America's Top Culinary Schools for 2021

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Lincoln Culinary Institute
Lincoln Culinary Institute
Forging a path

Unlike many career paths, the culinary world doesn't require a certificate or degree for entry. In fact, some of the world's most celebrated chefs never took their formal education beyond a high school diploma. Still, culinary school can give students a leg up by equipping them with foundational knowledge and advanced skills. A program's offerings of certificate, associate, bachelor's, or master's degrees can vary just as widely as the subject matter, with some students pursuing careers as chefs and others going into beverage or management fields.

READ MORE: Can Culinary Schools Really Go Online?

There's no one-size-fits-all for entering the restaurant world, but the schools that follow can help students forge their own path.

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generic chef
The Art Institutes Culinary Arts School

Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Virginia Beach, Virginia

Established: 1991

Accreditation: American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (acfef)

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking &  Pastry / Culinary Arts Management / Restaurant & Catering Management / Hospitality Management

Degrees: Certificate, Diploma, Associate, Bachelor’s

Average Matriculation:

  • Diploma: 4 quarters, 55 credits
  • Associate:  6 quarters, 90 credits
  • Bachelor’s: 12 quarters, 180 credits

Tuition: $535 per credit hour plus $1,500 fee for labs; costs vary by campus

Website: artinstitutes.edu

About: "In our Culinary Arts School, you’ll be immersed in an environment that’s as close to the real world as it gets. Working in a modern, professional kitchen, you can hone your cooking skills as you focus on learning to deliver the popular international flavors and techniques today’s consumers—and employers—want and expect."

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The Culinary Institute of America
The CIA's Hyde Park campus in Upstate New York
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA)

Hyde Park, New York; St. Helena, California; San Antonio; Singapore

Established: 1946

Accreditation: The Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry Arts / Culinary Science / Food Business Management / Applied Food Studies / Hospitality Management / Wine & Beverage Management

Degrees: Certificate, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s

Average Matriculation: Programs vary from intensive 30-week certificates to flexible online study. Bachelor’s (123–132 credits) and associate (69 credits) programs include semester-long internships. CIA accepts up to 60 transfer credits to allow for faster bachelor’s degree completion. Master’s programs consist of 30 credits.

Tuition:

  • Associate and Bachelor’s: $18,850–$19,270 per semester, varies by campus
  • Master’s: $10,330–$12,295 per semester, varies by program (online)

Website: ciachef.edu

About: “The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is a private, not-for-profit college dedicated to providing the world’s best professional culinary education. Excellence, leadership, professionalism, ethics, and respect for diversity are the core values that guide our efforts. We teach our students the general knowledge and specific skills necessary to live successful lives and to grow into positions of influence and leadership in their chosen profession.”

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Johnson & Wales University
Johnson & Wales University
Johnson & Wales University

Providence, Rhode Island; Charlotte, North Carolina

Established: 1914

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE)

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry Arts / Food & Beverage Industry Management / Culinary Nutrition / Culinary Science & Product Development / Dietetics and Applied Nutrition / Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship / Food Innovation & Technology / Food Safety / Professional Craft Brewing / Sustainable Food Systems

Degrees: Certificate / Associate / Bachelor’s / Master’s / Continuing Education

Average Matriculation: 2–4 years, varies by degree program

Tuition: $34,376 per academic year for undergraduate studies

Website: jwu.edu

About: “Founded in 1914, Johnson & Wales University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 9,000 graduate, undergraduate, and online students at its campuses in Providence, Rhode Island, and Charlotte, North Carolina.”

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Kendall College
Kendall College’s curriculum includes culinary and pastry arts, as well as hospitality management.
Kendall College at National Louis University

Chicago

Established: 1985

Accreditation: ACFEF and the Higher Learning Commission

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking &  Pastry / Hospitality Management

Degrees: Associate / Accelerated Associate / Bachelor’s

Average Matriculation: 5–13 quarters, varies by program and existing degrees

Tuition: $8,245–$8,904 per quarter for full-time students; $655–$673 per credit hour for part-time students; additional fees are incurred for uniforms, supplies, kitchen tools, labs, and internships.

Website: kendall.edu

About: “The Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management combines strong academics with practical learning to ensure that you’re equipped with the real-world skills necessary to succeed in your field. … Benefits that set our culinary arts school in Chicago apart from the rest include small classroom sizes, plenty of personalized attention, and placement in a career-specific internship that will prepare you for your future.”

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Sullivan University, College of Hospitality Studies

Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky

Established: 1987

Accreditation: ACFEF

Programs: Baking & Pastry Arts / Culinary Arts / Event Management & Tourism / Hotel & Restaurant Management / Hospitality Management

Degrees: Diploma / Associate / Bachelor’s

Average Matriculation:

  • Diploma: 12 months (9 months accelerated)
  • Associate: 21–24 months (18 months accelerated)
  • Bachelor's: 48 months (36 months accelerated)

Tuition:

  • Diploma: $495 per credit hour
  • Associate: $395–$495 per credit hour
  • Bachelor's: $375 per credit hour

Website: sullivan.edu

About: “Graduates from the College of Hospitality Studies can look for jobs in cities across the globe. In fact, Sullivan graduates can be found in hotels, catering companies, restaurants, cruise ships, and teaching positions in places anywhere from Tennessee to Europe to Antarctica.”

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Walnut Hill College

Philadelphia

Established: 1974

Accreditation: Acreditting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

Programs: Culinary Arts / Pastry Arts / Restaurant Management / Hotel Management

Degrees: Associate / Bachelor’s

Tuition: $6,350–$9,825 per term, plus lab, technology, and fees

Average Matriculation:

  • Associate: 18 months
  • Bachelor’s: 36 months

Website: walnuthillcollege.edu

About: “Walnut Hill College is one of Philadelphia’s first colleges to focus on excellence in hospitality education. We prepare our students for the real world by combining classroom teaching with hands-on training in our award-winning restaurants, which are open to the public.”

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Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado

Established: 2010

Accreditation: ACFEF, Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (accet), Council on Occupational Education (coe).

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry / Plant-Based / Food & Beverage Operations

Degrees: Diploma / Associate

Average Matriculation :

  • Diploma: 30 weeks (Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry), 42 weeks (Plant-Based Cuisine), and 60 weeks (distance learning). All include externship.
  • Associate: 60 weeks (Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry, Food & Beverage Operations) and 84 weeks (distance learning, Plant-Based Culinary Arts). All include externship.

Tuition:

  • Diploma: $15,718–$20,923
  • Associate: $26,125–$32,448

Website: escoffier.edu

About: “Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is a leading accredited provider of online and campus-based culinary training and education. The school’s professional programs offer the proven combination of a classic and contemporary approach to modern industry skills training as well as a sustainability-centered and business-focused curriculum.

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Coastal Alabama Community College
Coastal Alabama Community College
Coastal Alabama Community College

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Established: 1996

Accreditation: ACFEF

Programs: Culinary Arts / Pastry & Baking / Hospitality Management / Event Planning

Degrees: Certificate / Associate

Average Matriculation:

  • Certificate: Three semesters
  • Associate: Six semesters (two years)

Tuition: $162 (in-state student) or $296 (out-of-state) per credit hour

Website: coastalalabama.edu

About: “Learn the ins and outs of Hospitality Management and Event Planning in the extensive coursework in the Hospitality Program. The Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking programs underscore the fundamentals of modern classical cooking with a focus on taste, aroma, and artful presentation.”

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Culinary Institute LeNôtre
Culinary Institute LeNôtre

Houston

Established: 1998

Accreditation: ACCSC and ACFEF

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry Arts / Hospitality and Restaurant Management

Degrees: Diploma / Associate

Average Matriculation:

  • Diploma: 50–60 weeks
  • Associate: 90–100 weeks

Tuition: $16,625 per year

Website: culinaryinstitute.edu

About: “The Culinary Institute LeNôtre in Houston, Texas, is a community that aims to train and welcome the culinary experts of tomorrow into its international family of renowned chefs and hospitality workers. Students will study both classic and contemporary culinary methods, learn to prepare hundreds of dishes, and expand their knowledge of various topics.”

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Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College
Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College
Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College

Farmington Hills, Michigan

Established: 1964

Accreditation: ACFEF

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry Arts / Management Development in Hospitality

Degrees: Certificate / Associate

Average Matriculation:

  • Certificate: 1 year
  • Associate: 2 years

Tuition: $9,000 for associate degree

Website: oaklandcc.edu/culinary

About: “The Culinary Studies Institute has been preparing aspiring chefs for a career in the food and beverage industry for decades. Dining at your favorite restaurants, you may be currently enjoying one of our alums’ cuisines. If you are a person who loves to create great food, plan events, and see the results of your guests experiencing fine dining, a career in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management may be for you.”

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Institute of Culinary Education
at the Institute of culinary Education, students gain hands-on experience.
Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)

New York City and Los Angeles

Established: 1975

Accreditation: ACCSC; New York location is licensed by the New York State Education Department, Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision; the Los Angeles location is licensed by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education

Programs: Culinary Arts / Pastry & Baking Arts / Health-Supportive Culinary Arts / Restaurant & Culinary Management / Hospitality & Hotel Management / Culinary Arts & Management

Degrees: Diploma / Associate

Average matriculation: 6–14 months

Tuition:

  • New York campus: $13,980–$40,660
  • Los Angeles campus: $13,058–$48,500

Website: ice.edu

About: “ICE is dedicated to inspiring our students to reach their full potential through an education that emphasizes technique and professionalism. We accomplish this in a passionate, disciplined environment that fosters excellence, critical thinking, and creativity in students, faculty, and staff.”

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Institute of Technology Culinary School
Institute of Technology Culinary School
Institute of Technology Culinary School

Clovis and Modesto, California

Established: 2003

Accreditation: ACCSC and ACFEF

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry Specialist

Degrees: Diploma / Degree

Average Matriculation: 40 weeks

Tuition: $18,232–$18,912

Website: iot.edu

About: “We’ve helped thousands of students turn their love for food and the culinary arts into careers in restaurants, foodservice, and hospitality for the last 30 years. At the Institute of Technology, you’ll learn in kitchens designed to simulate real-world environments.”

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International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute
International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute
International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute (ICASI)

Chesterfield, Ohio

Established: 2002

Accreditation: ACCET, Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools

Programs: Culinary Arts / Pastry Arts

Degrees: Certificate / Diploma

Average Matriculation:

  • Certificate: 6 months
  • Diploma: 2 years

Tuition:

  • Certificate: $10,140
  • Diploma: $23,080

Website: icasi.edu

About: “The International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute creates a learning environment that is the best of both worlds. Our instructors teach the foundations of classical techniques coupled with each chef’s personal expertise. Our students receive classical training and real-world smarts.”

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Lincoln Culinary Institute
Lincoln Culinary Institute
Lincoln Culinary Institute

Shelton, Connecticut; Columbia, Maryland

Established: 1946

Accreditation: ACCSC for both; ACFEF for Shelton location

Programs: Culinary Arts & Food Services / International Baking & Pastry

Degrees:

  • Certificate (Columbia campus)
  • Diploma (Shelton campus)

Average Matriculation: 66 weeks

Tuition: Based on current education and subject to change

  • Columbia campus
  1. Culinary Arts & Foodservices: $24,815
  2. International Baking & Pastry:$24,947
  • Shelton campus
  1. Culinary Arts & Foodservices: $23,924
  2. International Baking & Pastry: $23,581

Website: lincolnculinary.com

About: “Whether you’re ready to pursue a career in culinary arts and foodservice or international baking and pastry, you’ll find all the ingredients you need at Lincoln Culinary Institute. Train in fully-equipped commercial kitchens as you learn side-by-side from experienced chefs who have a passion for food and a desire to share that passion with you.”

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Louisiana Culinary Institute
Louisiana Culinary Institute

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Established: 2003

Accreditation: COE, Louisiana Board of Regents

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry / Hospitality and Culinary Management

Degrees: Associate

Average Matriculation: 2 years

Tuition: $34,000

Website: lci.edu

About: “Our goal is to provide high-quality training and a conceptual understanding of Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry, or Hospitality and Culinary Management to prepare students for entry into mid- to upper-mid-level positions in the foodservice industry and to equip students with the skills necessary for advancement, including business communications skills and the essentials of foodservice business management skills.”

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Randy P. Schmidt
NOCHI
New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute

New Orleans

Established: 2013

Accreditation: COE (forthcoming)

Programs: Culinary Arts / Baking & Pastry Arts

Degrees: Certificate

Average Matriculation: 100 days

Tuition:

  • Baking & Pastry Arts: $15,861
  • Culinary Arts: $15,901

Website: nochi.org

About: “NOCHI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that educates a diverse community of learners to sustain an ever-evolving hospitality industry. We offer a platform for professional and personal growth, increasing access and minimizing barriers to career pathways while supporting the promotion and economic development of the culinary arts and hospitality industry.”

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San Francisco Cooking School
San Francisco Cooking School
San Francisco Cooking School

San Francisco

Established: 2019

Accreditation: Licensed with Bureau for Private and Post-Secondary Education

Programs: Culinary Arts / Pastry & Baking Arts

Degrees: Certificate

Average Matriculation: Full-time students complete the program in six months; part-time students complete it in 12 months.

Tuition: $14,800

Website: sfcooking.com

About: “SFCS offers career-training certificate programs, in Culinary or Pastry & Baking Arts, designed to prepare aspiring food professionals to jump-start their new careers in many aspects of the food world. Our programs are hands-on, contemporary, and driven by an eclectic and evolving lens relevant to what’s happening in restaurants and bakeries right now across the globe. Graduates go on to work in kitchens as well as R&D, food writing, food entrepreneurship, teaching, catering, and more.”