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Top 9 American Culinary Schools

Learn the ins and outs of cooking at these highly esteemed culinary schools.

If you want to pursue a career as a chef or perhaps aspire to own a restaurant in the future, just practicing different recipes at home may not be enough. 

Chef teaching how to cook

Besides polishing your cooking skills, you must learn other skills and techniques like plating, presentation, menu planning, food sanitation, and knife skills, while learning the science behind how different ingredients blend and create the perfect meal. 

Therefore, it may be high time you consider enrolling in a community college or culinary arts school to obtain a culinary arts degree. 

Best Culinary Schools in the US

Statistics show that job vacancies for chefs and other kitchen professionals are expected to grow 25% in the coming years, much faster than in any other industry.

Accordingly, we have compiled a list of some of the best culinary schools in the US that offer culinary arts degrees or certificates. Let’s dive in!


Culinary Institute of America

Among the best culinary schools globally, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is located in Hyde Park and was founded in 1946.

It is a private institution that offers specialty baking, pastry arts, and culinary education programs, including bachelors and associate degrees. 

As one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the US, it has hundreds of students graduating each year, with some owning their dream restaurants, while others are working as head cooks, food stylists, food service managers, and kitchen managers worldwide.

Being one of the top institutes of its kind, getting admission here is somewhat tricky, as a candidate would require professional culinary experience to gain acceptance to the institute.

Apart from Hyde Park, the school also has campuses in California, Texas, and New York, and one in Singapore. 


Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

Named after the legendary chef Auguste Escoffier, the Auguste Excoffier School of Culinary Arts has campuses in Austin, Texas, Boulder, and Colorado.

It is the only culinary school in the US that provides a 100% online class option for students, making it a viable option for those interested in distance education no matter where they live.

The institute stands among the top culinary schools across the world, offering various culinary associate degrees and diploma programs.

Offering small class sizes, the institute makes sure that its students are ready for their future careers in the industry by culminating in several externships to provide them with professional experience and industry connections.


Institute of Culinary Education

The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) ranks as one of the renowned culinary schools in the US, with more than 14000 graduates to date.

It is the largest in the country, with campuses in Los Angeles and New York. 

ICE offers diplomas in hospitality management, baking, pastry arts, and hotel and restaurant management.

The school follows an intense yet comprehensive curriculum, with most students completing their course in 6-12 months.


Kendall College of Culinary Arts

The Kendall College of Culinary Arts in Chicago offers accelerated degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.

This option is designed for students with a degree in another subject who wish to transition to culinary arts. 

The institute also offers a regular culinary arts degree with a bachelor’s degree program in culinary management.

All instructors in the school are highly professional, with more than a decade of culinary teaching experience. 

Kendall College is specifically famous for churning out skilled chefs, with the James Beard Foundation recognizing and honoring 12 of its graduates.


Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies

Located in Louisville, Kentucky, Sullivan University National Center is a private, for-profit organization.

Though the university offers many other degree programs, it is renowned for its culinary education at its National Center for Hospitality Studies. 

Sullivan offers courses throughout the year, which means that the students can complete their degrees in less than eighteen months.

The university provides quality and career-ready education to its students, providing options focusing on baking, cooking, and management.


Culinary Institute LeNotre

Emphasizing hands-on learning experiences, the Culinary Institute LeNotre is a small culinary school in Houston, Texas, with a low student-teacher ratio.

The institute is best known for its continuing education baking and pastry arts program while offering culinary arts degrees and hospitality and restaurant management programs.

The Culinary Institute LeNotre has been ranked as the number one Culinary Arts school in the US by Niche.com from 2019 to 2021.


Metropolitan Community College Nebraska

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the Metropolitan Community College (MCCN) stands among one of the best culinary schools in the US.

It is a public, non-profit institute offering various associate degrees and certifications in culinary arts and hospitality management.

The school aims to provide quality education to the students, preparing them to become professional chefs and take on leadership roles as entrepreneurs or restaurant managers.

Students who enroll in the institute receive low-cost yet high-quality training and get opportunities to gain practical, real work experience and engage in professional networking.

The degree programs at MCCN are divided into two options: Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and Management or Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality and Restaurant Leadership.

The first one focuses on general studies or baking and pasty, while the latter allows you to specialize in Food and Event Management or Hospitality Entrepreneurship.

Though MCCN does not have all the perks of a private culinary institution, the low tuition fees, and high training standards have attracted many students to it.


Johnson and Wales University

The Johnson and Wales University is located in Providence, Rhode Island, with campuses across the US in Miami, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Denver, Colorado.

The institute offers bachelor’s and associate degree program options in pastry and baking, culinary arts, nutrition, and various areas of hospitality management.

One of the unique aspects of the programs here is that they teach students about food and nutrition from various angles, such as the science behind it and its impact on us. 

Johnsons and Wales ensure that the students are well-prepared for their future careers by providing more than ten specialization options.

It also offers internships and career placement services, giving students real-world, on-the-job exposure and maximum job placement opportunities.

The institute stands among the few culinary schools having almost 75% of students with a job offer during their internships, with 97% hired within half a year after graduation.


New England Culinary Institute

The New England Culinary Institute is a for-profit, private institution offering bachelors and associate degrees in various culinary arts and management programs.

It also runs an online school for chefs willing to learn from any other country. 

In addition to providing quality education, the New England Culinary School emphasized internships for its students to get job exposure and professional experience.

They also have an option of a business management program with culinary arts, pastry, and baking to prepare students for management positions. 

Located in Montpelier, VT, the institute also hosts many events and activities to ensure that the students make the most of their time spent in the school.


Best Culinary Schools in the US

  1. Culinary Institute of America
  2. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
  3. Institute of Culinary Education
  4. Kendall College of Culinary Arts
  5. Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies
  6. Culinary Institute LeNotre
  7. Metropolitan Community College Nebraska
  8. Johnson and Wales University 
  9. New England Culinary Institute

Final Thoughts

Though it is not necessary to attend a culinary school to become a chef, getting a professional culinary degree is worth it to learn the skills related to the various aspects of working in the kitchen and stand out from the competition when entering the job market.

If you are concerned about the time required for your degree to finish, it entirely depends on the level of degree you are willing to choose. For instance, if you want a certificate, it may only take a few months to finish, while a bachelor’s degree with a master’s can take as long as six years. 

Learn about different types of professional chefs so that you can figure out what you want to do with your culinary experience.

Therefore, before choosing one of the best culinary schools in the US, think about what you plan to study and the level of experience you would like to have before entering the profession. Good luck!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.