Home Jobs & Education What Are The Top Culinary Schools In The U.S.?

With growing exposure as an art form, the culinary arts are experiencing rapid growth as a viable industry. The thrust of the exposure is coming from cable TV which has thrown a very favorable light on the industry with hit shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef.

The perception of culinary occupations has changed and more individuals are showing an interest in cooking as a career choice. As a result, culinary schools are seeing an rapid expansion in enrollment. Here is a listing of the top 10 culinary arts schools in America based on several surveys including one presented at Restaurants.com.

1. Le Cordon Bleu

Le Cordon Bleu (Wikimedia)

Le Cordon Bleu (Wikimedia)

The school was founded in France in 1895. With 16 affiliated schools scattered throughout America, Le Cordon Bleu has maintained its place amongst the elite culinary schools for years. The school offers certificate programs and Associate of Applied Science degrees in Culinary Arts and Pâtisserie and Baking. Le Cordon Bleu emphasizes use of traditional French techniques in all areas. They also offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in areas of concentration such as Culinary Arts & Business, Hospitality & Restaurant Management and Gastronomy.

Students will learn culinary theory as well as receive hands on experience in the best teaching kitchens in the world. The school’s most famous alumni was none other than Julia Child. Estimated Annual Tuition: $19,000 (certificate programs), $36,000 (Associate of Applied Science degrees).

2. Culinary Institute of America

Flickr / Wendy

Flickr / Wendy

The Culinary Institute of America was founded in 1946. There are three campuses in the United States: Hyde Park, NY, St. Helena, CA (Napa Valley) and San Antonio TX. The main campus in New York offers certificate programs, Associate degrees (Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts) and Bachelor’s degrees (Culinary Arts Management, Pastry Arts Management, Culinary Science). The certificate programs offer food enthusiasts a great opportunity to hone their skills without having to commit to a long term program.

The school emphasizes cooking cuisines from all around the world using both traditional methods as well as methods centered around cutting edge technology. Estimated Annual Tuition: $26,460.

3. Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University (Wikimedia)

Johnson & Wales University (Wikimedia)

Johnson & Wales University was founded in 1914 with the largest campus located in Providence, Rhode Island. The College of Culinary Arts offers Associate degrees (Baking & Pastry Arts, Culinary Arts) and Bachelor’s degrees (Baking & Pastry Arts, Culinary Arts and Food Service Management, Food Service Entrepreneurship, Culinary Nutrition).

If an individual already has industry experience upon enrollment, the Associate degree programs can be finished in 12 months. Students who wish to explore the world of international cuisines can receive that opportunity through the school’s study abroad partnerships with partnership facilities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Estimated Annual Tuition: $28,239

4. Kendall College

Flickr / Melody Joy Kramer

Flickr / Melody Joy Kramer

Kendall College was founded in 1934 and is located in Chicago, Illinois. This Culinary Arts School offers Associate and Bachelor’s degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry. The programs are designed to teach students about the science of food and cutting edge methods of food preparation. The school provides 12 professional grade commercial kitchens where students can learn the skills necessary to cook as a gourmet chef and run a professional kitchen as they prepare for a possible career at one of the many top restaurants around the world. They also offer certificate programs for individuals who are interested in developing cooking skills or improving techniques. Estimated Tuition: $8,000 per Qtr.

5. The International Culinary Center
The International Culinary Center was originally founded in 1984 under the name The French Culinary Institute. The school has locations in New York City and Campbell, California. This school offers intense training programs in specific areas that are designed to prepare students to go from novice to professional level culinary employees.

Most of the certificate course work is completed in 6-9 months in areas such as Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, Cake and Bread, Wine Sommelier Training, Food Writing and Restaurant Management. Estimated Tuition: $45,800 per year

6. The Institute of Culinary Education
The Institute of Culinary Education is located in New York City and was founded in 1975. The school offers intensive training programs in four different disciplines; Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management. The programs are taught over a 8-13 month period depending on when classes are taken.

The students receive palate training, food preparation training, menu planning and cooking skills training. International cooking techniques are used with a slant towards French Techniques. During the last third of the training program, students are sent on internships in order to gain valuable hands on experience in their specific areas of interest. Estimated Tuition: $36,000 per program

7. New England Culinary Institute

New England Culinary Institute (Wikimedia)

New England Culinary Institute (Wikimedia)

The New England Culinary Institute is located in Montpelier, Vermont and was founded in 1980. The school offers certificate and Associate degree programs in Baking and Pastry Arts, and certificate, Associate, and Bachelor’s degree programs in Culinary Arts. They also offer Bachelor’s degrees programs with specializations in Baking and Pastry, Sustainability and Wine and Beverage. For students interested in restaurant management, the school offers both a Associate and Bachelor’s degree program in Food and Beverage Business Management.

The school has approximately 300 students at a time and a ratio of 6:1 students to faculty. As part of an internship programs, students are required to log time at one of the several NECI run restaurant facilities. Estimated Annual Tuition: $18,000-$20,000.

8. The Arizona Culinary Institute
The Arizona Culinary Institute is located in Scottsdale. The school offers an equivalent to an Associate degree in Culinary Arts. The curriculum is a balanced 8-month program designed to exposed students to all facets of the culinary industry during intensive training. The classes are kept very small at 10-15 students in order for each student to receive specialized attention.

The one thing about The Arizona Culinary Institute that sets it apart from most other schools is the fact that students will spend as much as 80% of their time doing hands on training in one of the schools professional training kitchens. Estimated Tuition: $26,000 for the program.

9. L’Academie de Cuisine
The L’Academie de Cuisine is located in Washington, D.C. and was founded in 1976 by world renowned Chef Francois Dionot. The school has two programs, one for individuals looking to make culinary work their career and another program designed for recreational cooking enthusiasts. The professional program offers a one year training program in Culinary Art or Pastry Arts.

As part of the curriculum, students are required to spend 26 weeks working as an apprentice in a fine dining kitchen. Students are taught both culinary theory and the culinary skills necessary to establish a successful career as a chef. Estimated Tuition: $28,000 for the program.

10. Stratford University School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management
Stratford was founded in 1976 and is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The school offers a Diploma in Advanced Culinary Arts Professional Diploma, Associate of Applied Science degrees (Advanced Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, Hotel and Restaurant Management), Bachelor’s degrees (Hospitality Management, Culinary Management) and a Master of Science in International Hospitality Management. The students are taught culinary theory, latest trends in culinary techniques, hospitality and foods science. As part of the program, students receive intensive hands on training within the classroom facilities. Estimated Tuition: $370 per Quarter Credit Hour.