One of the first questions you should ask when considering a culinary degree is whether the program is accredited. Attending accredited culinary schools ensures that a your school meets overall high standards of education.
Independent accrediting bodies are neutral third parties which set certain criteria for their stamp of approval, such as the number of professors, quality of instruction, breadth of courses offered and student services.
Culinary arts programs are accredited by one of six regional associations, or by accrediting organizations like the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which evaluates schools against a rigorous set of standards deemed to be important to a quality culinary education. You can search their website to see if culinary schools have ACF accreditation.
Accredited Culinary Schools and Financial Aid
Culinary school accreditation also creates a gateway for students to participate in federally funded and state financial aid programs. In order to receive federal funds, a school must be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education (DOE).
With your future plans in mind, carefully evaluate the schools and programs you wish to attend. If you're interested in attending a graduate-level culinary program in the future, most graduate schools will not admit students from non-accredited undergraduate schools.
Do Your Homework
Now that you know the basics of culinary school accreditation, do a little research of your own. Once you have a program picked out, find out what accrediting agency is relevant to that culinary school. Check that agency's licensing requirements, then the Department of Education website, where you'll find an online database of accredited schools. You can search the database to find out if schools and programs are accredited.