What type of Culinary Degree is right for you?

Culinary schools and cooking schools are dedicated to teaching the art and science of cooking and food preparation. There are several different types of cooking schools all over the world. Some of these schools cater to amateur chefs, and others cater to those with a dream of becoming a professional chef.

In addition to attending a culinary or cooking school, many community colleges and universities offer degrees for those wanting to pursue a career in the culinary arts.

As you can imagine, there are many different schools, degree types, and certifications to choose between. Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular programs, as well as how long it will take to earn a degree or certification so you can turn your passion into a profession.

Diploma or Certificate Programs

A diploma or certificate in a culinary program can be earned in six to twelve months. These programs offer hands-on education while also providing real-world experience. Generally speaking, these certifications are best for those pursuing an entry-level position, like a line cook.

Some of the most popular certificate programs are:

  • Nutrition
  • Food safety & sanitation
  • Baking
  • Food Purchasing
  • Restaurant operations
  • Ethnic and International cuisine

Some of the most popular and sought-after jobs after earning a culinary certificate are:

  • Baker
  • Restaurant Manager
  • Line Cook
  • Chef
  • Caterer
  • Chocolatier

Although many of the trade schools that offer these certificate programs don’t accept Federal Aid, they do come at a lower cost and offer in house financial aid or scholarships. These scholarships and financial aid are typically awarded based on financial need.

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Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts

An Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts is the most popular program for those interested in pursuing a career as a chef. During this two-year program, known as an Associate’s in Applied Science-Culinary Arts students, will get a general education made up of writing, math, English, and communication with other culinary students.

Although these programs are offered at culinary and cooking schools, they are also available at many community colleges.

Some of the most popular culinary Associate’s Degree programs are:

  • Menu development
  • Nutrition
  • Culinary terminology
  • Culinary management
  • Food safety and sanitation

Some of the most popular and sought-after jobs after earning a culinary Associate’s Degree are:

  • Food preparation supervisor
  • Pastry Chef
  • Sous chef
  • Personal chef
  • Line cook
  • Chef

In addition to culinary schools, many of these programs are offered at local community colleges, which means, as long as they’re accredited, Federal financial aid can help cover the costs of the degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts

In addition to general studies like reading, writing, and mathematics, this four-year program also involves hand-on experience in the kitchen. As part of this program, students will learn important skills like expert knife handling, food cost control, and inventory management.

Some of the most popular culinary Bachelor’s Degree programs are:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Hospitality Management
  • Baking & pastry arts
  • Culinary management
  • Restaurant management

Some of the most popular and sought-after jobs after earning a culinary Bachelor’s Degree are:

  • Restaurant owner/operator
  • Theme park general manager
  • Catering operator
  • Food & beverage manager
  • Spa owner
  • Convention sales manager

Bachelor’s culinary degree programs are offered at both universities and culinary schools. The school you choose may only offer private aid or scholarships, so it’s important to check with the financial aid office before you commit to a program as these degrees can be quite costly.

Master’s Degree in Culinary Arts

If you want to “kick things up a notch,” as Emeril Lagasse might say, then you might consider getting a Master’s Degree in the Culinary Arts. These programs generally include intense and laser-focused training with very experienced chefs, mastering culinary techniques. If you have a desire to become a restaurant owner or head chef, there are business and management classes to help you understand the ins and outs of running a successful business.

Aside from restaurant owners, other recognizable positions that might require a masters include, Hotel General Managers and Food and/or Beverage Directors for major corporations.

Don’t overwhelm yourself, treat the process like a nice 3-course meal. Take your time, learn the basics, and get some experience. If this turns out to be your passion, then move into the next realm to refine your skills and enjoy your work doing something you love.