Pastry Schools in California with Program and Course Summaries

California has more than 50 schools that offer culinary arts or pastry programs. Learn about the pastry programs, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Pastry Schools in California

Students who are interested in baking pastries, whether for pleasure or as a career, may choose to complete training programs. California has several colleges that offer culinary arts programs. Some programs focus on culinary arts in general, while others offer specializations in pastry or pastry arts. Training may last from a couple of months to a year or longer, depending on the level of study chosen. Culinary or pastry programs usually consist of lectures and extensive hands-on training working in kitchens with state-of-the art equipment. Students often get internship opportunities at on-campus or local restaurants to obtain experience. Outlined below are ten of the largest schools in California that offer pastry programs or classes.

American River College

Sacramento-based American River College (ARC) has a few different programs for students interested in learning pastry baking, including an introductory baking certificate and a culinary arts and restaurant management degree program. The 17-unit baking certificate program teaches students to bake a variety of pastries and desserts, while also helping students develop job skills. Students gain hands-on experience making artisan breads, Danish pastries, cookies, cakes, coffee cakes and yeast breads. The culinary arts and restaurant management degree program teaches students basic and advanced culinary techniques, while focusing also on building management and supervisory skills. Students complete courses in basic and advanced baking and pastry, breads and fine baking. The Career Center at ARC offers students various resources, including career advisement, job research assistance and academic workshops.

Cerritos College

Cerritos College in Norwalk offers a culinary arts professional baking/pastry certificate program. The 18-unit program provides students with extensive hands-on training. Students work in the Cerritos College Café or may have employment opportunities with local businesses. In addition to courses on food purchase and control, food service safety/sanitation and baking skills, students take a two-part baking and pastry production course. An Associate of Art is also available.

City College of San Francisco

Located in San Francisco, this public college has programs covering several areas of culinary arts, including a non-credit baking and pastry certificate program. Consisting of almost all hands-on training, the program covers both a basic and advanced baking and pastry course. Each course consists of 510 hours of training. Students learn to make pies and tarts, croissants, Danish, yeast-raised products, frozen desserts, breads and rolls. The products that students make are sold in the school's restaurant and coffee shop. Within the culinary arts and hospitality studies program, students have access to three faculty members.

Long Beach City College

The Culinary Arts Department at Long Beach City College has several programs for students interested in learning about pastry making. Baking and pastry certificates are offered in introductory baking, baking and pastry I, baking and pastry II and commercial cake decorating. The baking and pastry arts certificate of achievement is a two-year program that requires completion of 30 units. In addition to a work experience, students take courses in nutrition, sanitation and hotel management, chocolate, commercial cake decorating and baking and pastry. Students complete the same 30 units from the certificate of achievement plus general education courses and sufficient electives to satisfy the 60-unit degree requirement.

Orange Coast College

Located in Costa Mesa, Orange Coast College has a Culinary Arts Department that offers associate degrees, occupational certificates and career and technical education. Both the baking and pastry basic certificate of achievement and the baking and pastry advanced certificate of achievement prepare students for entry-level jobs as bakers or pastry cooks. The basic baking and pastry program provides instruction on nutrition, food service accounting and general baking. The sanitation and safety course is a prerequisite for the basic program. The advanced baking and pastry program takes four semesters to complete and requires courses in baking and business management. Both programs include a directed practice course that provides students with on-the-job training in real work environments. Course topics include sanitation and safety, culinary principles, menu planning and purchasing, pastry arts and nutrition concepts.

Palomar College

Palomar College is located in San Marcos and offers several culinary arts programs through its Design and Consumer Education Department. Students interested in advancing their baking and pastry-making skills can choose from a patisserie and baking certificate of proficiency program or a culinary arts associate degree program. The 12-unit patisserie and baking program includes courses in nutrition and baking, as well as hands-on training in commercial kitchen environments. The associate degree program includes the same courses as the certificate program, along with courses in food management, culinary arts and general education. Students pursuing the degree also have on-the-job training in real work environments through culinary arts directed practice courses. Before students can participate in the lab classes, they must possess a current San Diego County Food Handler card.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College offers an occupational skills certificate to students who successfully complete the six-unit baking and pastry program. The lecture- and lab-based curriculum includes introductory and advanced baking and pastry courses. Students learn about both small- and large-scale baking and pastry techniques, product identification, proper mixing and baking techniques, kitchen safety and decorating multi-tiered cakes. While the first course touches on the basics of baking and pastry making, the advanced course teaches students more complex methods used by professional bakers.

Saddleback College

Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College has culinary arts programs designed to prepare students to work as bakers, cooks, chef assistants or kitchen supervisors. Students completing the culinary arts certificate of achievement program complete 34-36 units of coursework. While this program does have a baking course, it also includes courses in other culinary areas, such as food and beverage operations, French cuisine, catering and banquets, nutrition and food preparation. Students also participate in cooperative education or complete internships to obtain experience and hands-on training. An Associate in Science is also available.

Santa Rosa Junior College

The baking and pastry certificate is offered through the culinary arts division at Santa Rosa Junior College. Students who successfully complete the requirements earn certificates of competency and can seek entry-level work in the baking industry or advance their studies. To successfully complete this certificate program, at least 17.5 units must be completed. Courses include sanitation and safety, culinary arts, knife skills, baking introduction and production baking.

Southwestern College

Chula Vista-based Southwestern College has an 18-unit professional baking and pastry certificate program aimed at culinary arts students who wish to focus their studies on baking and pastries. Students complete courses in food safety and sanitation, food purchase and control, baking and pastry basics, breads and professional pastry decorating. Upon completion, students are prepared to obtain the San Diego County Food Handler certification. The school also offers a certificate and associate degree in cooking and baking. These programs examine professional baking production, decorating and breads, in addition to professional cooking and food safety. Students also complete a work experience.

School Comparison Table

School Name School Type and Setting Pastry Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
American River College Two-year, public; large suburb Introductory Baking Certificate,
Associate in Arts in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management
$1,104 in-state; $7,200 out-of-state*
Cerritos College Two-year, public; large suburb Culinary Arts Professional Baking/Pastry Certificate,
Associate in Art in Culinary Arts Professional Baking/Pastry
$1,340 in-state; $6,072 out-of-state*
City College of San Francisco Two-year, public; large city Baking and Pastry Certificate $1,238 in-state; $6,270 out-of-state*
Long Beach City College Two-year, public; large city Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate of Accomplishment,
Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate of Achievement,
Commercial Cake Decorating Certificate of Accomplishment,
Associate in Science in Baking and Pastry Arts
$1,366 in-state; $7,218 out-of-state*
Orange Coast College Two-year, public; midsize city Baking and Pastry - Basic Certificate of Specialization,
Baking and Pastry - Advanced Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Arts or Science in Culinary Arts
$1,184 in-state; $6,320 out-of-state*
Palomar College Two-year, public; large suburb Patisserie and Baking Certificate of Proficiency,
Associate in Arts in Culinary Arts
$1,328 in-state; $5,224 out-of-state*
Pasadena City College Two-year, public; midsize city Baking and Pastry Occupational Skills Certificate $276 for program tuition only**
Saddleback College Two-year, public; large suburb Culinary Arts Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Culinary Arts
$762 in-state; $4,694 out-of-state*
Santa Rosa Junior College Two-year, public; midsize city Baking and Pastry Certificate of Competency $3,315 total estimated cost for program (2012)***
Southwestern College Two-year, public; large suburb Professional Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement,
Baking and Cooking Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Culinary Arts - Cooking and Baking
$1,334 in-state; $6,654 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES School Navigator, **Pasadena City College, ***Santa Rosa Junior College.

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