French Pastry Chef Degree Programs

Degree programs for aspiring French pastry chefs include French pastry certificate programs and associate's degree programs in baking and pastry arts. Through classroom work and hands-on training, both courses cover basic and advanced techniques.

Essential Information

Certificate program classes are taught by expert bakers, pastry chefs and cake artists. A certificate program may be completed in under a year. Culinary schools that offer French pastry certificate programs sometimes have higher admission standards due to smaller class sizes.

Students in A.A.S. in Bakery and Pastry Arts programs learn how to prepare and decorate baked goods and desserts ranging from cookies and pies to the fanciest of wedding cakes. In addition to baking and pastry classes, students also take business classes, such as business communication, food service mathematics, management and accounting. There are also general education requirements that must be fulfilled. Most programs require students to complete internships or externships.

A high school diploma or a GED along with a completed admissions application are required for admission into a 2-year degree program. Some schools require students take assessment tests prior to enrollment.

French Pastry Certificate Program

Students spend the majority of their instruction time in the kitchen instead of the classroom. Instructors use cooking demonstrations to teach the best techniques and tools; students also learn through hands-on, supervised experiences in the kitchen. French pastry certificate programs offer students the opportunity to complete externships at one or several fine dining establishments and bakeries.

Associate of Applied Science in Baking & Pastry Arts

The core classes in an A.A.S. program in baking and pastry arts are similar to the coursework in French pastry certificate programs. The curriculum in a certificate program focuses only on food service and baking and pastry; students in a 2-year program also take classes outside of their field of study. An associate's degree program may require additional baking and pastry classes not offered in a French pastry certificate program.

The curriculum includes basic culinary arts classes that emphasize cost control, sanitation and nutrition. The following classes are typical for a student studying French pastry or baking and pastry arts programs.

  • French pastries and fancy desserts
  • Specialty & wedding cakes
  • Breads & breakfast pastries
  • Decorating with sugar & chocolate
  • Chocolates, marzipan & sugar candies
  • Ice cream, sherbets & sorbets

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

Graduates of a French pastry program in baking and pastry arts usually start out in entry-level positions and advance as they gain experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, employment opportunities for head cooks and chefs, including pastry chefs, are expected to grow by 9% from 2014-2024. The average yearly salary for chefs and head cooks was $45,920, as reported by the BLS in May 2015. Salary is largely determined by region and employer type; French pastry chefs may earn a higher wage than other pastry chefs because high-end food service establishments are common employers of French pastry chefs.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of certificate or associate's degree programs who want to continue their studies can consider a bachelor's degree in hospitality and restaurant management or a similar program. Some programs offer an area of concentration in baking and pastry. Students enrolled in these programs learn advanced culinary techniques in addition to management and business skills.

Both French pastry certificate programs and Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry Arts degree programs teach the skills needed to become a professional French pastry chef. Associate's degree programs take about a year longer to complete and also include general education requirements in addition to culinary training.

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