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Top Culinary Arts Program - Tampa, FL

Few schools in the Tampa area have top ranking culinary arts programs. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for culinary arts, as well as tuition and degree information.

School and Ranking Information

Students interested in culinary arts have five choices to choose from in the Tampa area. Based on program offerings, graduation rates, and accreditation, the top three schools in Tampa for culinary arts are:

  • Winner: Hillsborough Community College offers several culinary programs and has achieved an exemplary status of accreditation by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
  • Runner Up #1: Pinellas Technical Education Center - Clearwater has also achieved ACF accreditation.
  • Runner Up #2: Erwin Technical Center has a high graduation rate. Like the two other schools ranked here, this school provides both classroom training and hands-on experience.

School Comparison Chart

Category Hillsborough Community College Pinellas Technical Education Center - Clearwater Erwin Technical Center
Location Tampa Clearwater (16.1 miles from Tampa) Tampa
School Type 2-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Program Cost (includes tuition, fees, books and supplies, 2013) Chef's apprentice certificate: $4,818 (in-state); $8,120 (out-of-state);
Culinary arts certificate: $7,219 (in-state); $16,851 (out-of-state);
Culinary management degree: $10,246 (in-state); $27,860 (out-of-state)*
$5,634 (commercial foods and culinary arts programs)** $3,485 (commercial foods and culinary arts certificate)***
Culinary Arts Certificates and Degrees Offered Certificates; associate's degrees Certificates Certificates
Culinary Arts Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in (2011-2012) 10**** 29**** 4****
Most Popular Culinary Arts Program (2011-2012) Associate of Science in Culinary Management (7 awarded)**** Certificate in Culinary Arts/Chef Training (29 awarded)**** Certificate in Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts (4 awarded)****
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2008 Entering Class 29%**** 97%**** 85%****
Noteworthy On-campus training restaurant provides experience* Graduates with one year of food service experience can apply to the American Culinary Federation to become Certified Culinarians N/A

Sources: *Hillsborough Community College, **Pinellas Technical Education Center, ***Erwin Technical Center; ****NCES College Navigator.

Winner: Hillsborough Community College

  • Accredited with exemplary status by the American Culinary Federation
  • A Hospitality Club and a Nutrition and Dietetic Club are available
  • Culinary majors are required to complete five, 16-week work experience sessions, for a total of 125 practicum hours

Hillsborough Community College, located in Tampa, offers an associate's program for aspiring culinary students, as well as several certificate options, including a chef's assistance certificate, a culinary arts certificate, and several food, beverage, and hospitality certificates. Culinary, hospitality, and restaurant management students run the Gourmet Room, an on-campus training restaurant. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner on select weekdays and hosts a variety of special events. A career center, available both online and in-person, assists students with career opportunities and assessments, trains them in job search skills, and invites employers to register for the online college job board.

Runner-Up #1: Pinellas Technical Education Center, Clearwater

  • Classroom, multimedia, demonstrational, and practical experiences
  • Credits may be transferred for completion of an associate's program
  • ServSafe certification necessary for kitchen-lab work

Pinellas Technical Education Center in Clearwater, Florida, offers a variety of certificate programs for culinary arts students. Certificates are available in restaurant cook, chef/head cook, and food service management. All three programs require 300-clock hours. Topics in the restaurant cook program include receiving and storing food, preparing fruits and vegetables, nutrition, and bakery, while the chef/head cook program covers selecting foods, entrée preparation, and career advancement. The food service management program has coursework in maintaining kitchen tools and equipment, kitchen math, ethnic cuisines, baking, and advanced cooking. Credits may be applied toward a degree from St. Petersburg College or Johnson & Wales University.

Runner-Up #2: Erwin Technical Center

  • On-campus café, commercial kitchen and bakery
  • Learning center
  • Low 12:1 student to faculty ratio

Erwin Technical Center offers a full-time culinary arts certificate program. The 1,200-hour class meets on Monday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Students are trained in a commercially designed kitchen and cafeteria, and they can practice learned skills in a classroom café. Also included in the curriculum are menu design and restaurant management. Prospective students to the culinary program must meet the minimum TABE test score of at least '9' in reading, language, and math. A learning center is available to assist prospective students who need to improve their test scores.


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