What type of Culinary Degree is right for you?

Culinary schools and cooking schools are dedicated to teaching the art and science of cooking and food preparation. There are several different types of cooking schools all over the world. Some of these schools cater to amateur chefs, and others cater to those with a dream of becoming a professional chef.

In addition to attending a culinary or cooking school, many community colleges and universities offer degrees for those wanting to pursue a career in the culinary arts.

As you can imagine, there are many different schools, degree types, and certifications to choose between. Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular programs, as well as how long it will take to earn a degree or certification so you can turn your passion into a profession.

Diploma or Certificate Programs

A diploma or certificate in a culinary program can be earned in six to twelve months. These programs offer hands-on education while also providing real-world experience. Generally speaking, these certifications are best for those pursuing an entry-level position, like a line cook.

Some of the most popular certificate programs are:

  • Nutrition
  • Food safety & sanitation
  • Baking
  • Food Purchasing
  • Restaurant operations
  • Ethnic and International cuisine

Some of the most popular and sought-after jobs after earning a culinary certificate are:

  • Baker
  • Restaurant Manager
  • Line Cook
  • Chef
  • Caterer
  • Chocolatier

Although many of the trade schools that offer these certificate programs don’t accept Federal Aid, they do come at a lower cost and offer in house financial aid or scholarships. These scholarships and financial aid are typically awarded based on financial need.

Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts

An Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts is the most popular program for those interested in pursuing a career as a chef. During this two-year program, known as an Associate’s in Applied Science-Culinary Arts students, will get a general education made up of writing, math, English, and communication with other culinary students.

Although these programs are offered at culinary and cooking schools, they are also available at many community colleges.

Some of the most popular culinary Associate’s Degree programs are:

  • Menu development
  • Nutrition
  • Culinary terminology
  • Culinary management
  • Food safety and sanitation

Some of the most popular and sought-after jobs after earning a culinary Associate’s Degree are:

  • Food preparation supervisor
  • Pastry Chef
  • Sous chef
  • Personal chef
  • Line cook
  • Chef

In addition to culinary schools, many of these programs are offered at local community colleges, which means, as long as they’re accredited, Federal financial aid can help cover the costs of the degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts

In addition to general studies like reading, writing, and mathematics, this four-year program also involves hand-on experience in the kitchen. As part of this program, students will learn important skills like expert knife handling, food cost control, and inventory management.

Some of the most popular culinary Bachelor’s Degree programs are:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Hospitality Management
  • Baking & pastry arts
  • Culinary management
  • Restaurant management

Some of the most popular and sought-after jobs after earning a culinary Bachelor’s Degree are:

  • Restaurant owner/operator
  • Theme park general manager
  • Catering operator
  • Food & beverage manager
  • Spa owner
  • Convention sales manager

Bachelor’s culinary degree programs are offered at both universities and culinary schools. The school you choose may only offer private aid or scholarships, so it’s important to check with the financial aid office before you commit to a program as these degrees can be quite costly.

Master’s Degree in Culinary Arts

If you’re ready to take your culinary skills to the next level and aim for top positions in the industry, a master’s degree in culinary arts might be the perfect choice. These programs are designed for individuals who want to specialize in a particular area of culinary arts and take on leadership roles. Master’s degree programs offer intense and focused training with experienced chefs, allowing you to master advanced culinary techniques. Additionally, some programs include business and management classes to give you the skills needed to excel as a restaurant owner or head chef.

A master’s degree in culinary arts can open doors to prestigious positions such as hotel general managers, food and/or beverage directors for major corporations, or renowned restaurant owners. These programs require a significant commitment of time and resources, but they offer unparalleled opportunities for career advancement and personal growth.


Choosing the right culinary degree is an important decision that will shape your future in the culinary industry. Whether you opt for a diploma or certificate program, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s degree, remember to take your time and treat the process like a well-prepared meal.

Start with the basics, gain experience, and gradually refine your skills. With dedication and passion, you can turn your love for cooking into a successful and fulfilling career. So, take the first step towards your culinary dreams and embark on an exciting journey of culinary education!

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