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Pastry Chef Major and Bachelor Degree Program Information

Aspiring pastry chefs most commonly receive bachelor's degrees in the baking and pastry arts, a four-year program that is widely available across the country. Combining classroom and practical experience, students learn how to create breads, cakes, pastries and other pastry confections.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts train students in a specialized branch of culinary arts that includes the production of cakes, breads, pastries and confections. Students in this major learn to use baking and pastry equipment through hands-on learning in a kitchen environment. Students will also study the chemical reactions that make baked goods possible.

Applicants for four-year bachelor's degree programs in baking and pastry arts are required to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Prior work experience in a professional kitchen environment is often required. Most programs, especially those at culinary arts schools, do not require the submission of ACT or SAT scores. Some culinary arts programs may offer specialization within a certain area of expertise.


Bachelor's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts Overview

Most programs provide opportunities for students to gain practical experience in the school's cafeteria, bakery or cafe or through an externship. Some schools offer baking and pastry arts as a specialization within a culinary arts or hospitality and restaurant management major. Graduates have the option to obtain professional certification through associations, like the American Culinary Federation, after gaining experience and completing an education program.

Baking and pastry arts bachelor's degree programs are most commonly available at culinary arts schools, as well as some 4-year colleges and universities. Courses in baking and pastry arts prepare students for careers as pastry chefs and bakery managers. Coursework covers baking and pastry techniques as well as kitchen and restaurant management skills, including the following:

  • Introduction to baking and pastry arts, chemistry of baking
  • Artisan breads
  • Wedding cake design
  • Chocolates and confections, cookies, tarts and pastries
  • Restaurant management, nutrition and menu planning
  • Sanitation and food safety

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Pastry chefs work in bakeries, restaurants, hotels and other settings crafting a wide variety of baked goods. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported a total of 185,300 employed bakers in 2014. Between 2014 and 2024, employment in the field was expected to show a 7% increase. Though the numbers of stores specializing in baked goods was expected to rise, pastry chef jobs would remain stagnant as more stores take advantage of lower priced, off-site, mass production facilities. The median annual salary for bakers was $24,170 in May 2015, reported the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Though not essential for employment, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) certifies pastry chefs at four different levels. These include Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC), Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC), Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) and Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC). To become a certified pastry chef, a professional must complete an education program, including specific courses in food safety and sanitation, nutrition and culinary supervisory management, as well as provide documentation of work experience that varies by level. Recertification, which includes an 8-hour refresher course, is required every five years.

A bachelor's degree in baking and pastry arts is the most common program for aspiring pastry chefs. A four-year program that combines classroom learning with practical experience, students learn how to create confections, breads, cakes and other pastries.

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