Associate Degree in Professional Cooking: Program & Course Info

Essential Information

These 2-year Associate in Science and Associate of Occupational Studies programs in culinary arts offer students training in business management, cooking and professional culinary techniques. Students study food safety and learn how to manage a kitchen. Hands-on training is standard in these programs because timing, hand-eye coordination, speed and the ability to work well with others are required to work in high-pressure environments, like professional kitchens.

Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts

Students develop food preparation skills and learn the different styles of menu planning for dining rooms in international locales. In addition to learning how to cook a variety of different cuisines, students learn about common topics such as:

  • Food presentation
  • Business management
  • Cost control
  • Nutrition
  • Sanitation
  • Food service production

Popular Career Options

Graduates can find work in the hospitality industry for resorts, cruise lines, health spas and restaurants. They might also seek employment with caterers or in other food service industries. Individuals from these types of programs have found work as:

  • Assistant garde manger chefs
  • Banquet cooks
  • Personal chefs
  • Rounds cooks
  • Sous chefs

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Voluntary certifications are available to professionals with different experience levels, including certifications for culinarians, sous chefs, chefs de cuisine and personal chefs, through the ACF or American Culinary Foundation ( Individuals who have earned an associate's degree are eligible to take ACF certification exams, although some certifications could also require work experience.

Certifications remain valid for five years; recertification requires proving that a certain number of continuing education credits have been taken. Students interested in furthering their studies can enroll in culinary arts programs at the bachelor's degree level.

Aspiring professional cooks can pursue associate's programs in culinary arts that include both didactic courses and hands-on training in the kitchen. Different careers that graduates are qualified for include sous chef, banquet cook, personal chef and round cook.

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