Top Ranked Culinary School - Charlotte, NC

Students interested in studying culinary arts in Charlotte, NC, have only a few schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition, and ranking info to find the right one for you.

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School and Ranking Information

Though the city of Charlotte boasts a bustling restaurant scene, there are only three school choices directly in the city that offer culinary arts programs. Based on proximity, size and hands-on opportunities, the top options for studying culinary arts within 70 miles of downtown Charlotte are Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte (JWU), Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), and Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI). These programs can prepare chefs for certifications, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification.

  • Winner: Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte is the most prestigious of the three schools and the only one to offer a bachelor's degree as well as an associate degree in culinary arts.
  • Runner Up #1: Central Piedmont Community College is located near downtown Charlotte and offers certificate programs in pastry and baking with 3 possible specializations.
  • Runner Up #2: Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has a higher graduation rate than CPCC but is further away from Charlotte.

School Comparison Chart

Category Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte Central Piedmont Community College Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
Location Charlotte, NC Charlotte, NC Hudson, NC (69.6 miles from Charlotte)
School Type 4-year, primarily associate, private not-for-profit 2-year, public 2-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $26,412* $2,481 (in-state); $8,625 (out-of-state)* $2,274 (in-state); $8,418 (out-of-state)*
Culinary Award Levels Offered Associate and bachelor's degrees Certificates; associate degrees Associate degree
Culinary Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 478* 32* 16*
Most Popular Culinary Program 2011-2012 Associate Degree in Culinary Arts/Chef Training (354 awarded)* Associate Degree in Culinary Arts/Chef Training (21 awarded)* Associate Degree in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, General (16 awarded)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) 52% (2005 entering class)* 11% (2008 entering class)* 24% (2008 entering class)*
Noteworthy Hosts the first culinary nutrition program accredited by the American Dietetic Association Only NC-based associate program designated 'exemplary' by The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission Culinary program works with JEBCC Conference Center to operate The JEBCC Catering Group

Sources: * National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bartending
  • Catering and Restaurant Management
  • Chef Training
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Server and Dining Room Mgmt
  • Institutional Food Worker
  • Meat Cutting

Winner: Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte

  • Past student internships have included world-renowned restaurants and resorts
  • Program features study-abroad opportunities on 4 continents
  • Boasts several award-winning alumni, including celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse
  • Student/teacher team received 4 medals in 2008 IKA/Culinary Olympics competition
  • During the 2004 Summer Olympics, JWU Students were recruited to be part of the athletes' cooking staff

Johnson & Wales University's College of Culinary Arts offers a 4-year program that allows undergraduate students to earn 2 consecutive degrees. Students complete an associate degree in either culinary arts or pastry and baking, and then a bachelor's degree in culinary arts and food service management or baking and pastry arts and food service management. The school also offers an accelerated 1-year associate program for professionally experienced students, and an online bachelor's program for students with an associate degree. The Charlotte campus includes restaurant-style kitchens and dining venues, as well as a world-class Culinary Auditorium. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of contests, from competing with JWU's 3 out-of-state campuses to representing the school internationally.

Runner-Up #1: Central Piedmont Community College

  • School operates a lunch restaurant and a bakery cafe, both staffed by students
  • The majority of the program's full-time faculty are certified executive chefs
  • Campus has a new culinary center with dining spaces and a demonstration kitchen

In 2011, Central Piedmont Community College enrolled 19,840 students, 61% of them part-time, according to the NCES. Central Piedmont's hospitality department offers an associate program in culinary arts along with associate and certificate programs in baking and pastry arts. Students learn on state-of-the-art equipment and gain experience through classroom, lab, and work-study through the Philip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Center. They also staff Greenway Restaurant out of the on-campus culinary center at the Central campus in Charlotte, and Aspire Bakery & Bistro out of the school's Harris campus in Charlotte. Income from Aspire goes to fund student activities and scholarships.

Runner-Up #2: Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

  • 14 to 1 student-faculty ratio
  • Partnership with catering group
  • Graduates can receive certification by the American Culinary Federation

According to NCES, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute had an entirely undergraduate student body of 4,902 students as of 2011. CCC&TI offers an associate degree in culinary technology that includes training in sanitation, food and beverage services, baking, food production, and hospitality supervision. Culinary students have the opportunity to work in cooperation with the JEBCC Conference Center through the JEBCC Catering Group. Award-winning executive chef Raymond L. Kirby heads the JEBCC Catering Group.

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