The year 2020 was especially challenging for the culinary arts, disciplines and schools. COVID-19 with its accompanying quarantines has disrupted the career paths of many aspiring pastry chefs and gourmet cooks. However, as food is always a big part of any person’s life, culinary experiences at home have boomed. According to a recent article in the New York Times, millions of Americans improved their cooking skills and expanded their eating options by spending more time in their home kitchen.
This may be the perfect time for many aspiring foodies to enroll in an online culinary arts school. Online students can delve more deeply into the world of cooking and/or management from the comfort of their own home and kitchen. Most essential businesses, such as hospitals, still require the services of chefs and cooks. Restaurants around the U.S. are beginning to open and the future of bakers and chefs is promising.
These online schools offer challenging, thorough, and opportunity-filled degrees and certificates in a wide range of culinary disciplines: gourmet cooking, pastry and baking, culinary arts, food service management, and more. By enrolling in one of these highly reputed programs that are instructed by world-class chefs and faculty members, students are introduced to a highly profitable industry.
And, learning to cook is not just for the professional. As of 2021, families are staying home more and often eating three delicious home-cooked meals a day. Home cooks may run out of exciting new recipes or be intimidated by the techniques used to prepare foods. If this sounds like you, you’re in luck! Whether you are the chief cook and bottle washer in your home or aspire to be the top executive chef at a five-star restaurant, now is the perfect time to follow your desires when convenient online culinary learning options are readily available in the field of culinary arts.
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- Rapid Fire Q and As
- Comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions
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RAPID FIRE Q and As
What does a carer in culinary arts consist of? Culinary arts refers to anything cooking related, such as preparing and serving food that tastes good, as well as looks pleasing to the eye.
What will I learn in a culinary arts course? In addition to the obvious, such as sharpening your cooking skills, you will learn about business management, food presentation, and other relevant kitchen skills.
What sort of career will I be prepared for? A career in culinary arts offers a wide variety of career choices, anything ranging from a kitchen assistant to a top executive chef.
Is there job security in the field of culinary arts? The food industry is one of the top three job producers in the U.S.; however, it has taken a hit due to the COVID pandemic. Typically, you will always be able to find a job in this field, although, according to the BLS, Food Service Managers and Chefs are reported as having a 1% job growth rate between 2019 and 2029, slower than under normal circumstances.
Do I have what it takes to succeed in the culinary arts? As with all culinary positions, food and beverage personnel must be detail-oriented, creative, display cleanliness, quick-thinkers, problem-solvers, have a keen sense for business, organized, motivated, and most importantly, a team player.
How do I earn the most money as a chef? With a formal education, some experience under your belt, and exceptional cooking skills, a chef working in a five-star restaurant can earn upwards of $100,000 or more per year.
Is there a difference between a cook and a chef? Not really; however, a chef’s title usually indicates that they have received formal training in the culinary arts. They both cook and present food in a pleasing manner – to the eye and the taste buds!
Should I take a culinary certificate program or enroll in an associate or bachelor’s degree program? Depending on your end goal, check into both so you can earn your credentials without breaking the bank. Certificate programs are available, as well as college degree programs. Are graduate degrees available as well? Absolutely!
Are college degree programs in the Culinary Arts expensive? As with any college program, tuition can be upwards of $30,000. But, if your end goal requires it, financial aid may be an option for you if you need assistance.
In developing this list, OnlineSchoolsCenter.com chose to list the schools in random order and highlighted three of America’s Top Online Culinary Schools, all of which have their own unique strengths. These schools were chosen for several factors that put them ahead of other online programs due to its:
- Nature of coursework, including a comprehensive program, focused on Culinary Arts,
- Offered 100% Online or Hybrid format availability; providing a convenient and flexible schedule,
- Provides sufficient financial aid availability,
- Taught by experts in the field of Culinary Arts,
- Offers an education that gives students more than just a classroom experience.
To learn more, see our Methodology page.
NEW ENGLAND CULINARY INSTITUTE
Online BA in Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry Arts, or Food & Beverage Business Management Programs
NECI offers three exciting bachelors of arts degree programs that are taught by superbly dedicated professors who are readily available to online students. This online culinary school supplies its students with state-of-the-art virtual resources to assist them along their academic path. Coursework at NECI has been meticulously designed to adapt to an online format, giving distance education students the same high-quality instruction that on-campus students receive.
Campus Location: Montpelier, VT
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges; Vermont Department of Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $21,000 per academic year—tuition
- $400 per academic year—technology fee
- $150 one time—program deposit
- $35 one time—application fee
Types of Aid: Numerous institutional, private, alternative, competition, and online scholarship opportunities; federal and alternative loans; state grants.
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official high school/GED transcripts, official transcripts from an accredited academic institution representing at least 60 completed credit hours of coursework, and a current resumé showing current and active employment and/or prior employment in a food and beverage industry-related position.
- BA in Culinary Arts
- BA in Baking and Pastry Arts
- BA in Food and Beverage Business Management
These exciting degree programs open up life-changing opportunities in the culinary arts. Depending on the pathway an individual may take, students graduate with finely sharpened skills in management and leadership, baking arts, or culinary arts. NECI’s Career Services Department connects students with beneficial internship opportunities and networking connections.
Learn more about New England Culinary Institute’s Online BA Culinary Arts programs.
PENN FOSTER CAREER SCHOOL
Online Caterer Career or Hotel/Restaurant Management Career Diploma Programs
PFCS is the school of choice for a student population numbering over 150,000! In the school’s online Gourmet Cooking Certificate, students will learn to prepare complex and exquisite meals from the comfort of their own kitchen. The Hotel/Restaurant Management Diploma program immerses students in coursework that will challenge them to enhance their skills in marketing, finance, accounting, management, leadership, and more.
Campus Location: Scranton, PA
Accreditation: Penn Foster Career School is regionally accredited by The Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Penn Foster Career School is also accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and licenses by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools
Tuition and Fees: Penn Foster offers a quality education at an affordable price. They offer flexible monthly payment plans with 0% interest! Penn Foster is also approved for veteran’s education benefits!
Applicants must submit a completed online application and official high school/GED transcripts.
- Caterer Career Diploma
- Hotel/Restaurant Management Career Diploma
Penn Foster students will have access to Penn Foster’s career services platform, Career Link. Students will find helpful resources they can use to their advantage and stand out in the crowd! Career Link is a one-stop-shop for how to build a resume, job searches, and much more.
Learn more about Penn Foster’s Online Caterer or Hotel/Restaurant Management Career Diploma programs.
ESCOFFIER ONLINE INTERNATIONAL CULINARY ACADEMY
Online Certificate Programs in Baking & Pastry or Culinary Arts
This international school offers two first-class certificate programs in the culinary discipline: an online Pastry Certificate and an online Culinary Arts Certificate. More cooking focused, the Pastry program gives students numerous hands-on projects with an emphasis on specialty diets like gluten-free and vegan baking. The Culinary Arts programs “lays the foundation for a comprehensive knowledge of technique fundamentals and business skills.”
Campus Location: Boulder, CO; Austin, TX
Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training; Colorado Department of Higher Education
Tuition and Fees:
- $17,770 full program—tuition
- $49 one time—registration fee
Types of Aid: Institutional benefits; various 0% interest monthly payment plans; low tuition costs.
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official high school or GED transcripts; SAT/ACT scores (not required but highly encouraged).
- Certificate in Baking and Pastry
- Certificate in Escoffier Online Culinary Arts
Depending on which area of the field individuals are trying to enter into, this online school gives students bountiful resources, and a thorough, yet fast-paced, education. The Culinary Arts program includes a real-world industry externship that establishes new connections. The Pastry curriculum includes opportunities for students to network within a culinary community of master chefs.
Learn more about Escoffier international culinary academy’s ONLINE CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS IN BAKING & PASTRY OR CULINARY ARTS
What type of education do I need to become a Professional Chef?
There are several roads that lead to becoming a professional chef. How’s the best way to begin, you ask? Typically, it’s best to start at the bottom and work your way up the ranks. By following that advice, you will learn everything there is to know about the restaurant business; anything from bussing tables to becoming a head chef and everything in between.
As you continue up the rung of the ladder, you can become a kitchen assistant or commis chef. There, you will begin your culinary career. This entry-level position will teach you, under careful guidance, the correct and safe way to prepare foods and the proper way to present them in an appetizing manner. When you are ready, you can expect career advancement opportunities such as line cook, sous chef, and then finally, executive chef.
Typically, at the assistant or commis chef (or junior chef, as it is often called) level, students are often enrolled in culinary arts classes if they are serious about pursuing a career as a professional executive chef. Here again, there’s a fork in the road… Should you pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree or only obtain a certificate in culinary arts? Well of course, the choice is up to you; however, there are a few questions up for consideration before making your final decision.
First, decide on your end goal… What type of education will serve you best? In addition, research on the type of education is required for your desired position. Second, consider the yearly salary you would like to earn? Which degree will help you receive the promotions and money you need? Also, which type of program will get you the best return on your money? Consider the cost of your college education compared to that of a certificate program. Third, what are your personal goals? If earning a college degree is important to your personal growth and desires, then go for it!
A 2-year associate program or 4-year bachelor program will give you the training you need to become an excellent chef. In addition, an internship program will most likely be required giving you additional hands-on training that is most valuable.
If you decide on a certification program from a reputable school, rest assured you will receive exceptional training there as well. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers volunteer certifications that are also available for additional training for chefs. It keeps them updated on the latest cooking techniques and trends and must be renewed every five years with continued education.
Can I receive culinary training through an online format?
Learning how to cook seems like one of those trades where hands-on learning is essential… and it is to some degree. Culinary arts training through a 100% online format is hard to find; however, most coursework is considered to be administered through a hybrid format. This means that hands-on lab work would need to be done on campus, but general coursework can be completed through a distance-learning format. Also, internships are often required.
As usual, you will need a dependable computer and high-speed internet. In addition, you will need the capability to take quality photos to send, a webcam, and perhaps Microsoft Word. Through online learning, you can complete your assignments, view videos, and lectures, as well as interact with faculty and students.
In fact, if you are enrolling in an associate or bachelor’s degree program, schools often will require that you have previously acquired the hands-on portion of your degree through a certificate program before beginning.
What will you learn? A degree program will teach you all aspects of the restaurant business, such as menu planning, nutrition, culture and cuisine, facilities management, and cost control, in addition to marketing and advertising.
By earning an online degree in culinary arts, you can specialize in the type of cuisine you prefer to prepare, learn the business side of running your own catering or restaurant business, become a food service manager, or obtain your dream position as an executive chef. The possibilities are endless.
What type of culinary arts training should I consider for a career?
Let’s begin by answering the question, “What are the culinary arts?” Simply put, the term refers to anything related to food and cooking. That answer casts a broad net over a wide array of topics, doesn’t it? And, that is the beauty of earning a certificate diploma or degree in the field of culinary arts… there is so much to learn!
Culinary careers are so plentiful and the choices are so extensive that your best bet in deciding on your training should be based on the following questions:
- Where does your true passion lie?
- Is there a particular type of food you like to prepare, such as baked goods and pastries, nutritional treats, or cultural dishes?
- Are you an entrepreneur? Would you like to someday own your own restaurant?
- Do you like a hands-on approach to actually preparing food or are you more business-minded and would like to manage a restaurant?
- Where would you like to work? Fast-food, a five-star restaurant, a resort, food truck, within a healthcare or school system, tourist attraction, or country club or casino, and the list goes on…
The point is, you should focus on what you love to do the most! Fortunately for you, careers in the culinary arts are plentiful and rank up there among the top three employers in the United States. For job security, you’ve made a wise choice.
In general, you will need to earn a certificate or degree dependent upon your end career goal. Let’s take a look at a few careers you may want to consider:
- Dining Room Manager
- Food and Beverage Sales Manager
- Banquet Chef
- Professional Executive Chef
- Sous Chef
- Catering Director
- Pastry Chef
- Head Cook
- Commis Chef
- Kitchen Assistant
- Institutional Food Service Manager
- Hotel Restaurant Management
- Restaurant, Bar, or Cafe Owner
- Private Club Manager
- Contract & Production Food Manager
- Plus many others!
As you can see, there are many choices. Choose a beginning or entry-level position and work your way up to expand your knowledge while attending culinary school.
DID SOMEONE SAY FREE?!?
Instructables.com offers the beginner cook some awesome online cooking classes presented by Jessy Ratfink. It includes six beginner level classes covering topics, such as Tools and Supplies for Cooking, Knife Skills, Basic Skills for Better Cooking, Pan Frying and Sauteing, Boiling, Simmering, and Stewing, along with Baking, Broiling, and Roasting. Sign up today!
Do you need to learn to cook in 20 days? Check out the free online classes at TheKitchn.com. They present 20 lessons in 20 days which are sure to get the beginner cook off to an excellent start. A few interesting titles include “How to Become a Cook Who Wields a Knife with Confidence” and “How to Be a Cook Who Makes Steaming Sexy.”
Udemy.com offers several Free Cooking Courses and Tutorials. For Free you can receive online video content; however, for an additional fee, you can receive additional online classes, as well as Instructor Q&A, Instructor Direct Messaging, and a Certificate of Completion.
If you are interested in a culinary career, but a little unsure if you want to spend the money for a college degree, check this out… OnlineDegree.com. On this website, you will find free courses, such as “Cooking- Introduction To Culinary Skills” and more. And the best part is – you can apply your credits earned through this program to your college program, saving you hundreds of dollars and valuable time! This is perfect if you are not quite certain if cooking is for you. Try it out!
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American Culinary Federation: The ACF was established in 1929 and is the largest organization that focuses on the Culinary Arts. They provide training and educational opportunities, certifications, and apprenticeships. The American Culinary Federation also produces interesting and informative publications, as well as national and regional events. They are the largest culinary organization in the U.S. with more than 15,000 members. Join today for encouragement and for the latest trends in the culinary industry!
International Association of Culinary Professionals: Whether you are a beginner or an executive chef, membership in the IACP will help you take your career to the next level. Each member is encouraged to educate and empower others in the field of culinary arts. They offer many benefits and many learning opportunities. First organized in 1978 as the Association of Cooking Schools, they have come a long way and have grown to reach chefs from around the world, as their name indicates. With a merger in 1990 with Food Marketing Communicators, they became the International Association of Culinary Professionals.