Culinary arts programs prepare the chefs of tomorrow to create an array of appetizers, snacks, entrees, side dishes and desserts, with everything from basic knifing skills to elaborate food reparation courses. There are a variety of culinary arts degrees and certificates to choose from, though, and it’s important to find the program that will work best for you and your career goals. In order to become the chef you truly want to be, you will need to complete one of the degree programs below before embarking on your career.
Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
Associate’s degree programs in the culinary arts are offered at community colleges, technical schools and culinary institutes. The AAS provides a foundation of knowledge along with opportunities for hands-on experience to prepare students for future careers as cooks and chefs. These two-year cooking programs include coursework in food service basics, food preparation, baking, sauce making, sautéing, food purchasing, budgeting, menu planning, nutrition, health and safety, cuisine of the world and more. Most programs require some sort of internship or apprenticeship, as well. Students who earn this degree may qualify for jobs as caterers, garde managers and line cooks.
Bachelor’s Degrees in the Culinary Arts
Two-year associate’s degrees are a great way to get your foot in the door, but the most serious cooking degrees will take four years to complete and will open up many opportunities that may not be available to associate’s degree holders. There are two different types of four-year bachelor’s degrees to choose from: the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. These programs are not as easy to find as associate’s degree programs and they take about twice as long, but those who complete the additional education and training will have a leg up on the competition in more ways than one. Students complete coursework in all the same areas as they would with an associate’s degree, in addition to general education coursework and upper division classes in biology, business, food science, nutrition and restaurant management. Students may also choose a specialty, such as French cuisine or Japanese cuisine, on which to focus their studies.
In order to qualify for these culinary arts programs, students must have a high school diploma, and most four-year institutions also require test scores from the ACT or SAT. Some programs even require previous culinary experience. After completing a bachelor’s degree in the culinary arts and sciences, some graduates also complete American Culinary Federation certification, which requires a minimum level of experience and passage of a written exam. Jumping through all these hoops will pay off, though, as bachelor’s degree holders in the culinary arts field can qualify for chef and executive chef positions, catering management jobs and more.