Choosing a culinary school is a big decision because it requires a significant investment of your time and money. The list below provides an overview of 15 culinary schools recognized for their excellence so you can make an informed decision for your future.
1. The Culinary Institute of America
When you hear people in the culinary world talk about the “CIA”, they’re talking about the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Data USA, it awards more degrees in culinary arts & chef training than any other institution. The CIA is known for its unique not-for-profit status, the rigorous training provided, and the extremely prestigious culinary connections that can be made there. It also provides areas of study outside of culinary arts and baking & pastry, including food business management and a culinary science degree that prepares students for research and development work within the food industry.
- Bachelor of Business Administration – Food Business Management
- Bachelor of Professional Studies – Applied Food Studies
- Bachelor of Professional Studies – Culinary Science
- Associate of Occupational Studies – Culinary Arts
- Associate of Occupational Studies – Culinary Arts, Advanced Career Experience Program
- Associate of Occupational Studies – Baking and Pastry Arts
- St. Helena, CA
- Hyde Park, NY
- San Antonio, TX
- $72,500 – texas
- $73,860 – St. Helena, CA
- $72,920 – Hyde Park, NY
- $42,600 – online
2. Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts, IL, USA
Kendall’s chef instructors all have at least 10 years of real world experience in professional kitchens. They focus on excellence in culinary arts and real-life training. The college’s vice president, Christopher Koetke, notes that Kendall “is known for its intense learning environment. We don’t shy away from stress. We use real-life situations where students have pressures they will face in the industry. That is how you produce graduates who are ready for the industry” (FSR Magazine). Kendall is equally respected for its culinary programs and its baking and pastry programs.
- Chicago, IL
- Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
- Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry
- Accelerated Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
- Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
3. Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies
Sullivan’s NCHS boasts a student-run restaurant with 3.5 stars, as well as a catering facility, and a bakery. The school regularly makes it into the top 20 of “Best Culinary Schools” lists and recently lowered its tuition to make the programs more accessible. The level of prestige compared to its affordable tuition makes this a desirable option for your culinary studies. Their focus is on developing career-ready chefs, bakers, and restaurant managers.
- Louisville, KY
- Lexington, KY
- Ft. Knox, KY
- Louisa, KY
- Mayfield, KY
- Professional Baker Diploma
- Professional Cook Diploma
- Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts
- Associate of Science in Culinary Arts
- Associate of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management
- Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
Tuition: $320 per credit hour, total depends on chosen program. Click “Tuition” for more details.
4. Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts
Johnson & Wales offers one of the most comprehensive culinary arts programs, boasting more than 20 food-related certificates or degrees. According to Data USA, the school is number two on their list of “most degrees awarded in culinary arts.” The university has almost single-handedly made Providence, Rhode Island a nationally recognized hub for culinary excellence.
- Providence, RI
- North Miami, FL
- Denver, CO
- Charlotte, NC
Programs*: They have an extensive list covering every aspect of culinary and baking and pastry arts. View the full list here.*Not every program is offered at every location.
5. International Culinary Center
The International Culinary Center has been named “The Best Culinary School in America” and “Culinary School of the Year” by The Daily Meal and the International Association of Culinary Professionals, respectively. It’s reputation is hard-earned through rigorous academic standards and highly experienced instructors. They offer seven diverse programs, ranging from the typical culinary and pastry arts to cake design and farm-to-table cooking. If you choose ICC, you’ll be in good company. World-famous chefs have studied here, including David Chang, Bobby Flay, and Christina Tosi.
- New York, New York
- Campbell, California
Programs: They have an extensive list covering every aspect of culinary and baking and pastry arts. View the full list here.
6. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, USA
This well-respected school has had a wide-reaching impact, with more than 5,500 employers hiring Auguste Escoffier graduates. They are also notable for the lifelong job assistance they provide to graduates. It includes job placement, networking opportunities, and job fairs. The school has a low teacher-to-student ratio, meaning students get the attention and support they need to succeed.
- Austin, TX
- Boulder, CO
- Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Culinary Arts
- Diploma in Culinary Arts
- Associate of Applied Science Degree in the Pastry Arts
- Diploma in Pastry Arts
7. New England Culinary Institute
The New England Culinary Institute is known for its culinary outlets that serve the public daily, providing students an immersive learning experience. Because it’s heavily focused on hands-on learning and meeting students’ needs, the class sizes are deliberately kept small. Its location in agriculturally rich Vermont means students have ample opportunity to interact with local growers and learn about farm-to-table and sustainable food practices.
- Montpelier, Vermont
- Baking & Pastry Arts, BA, AAS, or Certificate
- Culinary Arts, BA, AAS, or Certificate
- Food & Beverage Business Management, BA, AAS, or Certificate
Tuition: $700 per credit hour, total depends on chosen program.
8. The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College
The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College is known for its emphasis on French cooking and luxury hospitality education. Students have the opportunity to work in one of four French restaurants and tuition covers a trip to France, England, or Florida and the Bahamas to experience the world of hospitality outside the confines of a classroom.
- Philadelphia, PA
- Culinary Arts
- Pastry Arts
- Restaurant Management
- Hotel Management
9. Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Science
In addition to being recognized for its world-class culinary arts program, Paul Smith’s is also known for its dedication to sustainability. They have many local food initiatives, including donating food scraps created during culinary classes to local farmers for compost or animal feed. The college requires 800 hours of industry work experience to earn a degree, ensuring students are fully prepared for the realities of working in a real professional environment.
They’ve recently introduced an accelerated culinary program that can be completed in just three semesters.
- Paul Smiths, NY
- Culinary Arts
- Baking & Pastry Arts
- Culinary Management
- Hotel & Restaurant Management
- Restaurant Management
10. Culinary Institute Lenôtre
The CIL is known for its French cuisine and is consistently ranked on lists for “Best Culinary Schools.” They are dedicated to helping students succeed in their professional pursuits. “The Hub” is the school’s network of students and alumni that focuses on connecting students with mentors, volunteer opportunities, and jobs. Their small student-teacher ratio and 85% hands-on classes makes them a desirable choice. Oh, and there’s one perk we can’t forget — students don’t have to wash dishes!
- Houston, TX
- Culinary Arts
- Baking & Pastry Arts
- Hospitality & Restaurant Management
Tuition: $16,440.00 *Tuition from third-party site
11. Institute of Culinary Education
ICE is a world-renowned culinary school and the largest in the country. The school is known for its globally focused curriculum taught by highly experienced and respected chefs (Julia Child and Jacques Pepin both had stints as instructors at ICE). The founder, Chef Peter Krump, is the same man who founded the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit culinary organization that is revered by chefs. ICE also offers a unique program called Health-Supportive Culinary Arts that focuses on nutrition-based cooking.
- New York City, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Culinary Arts
- Pastry and Baking Arts
- Hotel and Restaurant Management
- Hospitality Management
- The Techniques of Artisan Bread Baking
- The Art of Cake Decorating
- Health-Supportive Culinary Arts
- $36,050-$40,660 Culinary Arts
- $29,900-$39,900 Baking & Pastry
- $30,500-$34,500 Health-Supportive Culinary Arts
- $13,980-$15,530 Hotel & Restaurant Management
- $34,775 Culinary Arts
- $33,389 Baking & Pastry
- $28,576 Health-Supportive Culinary Arts
- $13,035 Hotel & Restaurant Management
12. College of Southern Nevada
The College of Southern Nevada offers an excellent culinary arts program. Students receive one-on-one attention and get a real-life restaurant experience in the campus’ student-run restaurant. The classroom learning takes place in a huge state-of-the-art lab that covers 45,000 square feet. CSN also has a unique program called ReEntry that helps non-traditional students with tuition costs and offers the support needed to earn a degree.
- Charleston, NV
- Henderson, NW
- North Las Vegas, NV
- Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts – 31 credits
- Culinary Arts, AAS – 67 credits
- Food & Beverage Management (Associate of Applied Science)
- Food & Beverage Management (Certificate of Achievement)
- Hospitality Management (Associate of Arts)
- Pastry Arts (Associate of Applied Science)
- Pastry Arts (Certificate of Achievement)
Tuition: $106.75 per credit hour (resident), $117.50 per credit hour (non-resident)
13. SUNY Alfred State College
Alfred State’s culinary program is centered around a liberal arts education, meaning students learn important skills such as writing, communication, and critical thinking along with their culinary studies. The school has a restaurant and a bakery where students work to gain hands-on, real-world experience in a commercial kitchen. ASC was ranked in the top 40 of US colleges with culinary arts programs by US News & World Report.
- Alfred, NY
- Culinary Arts (AOS)
- Culinary Arts: Baking, Production & Management (AOS)
14. Northwestern Michigan College
NMC’s culinary arts program is notable for its extensive facilities and its affordability. The school has a training restaurant called Lobdell’s, a bakery, and a beverage management outlet. Students can choose either a certificate track or earn an associates degree. Their focus is more on the culinary side of cooking than the baking and pastry side, but if culinary is your passion, NMC is an excellent and affordable choice.
- Traverse City, MI
- Baking Level I Certificate » 23 credits
- Culinary Arts Level III Certificate » 49 credits
- Associate in Applied Science Degree – Culinary Arts » 66-67 credits
- Associate in Applied Science Degree – Culinary Sales & Marketing » 60-61 credits
$227 per credit hour (in-state), $227 per credit hour (out-of-state)
15. Keiser University
Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit school. In 2019, it was recognized as a top culinary school in the U.S. by Niche.com, coming in at number six. KU specializes in baking and pastry as well as global cuisine. The school has a popular student-run restaurant that provides students with hands-on experience, and it offers many externship opportunities to ensure students are prepared for their chosen culinary careers.
- Melbourne, FL
- Sarasota, FL
- Tallahassee, FL
- Culinary Arts, AS
- Baking & Pastry Arts, AS
Tuition: $21,008 *from third-party site
And, when you are done with school, here are a few restaurant jobs to start your career. But before make sure you understand the various types of food establishments and what they offer.