Update- How to Evaluate a Culinary Arts Program

I have updated and added to my article on How to Evaluate a Culinary Arts Program.  When I wrote it back in 2007 there were “only” about 250 Culinary Arts Programs around the world.  Today there are over 500. I feel that this is good and bad.  

The good is that there is a lot of competition out there for your tuition dollars, so most of the programs offer a good basic culinary education.  A big advantage of getting a degree in Culinary Arts is that you actually learn how to do something, cook. (Hopefully ;<))  You can’t say that about a degree in liberal arts or most other undergraduate degrees.


The bad is that there are so many schools out there competing to fill all the seats that some schools have gone to some “extraordinary” (more on this in a later blog) measures to lure in students.  Unfortunately many students are paying their hard earned and limited tuition dollars and getting themselves into tens of thousands of dollars in debt to find out on graduation that they can earn little more than minimum wage, and that life in a pro kitchen ain’t what you see on Top Chef.

Don’t get me wrong, many grads end up in great careers and love our industry.  However folks that believed all the hype they saw in the TV spots and other ads are very disillusioned after experiencing the reality of low entry level pay, long hours, repetitive tasks, working when everyone else is having fun and missing those special family moments.

Over an above the level of cooking education offered by the different schools the biggest distinction between schools is whether the college credits you earn are transferable to another college degree.  If you get a degree in Culinary Arts and are able to transfer most those credits to a bachelors or graduate degree you are way ahead of the curve.  Heck if you change your mind about working in the kitchen and decide to further your education not only will you be able to get your next degree sooner and cheaper but your actually be able to cook for your friends and family.

Don’t be confused by the claims that many schools make that they are accredited.  All accreditations are not equal.  This is discussed in depth in the new article.

So what do you think?  Has any admissions staff been less that honest with you?  Have and good stories on dealing them?