Top 10 Colleges for Cooks: You CAN Have Your Cake And Eat It Too!

chefs cooks culinary

Some of us have a passion for cooking, but not everyone has the capacity to move forward to the professional level. Just like any other industry, you need to have a good education if you want to succeed in the culinary setting. Many people don’t realize or comprehend that for cooks, working in a restaurant setting is far different from cooking at home for friends and family. It takes a lot of extraordinary hard work, dedication, time and even a lifelong learning to become a professional cook – let alone a Rockstar chef in the kitchen.

School Selection Programs for Cooks

While experience is the greatest teacher, it is still a good consideration to get quality education to succeed in your culinary aspirations. There are a variety of programs for cooks which are different in duration and curricula. When choosing a chef school, a student decides whether he or she wishes to enroll in a specific program that is suitable to his or her capabilities and skills.

Here are three major programs that will help you decide on finding the right culinary courses for cooks who simply love satisfying people’s appetite:

Certificate Program

Certificate Programs are usually short-courses depending on the specialization such as basic cooking methods, menu planning, and knife skills. They equip students with entry-level skills in food services. Typically, they require 30 hours as accredited completion of the program.

Associate’s Degree Program

Associate Programs are designed in a 2-year duration of the culinary arts program. In this curriculum, students discover different aspects of food service preparations including planning of meals, nutrition formulation, ingredients preparation, and food preparation. After graduation, students can apply in entry-level positions as bakers, station chefs, sous-chefs and chefs.

Bachelor’s Degree Program

Bachelor’s Program offers advanced learning programs for aspiring chefs in their culinary career. Students under this program are given the opportunity to develop aptitude in classic and contemporary techniques and methods. A variety of international cuisine is also offered as part of their classes to students. Courses such as computers, finance, marketing and business administration are included in the program to help aspiring chefs on how to be an effective manager.

Here, we rounded up top 10 colleges, in random order, offering different culinary programs that will help you achieve your dreams of becoming a chef:

The Culinary Institute of America

With nearly 3,000 students enrolled at the time were several culinary degrees offered in culinary arts, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park is regarded as the “gold standard” in culinary training. The school maintains a highly-known reputation for culinary studies excellence. CIA is home to a number of well-known chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, Grant Achatz and Kersti Bowser. The school blends traditional learning programs with vocational training, providing several supplementary activities such as sports teams and clubs.

Considered one of the top institutions in culinary education, Culinary Institute of America offers accredited academic programs including hands-on kitchen materials with state-of-the-art facilities and modern equipment. They offer five undergraduate programs that prepare students with incredible opportunities in the food and beverage industry:

  • School of Culinary Arts
  • School of Baking and Pastry Arts
  • School of Business and Management
  • School of Liberal Arts and Food Studies
  • School of Culinary Science and Nutrition

Aside from providing quality education, the school helps students with career or job placements and advancement. Each program includes on-the-job training for their students and paid externships which will help them connect with potential employers in the culinary industry.

San Diego Culinary Institute

San Diego Culinary Institute (SDCI) is a culinary educational establishment in San Diego, California that offers two program options namely The Savory Kitchen Program and The Sweet Kitchen Program. Despite offering minimal degrees, their curriculum offers extensive learning with high-quality learning courses in the classroom, in the lab, and in the actual kitchen setting.

SDCI’s lets you earn Advanced Professional Diploma – Cuisine (The Savory Kitchen Program) and Advanced Professional Diploma – Pastry (The Sweet Kitchen Program). Both programs combine the same culinary expertise: small class sizes, career mentorship programs, and hands-on learning to learn the proper techniques and skills. Aside from kitchen fundamentals, these programs include entrepreneurship and safety or sanitation courses.

In addition, SDCI’s Externship Programs are part of their student’s culmination to give them the opportunity to work in the kitchen of a resort, catering company, hotel and in a fine dining restaurant for 220 hours.

The school also facilitates Career Services by providing job placements and advancements through career networking opportunities, career advising and through professional and industry connections.

Metropolitan Community College – Institute for the Culinary Arts

Metropolitan Community College Nebraska (MCCN) is committed to providing quality, low-cost education to students. Despite not having the perks of prestigious private schools, MCCN is competitive and hard to beat in terms of providing high-standard courses in the culinary industry.

The school’s Culinary Arts and Management (CHRM) consists of two programs, namely Culinary Arts & Management and Hospitality & Restaurant Leadership. Both of these offer state-of-the-art facilities. Many of the degree choices by MCCN are accredited by the American Culinary Federation Accreditation Commission.

Being actively involved in the industry helps keep the school up-to-date with their regional and local faculties. They are proud to be associated with several associations and companies. The school is passionate about every student’s dream of becoming a chef, sous chef, executive chef, or a food business owner. With that, they provide the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life, and anywhere around the world in several institutions such as hotels, cruise ships, military camps, country clubs, hospitals, universities, catering, and other industries.

MCCN’s Culinary Arts and Management offers two tracks namely:

  • Culinary Arts and Management (CACA1)
  • Baking and Pastry (CABA2)
  • Culinary Arts and Management (CAMCE)
  • Baking and Pastry (CBPCE)
  • Culinary Arts Foundation (CAFSD)

International Culinary Center

Another top institution for culinary education is New York-based International Culinary Center that produces highly-skilled and qualified chefs around the world. The campus is strategically located in the famous chic and bustling Soho that is practically a walking distance to New York’s Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side.

With campuses located in California and New York, the school offers several programs for everyone who wishes to pursue a career in the food and beverage industry namely:

  • Professional Culinary Arts
  • Culinary with Farm-To-Table
  • Professional Pastry
  • Sommelier Training
  • Bread Baking
  • Cake Decorating
  • Culinary Entrepreneurship
  • Multi-Day Amateur Course
  • 1-Day Recreational Classes

Aside from their programs, the school is also committed to providing guidance to students after graduation through several activities in their Career Services.

ICC is home to famous celebrity chef alumni namely Bobby Flay, Josh Skenes, Dan Barber, Susanna Yoon, and Jacques Torres to name a few.

Also, ICC is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Institute of Culinary Education

With campuses in New York and Los Angeles, Institute of Culinary Education has a growing network of 14,000 graduates and professional connections to the best culinary industry and institutions around the country. The school is committed to providing culinary excellence and help them establish their culinary voice and career.

Founded by Peter Kump in 1975, ICE is a world-renowned largest independent culinary school and is recognized by famous chefs and culinary industry leaders. It has gathered several recognitions including “The Best Culinary School in America” by The Daily Meal.

Their career programs are categorized into four major components namely:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Pastry & Baking Arts
  • Restaurant & Culinary Management
  • Hospitality & Hotel Management

The New York-based culinary school offers Career Resources that assist their graduates in job placement opportunities and activities.

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

With the school’s principles and methods being adopted by the international culinary icon Chef Auguste Escoffier, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts prepares their students for exciting and satisfying careers in professional programs specializing in farm-to-table philosophy.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas and Boulder, Colorado, the school offers distance programs for people who are seeking online training as a professional chef. Their online programs offer Diploma in Culinary Arts and Operations and Diploma in Professional Pastry Arts.

In an aim to provide current students and graduates professional guidance, Auguste Escoffier provides lifetime assistance after graduation through their career placement programs. They deliver job preparation assistance, career networking opportunities, referrals, and job opportunities.

The school is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE), and their culinary programs are accredited by ACF.

Kendall College of Culinary Arts

Whether you’re looking to start a new career in the culinary world or perhaps update your current skills, Kendall College has what it takes to help you prepare and equip students with the right capabilities and aptitude. Kendall College is recognized by several nominations including “Chicago’s #1 Program in preparing students for a career in the Culinary Industry” by a management survey at Chicago Michelin Guide Restaurants.

Degree Programs include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry
  • Accelerated Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts

Additionally, the school offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Entrepreneurship, one of the school’s bachelor degrees in Business for students who want to own and run their own restaurant business in the future. Aside from their Culinary Arts Program, Kendall College has Baking and Pastry Program, and Hospitality Management Program that combines learnings and methods with career readiness, with the mission to produce highly-skilled and well-rounded individuals who will establish a promising career in the food and beverage industry.

Kendall College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and their programs are accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

New England Culinary Institute

Located in Vermont, the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) is a private, for-profit culinary school that has several Certificate, Associate and Bachelor Degree programs. For people who are seeking online culinary education, they offer online programs to choose from.

NECI integrates programs with thorough and extensive hands-on training through internships. The school does not believe in learning by listening through lectures and in their kitchen. As a result, they immediately immerse their students in real-world experiences such as bakeries, high-profile restaurants, and retail outlets.

They are committed to providing high-standard culinary expertise with their adoption of Farm-To-Table revolution. Their students, along with farmers, winemakers, artisan cheesemakers, distributors, and resort and restaurant owners, become part of the growing NECI community of food activist that changed the way food is grown, produced, distributed and cooked.

Degree Programs include:

  • Culinary Arts Program
  • Baking and Pastry Arts Program
  • Food and Beverage Business Management Program
  • Continuing Education

Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts

Aside from Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities, Johnson & Wales University offers programs in Culinary with Certificate, Associate and Bachelor’s Degree. It is a private, not-for-profit university based in Providence, Rhode Island.

With several culinary curricula to choose, JWU presents students with the needed skills and state-of-the-art facilities that will readily equip them as they make their way in their culinary career. They have a different range of programs that are high-quality, top-notched and accelerated as every student’s career interests.


  • Professional Craft Brewing

Associate Degree Programs:

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Culinary Arts

Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service Management
  • Culinary Science
  • Culinary Nutrition
  • Culinary Arts
  • Culinary Arts and Food Service Management
  • Restaurant, Food and Beverage Management
  • Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship

JWU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Also, their programs are recognized and accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Sullivan University

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Sullivan University is one of the recognized schools in the culinary division for its National Center for Hospitality Studies. It is a private, for-profit university that does not only offer culinary programs but also in the fields of Business and Pharmacy.

Although the school offers year-round culinary programs, students can earn their titles as fast as 18 months with the completion of their AS Programs. The programs at Sullivan has the primary mission to provide career readiness for their students and train them with the skills, capabilities, and methods of becoming a chef, a baker, or working in management. Also, they have unique programs which a student explores and discovers to work as a personal chef.

The Kentucky-based University provides preparation for their students after graduation through their diverse Career Services. It is the school’s free resource that is devoted to helping students find their dream career while handing out the tools and the means to achieve it.

Diploma and Certificate Programs:

  • Professional Cook
  • Professional Baker
  • Personal/Private Chef
  • Degree Programs:
  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Culinary Arts

Sullivan University’s culinary programs are accredited by the American Culinary Federation, and the school itself is accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).