs include business and management training. These courses prepare graduates for leadership roles in the kitchen.

Many culinary schools offer electives or specializations, such as hospitality management, that allow students to tailor the degree to their goals and interests. Formal culinary education prepares graduates for professional certifications and competitive jobs in the food services industry.

Are There Online Culinary Schools?

Students with professional and personal responsibilities may prefer the flexibility of online courses. Some culinary schools offer online classes, particularly in areas like food service management, food safety, and cost control. However, as a hands-on field, culinary arts programs require some in-person courses.

How Much Is Culinary School Per Year?

The cost of culinary school varies by school and program. In general, culinary programs offered by community colleges cost less than programs at four-year institutions. Additionally, some programs offer tuition discounts to in-state students. Learners can take advantage of financial aid opportunities, like scholarships and grants, to offset annual tuition costs.

However, tuition isn't the only important factor when considering the cost of a degree. Prospective students should carefully research the reputation of potential schools, which can significantly impact employment prospects after graduation. A program with a strong reputation may cost more in tuition but offer more long-term value with respect to employment opportunities than a cheaper program with a weak reputation.

How Do You Get Into a Culinary School?

The prerequisites for culinary school vary by program, but students typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission. Many culinary colleges also set a minimum age for admission, often 17 years old. Some programs may feature additional requirements; however, applicants generally do not need to demonstrate cooking skills before entering the program.

How Long Is Culinary School?

The length of a culinary program varies by the type of program and a student's enrollment status. A culinary bachelor's degree generally takes four years of full-time study to complete, while an associate degree takes two years full time. Students can also pursue a culinary certificate or diploma, which typically take less than one year to complete.

Students can also attend full-time programs, which more closely align with an apprenticeship model than a traditional university model. Full-time programs typically feature 6-8 hours of class per day, five days per week, similar to a full-time job. This schedule results in an intensive program that often allows students to graduate in 6-8 months.

How Do You Become a Certified Chef?

After attending culinary arts school, prospective chefs can earn certification. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certification can lead to career advancement and higher pay. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers 16 professional certifications, such as culinarian, pastry chef, and sous chef. ACF also offers certifications for private chefs.

Certification candidates must meet education and professional experience requirements.

Certification candidates must meet education and professional experience requirements. ACF certifications generally require graduation from an accredited program and passing scores on written and performance exams. The certified master chef credential requires lower-level certification, courses in restaurant management, and passing exam scores.

Certified chefs must renew their credentials every 1-5 years by meeting continuing education requirements. ACF offers continuing education opportunities, including online classes and conferences.

What is ACF Accreditation?

Culinary schools that meet standards for quality can earn ACF accreditation. Granted by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC), ACF accreditation recognizes schools based on faculty qualifications, curricula, and student services. Schools must undergo regular reviews to maintain their accreditation status.

Accreditation expands financial aid opportunities for students, and some employers only hire candidates with an accredited degree. Additionally, most certifications require graduation from an accredited program. ACFEFAC holds recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a programmatic accrediting agency.

Food Service Careers

Cooking school prepares graduates for many roles in the food service industry, including chefs, head cooks, and food service managers. We cover several common careers for culinary arts graduates below.

What Can You Do With a Culinary Arts Degree?

Chefs and Head Cooks

Chefs and head cooks oversee food preparation for restaurants. They monitor and train kitchen staff, ensure the quality of ingredients, and inspect work areas to promote cleanliness. They also develop recipes and order food for the restaurant. Many chefs and head cooks attend culinary arts school to build cooking skills and gain experience with menu planning, inventory, and food sanitation.

Median Annual Salary

48,460

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Chef and Head Cook Careers

Food Service Managers

Food service managers oversee daily operations at restaurants and other places that serve food and beverages. They manage the business, promote customer satisfaction, and direct kitchen staff. They also hire and train employees, order food and beverages, and oversee food preparation. Additionally, food service managers manage payroll records and make sure employees follow health and food safety procedures. A hospitality or food service program prepares graduates for jobs as food service managers.

Median Annual Salary

$54,240

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Food Service Manager Careers

Bakers

Bakers make breads, pastries, and other baked goods by mixing ingredients and following recipes. They must ensure the quality of ingredients, prepare equipment for baking, and mix dough before baking it in an oven or grill. They may produce baked goods for grocers, restaurants, wholesalers, and institutional food services. Bakers often gain training on the job, but attending culinary school can help bakers gain additional training and advance their careers.

Median Annual Salary

$26,520

Projected Growth Rate

6%

Cooks

Cooks prepare foods at restaurants and other establishments that serve food. They check food for freshness, prepare ingredients, and cook dishes. Cooks may also arrange and serve food. Additionally, cooks must clean their work area and store ingredients. Many cooks attend culinary school to gain training in advanced cooking techniques.

Median Annual Salary

$25,200

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Bartenders

Bartenders mix drinks and serve them to customers at restaurants and bars. They often welcome customers to the establishment, provide information about daily specials, and take drink orders. Bartenders may serve wine, beer, and mixed drinks. They may also check customers' identification, accept payments, and oversee the bar's operation. Some bartenders attend bartending school or take culinary school classes to build their skills.

Median Annual Salary

$22,550

Projected Growth Rate

8%

Bartender Careers

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