Top Culinary School in Philadelphia for Becoming a Pastry Chef

Aug 13, 2020

School and Ranking Information

Students interested in becoming a pastry chef have a dozen options in the Philadelphia area. Based on program offerings, baking facilities, and faculty profiles, the top options for an education in pastry arts near Philadelphia, PA, are:

  • Winner: Montgomery County Community College is ranked first because of its strong combination of certification opportunities, state-of-the-art facilities, and award-winning instructors.
  • Runner-Up #1: Rowan College at Burlington County offers new, high-end facilities dedicated to cooking and baking, and operates a retail food service outlet. It also has the highest graduation rate in the group.
  • Runner-Up #2: Bucks County Community College offers an apprenticeship program but has the lowest graduation rate on the list.

School Comparison Chart

Category Montgomery County Community College Rowan College at Burlington County Bucks County Community College
Location Blue Bell, PA (14.9 miles from Philadelphia) Mt. Laurel, NJ (13.9 miles from Philadelphia) Newtown, PA (23.7 miles from Philadelphia)
School Type 2-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2019-2020) $5,730 (in-district);
$10,350 (in-state);
$14,970 (out-of-state)*
$4,730 (in-district);
$5,159 (in-state);
$6,901 (out-of-state)*
$$4,898 (in-district);
$9,098 (in-state);
$13,298 (out-of-state)*
Baking and Pastry Arts Award Levels Offered Certificate; associate degree Certificate; associate degree Certificate; associate degree
Baking and Pastry Arts Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in (2018-2019) 35 (Culinary Arts/Chef Training, no Baking and Pastry Arts specified)* 4* 2*
Most Popular Baking and Pastry Arts Program in 2018-2019 Associate in Culinary Arts/Chef Training (20 awarded)* Associate in Baking and Pastry Arts (4 awarded)* Associate in Baking and Pastry Arts (2 awarded)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2016 Entering Class) 24%* 28%* 21 %*
Noteworthy Baking instructor Chad Durkin was a competitor on TLC's 'Next Great Baker' Facilities include a school-affiliated store offering art and cooking supplies Chef's Apprenticeship Program offered in partnership with the Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship Training

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics.

Winner: Montgomery County Community College

  • Program prepares students for certification through the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACEF) as Certified Pastry Culinarians and through the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) as Certified Journey Bakers
  • New, 15,000-square-foot culinary facility provides access to up-to-date kitchens, cutting-edge equipment, and smart classrooms
  • Faculty members include an award-winning pastry master
  • Opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in the campus-based bakeshop and café
  • On-site career coach provides industry-related guidance

Aspiring pastry artists at Montgomery County Community College have the opportunity to train in the Culinary Arts Institute, which opened the new culinary facility in Fall 2013. Program offerings include both an Associate of Applied Science and a certificate in baking and pastry arts. In addition to a commercial externship, students in both programs learn how to make artisan breads, pastries, plated desserts, and occasional cakes. Classes in nutrition, sanitation, and purchasing are also included. Additionally, degree-seeking students must pass the ServeSafe Sanitation and Alcohol exams, administered by the National Restaurant Association.

Runner-Up #1: Rowan College at Burlington County

  • Demonstration Hall and teaching theater allows for televised culinary arts lessons
  • Student-run restaurant provides opportunities for real-life learning
  • Future professionals have access to a high-end production kitchen and equipment
  • Faculty members include a professional corporate chef
  • Secondary-education partnerships with Drexel University and the Burlington County Institute of Technology

The Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism program at Rowan College at Burlington County was also opened in Fall 2013, and instruction takes place in a renovated landmark building. Programs are similar to those offered at Montgomery County and include a Cooking and Baking Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science in Pastry Arts. Certification by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) was anticipated, and all students are required to take the ACF and ServeSafe certification tests.

The certificate program is intended to prepare students for entry-level positions in commercial bakeries or kitchens. It includes classes in garde manger, pastry making, and kitchen safety. In addition to completing a 3-credit culinary arts practicum, students in the Associate of Applied Science program learn how to prepare advanced baked goods, artisan breads, and confections. Qualified graduates may be eligible for transfer to Drexel University's culinary or hospitality management programs.

Runner-Up #2: Bucks County Community College

  • Advisory committee consults with industry professionals about job-specific skills
  • Scholarships available for students enrolled in the Chef Apprenticeship or Culinary Certificate (Pastry/Catering) programs

Buck's County offers a 1-year certificate in culinary, pastry, and catering arts, as well as a combination chef apprenticeship/degree program with an emphasis on pastry making. The certificate program prepares students for positions as food service production assistants, restaurant management trainees, cooks or bakers. Courses include topics in safety and sanitation, baking and decorating, and buffet planning.

Through 12 credits of culinary arts practicums, apprenticeship students also have access to extensive on-the-job training. In addition to earning an Associate of Arts, qualified graduates may receive their Journeymen Cooks papers from the United States Department of Labor.

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