What Are Some Common Chef Degree Programs?

Aspiring chefs can choose from a variety of degree programs based on their unique interests and skill sets. Read on to learn about chef degree programs in the culinary arts, baking and pastry arts and catering.

Overview of Chefs

It's common for chefs to attend cooking school to get the training they need to work in fine-dining establishments, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Some chefs opt to attend a culinary academy. Others attend community colleges or universities that offer culinary arts degrees that can take anywhere from two to four years to complete.

Important Facts About Chef Degree Programs

Degree/Certificate Levels Associate of applied science, diploma, certificate
Online Availability There are many online chef degree programs available
Possible Careers Executive chef, head cook, sous chef, private household chef
Continuing Education Professional development and continuing education courses and training are available through many institutions
Median Salary (2018)$48,460 (Chefs and Head Cooks)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)10% (Chefs and Head Cooks)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Chef Degrees in the Culinary Arts

Chefs who want a broad understanding of the culinary world may pursue a culinary arts degree. Such degree programs teach aspiring chefs the basics of cooking and nutrition. For example, Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offers an associate's degree in the culinary arts. This degree program teaches chefs many skills, including these fine-dining essentials:

  • Safe food-handling and sanitation techniques
  • Menu preparation
  • Food production
  • Recipe conversion
  • Portion management
  • Specialized food preparation
  • Catering and special event planning

Chef Degrees in Baking and Pastry Arts

Chefs with an affinity for baking may choose to earn a degree in the pastry arts. Houston Community College (HCC) offers a pastry and baking associate's degree program, for instance. The program at HCC consists of 66 credits of coursework that teaches students to bake, decorate and fill pastries. Students will learn about many pastry subjects and participate in projects that deal with the following:

  • Pies and tarts
  • Cookies and cakes
  • Baking basics
  • Wedding cake decoration
  • Dessert presentation

Chef Degrees in Catering

Chefs who want to open their own business to cater special events may consider earning a catering degree. Catering degree programs teach chefs the culinary skills and business know-how to start a catering career. Bowling Green Technical College offers a 67-credit catering degree. The program teaches students about the pastry arts, international cuisine and other cooking subjects. Additional coursework varies, but can include the following concepts:

  • Basics of nutrition, baking and cooking
  • Cost management
  • Entrepreneurial basics
  • Production of food
  • Customer relations
  • Management principles