Why This Matters


    In a survey conducted by the Occupational Information Network, 44 percent of culinary managers said an associate degree was needed for the job. Many managers do not require this level of education; 22 percent said you will only need a post-secondary certificate.


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 9,500 more chef and head cook jobs in 2029 than there were in 2019.


    The top 10 percent of chefs and head cooks earn more than $90,790. You will likely make more money working in traveler accommodation with an average salary of $60,330 than in a restaurant at $50,380.

Our Research

This list is focused on the best culinary schools in the United States. While postsecondary education is generally not required for an entry-level culinary job, it will help you get hired faster and earn more money.

We only selected programs accredited by institutions such as the American Culinary Federation, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, and the Higher Learning Commission. If you decide to switch to a different school, this accreditation will make it easier to transfer your credits.

  • 28 hours to write this article
  • 65 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 126 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Best Culinary Schools

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What You Should Know About This Degree

There are many programs similar to culinary schools, such as food service management, dietician, and nutritionist programs. Before you commit to a particular program, make sure that it is the best fit for your career goals.

We recommend you choose a program offering internship or externship opportunities. Culinary workplaces can be a hectic environment, and this hands-on experience is the best way to prepare yourself for your first job in the industry.

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is the main certifying body in the culinary industry. They offer 16 professional certifications, which cover different types of cooking such as savory and pastry as well as different levels of expertise such as sous chef, executive chef, and master chef.

Once you have graduated from a culinary school and earned your accreditation, you will find there are many different career paths available to you. For example, you could work in a restaurant, become a personal/private chef, or teach courses at a culinary school.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching culinary schools:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Generally, you only need a high school diploma or GED credential to be accepted into a culinary school. Review the program’s admissions requirements to see if there are any other qualifications you need to meet.
  • How long does it take to complete this program? Most certificate programs can be completed within one year, while associate degree programs tend to take two years, and bachelor’s degree programs tend to take four years.

When you are researching different culinary schools, you should always keep track of the application deadlines and application materials that you need to submit. If you can’t find this information on the school’s website, contact their admissions department.

You should also talk to the admissions department about any scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options that are available to you. If you are already working in the culinary field, your employer may have an assistance program you can use to help pay for your educational expenses.