School and Ranking Information
In the Seattle area, there are around eight schools for students seeking an education program in the culinary arts. The top three of these schools are ranked below, based on program accreditation, training methods, job placement and total number of credentials awarded. All of the schools offer programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation.
- Winner: The Seattle Culinary Academy (SCA) at the central campus of Seattle Community College earns the top spot on this list due to its sustainable approach to cooking and on-site greenhouse. It also awarded the most credentials in this field in 2011-2012 among the top schools.
- Runner-Up #1: South Seattle Community College (SSCC) is rated among the top culinary arts training programs in the country by the National Restaurant Association. The program provides students with four different food venues for hands-on training.
- Runner-Up #2: Lake Washington Institute of Technology's (LWIT) program requires an internship or co-op experience and accepts credit for life experience working in the industry.
School Comparison Chart
|Category||Seattle Central Community College||South Seattle Community College||Lake Washington Institute of Technology|
|Location||Seattle, WA||Seattle, WA||Kirkland, WA (15.7 miles from downtown Seattle)|
|School Type||4-year, primarily associate's, public||4-year, primarily associate's, public||4-year, primarily associate's, public|
|Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)||$3,893 (in-state)*
|Culinary Arts Program Levels Offered||Certificate; associate degree||Certificate; associate degree||Certificate; associate degree|
|Culinary Arts Degrees and/or Certificates Awarded (all levels) in 2011-2012||76*||71*||22*|
|Most Popular Culinary Arts Program (2011-2012)||Baking and Pastry Arts/Baker/Pastry Chef Certificate (28 awarded)*||Culinary Arts/Chef Training Certificate (33 awarded)*||Culinary Arts/Chef Training Certificate (10 awarded)*|
|Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class||12%*||12%*||22%*|
|Noteworthy||Teaches sustainable and earth-conscious practices||Regularly rated one of the country's best culinary arts training programs by the National Restaurant Association||Full-service on campus restaurant run by culinary arts students|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.
Winner: Seattle Central Community College
- Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF)
- The school offers study abroad opportunities in Spain and France
- State-of-the-art exhibition kitchen and bakery, GMO-free dining room and resource efficient equipment
At the SCA, students can complete a 6-quarter certificate of achievement program or a 7-quarter associate degree program in culinary arts. The school also offers 5-quarter certificate and 6-quarter associate degree programs in pastry arts. Students train in on-campus restaurants and have a greenhouse available to them. Both programs require a 'Chef for the Day' presentation project which requires each student to develop a menu, order the products and prepare the dishes on site. Aside from food theory and practicum courses, both curricula include sustainable food practices, management, cost control and food presentation.
Runner-Up #1: South Seattle Community College
- The culinary department states a 95%-100% job placement rate for graduates
- Students gain hands-on training through the food court, casual dining café, formal dining room and retail pastry shop
- Boasts award-winning students in both state and national competitions, according to the school
Seattle South Community College is ACF accredited and offers certificates and associate degrees in pastry and baking arts, restaurant production, and banquets and catering. There is also a program in wine technology, where students can obtain a certificate or associate degree in wine making, food and wine pairing, or wine marketing and sales. All programs include courses in health and sanitation, culinary theory, commercial food nutrition and management techniques. Studying abroad is also an option.
Runner-Up #2: Lake Washington Institute of Technology
- Students run the Chef City Grill and a bake shop
- Certified by the ACF
LWIT offers associate degree and certificate programs in the culinary arts. The certificate program prepares students for jobs as prep or front line cooks, while the associate degree program prepares them for employment as pantry cooks, front line cooks, sauté cooks and grill cooks. LWIT's baking arts program results in an associate degree and includes coursework in breads, cake design, chocolates and pastries. Both associate degree programs prepare students to become certified by the ACF. Coursework delves into nutrition, sanitation and management. Students are also expected to complete an internship or co-op experience and create a portfolio in the capstone course.
Other School Options
In addition to the top schools above, students can also find other schools offering top-notch culinary arts programs just outside of Seattle. Located about 16 miles from downtown Seattle in Renton, Renton Technical College offers culinary arts certificate and associate degree programs that are accredited by the ACF, and the school features a graduation rate of 56%, according to the NCES. Another choice within 25 miles of Seattle is Olympic College, which offers an associate degree program for sous chefs and three certificates, as well as training at two on-campus restaurants.