In this article, we will be discussing the best online culinary school in the world and the best culinary arts programs. Because the culinary industry is so intertwined with our daily lives, it’s easy to overlook all of the hard work that goes into getting chefs to that point in their careers when we see beautiful dishes in restaurants and on television. While some chefs start as line cooks and work their way up, those who want a stronger foundation usually enroll in a culinary school or a college of culinary arts that offers culinary arts certificates. Top culinary schools focus entirely on the culinary arts, but many well-known universities across the country offer culinary education and cooking programs, including baking and pastry arts.
While hands-on cooking experience is essential, there are other aspects of culinary arts degree programs that you may not be aware of when considering what education is required to become a chef. They are equally important for anyone aspiring to succeed in the field of culinary arts management in the long run. Of course, you learn about the culinary arts in those programs, but a good cooking school curriculum also includes business management and professional development. Some culinary school requirements can be completed online due to the additional classes required to obtain your degree or certificate of achievement.
You can take theoretical courses online in subjects like food and beverage management, food science, food safety, hygiene, and cost control, in addition to business courses. In some cases, you may be able to complete your culinary program entirely online and receive hands-on training in the workplace rather than at a culinary arts school. Because web-based alternatives to traditional degrees and culinary arts certificate programs are more cost-effective and convenient for students, institutions across America are implementing them. Culinary colleges are also stepping up to the plate to make the art of cuisine more accessible (from classical to bizarre).
You may also like to read about the Top Ten Free Online Courses in Food and Drink Production With Certificate
Top Culinary Schools with Online Programs
Penn Foster Career School is a for-profit career school where students can earn all of their diplomas and certifications online. The career school has nearly 150,000 students enrolled in over 80 different online and asynchronous career diploma and certificate programs. Penn Foster University, which was founded in 1890, offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Although it is based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, it does not have a physical campus where students can attend. Penn Foster prides itself on being flexible, offering students lower rates and a variety of payment options.
Individual courses, in addition to programs, can be taken to complete a degree or to brush up on professional skills to keep yourself sharp. If you don’t want to pursue an entire degree program, taking a few courses to supplement your current kitchen experience could be a good idea. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission have fully accredited Penn Foster. Students can choose from a variety of online culinary programs at Penn Foster Career School. Because of their dual accreditation, each of the programs is completely online and recognized nationally.
You can earn your degree anywhere in the United States. A Caterer Career Diploma program is available. Techniques, styles, meat, and seafood, as well as baking and pastry arts, are all covered in this program. The curriculum was designed with the busy young adult in mind. Because the coursework includes detailed videos and cooking labs, you can work on your own time while still getting the essential hands-on experience you would get at any other school.
The Gourmet Cooking career certificate is the second program you can look into if you want to finish cooking school online. You will learn how to prepare exquisite meals and serve them beautifully from the comfort of your own home in as little as three months.
Virginia College is a private for-profit college with nearly 11,000 students spread across nearly 40 campuses and a diverse online program offering. Birmingham, Alabama is home to the main campus. Virginia College was founded in 1983 and is owned by a company called Education Corporation of America. Students can earn diplomas and certificates from Virginia College, Virginia College Online, the Golf Academy of America, Ecotech Institute, and Culinard, as well as associates, bachelor’s, and even master’s degrees. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has granted Virginia College accreditation.
Culinard is the culinary center at the college. Culinard was founded in 2000, and the American Culinary Federation has accredited all of the programs offered. The program’s instructors are well-known both locally and internationally, and many have been featured on Food Network. Culinard, Virginia College’s culinary school, currently offers two educational programs. A Culinary Arts Diploma or a Pastry Arts Diploma are available. Both programs last 36 weeks and result in a professional diploma that you can use to show that you have the necessary educational and practical experience in your chosen field.
Both of those options would require you to spend some time on campus for part of the program; however, campuses can be found in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. If you already have some culinary education, Culinard offers an online degree completion program. That program is an online associate’s degree in culinary arts, which you can further your education or start working in the kitchen right away. The culinary degree program is delivered asynchronously and completely online.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to more creative job opportunities. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. AIP began as an independent art school in 1921 but has since expanded to include a variety of programs primarily focused on design disciplines and culinary arts. Because its parent company, Education Management Corporation, used it as a model to build the other art institutes across America, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh is essentially the flagship school of all of them.
In 1968, the Education Management Corporation bought AIP. AIP’s online division operates independently of the physical school. Non-degree diploma courses and degree programs leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees are available. On the physical campus, there are less than 700 students, while the online division has just under 5,000. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers a variety of hospitality degree programs, including hotel and restaurant management and food and beverage management.
A Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management, a Certificate in Event Management, and a Certificate in Food & Beverage Operations are available through the AIP Online Division. Both certificate programs are 5 quarters long, or one-third the length of the online bachelor’s degree program. Students can take some of the more traditional culinary programs partially online, but the majority of them require attendance at the Pittsburgh campus. The school’s nonprofit structure aims to keep costs low for students while providing a strong curriculum taught by dedicated faculty.
While all of the fully online culinary programs are outside of the culinary industry, they can still be a great place to start your cooking career.
St. Philip’s College is a San Antonio-based public community college. The St. Philip’s Normal and Industrial School was founded in 1898 with the goal of providing an education to recently emancipated slaves. It is still a historically black college today, and it is proud to be the only college in America that serves both historically black and Hispanic students. An HSI (Hispanic-serving institution) is a school that participates in a federal program that assists institutions of higher learning in assisting first-generation and low-income Hispanic students in pursuing an education.
The college, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has two additional programmatic accreditations, has nearly 12,000 students. Over 70 different areas of study, including academic and technical fields, are covered by the college’s degrees and certificates. Students can choose from 16 degree and certificate options in the Department of Tourism, Hospitality, and Culinary Arts at St. Philip’s College. Seven of the sixteen are culinary programs.
Baking and Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts are the two associate degrees currently available. Baking Principles, Cake Decorating, Culinary Studies, Artisan Breads & Specialty Desserts, and Chocolates and Plated Desserts are the remaining culinary arts certificates available. Both associate degree programs, as well as the Baking Principles and Culinary Studies certificates, are available entirely online. Because of St. Philip’s College’s extensive list of web-based courses, the remaining tracks listed above can be taken partially online.
This is one of the few schools where you can attend cooking school entirely online or in a hybrid format that includes some classes at the San Antonio campus. Courses are asynchronous, and any practicum requirements can be completed at your place of employment.
Lenoir Community College is a community college located in Kinston, North Carolina, with two satellite campuses in Greene and Jones counties. The Lenoir County Industrial Education Center was chartered by the State Board of Education in 1958 and opened two years later. There were only 80 students back then, and there are now just over 2,500. LCC is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers a variety of certificates as well as associate’s degrees. LCC became a community college in 1964, and over the next 40 years, it gradually expanded its campus and curriculum.
Seventy percent of students enrolled take at least one distance education course, and 37 percent are pursuing their degrees entirely online. The majority of the students are from within the state, but LCC welcomes students from all over the world. The online culinary schooling offered by Lenoir Community College is a certificate in culinary arts that prepares students for certification by the American Culinary Federation. Students will study a wide range of topics in addition to basic cooking courses, ensuring that they are well-rounded and well-prepared candidates for whatever position they seek.
Sanitation and safety, baking, garde–manger, culinary fundamentals/production skills, nutrition, customer service, purchasing/cost control, and human resource management are just a few of the topics covered. Many of these courses are available in an asynchronous format online, allowing students to complete their certification quickly and move into entry-level positions in the workforce, or serve as a springboard for further education. From hotels to restaurants, the curriculum is designed to teach students the necessary skills while also instilling professionalism and environmental stewardship in them.
Scottsdale Community College is a community college in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is a Phoenix suburb. It is a two-year college that offers associate degree and certificate programs. Today, there are approximately 10,000 students, a far cry from the 948 students who were enrolled when the doors first opened in 1970. There are 22 different occupational programs available, including traditional offerings like business and nursing as well as unique career tracks like equine science and yoga instruction.
Scottsdale offers a wide range of degrees, despite the fact that the number appears to be small in comparison to the student body. Because of a partnership with Northern Arizona University, the college also offers a bridge or transfer program. Students can enroll in any of six different bachelor’s degrees, which they can begin at a community college and then transfer to NAU when they are ready to begin their bachelor’s degree.
A culinary arts program is one of the occupational programs offered at Scottsdale Community College. The program’s on-campus components are taught in a state-of-the-art facility with modern and high-quality teaching kitchens, allowing students to learn on the same equipment they’ll encounter in their careers. The American Culinary Federation has accredited this program. Students who want to continue their education can do so thanks to partnerships with Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and Johnson & Wales University.
The online portion of this degree was designed to give students with busy schedules the most flexibility possible. This program, which began almost 30 years ago, is constantly evolving and expanding to meet new industry standards and the needs of a diverse student body.
Ozarka College is a community college in Melbourne, Arkansas that offers certificates and associate degrees. Mountain View, Ash Flat, and Mammoth Spring all have satellite campuses. It was founded in 1975 as Ozarka Vocational-Technical School and operated under that name until 1999 when it changed its name to Ozarka College to reflect its mission as a college rather than a technical school. At the associate level, a wide range of programs is available. This small school has only 1,146 students enrolled, with a total capacity of up to 1500 per semester.
The Higher Learning Commission has granted Ozarka accreditation. To empower students and stay true to its mission of “providing life-changing experiences through education,” the school is still expanding, adding new programs and expanding student service programs. Ozarka University offers an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts program. It takes two years to complete the program, which includes academic instruction, cooking labs, and real-world field experience. Students must participate in labs on campus in Melbourne and complete their practicum at a local location approved by the university.
All of the adult learning programs’ classes are held at night and on weekends to accommodate working adults’ schedules. While there are some on-campus requirements, much general education and theoretical cooking classes can be completed online. Baking, meat, seafood, and poultry, as well as garde–manger, are among the cooking classes you’ll take. International and modern cuisine, food production, nutrition, purchasing, and, of course, sanitation and safety are all covered in this culinary arts degree program.
This program is unique in that you not only learn about the culinary arts, but you also get some background in the managerial aspects of the industry. You would be qualified to work in entry-level positions in the restaurant industry after earning this degree.
In Montpelier, Vermont, the New England Culinary Institute is a for-profit culinary school. NECI’s programs are based on a strong “learn by doing” philosophy; classes are kept small and the environment is designed to be immersive so that students can gain real-world experience while learning. The culinary institute was established in 1980, with an initial class of seven students. The culinary institute now has 300 students and a 10 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. It is currently accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and is authorized to award certificates and degrees by the Vermont Board of Education.
The institute offers three certification programs, four associate’s degree programs, and three bachelor’s degree programs. These programs provide students with a customized education as well as relevant experience for the careers they intend to pursue. Baking and pastry, cooking, and culinary arts are among the programs offered at NECI, as are Food and Beverage Business Management programs. Alton Brown, the popular host of Good Eats, Cutthroat Kitchen, and other shows, is a graduate of the school. NECI has a 54 percent acceptance rate, but there are no set admissions criteria for the programs.
Every applicant is individually screened to see if they are a good fit for the school. With the exception of the Associate of Occupational Studies in Baking and Pastry, all of the degree programs are available online. The remaining courses are delivered entirely online in an asynchronous format, allowing you to get a great education without ever having to leave your house. Research, academic instruction, and even cooking labs that must be completed at home are all included in the courses. For the associate level and bachelor level, these online cooking school degrees can be completed in 16 months or 32 months, respectively.
Keiser University is a private university with numerous campuses throughout Florida, the most prominent of which is in Fort Lauderdale. Until 2011, it was a for-profit institution. At the time, the school was sold to Everglades College, Inc., an educational non-profit that was also founded by Arthur Keiser. Everglades University and Keiser University are both managed by that company. Since then, Keiser has remained a non-profit organization. It began as a career college in 1977 and began offering academic degree programs in 2001.
Since then, the school has grown to offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has accredited Keiser University. Almost 20,000 students attend the university’s 17 campuses and online division. 64 percent of students are taking all of their classes online to earn their degree. Keiser University offers an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts and is accredited by the American Culinary Federation as well as the World Association of Chef Societies.
Despite the school’s size, the student-to-faculty ratio is only 14 to one, and all of the teachers have extensive experience in their fields in this program. The program includes an externship so that students can gain work experience while earning their degree, in addition to courses covering food preparation and cooking up to an advanced level. While some of the courses require students to attend class on campus, others can be completed online at your leisure. Keiser’s online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to work at their own pace at any time of day.
Aside from the general education requirements, students must complete 13 additional courses related to their major. Dining room service, food service sanitation, and fundamentals, among other topics, will be covered by students in this hybrid culinary degree program.
This international school offers two outstanding culinary certificate programs: an online Pastry Certificate and an online Culinary Arts Certificate. The Pastry program, which focuses more on cooking, provides students with numerous hands-on projects, with an emphasis on specialty diets such as gluten-free and vegan baking. “A comprehensive knowledge of technique fundamentals and business skills” is laid out in the Culinary Arts programs.
This online school provides students with a wealth of resources and a thorough, yet fast-paced, education, depending on which field they wish to enter. A real-world industry externship is included in the Culinary Arts program, which helps students make new connections. Students in the Pastry program have the opportunity to network with master chefs in a culinary community.
Review these top culinary schools and the culinary arts degree and certificate of proficiency programs they offer online before deciding on a degree program to pursue an education in the culinary arts:
- Keiser University
- New England Culinary Institute
- Ozarka College
- Scottsdale Community College
- Lenoir Community College
- St. Philip’s College
- The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
- Virginia College
- Penn Foster Career School
Frequently Asked Questions
Culinary arts encompasses all aspects of cooking, such as preparing and serving food that is both tasty and appealing to the eye.
You will learn about business management, food presentation, and other relevant kitchen skills in addition to the obvious, such as sharpening your cooking skills.
A career in the culinary arts can lead to a wide range of positions, from kitchen assistant to top executive chef.
The food industry is one of the top three job creators in the United States, but it has been hit hard by the COVID outbreak. Typically, you will always be able to find work in this field, though the BLS reports that Food Service Managers and Chefs will experience a 1% job growth rate between 2019 and 2029, which is slower than normal.
Food and beverage employees must be detail-oriented, creative, clean, quick thinkers, problem-solvers, have a keen sense of business, organized, motivated, and, most importantly, a team players, as with all culinary positions.
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