What Are the Best Culinary Schools in the US?

Last Updated on February 21, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Culinary school is the perfect way to learn everything from the basics of cooking to advanced techniques and the art of preparing delicious dishes. The best culinary schools in the US offer a range of programs to prepare students for careers in the culinary industry, from line cooks and pastry chefs to restaurant owners and food writers. 

In this article, we’ll explore the 10 best culinary schools in the US, as well as answer some common questions about culinary school.

10 Best Culinary Schools in the US:

  1. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – Hyde Park, NY
  2. Johnson & Wales University – Providence, RI
  3. New England Culinary Institute – Montpelier, VT
  4. Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) – New York, NY
  5. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts – Austin, TX and Boulder, CO
  6. Le Cordon Bleu – Multiple locations across the US
  7. Kendall College – Chicago, IL
  8. The Art Institutes – Multiple locations across the US
  9. California Culinary Academy – San Francisco, CA
  10. The International Culinary Center – New York, NY

What Is Culinary School?

Culinary school is a specialized school that teaches students the skills and techniques necessary to work in the culinary industry. Students learn about food preparation, cooking techniques, nutrition, kitchen safety, and food service management.

What Degree Do You Get at a Culinary School?

The type of degree you earn at culinary school depends on the program you enroll in. Some schools offer certificates or diplomas, while others offer associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. 

In general, culinary programs cover a wide range of topics, including food safety, cooking techniques, nutrition, and restaurant management.

Do You Need to Go to Culinary School to Be a Chef?

No, you don’t necessarily need to go to culinary school to be a chef. Some chefs start their careers by working in restaurants and learning on the job. 

However, attending culinary school can provide aspiring chefs with a strong foundation in cooking techniques, food safety, and kitchen management, which can be valuable in the competitive culinary industry.

Are There Online Culinary Schools?

Yes, there are online culinary schools. These programs allow students to learn cooking techniques and culinary skills from the comfort of their own homes. 

Online culinary schools typically offer courses in a range of culinary topics, including baking and pastry, culinary arts, and hospitality management.

How Much Does Culinary School Cost?

chef hat and kitchen equipment

The cost of culinary school varies depending on the program and the school. Some programs may cost tens of thousands of dollars per year, while others may be more affordable [1]. 

It’s important to research the costs associated with each program and to consider financial aid options.

How Do You Get Into a Culinary School?

To get into a culinary school, you’ll typically need to submit an application, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. 

Some schools may also require essays or interviews. In addition, many culinary schools require students to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

How Long Is Culinary School?

The length of culinary school depends on the program you enroll in. Certificate or diploma programs may last just a few months, while associate’s or bachelor’s degree programs can take up to four years to complete.

How Do You Become a Certified Chef?

To become a certified chef, you’ll need to complete a culinary program and gain work experience in the culinary industry. 

You may also choose to pursue certification from the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which requires passing an exam and meeting certain education and experience requirements.

What is ACF Accreditation?

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a professional organization for chefs and culinary professionals. ACF accreditation is a certification that recognizes culinary schools and programs that meet certain standards for quality and excellence. 

To earn ACF accreditation, a culinary program must undergo a rigorous evaluation process that assesses factors such as curriculum, facilities, faculty qualifications, and student outcomes.


Culinary school can be an excellent way to gain the skills and knowledge needed for a career in the culinary industry. Whether you’re interested in becoming a chef, a restaurant manager, or a food writer, there are many culinary schools across the US that can help you achieve your goals. By considering factors such as program length, cost, accreditation, and degree options, you can find the best culinary school to suit your needs and interests.


Lauren Beck
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