Associate in Science (AS): Culinary Arts Degree Overview

Oct 10, 2019

Essential Information

Individuals interested in careers in the food service industry can enroll in an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts program. Students pursuing these degrees learn to create soups, salads, dressings, entree dishes, and desserts. They also learn food presentation and hospitality skills in addition to safety and sanitation procedures.

Most of these programs can be found at culinary institutes, technical schools, or community colleges, and many programs include externship opportunities under the supervision of managers or head chefs. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) accredits many culinary programs and provides specific guidelines for the curriculum (

The prerequisites for a two-year AS in Culinary Arts include a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Associate in Science in Culinary Arts

Courses within a culinary arts degree program cover cooking and baking basics as well as cost control, purchasing, food safety and restaurant operations. Students may also expect coursework including:

  • Nutrition
  • Foodservice production
  • Hospitality and foodservice management
  • Menu planning
  • Recipe writing

Popular Career Options

Graduates of the Associate of Science in Culinary Arts programs may be able to land a great variety of jobs in hospitality and foodservice locations, such as restaurants, cafeterias or hotels. Applicants may find entry-level jobs as food preparation workers or assistants before they can move up to other positions. Examples of these jobs include:

  • Pastry chef
  • Food preparation supervisor
  • Hotel and resort chef
  • Catering manager
  • Restaurant chef
  • Sous chef

Between 2018 and 2028, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job availability for chefs and head cooks is expected to rise by 11%, and jobs for food service managers may grow at the same rate. Salary data from the BLS shows that chefs and head cooks earned a median of $48,460 as of May 2018. The median salary for food service managers was $54,240 as of 2018.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates of an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts program can further their education by entering a bachelor's degree program in culinary arts. This 4-year program provides students with additional training in restaurant operations, world cuisine and complex culinary techniques. This degree prepares individuals for leadership roles within the restaurant business.

Being certified isn't mandatory, but the BLS states that it can give job seekers an edge over others. Those who successfully complete specific ACF-accredited associate's degree programs may be able to sit for exams to become Certified Culinarians. With additional education and experience, applicants can achieve distinctions such as Certified Sous Chef, Certified Chef de Cuisine and Certified Executive Chef.

Aspiring chefs can enroll in an Associate in Science in Culinary Arts degree program to prepare for employment as pastry chefs or chefs in hotels, restaurants and other food service establishments. Those interested in furthering their culinary studies or improving their employment opportunities can pursue a bachelor's degree program or various voluntary industry certifications.

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