The Top Culinary Schools in the United States

Part of the Culinary Careers For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The United States is home to some of the top culinary institutions in the world. Training at one of these schools can put you on the road to success to many of the culinary fields you wish to pursue.

The Culinary Institute of America

The CIA’s educational programs include

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts, baking and pastry arts

  • Bachelor’s degree programs: Culinary arts management, baking and pastry arts management

The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes

The degree offerings and areas of study at The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Certificate programs: Culinary arts, baking and pastry arts

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts; baking and pastry arts; wine, spirits, and beverage management

  • Bachelor’s degree programs: Culinary arts, culinary management, hospitality leadership management, hospitality food and beverage management

Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America

Following is a breakdown of the areas of study and degree offerings at Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America:

  • Certificate programs: Culinary arts, bakery and pastry arts

  • Associate’s degree: Culinary arts, bakery and pastry arts, hospitality and restaurant management

The French Culinary Institute

The French Culinary Institute, which has campuses in New York and California, offers

  • Diploma programs: Culinary arts and classic pastry arts

  • Specialized training: Options include cake techniques and design, essential techniques for food styling, fundamentals of wine, new directions in school meal planning for culinary professionals, restaurant management; and sous-vide (a method of cooking food at low heat in air-tight containers for a specified length of time)

The Italian Culinary Academy

The Italian Culinary Academy offers the following two ways to learn about cooking Italian cuisine:

  • Italian Culinary Experience: This option involves 10 weeks of training in New York City followed by 9 weeks of training at ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine in Parma, Italy. Students also spend time working at a top Italian restaurant. The Italian Culinary Experience is not an accredited program and is intended only for personal enrichment.

  • Essentials of Italian Cooking: If you prefer to remain stateside, this track includes plenty of hands-on experience in a fast-paced learning environment. Students study eight units during weekend classes offered in five-hour blocks on Saturdays and Sundays over a one-month period. Essentials of Italian Cooking is an amateur course. It is not an accredited program and is intended only for personal enrichment.

The French Pastry School

The French Pastry School offers two full-time certificate programs:

  • L’Art de la Pâtisserie: A 24-week professional pastry and baking program

  • L’Art du Gâteau: A 16-week professional cake decorating and baking program

National Center for Hospitality Studies

NCHS offers the following associate's degree programs:

  • Baking & Pastry Arts

  • Culinary Arts

  • Culinary Arts/Baking & Pastry Arts

  • Culinary Arts/Hotel & Restaurant Management

  • Culinary Arts/Professional Catering

  • Hotel & Restaurant Management

  • Professional Catering

  • Event Management & Tourism

  • Beverage Management

NCHS offers the following diploma programs:

  • Professional Baker

  • Travel & Tourism

  • Personal/Private Chef

New England Culinary Institute

Following is a breakdown of the degree offerings and areas of study at NECI:

  • Certificate programs: Professional cooking, professional baking, and professional pastry

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, hospitality and restaurant management

  • Bachelor’s degrees: Culinary arts, hospitality and restaurant management

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

Students at The Restaurant School can choose from four majors:

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts, pastry arts, hotel management, restaurant management

  • Bachelor’s degree programs: Culinary arts, pastry arts, hotel management, restaurant management

The Institute of Culinary Education

Students at ICE can receive diplomas in four areas:

  • Culinary arts

  • Pastry and baking arts

  • Culinary management

  • Hospitality management

L’Academie de Cuisine

L’Academie de Cuisine offers programs for both professionals and recreational chefs. The two professional programs are

  • Culinary arts

  • Pastry Arts

Arizona Culinary Institute

Students who complete their studies at ACI will earn a diploma in

  • Baking

  • Culinary arts

  • Restaurant management

San Diego Culinary Institute

Students can earn a

  • Diplome Professionnel du Commis de Cuisine

  • Diplome Professionnel du Commis de Patisserie/Boulangerie

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