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Chef Colleges, Universities and Schools in the U.S.

Although many professional kitchens follow an apprenticeship system, most chefs begin their training by completing a culinary arts program. Culinary arts programs can take one to four years to complete.

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There are many programs available for those interested in becoming a professional chef for a restaurant, hotel or catering business. The programs vary in coursework and length and can be completed with a certification, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree.

10 Chef Schools

The following schools are found in various locations in the United States:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)
Institute of Culinary Education New York, NY Private for-profit Diploma $37,160
Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park Hyde Park, NY Private not-for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's $29,250
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone St. Helena, CA Private not-for-profit Certificate, Associate's $29,170
International Culinary Center Broadway, NY Private for-profit Certificate $47,900
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts - Chicago Chicago, IL Private for-profit Certificate, Associate's $13,796
Kendall College Chicago, IL Private for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's $19,459
New England Culinary Institute Montpelier, VT Private for-profit Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's $89,710
L'Academie de Cuisine Gaithersburg, MD Private for-profit Training Program $29,775
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder, CO Private for-profit Diploma, Associate's $25,400
Johnson & Wales University Providence Providence, RI Private not-for-profit Associate's, Bachelors $29,566

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bartending
  • Catering and Restaurant Management
  • Chef Training
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Server and Dining Room Mgmt
  • Institutional Food Worker
  • Meat Cutting

School Selection Criteria

Chef programs can vary in length and depth, and some schools may offer several study options. When selecting a chef school, students should decide whether they wish to enroll in a certificate program, an associate's degree program or a bachelor's degree program. Further considerations when selecting a school may include:

  • Students may want to look for schools that have on-site restaurants along with their kitchen facilities, which will provide them with experience working in a real-world restaurant environment.
  • Consideration should also be given to the restaurants, hotels and catering companies in which program alumni have placed, because those educational connections can provide internship and employment opportunities for recent graduates.
  • When researching schools, students should consider the credentials of each program and are encouraged to seek culinary arts programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation.
  • Because apprenticeships play a large role in the education and advancement of chefs, the internship and career placement opportunities offered by culinary universities can be a major consideration when selecting a program.

Certificate Program

Certificate programs provide students with the skills needed to perform entry-level food service jobs. Classes focus on basic baking and cooking methods, knife skills and menu planning. Certificate programs typically require 30 credit hours for completion.

Associate's Degree Program

Associate's degree programs are 2-year training programs in the culinary arts. Students learn about various aspects of food service operations, including nutrition, meal planning, purchasing and food preparation. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions as chefs, sous-chefs, bakers and station chefs.

Bachelor's Degree Program

Bachelor's degree programs give prospective chefs the chance to develop proficiency in both contemporary and classic culinary techniques and methods, including table d'hôte, à la carte and banquet settings. Advanced food classes in a variety of international cuisine are also offered. Aspiring chefs also learn how to be effective managers by attending courses on marketing, finance, computers and business management.

The type of programs available at culinary schools varies greatly from certificates to bachelor's degrees. Students need to work backwards when making a selection by considering which restaurants or hotels they would like to work for and see what schools provide suitable training or possible job placements.

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