Culinary Vocational Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Students who are interested in the culinary field can earn an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or undergraduate certificate in a relevant subject.

Culinary Vocational Schools

The following schools offer culinary programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Academy of Careers and Technology Beckley, West Virginia <2-year, Public Certificate $4,500
Bidwell Training Center Inc. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2-year, Private, not-for-profit Diploma $19,000
Erwin Technical College Tampa, Florida 2-year, Public Certificate $3,019 In-state
$11,829 Out-of-state
Eastern Maine Community College Bangor, Maine 2-year, Public Certificate
$3,810 In-state
$6,510 Out-of-state
H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College Montgomery, Alabama 2-year, Public Certificate
$4,074 In-state
$7,524 Out-of-state
J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College Huntsville, Alabama 2-year, Public Certificate
$4,290 In-state
$7,740 Out-of-state
Saint Augustine College Chicago, Illinois 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Associate's $9,840
Southern University at Shreveport Shreveport, Louisiana 2-year, Public Associate's $3,987

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students who are considering culinary programs may want to take the following into consideration:

  • It is important to consider the program's curriculum, since some programs emphasize specific aspects of the culinary field, such as hospitality management or baking and pastry arts. Students can choose between them based on their academic interests and career goals.
  • Prospective students who are considering certificate and associate's degree programs may want to find out if credits can be applied toward higher level programs in the future.
  • Students may want to look at the facilities and equipment available when choosing a culinary school to ensure that they get experience with industry-standard equipment and high-quality ingredients.
  • Prospective students may want to look for programs that are accredited by the American Culinary Foundation Accrediting Commission.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in culinary arts can lead to an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Associate of Occupational Science (AOS) degree. Students in these programs typically learn basic food preparation skills, as well as the fundamentals of restaurant management, such as menu development and sanitation procedures. In most programs, students also complete a practicum or externship in the field. General education coursework is also required. Most associate's degree programs take two years of full-time study to complete.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Four-year bachelor's degree programs in culinary arts begin with the same basic coursework as associate's degree programs, but they also delve deeply into the scientific, historical, cultural and business aspects of the food industry. Students may also participate in research projects and complete internships or cooperative experiences. Upon completion, graduates are prepared for leadership positions in the culinary field.

Certificate Programs

At some schools, certificate coursework mirrors that of associate's degree programs, but without the general education coursework. Students learn a broad range of fundamental culinary-related topics, from cooking techniques to nutritional considerations to food safety. Students may earn a certificate in a specialized topic within the field such as baking and pastry or cake decorating. These programs typically take one year or less to complete.

Many schools around the country offer vocational training in the culinary field. Students can decide between programs based on specialization options and onsite training facilities, among other considerations.

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