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Degree Overview: Master’s Degree Programs in Cooking and Culinary Arts

Majors Overview July 19, 2015

Those aspiring to become cooks can gain the practical and theoretical knowledge through associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in culinary arts.

Information on Cooking and Culinary Arts Programs

Master’s degree programs in cooking and culinary arts are not currently available through any school in the United States. Schools commonly offer programs in this field at the associate degree level, although some also offer bachelor’s degree programs for aspiring chefs and cooks.

In addition to gaining experience and knowledge in the kitchen, general education requirements are completed by students enrolled in these programs, in topic areas such as mathematics and English composition. Experience can be gained by them through working at a school dining facility or through internships. Management and supervisory courses are also in a bachelor’s degree program.

Associate Programs in Culinary Arts

An associate degree in culinary arts is popularly considered a terminal degree. Elective and core courses are available to students in science, liberal arts, and mathematics, apart from food preparation, sanitation and cleanliness standards, cooking principles, and kitchen mechanics. Schools have no specific education prerequisites for prospective students to satisfy before they enroll in this type of program.


Program coursework involves practical cooking experiences via participation in internships and labs. Experience is also gained by many students through working in their school’s cafeteria or dining hall. Core coursework in a 2-year culinary arts program may often cover topic areas such as:

•Garde manger
•Fish and meats
•American, classical and global cuisines
•Sauces, broths and stocks
•Desserts and baked goods
•Brunch and breakfast cooking

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek employment in hotels, restaurants, schools, or medical facilities. They may also be able to start businesses as personal cooks or professional caterers. They may choose from other possible job titles such as:

•Sous Chef
•Food and beverage manager
•Line cook
•Kitchen Supervisor

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

A paid apprenticeship program lasting a few years may be available for program graduates who may also seek professional certification offered by the American Culinary Federation, which offers more than ten credentials. They include the entry-level Certified Culinarian. Meeting of work experience and education requirements and passage of written and practical exams will help qualify graduates for certification. The five-year validity of certifications is renewable with continuing education credits.

Bachelor’s Programs in Culinary Arts

Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program are taught similar techniques as in an associate program. They also learn about topic areas in business and restaurant management. They are also given a general education foundation, often covering communication, business mathematics, science, computers, psychology, and composition. Concentration choices in a particular sub-field, such as pastries, nutrition or baking, are also offered to students.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have practical cooking experience that is obtainable through work or volunteer experiences. Applicants may also have to submit a recommendation letter. An educational placement test may have to be taken by students before they can gain admittance.


Program coursework may often involve learning to speak French, Spanish, or Italian, in addition to participation in an experience abroad. Additionally, up to three internships may be included while teaching students about concepts such as:

•Food and wine pairings
•Menu planning
•Purchasing and cost control
•Restaurant legalities and regulatory concerns
•Gastronomy and food history
•Personnel management
•Floral arrangement design

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a low job growth of five percent has been predicted for chefs and head cooks (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these professionals earned $42,480 per annum, on average while food preparation managers and similar kitchen supervisors brought in an average annual wage of $31,820 (BLS).


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