Culinary Degrees: Finding the Right Fit for You

If you’re interested in a career in the culinary arts, there are tons of different educational programs you can consider. With some many degree options, however, it can be confusing to find the one that’s right for you. Let’s take a look at your college options so you can determine the program that makes sense for you and your culinary career goals.

Certification Programs

Many professionals in the world of food actually have little formal education and instead rely on on-the-job training. While this is definitely an option, going through a short certificate program can really complement what you’ve learned while working. Certification programs can last for as little as one month or as long as one to two years. Most only require that you have a high school diploma or GED to get started, and not only are these short programs, but they’re also usually inexpensive.

Associate’s Degree Programs

Two-year degree programs that allow you to earn an associate’s degree are a step up from certification programs. They are typically more encompassing, covering all types of culinary knowledge rather than focusing on a specific skill, though some schools allow you to choose between a typical culinary program or pastry. Most schools require just a high school diploma or GED to get started.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

If you want to qualify for more jobs and work in a kitchen leadership position sooner, getting a bachelor’s degree is preferable. These programs take about four years to complete if you’re a full-time student, and there are typically a few specialization options (pastry, restaurant management, etc.) so students can get an all-encompassing education while also preparing for a specific career in the culinary field. Some bachelor’s degree programs require you to have food service experience before you apply, though it depends on the school.

Master’s Degree Programs

Lastly, if you want to pursue a top position in the culinary field, one of the best options is to get your master’s degree. This program takes and addition one to two years after you get your bachelor’s degree and is a lot of work, but it’s a great educational course if you want to be a restaurant owner, head chef at a popular restaurant, or other leader in the culinary world. Many master’s degree programs do require experience in the field, but again, it depends on the school you want to attend.

Culinary Programs and Schools

Kaplan University — Kaplan University is one of the largest and most recognized names in online education. Kaplan offers an associate program in Food and Hotel Management, designed to be completely online and under two years in course length. This means you can attend classes from home at your convenience.
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Penn Foster Career School — The Catering certificate from Penn Foster Career School includes ten instruction sets that teach you how to enter the exciting catering business. This at-home learning program takes you step-by-step through the techniques and skills you will need to succeed. Graduates learn all there is to know about catering, including layout, stocks, sauces, baking, and beverages.
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