Bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts are entry-level programs designed for high school graduates with little to no professional baking experience. Other programs are designed as transfer programs for students who already completed a 2-year associate's degree program in baking and pastry arts. Most programs include training in business management, preparing students to one day manage or own an establishment. Internships or work/study experiences are required, and some online coursework may be offered.
Most community and vocational colleges offering associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts accept students who hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. It's recommended that high school students complete courses in writing and mathematics.
Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts
A 2-year degree program in baking and pastry arts provides students with the theoretical knowledge and practical training necessary to create baked goods from scratch in a kitchen environment. The American Culinary Federation should accredit the program. Individuals enrolled in an associate's degree program in baking and pastry arts spend their first few semesters studying kitchen safety, sanitation, nutrition, and traditional baking techniques. They also learn how to make sophisticated pastries, cakes, and breads offered in different regional areas.
Most 2-year degree programs offer courses in bakery management, kitchen management and food cost control. Baking and pastry arts degree programs are different from vocational programs because they offer general education and liberal arts courses in addition to core, career-oriented courses. Examples of baking-related core courses include:
- Basic culinary skills and nutrition
- Kitchen safety and sanitation
- Fundamentals of baking
- Cakes and chocolate desserts
- Plate design and composition
- Food cost control and baking retail management
Bachelor of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts
Bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts are primarily offered by culinary institutes and some 4-year universities. The programs help students develop skills to create desserts, pastries, and specialty breads from scratch. Students learn how to develop menus, create nutritional items, balance food costs, and communicate with other kitchen employees.
Many bachelor's degree programs include courses related to management principles, marketing, finance, and retail operations. In addition to those courses, most students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in baking and pastry arts are required to complete an internship or work study experience in a professional kitchen environment. Examples of core courses are:
- Advanced cakes and decorative breads
- Sugar artistry and food science
- Management for food science professionals
- Finance and accounting
- Food microbiology and culture
- Professional internship
Popular Career Options
A degree in baking and pastry arts can prepare graduates for positions in a variety of culinary establishments. Specific titles might include:
- Restaurant pastry chef
- Bakery manager
- Resort and hotel baker
- Assistant pastry chef
Certification and Continuing Education
Bakers and pastry chefs can choose to gain certification from the American Culinary Federation, which offers four designations, including Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Working Pastry Chef, Certified Executive Pastry Chef and Certified Master Pastry Chef. Bakers and pastry chefs who are interested in opening and running their own retail businesses might also consider enrolling in advanced degree programs in business administration or culinary management.
Employment Outlook and Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in baking and pastry arts may go on to take positions as pastry chefs, bakers or managers in restaurants, retail shops or catering companies. A 4-year degree may help them achieve a managerial role. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), bakers are expected to experience 7% job growth for the years 2014 through 2024. The BLS also reported in 2015 that bakers earned $24,170 as a median annual wage.
There are two degree options fro individuals interested in becoming bakers and/or pastry chefs: Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts and Bachelor of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts. Both programs cover the essential baking and culinary skills of the field, though bachelor's programs tend to be more in-depth. Graduates can pursue voluntary certification and may work as bakers, pastry chefs and more.