It generally takes students two years to complete an associate's degree program in the culinary arts, but students can reduce the time to as little as 12 months by enrolling in an accelerated program. Such programs usually ask that applicants hold an undergraduate degree and/or have experience in the food service industry. Some lead to an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts.
Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts
Students learn the basic operational knowledge necessary to run a kitchen or restaurant and the cooking skills required to prepare a variety of dishes. Accelerated associate's degree programs include courses in dining room essentials, menu creation, world cuisine and nutrition. An internship may also be included in the program. Additional coursework students may complete includes:
- Cooking methods
- Baking and pastry preparation
- Stock, sauces and soups
- Food safety
- Food purchasing
- Food management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
For chefs and head cooks, a 9% increase in job opportunities was predicted for the 2014-2024 decade, based on reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Cooks in general could see 4% growth in job openings during the same time, while a 7% rise was projected for bakers. The BLS provided mean salaries for these careers as of 2015: chefs and head cooks ($45,920), restaurant cooks ($24,430) and bakers ($26,270).
Continuing Education Information
Although individuals who pursue accelerated associate's degrees in the culinary arts are generally interested in pursuing careers after graduation, they may also continue their educations by enrolling in bachelor's degree programs in culinary arts. These programs generally combine advanced cooking techniques required to prepare American and international cuisine with the business knowledge required to operate a kitchen or manage a restaurant.
Graduates of culinary arts bachelor's degree programs who are interested in furthering their knowledge may pursue master's degrees in food studies. These programs teach students about the relationship between food, culture and societies, as well as industrial and agricultural methods used in food production.
An accelerated Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science in Culinary Arts program teaches students the necessary cooking and management skills to work in a professional kitchen setting or pursue higher education.