Chef Colleges, Universities and Schools in the U.S.
A chef is a professional cook, typically working in a restaurant, hotel or catering business. Although many professional kitchens follow an apprenticeship system, most chefs begin their training by completing a culinary arts program. Culinary arts programs can take one to four years to complete.
How to Select a Chef School
There are many different culinary arts programs available in the United States to train aspiring chefs. When researching schools, students should consider the credentials of each program. Culinary arts programs can be accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Students may also want to look for programs designed to provide the necessary training to be certified by the American Culinary Federation after graduation.
Because apprenticeships play a large role in the education and advancement of chefs, the internship and career placement opportunities offered by chef universities can be a major consideration when selecting a program. Most culinary arts schools have test kitchen facilities on-site where students learn the basics of cooking. Often, these test kitchens serve a dual function as operating restaurants, allowing prospective chefs hands-on experience in a real professional kitchen environment. In addition, students may accept internships in professional kitchens. Consideration should also be given to the restaurants, hotels and catering companies in which program alumni have placed, because those educational connections can provide internship and employment opportunities for recent graduates.
Chef programs can vary in length and depth, and some schools may offer several options. When selecting a chef school, students should decide whether they wish to enroll in a certificate program, an associate's degree program or a bachelor's degree program.
Certificate programs provide students with the skills needed to perform entry-level food service jobs. Classes focus on basic baking and cooking methods, knife skills and menu planning. Certificate programs typically require 30 credit hours for completion.
Associate's Degree Program
Associate's degree programs are 2-year training programs in the culinary arts. Students learn about various aspects of food service operations, including nutrition, meal planning, purchasing and food preparation. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions as chefs, sous-chefs, bakers and station chefs.
Bachelor's Degree Program
Bachelor's degree programs give prospective chefs the chance to develop proficiency in both contemporary and classic culinary techniques and methods, including table d'hôte, à la carte and banquet settings. Advanced food classes in a variety of international cuisine are also offered. Aspiring chefs also learn how to be effective managers by attending courses on marketing, finance, computer and business management.
Largest Colleges, Universities and Schools by Student Population
|College/University||Student Population||Institution Type|
|College of Southern Nevada||40,310||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Utah Valley University||26,696||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|University of Akron Main Campus||24,119||4-year, Public|
|South Texas College||21,666||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Drexel University||21,537||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|University of Alaska Anchorage||16,649||4-year, Public|
|Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus||14,310||4-year, Public|
|Brigham Young University-Idaho||14,276||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|The University of Montana||14,207||4-year, Public|
|Idaho State University||12,653||4-year, Public|
|Universidad Del Este||12,291||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Vincennes University||11,590||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Johnson & Wales University||10,488||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|University of Alaska Fairbanks||8,575||4-year, Public|
|Olympic College||7,152||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Seattle Community College-South Campus||7,095||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Southern New Hampshire University||6,991||4-year, Private not-for-profit|
|Nicholls State University||6,916||4-year, Public|
|Pennsylvania College of Technology||6,510||4-year, primarily associate's, Public|
|Baker College of Muskegon||5,232||4-year, primarily associate's, Private not-for-profit|
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