The 20 Best Culinary Programs

Television and media have brought the fast-paced world of the culinary arts to the forefront of public perception. Every week we are privy to world-class meals prepared by the top chefs as we get to glimpse into the world of thousands of Americans who work in the industry. Though what does it take to enter the culinary arts and begin a career path to becoming a top chef? Like most professions, careers within the culinary arts start with a strong foundation which entails graduating from an accredited culinary program and receiving a degree. With so many available programs it can be difficult to decide which program best suits your individual career goals.

The culinary schools and programs on this list have repeatedly proven their track record with a majority of their students going on to find success within the industry. Each program has consistently shown high levels of graduation rates and alumni success while providing students with the best opportunity to pursue their goals. Some of the institutions even run their own Michelin recommended restaurants, allowing students an opportunity to hone their skills in real world setting. Combining hands-on training with small classroom sizes featuring state of the art equipment as well as active alumni programs and networks to ensure graduate success, these schools have earned their place among the best.


Los Angeles Trade-Tech College

LATTC offers students the opportunity to earn their associate degree in both the Culinary Arts and Professional Baking in addition to certificate programs available for both courses of study. The 87-year-old accredited program has a long history of connecting students with working professionals in the industry while providing valuable experience from guest lectures, lab work, and culinary competitions. Over the course of four semesters, students will learn everything from sanitation basics and ice sculpting to crafting and present international cuisine.

The four-semester culinary program also provides students with an introduction to restaurant management which is vital for those seeking to become head chefs. Students also receive job placement assistance in the form of lessons about proper interviewing skills and resume building as well access to an updated job board featuring open positions across City, State, Federal, and private sectors.

Learn more about The Los Angeles Trade-Tech college here​.


The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College

Only a short drive from the bustling culinary world of New York City, the CINY allows students to gain valuable hands-on experience while pursuing their associate degree in Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts, or Hospitality Management. Students that wish to progress with their education can continue on to earn both a BBA and Master of Science Degree in Hospitality Management.

The CINY within its eight years of operation has received the distinction of being named one of the top ten culinary programs of the Northeast and among the top twenty nationwide for several years running. Students can practice their craft in one two student-run restaurants, the New York Times acclaimed Dining Lab, or CINY's own bakery, The Pastry Kiosk.

You can learn more about the Culinary Institute here​.


Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington

The ACF accredited culinary program of Ivy Tech provides students with a breadth of learning opportunities as prospective chefs can earn their AAS in Baking and Pastry Concentration as well as Culinary Arts, or complete one of their many certificate programs for Beverage, Hospitality, and Event Management. The institute offers students comprehensive training preparing them for their future in the culinary arts while at only a fourth of the cost of other local institutes. Students graduating from Ivy Tech are completely prepared to enter entry-level positions in restaurants, hotels, and bakeries across the country.

You can learn more about the Ivy Tech Community College program here.


San Francisco Cooking School

The upstart SFCS has garnered a considerable amount of praise in its short years of operation while providing students with a unique take on the traditional culinary certificate programs found at other institutes. Students are able to earn a certificate in either the Culinary Arts or Pastry Arts within an expedited course lasting only six months, though the program can be extended to 12 months to accommodate those on a part-time schedule.

SFCS boasts classroom sizes of only 14 students per instructor ensuring that every student receives proper guidance and attention during their entire course of learning. The faculty also understands that learning the applicable skills are only one portion of pursuing success within the culinary world thus students are given opportunities to network with working professionals, building their ability to make career-boosting connections. Students graduating from the SFCS culinary program have the ability to take advantage of the many externships offered by prize-winning restaurants across the Bay Area.

You can learn more about the San Francisco Cooking School here.


Kirkwood Community College

KCC carries the distinction of being a fully accredited institute both earning a place among the Top 50 Culinary Programs and having received an ACFEFAC Exemplary Program Award. The award winning institute gives students multiple opportunities to gain kitchen experience by working in their fine dining lab, The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, or their student-led restaurant, The Class Act Restaurant. Students can also have the opportunity to experience international cuisine first hand while taking part in one KCC's international study programs. This ensures students have a wider and more developed work experience while pursuing their AAS in Culinary Arts, preparing them for the varied positions of the Hospitality Industry.

You can learn more about Kirkwood Community College here.


The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill School

Students of the Restaurant School are treated to the unique opportunity to travel abroad while earning their degree with tuition-paid trips to Florida resorts, the Bahamas, France, and even receive a tour of Buckingham Palace while in England. Beyond experience gained while abroad, The Restaurant Schools gives students real-world restaurant experience from their choice of one of four fine dining restaurants on campus.

The phenomenal programs offered by the Institute allow students to pursue both their A.S. and B.S. in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Restaurant Management, or Hotel Management giving graduates a considerable advantage when looking to find job placement.

You can learn more about The Restaurant School here.


L’Academie de Cuisine

As one the DC area's best culinary institutes, L'Academie de Cuisine has provided students with excellent training for over 40 years. The Institute has become well recognized among culinary professionals for its excellence and is a favorite among DC chefs.

Here students of both their Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs benefit from small classroom sizes, state of the art kitchens, and a paid 26-week apprenticeship, the longest paid apprenticeship offered by any program, further preparing them for their future careers.

You can learn more about L' Academie de Cuisine here.


San Diego Culinary Institute

Students of SDCI learn from experienced instructors, each having over 25 years of experience in the industry and five years of experience working as head chefs while being able to take in the sun, famous beaches, and world-renowned cuisine of the Gaslamp Quarter. The offered programs for the Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts, or The Savory and Sweet Kitchens as they are referred to by the institute, give students not only the necessary training to succeed in a kitchen but provide applicable lessons for understanding the business aspect of the industry.

SDCI understands that the true mark of preparation for the industry is hands on experience working a line with hungry customers, so the institute offers externships at Zagat and Michelin rated restaurants across the nation.

You can learn more about the San Diego Culinary Institute here.


College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University 

The culinary program at the College of Culinary Arts has received accolades for its small classroom sizes, modern kitchens, and skilled instructors, the college is even endorsed by famed celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse. With four campuses in Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Colorado the Institute is able to expand its alumni network across the entire nation as it produces culinary professionals ready to take on the challenges inherent to the industry.

The varied programs offered allow each student to find the perfect fit for their individual career aspirations. With an award-winning associate degree, bachelor's degree, and accelerated learning programs each student can cater their learning experience to their needs while still being provided a stable foundation to build upon.

You can learn more about the College of Culinary Arts programs here​. 


The  Great Lakes Culinary Institute 

While studying at the Northwestern Michigan College campus, students gain practical hands-on experience in one of four labs while focusing on the science and techniques of cooking instead of simply recipe memorization. As students master the techniques necessary in the available labs of baking, introduction to food skills, advanced cooking, a garde management, and beverage management they gain the skills to enter the industry with variety of in-depth knowledge to help them secure employment. Students are able to choose between earning their AAS in Culinary Arts or pursuing a 54-hour credit program to receive a Level 3 certificate in Culinary Arts.

Beyond learning the applicable skills in the comfort of a state of the art lab environment, students can gain real working knowledge of the restaurant industry while working the line in Northwestern Michigan's Lobdell's restaurant, a beautiful fine dining setting with a fantastic view of Grand Traverse Bay. 

You can learn more about The Great Lakes Culinary Institute here​. 


Sullivan University 

The culinary program at Sullivan University provides students with the opportunity to earn an AAS in Culinary Art in an accelerated program with most students earning a degree in as little as 18 months. While students learn the essentials of working within a kitchen taking courses focusing on garden manger theory, international cuisine, and baking science from industry professionals they can gain hands-on experience working at the university's 3.5 star rated restaurant, run completely by students.  The Culinary Arts and the Baking and Pastry Arts programs at Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies are accredited by the American Culinary Federation’s Accrediting Commission. For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website.


Henry Ford College 

Another great example of the culinary training available within Michigan, The Henry Ford College's Culinary program gives students access to six state of the art kitchen facilities while they study to earn their B.S. in Culinary Arts or AAS in Hospitality Studies. The entire program focusing on teaching students the necessary skills to succeed in the kitchen while focusing on the business aspect of the industry as well. With classes teaching the essentials of wines of the world, restaurant management, hotel dessert services, and event planning students are able to gain greater insight into the various aspects of the culinary industry sometimes not covered in other programs.

You can learn more about the Henry Ford College here​. 


Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts 

Named for the world-famous culinarian who revolutionized modern French cuisine and the Cordon Bleu itself, the culinary institutes continues the tradition of teaching the techniques made famous by Auguste Escoffier.

Though small class sizes, focus on sustainability within the industry, and curriculum inspired by the "King of Chefs" should be enough to set the institute apart from other programs, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts also gives students the opportunity to study their culinary program online while earning a diploma in the Culinary Arts.

Upon graduating the program, students will have access to a wide variety of alumni services helping graduates find career placement while utilizing a vast network of connections.

You can learn more about The Escoffier School of Culinary Arts here.


Le Cordon Bleu College

The famed Cordon Bleu College's campus in Cambridge sets a state of the art learning facility against the backdrop of historic Boston. Students are able to hone the skills necessary to succeed within the industry while being able to explore the culinary world of Boston's open-air markets and renowned cuisine. The offered AAS in Culinary Arts and Passterrie and Baking provide a strong foundation for any prospective chef while the optional certificate program for Wine & Beverages will help distinguish graduates of the world famous Institute from their peers.

You can learn more about Le Cordon Blue College here​. 


New England Culinary Institute 

NECI has a long history of producing world famous chefs and offers a unique learning experience to any prospective culinary professional. Students are free to choose their preferred path by deciding among a BA in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry, and Food and Beverage Management while also having the available option to continue their studies online. While students learn the essentials of working within the industry, they also benefit from the course work focusing on the business aspect of networking, resume building, and practical knowledge for landing the position of their dreams. The institute fosters a strong sense of personal growth by combining hands-on learning opportunities with extensive internship programs, so graduates are able to build the connections that will further their own careers in the future.

You can learn more about the New England Culinary Institute here​. 


The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park

The beautiful campus located along the Hudson River is one of the crown jewels of the Culinary Institute of America's campuses. With a variety of fields of study including bachelor's degrees in Culinary Science, Applied Food Studies, and Food Business Management with options to receive an AAS in Culinary Arts as well as Baking and Pastrygraduating students often are recruited right out of school by more than 300 leading businesses within the industry. The knowledge gained from the extensive degree programs adds to the unique opportunity for students to work in one of four the CIA's fine dining restaurants located in New York.

You can learn more about the Culinary Institute of America here​


Kendall College School of Culinary Arts

The nationally recognized culinary institute has for years helped students realize their career aspirations in one of the top rated learning environments in the country. Rated as the number one school for producing quality chefs in the Chicago area by Michelin ranked Chicago restaurants, the Kendall College culinary program combines all the necessary techniques of the modern culinary experience with programs that help students experience the problem-solving skills and team management techniques they will need to go to become head chefs across the nation. Students can choose from the school's BA or AAS program in culinary arts confident that upon graduation they will have everything the need to succeed in their lifetime pursuit.

You can learn more about the Kendall ​College School of Culinary Arts here


International Culinary Center

The world famous institute has produced some of the most famous chefs in modern history with alumni including David Chang, Bobby Flay, and Christina Tosi.

The institute’s faculty have garnered renown among themselves with having combined total of 157 Michelin Stars to their names while the institute itself has been named the IACP "Best Vocational Cooking School of the Year" for multiple years.

Students of the ICC get one of kind hands on experience in small classroom settings while studying courses in Italian Cuisine, Culinary Entrepreneurship, Wine Studies, Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Cake Design, Farm-to-Table, or Bread Baking ensuring the skills gained can transfer across a wide berth of career possibilities.

You can learn more about the International Culinary Center here​. 


Culinary Institute of America at Greystone 

Spread across two campuses throughout California wine country, the Institute at Greystone offers students the opportunity to learn the necessary skills they'll need to succeed from world-class chefs, industry leaders, and business experts as they complete their AAS program in either Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry.

The campus itself provides students with a unique learning environment as they study their craft at a historic winery while being free to explore the famous cuisine and wineries of Napa Valley. Though the programs offered by the Hyde Park campus and the Greystone facility differ as Greystone has focused their efforts on providing the one of the best AAS programs for Culinary Arts and Patisserie in the country.

You can learn more about the Culinary Institute of America here​


The Institute of Culinary Education

This award winning culinary institute produced some of the most successful culinary professionals throughout the course of its 41-year history. The four-time "Culinary School of the Year" offers students an intensive diploma program focusing on the science, technique, and business skills needed to become a successful professional in the industry. Though the courses offered in Culinary Arts, Pastry and Baking Arts Hospitality Management and Culinary Restaurant Management are very intensive, the wine course itself is considered among the best and most in-depth throughout the country, most students are able to complete their studies within 13 months.

You can learn more about The Institute of Culinary Education here​.