Top School in Seattle for Becoming a Professional Pastry Chef

Students interested in studying pastry arts in Seattle, WA, have several schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' programs and tuition to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

Among eight options, the strongest not-for-profit choices for pastry chef training near Seattle, WA, are South Seattle Community College, Seattle Central Community College, and Edmonds Community College. These schools were chosen based on whether they hold accreditation from the American Culinary Federation (ACF), their graduation rates and the awards won by their students and faculty. Read more below:

  • Winner: South Seattle Community College has the lowest graduation rate of the three, but it is also the only one that is both accredited by the ACF and prepares students for ACF chef certification. It also boasts award-winning students and faculty.
  • Runner Up #1: Seattle Central Community College offers the highest graduation rate and has an ACF-accredited program with an award-winning chef-instructor.
  • Runner Up #2: Edmonds Community College's relatively new baking program features industry-experienced faculty. It is last in this list because it isn't ACF-accredited.

School Comparison Chart

Category South Seattle Community College Seattle Central Community College Edmonds Community College
Location Seattle, WA Seattle, WA Lynnwood, WA (15.5 miles from Seattle)
School Type 4-year (primarily associate), public 4-year (primarily associate), public 2-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees in 2012-2013 $3,824 (in-state), $9,014 (out-of-state)* $3,893 (in-state), $9,083 (out-of-state)* $4,408 (in-state), $9,643 (out-of-state)*
Pastry Arts Award Levels Offered 1- to 2-year certificates; associate degrees 1- to 2-year certificates; associate degrees <1-year certificates; associate degrees
Pastry Arts Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 12* 39* 7*
Most Popular Pastry Arts Program in 2011-2012 Associate degree (10 awarded)* Associate degree (28 awarded)* <1-year certificate (5 awarded)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) 20% (16% transfer-out rate) (2005 entering class)* 32% (24% transfer-out rate) (2005 entering class)* 27% (24% transfer-out rate) (2008 entering class)*
Noteworthy Offers culinary-focused study abroad programs** Among the first culinary schools nationally to offer sustainability classes** Students provided custom-decorated cakes for the 150th-anniversary celebration of Snohomish County**

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), **Schools' websites

Winner: South Seattle Community College

  • National Restaurant Association consistently ranks its program among the best in the nation
  • School's pastry students have won national competitions
  • Program accepts a maximum of ten students every quarter
  • Graduate placement for employment is 95%-100%
  • Students fill custom orders and stock multiple on-campus eateries

The award-winning pastry and specialty baking program at South Seattle Community College offers certificates and associate degrees, including an associate degree designed for students intending to transfer to 4-year institutions. All three pastry programs teach baking, pastry and dessert making; chocolate crafting; and sugar-based decorating. Also required are classes in sanitation and nutrition. The associate degrees have additional general education requirements.

Completing a pastry and specialty baking program qualifies students to test for ACF certification as Chef de Cuisine. The pastry program facility was renovated in 2001 to include a chocolate room and multiple industry-standard labs. South offers two culinary-based study abroad programs, including one at Apicius, a culinary school in Italy.

Runner-Up #1: Seattle Central Community College

  • Programs are ACF-accredited
  • Graduate job placement is in the 90th percentile, according to school surveys
  • Cutting-edge baking facility
  • Award-winning chef instructor

Seattle Central Community College was the city of Seattle's first community college. It hosts the Seattle Culinary Academy, which offers both a 5-quarter certificate and a 6-quarter associate degree in specialty desserts and breads. The programs cover the making of pastries, desserts, decorated cakes, artisan breads, and cheeses. Inventory management is also taught, and eco-friendly practices are incorporated during the entire program.

Students receive hands-on experience, such as operating an on-campus pastry shop and participating in two student-run restaurants. The Seattle Culinary Academy partners with two local farms, giving summer-session students the opportunity to learn sustainability through farming.

Runner-Up #2: Edmonds Community College

  • Students and instructors create desserts for Oregon's International Pinot Noir Celebration
  • Students and instructors have appeared in Northwest Palate magazine
  • Award-winning head chocolatier of Theo Chocolate is an alumna
  • Students can get hands-on experience working at the school restaurant

Edmond's baking program began in 2008 as an extension of its culinary arts program, following a remodel and the addition of a baking kitchen. The school now offers baking certificates and associate degrees. All awards cover cooking and baking, including breads, cookies, cakes, pies, chocolate, and frozen desserts. Procurement, nutrition, sustainability, and restaurant operations are also taught.

The Associate of Technical Arts program includes a focus on specialty baking. Students who want both strong baking and business skills can complete a transfer associate degree program, followed by the Bachelor of Applied Science in Administrative Management program at Central Washington University.

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