Culinary School Degrees and Programs

Find out which of these culinary school programs will best help you meet your career goals.

Choose Culinary School Degrees that Match Your Goals

culinary school degrees chef plating food

As an aspiring chef, you may often hear success stories of great cooks who achieved their position without earning a culinary school degree. They may have worked in kitchens since the time they were kids, or been born into a family restaurant business—or they may just have the right combination of motivation and luck.

For many chefs, however, getting their culinary education is the best way to learn vital skills. Not only will culinary school programs teach you about ingredients and food prep, but it will also teach you such skills as timing, making recipes for dozens of people, and cost control when purchasing the best quality ingredients.

The culinary school program you choose should help you meet your specific career goals. Below is a list of some culinary school program options. Find the one that will help you reach your goals.

Certificate and Diploma-Level Culinary School Degrees

If you're looking for the quickest way to gain some background in cooking and get your foot in the door, a certificate in a culinary arts program might be your best option. The curriculum is based on learning hands-on cooking and baking skills. Certificate and diploma options may include the following:

  • Baking and pastry arts
  • Culinary arts
  • Culinary management
  • Wine and beverage

Admission requirements for culinary school programs may include: 

  • Academic or work references
  • High school diploma or GED in many cases

Associate's Degrees

If you want more culinary education, a 2-year associate's degree will give you more experience—and make you more employable. The curriculum includes the following:

  • Hands-on cooking and baking skills
  • Safety and sanitation
  • Management
  • Nutrition

Many associate's degree culinary school programs offer certificates in addition to degrees. Admission requirements may include:

  • Academic or work references
  • High school diploma or GED

Bachelor's Degree Culinary School Degrees

If you're planning to own your own restaurant, or be a restaurant manager want, a culinary school program culminating in a 4-year bachelor's degree might be best for you. The majority of culinary bachelor's programs focus on the following:

  • Business
  • Finance and management
  • Cooking and baking skills needed for the job, although more schools are starting to offer food science degrees as well

Admission requirements may include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Satisfactory high school GPA and SAT scores
  • Personal essay and references

Apprenticeship Programs

Once you have your certificate or degree, apprenticeships give you the real-world experience you need before going out on your own. Cooking apprenticeships consist of hands-on learning while working in a hotel, club or restaurant under a skilled professional. Admission requirements may include:

  • Academic or work references
  • Some require high school diploma or GED