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How Important Is Attending One of the Best Culinary Schools?

Is one of the top culinary schools right for you?

Choose the Best Culinary School for You

It's commonly accepted that success in your career depends heavily on a solid education, and in the culinary arts, this means training in fundamental kitchen techniques and business basics. But do you really need to attend one of the best culinary schools to guarantee a good job? Of course top culinary schools can offer advantages when it comes time to enter the employment market—but it's a lot less important than you might think. The most telling indicator of success in school and your career is finding a program that's a good match for you.

What really matters to you in a culinary program? That question should be foremost in your mind when you're trying to pinpoint the best culinary schools for you. If a school has a convenient location, classes that fit your schedule, ample financial aid options and faculty you want to work with, you'll get more out of it than a program that doesn't meet your criteria. Even the top 10 best culinary schools might not be a good fit if they don't suit your scheduling needs or career goals.

Here are a few other specific considerations to ponder during your college search:

  • How hands-on do you want to get? A school with smaller class sizes may afford more opportunities to work with instructors one-on-one and learn the secrets of the top chefs. You'll also get more chances to work with cooking and food prep equipment.
  • Do you want to specialize in a particular area of culinary arts? Different schools are strong in different areas, and if you want to study pastry-making, for instance, you'll want to locate the best culinary schools for pastry arts.
  • Is the school located in a culinary mecca? While it's not critical to attend school in a city known to cater to foodies, locations such as San Francisco and New York will always offer a lot of work-study and career opportunities for culinary school graduates.
  • Does the school have faculty you want to work with? Whether or not you attend one of the best culinary schools, you'll want to be sure the faculty are diverse and knowledgeable, have a lot of experience in the field, and offer courses you're interested in.
  • What career services are available? Culinary schools that offer plenty of opportunities for externships, work study and study abroad can help you get a foot in the door of your future career. Job placement services and job fairs are also valuable for graduating students.

Whether your intention is to become an executive chefstart a catering business or open a restaurant, choosing the best culinary school is less about whether it's made anyone's "top ten" list and more about whether the school will fit your needs.


Tell us a little about yourself and we'll connect you with schools that offer culinary arts programs.