The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for chefs and head cooks at restaurants and other establishments will grow six percent through 2029, faster than many other industries in the country. With the popularity of cooking shows and competitions, more and more people are discovering the field of culinary arts and what it takes to be successful in the industry. Earning a certificate or degree in the field not only provides the experience and training needed to get your foot in the door, but it also provides a foundation for upward mobility to become a future leader and trend setter in the industry.
Table of Contents
We looked at culinary schools across the United States to develop a list of what we believe to be the 50 best culinary schools or programs in the nation. From our initial list, we looked for schools that offer hands-on experience, internship/externship opportunities, student operated restaurants, modern facilities, and a solid reputation in the industry. We only looked at schools that were nationally accredited or accredited by the American Culinary Federation.
We came up with our list of the 50 Best Programs and ranked them based on the information we reviewed and our overall impression of the school, information from College Navigator, internet reviews, and the school website. All of these schools offer quality programs which can help students be successful in the field of culinary arts. Many offer additional programs in hospitality management. Others feature several options for learners who would like to study culinary arts but are not interested in earning a degree. We invite you to have a look at all of them to see what catches your eye.
#50. Holyoke Community College
Degree Programs: AAS Culinary Arts
Certificate Programs: Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Beer and Cider Brewing, Wine Making
Accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Holyoke Community College offers one of the only culinary arts programs in the country to also focus on brewing and wine-making. Students can earn certifications in either of these time-honored New England crafts, choose to pursue an Associate’s in Culinary Arts, or a combination of all three.
Holyoke is outfitted with a state of the art facility, complete with four modern kitchens, a bakery, hotel lab, and a student-run dining room. The school is also the only one in New England that is accredited by the American Culinary Association.
#49. Walnut Hill College
Degree Programs: AAS and BS in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Restaurant Management, and Hotel Management
Walnut Hill College is one of the top places to get a solid education in culinary arts. It was founded in the 1970s as The Restaurant School and the college actually maintains four award-winning restaurants open to the public. This is where students combine their classroom learning with hands-on experience in a practical setting.
Walnut Hill has the honor of being the only Culinary Arts School to have taken an exclusive tour of Buckingham Palace, and thousands of students from the college have participated in studies abroad. They offer programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, and Restaurant and Hotel Management at the Associate’s and bachelor’s levels. Tuition-paid travel is often part of the overall experience at Walnut Hill, with trips to England, the Bahamas, France, and Florida.
#48. Cascade Culinary Institute-Central Oregon Community College
Degree Programs: AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Baking and Pastry Arts
Certificate Programs: Culinary Arts; Baking and Pastry Arts
Cascade Culinary Institute at Central Oregon Community College offers students the opportunity to work in a state-of-the-art kitchen facility while they learn their craft. The Jungers Culinary Center has cooking labs and a demonstration theater so students have the opportunity to learn in a cutting edge environment, while the school’s Elevation Restaurant is a student operated establishment allowing students to cook and serve in a real restaurant environment.
Students at Cascade can complete an internship as part of the associate degree program which can be completed in seven terms. Elective coursework covers specialty areas such as farm to table, sustainable cuisine practices, and nutritional therapy. Due to the pandemic, the school is currently offering online, remote, and hybrid classes.
#47. Coastal Alabama Community College
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Degree Programs: AAS Baking and Pastry; AAS Culinary Arts
Certificate Programs: Culinary Arts; Baking and Pastry
Formerly known as Faulkner State CC, Coastal Alabama Community College offers several different certificate and degree programs for students who want to pursue a career in the culinary arts. The AAS programs in Baking and Pastry as well as the AAS in Culinary Arts are two year programs that include an apprenticeship opportunity. Students complete a capstone course where they prepare a meal and submit it for judging and review by program faculty.
Students also have the opportunity to showcase their creativity in the culinary arts through courses such as Culinary Art Sculpture, Into to Garde Manger, and Plated Dessert Design. Pastry students participate on competition teams to showcase their talent. The AAS degree programs can be completed in two years of study and prepare graduates for management level positions.
#46. Culinary Institute LENOTRE
Degree Program: AAS Culinary Arts, AAS Baking and Pastry Arts, AAS Hospitality and Restaurant Management.
Certificate Program: Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts
LENOTRE is a small, for profit institution in Houston boasting around 256 undergrads each year. The school offers three AAS programs in culinary arts and two certificate programs. For those who are not looking for professional credentials, there are plenty of recreational classes and seminars, along with a host of non-degree seeking 10-week courses.
The school is accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Accrediting Commission of the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation. The small class size gives students the opportunity for a focused and personalized educational experience and each of the instructors has a minimum of ten years of experience in the food service industry.
#45. Jefferson State Community College
Degree Programs: AAS Culinary Apprentice Option; AAS Baking and Pastry Option; AAS Food Service/Culinary Management Option; AAS Hotel/Restaurant Management Option
Certificate Programs: Hotel/Restaurant Management Option/Advanced Option; Foodservice/Culinary Management Option/Advanced Option; Baking and Pastry Option/Advanced Option
The accredited culinary programs at Jefferson State Community College offer students the choice of various AAS and certificate options making it easy to find the best fit. Students gain hands-on experience by working in the bistro ProVare “classroom café” throughout the program.
The Culinary Club provides the opportunity for students to network and socialize with other like-minded students. Students who elect to complete one of the AAS programs will also have the opportunity to earn their certificate along the way.
#44. Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies
Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky
Degree Program: Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies is a top ranked culinary school given an “exemplary” rating by the American Culinary Federation. Students can complete their associate degree in just 18 months of study that includes a practicum or externship. As a testament to the quality of the education that students receive, students on the culinary competition team have brought home over 400 medals from various competitions around the globe.
Graduates have gone on to work as chefs, nutritionists, food scientists, and caterers in settings such as hospitals, cruise ships, restaurants, and schools. The Culinary Arts and the Baking and Pastry Arts programs at Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies are accredited by the American Culinary Federation’s Accrediting Commission.
#43. Kapiolani Community College
Degree Programs: AS in Food services: Culinary Arts; AS in Food Services: Pastry Arts
Certificate Program: Certificate of Completion in Advanced Culinary Arts; Certificate of Completion Culinary Competition; Certificate of Completion Pastry Arts; Certificate of Completion Culinary Arts
As the premier cooking school in Hawaii, Kapiolani Community College has an accredited culinary arts program offering both associate level degrees as well as certificates. Kapiolani Community College features “Slow Food KCC,” a campus run organization emphasizing the importance of appreciating where food comes from and “counteracts fast food and fast life.”
Students can work in several different dining facilities on campus that service as “learning labs,” offering a variety of different foods and dining experiences. Ka’lkena Laua’e is one such restaurant, allowing students to demonstrate their skills in a fine dining environment. The associates degree programs offer an internship opportunity and can be completed in about two years of study.
#42. Indian Hills Community College
Degree Program: AAS in Culinary Arts
Diploma Programs: Bakery Program; Chef Program
Indian Hills Community College is a top culinary school offering students the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art environment with extensive hands on experience. Almost half of each day is spent in the kitchen. The program offers a wide variety of courses so students can learn management skills in addition to their culinary training.
Courses include Culinary Computer Apps, Principles of Management, and Intro to Economics. The associate degree program can be completed in just 21 months of study and includes an internship experience.
#41. Columbus State Community College
Degree Programs: AAS Chef Apprenticeship; AAS in Food Services and Restaurant Management-Baking and Pastry Arts Track
Columbus State Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Hospitality Management with several different program tracks. Students can complete their associate degree in two years of full time study and can attend classes during the day or in the evening. The program covers courses in business, hospitality, nutrition, and foods. Students complete a work experience as part of the program to become more familiar with working in an actual restaurant.
Throughout the duration of the program, students work at Christopher’s, a student run restaurant open to the public. Those who pursue the Culinary Apprenticeship major complete on-the-job training requirements set forth by the National Apprenticeship Training Program of the American Culinary Federation.
#40. Westmoreland County Community College
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry; AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Restaurant/Culinary Management
The culinary arts programs at Westmoreland County Community College are available with an apprentice option and a non-apprentice option. Students who pursue the apprenticeship option complete about 64 credit hours of coursework and 4,000 hours of on-the-job training. The apprenticeship option in the Baking and Pastry program partners with Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the “Earn While You Learn” program where students can work while earning their degree.
Students can complete the program in about two years. The non-apprenticeship option is a blend of coursework and an internship. Westmoreland offers ACF accredited programs, state of the art facilities and experienced faculty.
#39. El Centro College
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry; AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Food and Hospitality Service
El Centro College in Dallas, Texas is located in the ideal setting for chefs and other culinary professionals. Several conference centers, hotels, and restaurants are located nearby, providing an excellent opportunity for employment and training. The culinary programs at El Centro are accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Students receive hands-on training throughout the program and are taught by experienced professionals in the field.
Students have the opportunity to join the Culinary Students Association and participate in culinary competitions. Plus, El Centro offers a “Fast Track Program in Culinary Arts” for students who want to work through the program in a cohort and complete a guaranteed path to their associate degree.
#38. St. Philip’s College
San Antonio, Texas
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry Arts; AAS in Culinary Arts
Certificate Programs: Baking Principles; Catering Management; Culinary Studies; Restaurant Supervision
When students at St. Philip’s College want a fine dining experience, they head to Artemisia’s, the student restaurant where students prepare and serve a variety of international and domestic entrees, salads, and desserts. San Antonio has a booming tourism industry which offers employment opportunities in the culinary and tourism industry.
Students in the associate degree programs complete a practicum to gain professional experience. Associate degree programs can be completed in two years. Certificate programs, including the Baking Principles Certificate, also include a practicum and can be completed in three semesters.
#37. Pikes Peak Community College
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry; AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Food Service Management; AAS in Sustainability Management and Dietary Cuisine
Certificate Programs: Baking and Pastry Certificate; Culinary Arts Certificate; Basic Skills Certificate; Service Management Certificate
Pikes Peak Community College has a multitude of associate degree concentrations and certificate programs to meet the needs of those looking to enter the field of culinary arts. This top culinary school requires students to complete an internship program as part of their training to gain hands-on experience necessary to be successful in their career.
Students receive appropriate training and education to pursue positions such as chef, head cook, or food service manager. Certificate programs are also offered for students who need immediate skills in culinary arts. These programs offer hands-on experience and professional training that allow individuals to obtain or continue employment in their specialized field.
#36. Stratford University School of Culinary Arts
Degree Programs: AAS in Advanced Culinary Arts; AAS in Baking and Pastry Arts
Certificate Programs: Culinary Arts Professional Diploma
With campuses in Maryland and several Virginia locations, Stratford University has a lot to offer when it comes to their culinary arts programs. Students can choose from an AAS in Advanced Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry Arts or pursue an Advanced Culinary Arts Professional Diploma. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF).
Students can expect to learn all the skills they need to enter food service and hospitality, including problem solving, theory, and communication skills. This includes courses directly core courses related to food and hospitality and five arts and science courses approved by an instructor.
#35. Delaware Technical and Community College
Dover and Stanton, Delaware
Degree Programs: AAS in Culinary Arts, AAS in Food Service Management Technology
Certificate Programs: Baking and Pastry Skills Certificate; Cooking Certificate
Diploma Programs: Baking and Pastry Skills; Kitchen Skills Studies
Delaware Technical Community College is a top culinary school offering a diverse experience to students who want to become pastry chefs, bakers, chefs, food service managers, kitchen managers, and line cooks. The associate degree programs are accredited by the American Culinary Foundation.
Students complete field experience prior to graduation so they are prepared for the workforce and can effectively demonstrate their skills and abilities. The curriculum is set up to encourage diversity, team work, and the leadership skills necessary to succeed.
#34. Florida State College at Jacksonville
Degree Program: AA in Culinary Management
Certificate Programs: Certificate in Hospitality; Certificate in Culinary Arts; Workforce Certificate in Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts
As one of the top culinary schools in the country, Florida State College at Jacksonville offers an accredited AA in Culinary Management awarded Exemplary Status by the American Culinary Federation. Students have the opportunity to learn in a hands-on environment which includes the student operated, five star restaurant, Mallard Room.
Students complete an internship experience as part of the AA program where they can learn different skills and techniques outside the classroom. The Certificate programs offer basic level instruction and build a solid foundation to get started in the field. Graduates of the AA program are well prepared to work as chefs or line cooks in a variety of culinary settings.
#33. Culinary School at the Art Institute of Tampa
Degree Programs: AA in Culinary Arts; AA in Baking and Pastry; BA in Culinary Management
Diploma Programs: Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry
The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Tampa is part of a network of several art institutes around the country. Students in Tampa have the opportunity to earn either a diploma or an associate degree in either culinary arts or baking and pastry as well as a BA in Culinary Management.
Students can complete the associate degree program in 6-11 week quarters and will have the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience in the student run restaurant, The Tutored Chef. Graduates of the program are prepared to work as entry level cooks or chefs in a variety of settings.
#32. Culinary Institute of Savannah at Savannah Technical College
Degree Programs: AA in Culinary Arts, AA in Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts
Diploma Programs: Culinary Arts Diploma; Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts Diploma
Certificate Programs: Food Production Worker; Prep Cook
The Culinary Institute of Savannah at Savannah Technical College offers a top culinary program for experienced professionals as well as those just getting their career off the ground. The AAT programs in Culinary Arts or Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts are hands-on programs requiring an extensive amount of time in the kitchen.
Students learn international techniques as well as those familiar to Americans. Diploma programs also require a practicum, a testament to the emphasis STC places on the importance of a hands-on education.
#31. The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta
Degree Programs: AA in Baking and Pastry; AA in Culinary Arts; BS in Culinary Arts Management
Diploma Programs: Diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts; Diploma in Culinary Arts
The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta offers a variety of culinary arts programs. The Culinary Arts Management bachelor’s program blends culinary skills and management to develop knowledgeable leaders who can work in a variety of positions such as kitchen managers, banquet chefs, and purchasing managers.
The associate degree programs are taught by culinary experts and students have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the student run “dining lab” on campus. Creations Restaurant is open to the public and allows students to work (with faculty supervision) to learn everything from guest seating and hospitality to cooking. For students just getting their feet wet, diploma programs are available to learn hands-on skills in baking and culinary arts.
#30. Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Degree Programs: AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Culinary Management; AAS in Baking and
Pastry Arts; AAS Personal Chef Track
Certificate Program: Certificate of Completion-Baking and Pastry Arts; Certificate of Completion-Personal Chef
Secchia Institute for Culinary Education has offered ACF accredited culinary programs for more than 30 years. Secchia has over 32 different instructional spaces which include kitchens, bakeshops, classrooms, demonstration theater, and a culinary amphitheater. Secchia also has a wine and food library. Students can expect to receive hands-on training throughout the program in addition to lecture courses to ensure a well-rounded experience.
Attendees have the opportunity to practice and demonstrate their skills under the supervision of faculty at three different types of restaurants on campus including a deli/bakery, a fine dining restaurant, and a conference center. Secchia has been recognized by the National Restaurant Association/American Vocational Association, and the ACF Accrediting Commission.
#29. University of Hawaii-Maui College
Degree Programs: AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Culinary Arts: Baking Specialty
Certificate Programs: Certificate of Achievement-Culinary Arts; Certificate of Competence: Culinary Arts or Pastry Cook
The University of Hawaii Maui College offers a unique tiered career ladder system beginning with the Certificate of Competence program in either Culinary Arts (19 credits) or Pastry (20 credits). Students can stop there or move to the Certificate of Achievement program in Culinary Arts which is a 31 credit program and includes some general education courses.
The associate degree programs are accredited by the ACF and prepare students for leadership positions in the culinary field. The foundation for all culinary programs at the University of Hawaii Maui College is to be able to prepare, purchase, and serve professional food items in a sanitary and organized environment.
#28. Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, Kansas
Degree Programs: AAS in Chef Apprenticeship; AAS in Food and Beverage Management
Certificate Programs: Pastry/Baking Certificate; Dietary Manager Certificate
Johnson County Community College offers highly selective culinary programs for students pursuing a career in the culinary arts. The exclusive three-year Chef Apprentice Program is sponsored by the American Culinary Federation and includes coursework and experiences in management, accounting, menu planning, and purchasing. The 68 credit hour AAS in Food and Beverage Management includes an internship and can be either a terminal degree or students can transfer to a four year program.
Each year, only 15 students are admitted to the exclusive two-semester Pastry/Baking program. Students work in the college pastry shop and learn to work both as a team and as an individual. The Dietary Manager Certificate prepares students for the dietary manager exam. Students complete a practicum and field experience as part of this program.
#26. ECPI University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Degree Programs: AAS in Culinary Arts Culinary Nutrition, and Baking and Pastry Arts; BA in Food Service Management
Diploma Program: Baking and Pastry Arts
ECPI’s Culinary Institute of Virginia offers associate degrees in Culinary Arts, Culinary Nutrition, and Baking and Pastry Arts as well as a BS in Food Service Management. Because the school offers a year-round schedule, students can complete the programs in less time, which means getting a jump-start on employment in the industry.
The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and licensed in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Additionally, ECPI is a participant in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. Disney and NASA are among the top employers of CIV graduates.
#25. Arizona Culinary Institute
Diploma Programs: Culinary Arts, Baking and Restaurant Management
Arizona Culinary Institute is a top accredited culinary school with a 90% job placement rate over the past five years. Students spend about 80 percent of their time in the kitchen working in small group settings with a student-faculty ratio of about 20:1.
Most students can complete their diploma in just eight months of study. As part of the program, students complete a paid internship to gain additional practical experience. ACI is an industry specific institution and only offers training and coursework specifically relevant to a career in culinary arts, baking or restaurant management.
#24. Johnson and Wales College of Food Innovation & Technology
Providence, Rhode Island
Degree Programs: AS and BS in Baking and Pastry Arts; AS in Culinary Arts; BS in Culinary Nutrition; BS in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management
Undoubtedly, Johnson and Wales University has one of the top culinary schools in the country. Recognized by US News and World Report, Money, and The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the school has over 100,000 alumni from around the world. In June 2020, this 100 plus year-old college revamped their culinary arts program and formally evolved it into the College of Food Innovation & Technology.
Hands-on learning is a part of the program and students receive plenty of individualized attention with an 18:1 student-faculty ratio. Students graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful lifelong learners in their culinary career.
#23. Trenholm State Technical College
Degree Programs: AAT in Culinary Arts; AAT with an emphasis in Hospitality Management
Certificate Program: Certificate in Culinary Arts
Trenholm State Technical College offers the largest ACF accredited culinary arts program in Alabama. Associate degree programs include an apprenticeship opportunity that students complete in their final two semesters. Students can complete their degree in just six semesters or 76 credit hours.
Students have time to develop their culinary skills by spending time in food preparation labs. Coursework covers topics such as nutrition, table service, sanitation, and cost control.
#22. Arkansas Culinary School at Pulaski Technical College
Little Rock, Arkansas
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry; AAS in Culinary Arts
Certificate Programs: Baking and Pastry Technical Certificate; Basic Baking Certificate of Proficiency Basic Pastry Certificate of Proficiency; Cake Decorating Certificate of Proficiency;
Culinary Arts Technical Certificate: Basic Food Preparation Certificate of Proficiency; Food Purchasing Certificate of Proficiency
Arkansas Culinary School at Pulaski Technical College has the only ACF accredited culinary program in the state. Students can work toward a variety of certificates and two different AAS degrees depending on their professional and personal interests.
Students in the AAS programs complete an internship and electives related to their specialization. The apprenticeship program requires coursework as well as 4,000 on-the-job-training hours. When apprenticeship students complete their program requirements, they are awarded Certified Sous Chef status, a certification from the ACF.
#21. Institute of Technology Clovis
Diploma Program: Baking and Pastry Specialist; Culinary Arts Specialist
The Institute of Technology is a top culinary school recognized by the ACF, offering quality culinary and baking programs to students who want to jump start their career. The Baking and Pastry Specialist program is a 47.5 credit hour program lasting about 40 weeks and includes an immersion experience in a full service kitchen.
The Culinary Arts Diploma Program is an 880 hour program that features a 180 hour externship in an industry kitchen and is considered an exemplary program offering hands-on training and coursework in advanced culinary skills. Graduates of the program are prepared to work as a cook, chef, baker, or catering specialist.
#20. Los Angeles Trade-Tech College
Los Angeles, California
Degree Programs: AA in Culinary Arts; AA in Professional Baking
Certificate Programs: Certificate in Culinary Arts; Certificate in Professional Baking
The Culinary Program at Los Angeles Trade-Tech school is the oldest culinary program in continuous operation in the United States. This top culinary school is accredited by the AFC, and the associate degree programs can be completed in just four semesters of study.
For convenience, students may begin the program at the start of any semester and will obtain plenty of hands-on experience in state-of-the-art labs and work experience. LATT offers job placement assistance and guidance with resume writing and interviewing skills.
#19. Hillsborough Community College
Degree Programs: AAS in Restaurant Management; AS in Culinary Management; AS in Hospitality and Tourism Management; AS Dietetic Technician
Certificate Programs: Apprentice Certificate; Culinary Arts Certificate; Event Planning Management Certificate; Food and Beverage Operations Certificate; Food and Beverage Management Certificate
The culinary arts program at Hillsborough Community College offers four different associate degree programs and five certificate programs. Students can attend either part time or full time as they earn their certificate or degree.
The kitchen labs are state-of-the-art with modern cooking equipment. HCC keeps up with the latest in culinary technology and revamps the program every year to stay abreast of the newest trends in the industry. Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at The Gourmet Room, a fine dining establishment run by students in the culinary and hospitality program.
#18. Keiser University Center for Culinary Arts
Tallahassee, Melbourne, and Sarasota, Florida
Degree Program: AS in Culinary Arts
The AS in Culinary Arts degree program at Keiser University is accredited by the American Culinary Foundation and has been recognized by the World Association of Chef Societies. This top culinary school offers courses in American and international cuisine as well as specialty areas such as pastry and desserts.
Students complete a 12 credit hour externship at the end of the program. Graduates are well prepared for entry level positions in the culinary field and are an asset to hotels, restaurants, and cruise ships.
#17. Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry; AAS in Hospitality Administration, Culinary Arts Concentration
Certificate Programs: Beverage Management Career; Culinarian; Event Management; Hospitality Management; Pastry Culinarian
Technical Certificate Programs: Technical Certificate-Baking and Pastry Arts; Technical Certificate-Culinary Arts
Ivy Tech Community College offers a top ACF accredited culinary program with an extensive offering of certificate and culinary degree programs. Associate degree programs can be completed in just two years while certificate programs take between a year and a year-and-a-half.
The full time 60 credit hour AAS in Baking and Pastry requires a co-op/internship experience and includes specialty electives such as Wedding Cake Production and Plated Desserts. The AAS in Culinary Arts also requires a co-op/internship experience so students gain additional professional experience before starting their careers. Students perfect their culinary or pastry skills and techniques in a state-of-the-art educational kitchen.
#16. Kirkwood Community College
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Degree Program: AAS in Culinary Arts
Culinary students interested in a top accredited culinary school with a variety of professional development experiences should consider Kirkwood Community College. KCC offers an AAS degree in Culinary Arts that can be completed in two years and requires extensive hands-on experience.
Students practice their skills at The Class Act Restaurant located in The Hotel at Kirkwood Center during their final semester. Students interested in international cuisine have the opportunity for international travel to experience the culinary environment first hand. Field trips are a regular part of the program, allowing students to participate in a variety of settings and styles.
#15. Delgado Community College
New Orleans, Louisiana
Degree Programs: AAS in Chef Apprenticeship; AAS in Pastry Arts; AAS in Catering
Certificate Program: Certificate Line Cook; Certificate Culinary Management; Certificate Pastry Art
Delgado Community College offers three different AAS programs for those who want to pursue a career as a chef, pastry artist or catering professional. The programs prepare individuals for entry to mid-level positions in the culinary industry.
The Chef Apprenticeship program allows students to study under some of the best chefs in New Orleans, while catering students learn how to set up both on and off site catering. Pastry Arts students are prepared to work in pastry shops, hotels, and private bakeries. All programs and certificates require plenty of hands-on experience built upon a solid foundation of fundamentals in the field.
#14. Anne Arundel Community College-Hotel, Culinary Arts, and Tourism Institute
Degree Programs: AAS in Baking and Pastry Arts; AAS in Culinary Arts; AAS in Hospitality Business Management
Certificate Programs: Baking and Pastry Arts; Culinary Arts; Event Planning and Catering; Hotel/Lodging Management; Restaurant Cooking Skills
Students at the Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute at the Anne Arundel Community College learn from the best in the business. Faculty and staff are trained in the latest methods and techniques, and this top culinary school offers three different AAS degree options which all include a practicum experience.
The AAS Culinary Option is accredited by the ACF and the Hospitality Business Management program is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA). Graduates are prepared to work as bakers, cooks, manager-in-training, and pastry cooks.
#13. Southern Maine Community College
South Portland, Maine
Degree Program: AAS in Culinary Arts
SMTC is one of the top technical schools in Maine, offering an array of programs designed to ready students for jobs in the real world. Their Culinary Arts Degree Program is the only post-secondary culinary program in Maine certified by the American Culinary Federation. Learning includes a mix of general education coursework along with all aspects of the food and hospitality industry, and instruction is hands-on.
Estimated completion time is 70 credit hours or four and one half full-time semesters. The school is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and has two main campuses, seven satellite locations, and an online program.
#12. Culinary Studies Institute At Oakland Community College
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Degree Program: AAS In Culinary Arts
Certificate Program: Certificate in Baking and Pastry
The ACF accredited AAS in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College is an extended degree program requiring students to complete 73 credit hours which includes a working internship. Students have the opportunity to compete in culinary competitions if they desire. Those interested in the Certificate in Baking and Pastry complete 32 credit hours with coursework covering areas such as retail baking, merchandising, cake decorating, and breads.
CSI operates three different culinary establishments where students work and learn their trade. Ridgewood Café has a fine dining component as well as a cafeteria and the Ridgewood Bakery serves a variety of baked goods. Reflections Restaurant is open September through April and serves three different entrees each Thursday.
#11. Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College
Traverse City, Michigan
Degree Program: AAS in Culinary Arts
Certificate Program: Level #3 Certificate Culinary Arts
The Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College offers a rigorous culinary program that focuses on the science and technique behind culinary practices. Students have the opportunity to work in five different culinary labs including a bakery, kitchen, advanced kitchen, a garde manger kitchen, and a beverage management outlet.
Lobdell’s, a student operated restaurant, provides the opportunity to practice skills and obtain work experience. This top culinary school also offers a Level III Certificate of Achievement accredited by the ACF. The 54 credit hour program prepares graduates to become cooks in fine restaurants and other top establishments.
#10. Henry Ford College
Degree Programs: AAS in Hospitality Studies-Culinary Arts; Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts
Certificate Programs: Culinary Skills Certificate; Baking and Pastry Certificate; Restaurant Service Career Certificate
Henry Ford College offers an accredited Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts and Exemplary ACF accredited AAS degree program in Culinary Arts. Students learn in six state-of-the-art kitchen laboratories, a computer lab, and a video production studio. The BS degree builds upon the AAS degree by offering advanced coursework in business and management.
The student run restaurant, Fifty-One O One is open during the school year and serves a wide variety of foods. The restaurant offers a weekly International Lunch Buffet for five weeks in May and June to allow students to practice their international culinary skills.
#9. St. Louis Community College
Saint Louis, Missouri
Degree Programs: AAS in Banking and Pastry Arts; AAS in Culinary Arts
The Associate in Applied Science from St. Louis Community College is a 64-credit hour program designed to teach a variety of skills in food preparation and management so graduates are prepared for upward mobility in the culinary arts.
This top culinary school requires students to complete a capstone experience where they prepare and manage one meal through a commercial simulation. Coursework includes preparation of American as well as international Cuisine.
#8. Metropolitan Community College
Degree Programs: AAS in Culinary Arts and Management-Baking and Pastry; AAS in Culinary Arts and Management-Culinary Arts; Culinary Research/Culinology Transfer
Certificate Programs: Culinary Arts and Management Certificate of Achievement; Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement; Culinary Arts Foundations Career Certificate; ManageFirst Career Certificate
The Metropolitan Community College offers an accredited Culinary Arts and Management program with degree programs and certificates to meet the needs of every level of culinary professional. The Culinary Arts and Management associate degree program offers three different options including culinary arts, baking and pastry, and culinary research/culinology transfer. Associate degree programs are made up of 27 credit hours of general electives and 35-40 credits in major requirements which includes an internship. Students also complete a professional portfolio.
Certificate programs are available in culinary arts and management, baking and pastry, culinary arts foundations, and ManageFirst and can be earned in approximately one year. Students work in kitchen laboratories and develop skills first hand while working side-by-side with experienced culinary professionals.
#7. College of Southern Nevada
North Las Vegas, Nevada
Degree Programs: AAS Culinary Arts; AAS Food and Beverage Management; AAS Pastry Arts
Certificate Program: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts; Certificate of Achievement in Pastry Arts
The Culinary Arts Program at the College of Southern Nevada is an ACF accredited program offering both certificate and degree programs in culinary arts and pastry arts. Students have the opportunity to work in the on-campus Russell’s Restaurant, a full service dining facility where they can practice everything from food preparation to hospitality.
Students who receive their associate degree can transfer to UNLV to earn their bachelor’s degree if they elect to do so. Participants in both the certificate and associate degree program work next to award winning chefs in state-of-the-art kitchen facilities. The low student-faculty ratio at this top culinary school ensures that students have plenty of one-on-one attention throughout the program.
#6. Hudson County Community College
Jersey City, New Jersey
Degree Program: AAS in Culinary Arts
Certificate Program: Certificate in Culinary Arts
The Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) at Hudson County Community College is one of only two programs in the state accredited by the ACF. This top culinary school takes great pride in offering students individualized instruction and interaction with faculty and staff. Kitchen labs only have 16 students working at a time.
The CAI has several different kitchen labs which include bakeries, an ice-sculpting studio, fish and butchery room, a 4,000 volume library, and a mock hotel suite. Some of these labs have even been featured on popular television shows.
#5. Pierpont Community and Technical College
Fairmont, West Virginia
Degree Programs: AAS in Food Service Management-Baking and Pastry Option; AAS in Food Service Management-Culinary Arts Option
Pierpont Community and Technical College is a top accredited culinary school offering degree programs in the field of culinary arts. Students complete an internship as part of this ACF accredited program and learn how to prepare and deliver quality food in a variety of settings.
Students who complete the Culinary Arts associate degree program can sit for the ACF exam to become a Certified Culinarian. They also have the opportunity to matriculate into the bachelor’s degree program in Hospitality Management if their focus is business and management driven.
#4. Kendall College National Louis University
Degree Programs: AAS Culinary Arts; BA Culinary Arts
Certificate Programs: Culinary Arts Certificate
Kendall’s nationally acclaimed culinary art programs have produced some of the most celebrated foodies in the industry. 12 students at the school have been the recipients of the coveted James Beard Foundation Award—several of them more than once. The school offers an associate and bachelor’s degrees in Culinary Arts as well as a certificate.
In 2013, the school was reaffirmed by The Higher Learning Commission, and it’s considered the number one program in Chicago for studying culinary arts. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can take an accelerated AAS that takes just five quarters to complete.
#3. Institute of Culinary Education
New York, New York and Los Angeles, California
Career Programs: Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Health-Supportive Culinary Arts, Restaurant & Culinary Management, Hospitality Management, Artisan Bread Baking and The Art of Cake Decorating
The Institute of Culinary Education is one of the best culinary schools in the country. In 2016, ICE was named “Best Culinary School in America” by The Daily Meal — a leading food and lifestyle website. The International Association of Culinary Professionals named ICE “Culinary School of the Year” four times in the last 13 years and the school has an excellent reputation in the industry. Overall student satisfaction is high with 93 percent of alumni recommending ICE to their peers who want to start a career in the culinary field.
The school is on the cutting edge of the latest trends in the culinary arts, and its facility includes a bean-to-bar Chocolate Laboratory and a Hydroponic Garden. During the course of the program, students are given the opportunity to participate in both paid and unpaid externships at some of the finest restaurants in the country. For students who don’t receive an employment offer from their externship opportunity, ICE offers career placement services including career fairs, networking opportunities and an alumni network of over 14,000 graduates.
#2. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas
Degree Program: Austin-AAS in Culinary Arts
Diploma Programs: Austin and Boulder-Culinary Arts; Pastry Arts
Online Diploma Program: Culinary Arts
The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts teaches techniques developed by the world renowned “King of Chefs”, Auguste Escoffier. Students benefit from small class size and personalized attention throughout the program. The school offers lifelong professional support to graduates through job placement assistance, use of facilities, resume development, and networking opportunities.
One of the highlights of the culinary arts program is a three to 10 week (depending on the program) Farm to Table Experience which allows students to learn where a variety of foods come from, farming methods, and sustainability practices they can use throughout their career. Students may have the opportunity to experience produce, livestock, or dairy farms as well as the artisan market during their Farm to Table Experience. This top culinary school also offers externship opportunities as part of each program for students to gain valuable hands on experience in a professional culinary setting.
#1. Culinary Institute of America
New York, California, Texas
Degree Programs: New York, California, and Texas-Associate in Culinary Arts, Associate in Baking and Pastry Arts; New York-Associate for Advanced Career Experience, Bachelors in Culinary Arts Management, Bachelor’s in Baking and Pastry Arts Management, Bachelor’s in Applied Food Studies, Bachelors in Culinary Science
Certificate Programs: California-Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate Program (ACAP), Wine and Beverage Graduate Certificate Program (WBGC)
There is little doubt that the Culinary Institute of America is considered one of the best culinary schools in the country, if not the world. Almost 80 percent of students in an associate degree program at the CIA will graduate. Of those who continue on to pursue their bachelor’s degree, over 90 percent will graduate. The CIA offers degree programs in a variety of areas for those who want to excel in the area of culinary and party arts to those who want a career in management.
Students spend about 1,300 hours in kitchens and bakeries as part of their studies and have the opportunity to work with over 170 chefs from 19 different countries. In addition to traditional degree programs, the CIA offers the ProChef Certification Program which validates skills as chefs advance in their careers. The CIA offers students over 1,200 different externship sites which include some of the most exclusive restaurants in the country.
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