The 4 Best Culinary Schools in Montana

People with a lifelong passion for food will most likely consider building a career in the culinary arts field. This job will fulfill their dream of creating delicious dishes every day while discovering wonderful flavor combinations and putting a smile on the faces of delighted customers.

To get to the ultimate goal, the best course of action often lies in earning a formal education that will equip them with the right knowledge and skills and give them an edge over the competition.

While it is possible to carve a career in the food industry without going to school, the foundation and experience that a culinary school can provide will prove valuable in terms of a successful career.

In the State of Montana, it could be a certificate program or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The choice ultimately lies in the students’ hands. Are they planning to hop into work as soon as possible? Do they want to get a higher position beyond line cook or other kitchen staffers? Is salary a factor? These questions will help them make up their mind.

Best Culinary Schools - Montana-fact

Possible Career Paths for Culinary Arts Students

Many students who study culinary arts become chefs and head cooks. According to BLS, these job titles can give them a median pay of $56,520 per year or $27.17 per hour. Although these are the most common job positions for those who earn a culinary degree, there is a wealth of opportunities waiting for them. This includes the following:

Culinary Specialist

Most of the chefs and cooks consider restaurants as their domain. However, they can also work in the military. This is what a culinary specialist is all about. They are responsible for providing food service to military executives. Part of the role includes designing the menu, ordering ingredients and supplies, and managing the dining facilities. They might also need to keep and maintain the records and allocate the budget.


If one does not feel like following a conventional path for a boss, being a caterer will be an ideal choice. Caterers are the ones who provide food service at various events, working closely with clients within budget. They often negotiate with vendors to get the best ingredients. Sometimes, they might also need to oversee the other aspects of the events like the seating and venue. Caterers are expected to prepare, present, and serve food to guests.


For people who need to meet dietary goals, nutritionists are indispensable. They can work in various settings, including in healthcare, education, or long-term facilities. Their job is to develop meal plans and help clients track their progress. Nutritionists must be updated with the latest trends and research to do what they do effectively.

In Montana, a good number of culinary schools are available for students who want to pursue their passion in food preparation and presentation.

The Best Culinary Schools in Montana

University of Montana

University of Montana

The University of Montana, under Missoula College, is committed to creating a comprehensive, accessible, and student-centered learning environment to foster growth and facilitate workforce development. They achieve this through offering outstanding occupational and technical education across 40 programs, from business and healthcare professions and applied computing to electronics and industrial technologies.

One of their current offerings is a Certificate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. This career path is suitable for those who want to advance their cooking skills, equipping them with the necessary training and expertise as they enter the hospitality industry. This program helps them develop the skills needed for a host of employment opportunities in various settings, whether they choose to work in restaurants and resorts or even catering and corporate dining.

The certificate program will take three semesters to complete. The program’s core is the introductory courses that can prepare them for an entry-level food service position. It incorporates comprehensive hands-on learning with supportive courses meant for a wide range of career opportunities. Those who earned this certificate can seamlessly transition into the Food Service Management degree.

The certificate program requires students to render 45 credit hours. They must meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. Some of the courses they will encounter include Culinary Arts Fundamentals, Introduction to Knife Skills and Butchery, Food Service Sanitation, Dining Room Procedures, Breakfast and Sandwich Cookery, Soups, Stocks & Sauces, Baking & Pastry, and Nutritional Cooking, among many others.

Missoula, the University of Montana’s location, boasts a thriving local food scene where foodies can dive into new flavors. The city is often cool and hip, and its dining experience reflects those descriptions. They have an abundance of restaurants, cafes, breweries, and coffee houses to explore, fitting all budgets and palates. Culinary students can benefit from its rich food culture as they prepare for a lifelong food service career.

Montana State University

Montana State University

Known for high research activity, Montana State University has always remained devoted to academic excellence through its quality programs in various areas of study. Their goal is to equip their graduates with career-ready skills and further education. The university often keeps classes small and intimate with its low student-to-faculty ratio, which means professors are easily accessible and are well-positioned to provide hands-on learning opportunities.

It is one of the schools in Montana that offers a culinary arts program. Future chefs and kitchen connoisseurs in the food service industry can consider earning an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. Offered under Gallatin College, this program provides students with relevant coursework emphasizing experiential education in the culinary arts profession. It is a good foundation for students who want to be prepared for various food service careers.

They are expected to develop a passion for cooking and genuine hospitality and demonstrate the necessary skills needed from cooks, chefs, and more. Students who have completed the program can join the American Culinary Federation as a Certified Culinarian. They also can transfer into Montana State University’s bachelor’s in Hospitality Management program.

Spanning four semesters, this program requires the completion of 62 credit hours. Courses under this degree include Introduction to Culinary Arts, Food Safety Sanitation, Professional Chef I, Purchasing and Cost Control, Dairy Foods and Culturing, Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry, Bar and Beverage Management, Baking, and Baking Pastry, and many more.

Montana State University is located in Bozeman, a town known for its high quality of life. Its diverse food scene means culinary arts students will have plenty of opportunities to explore and learn from experience. They have a wealth of eating, drinking, and cultural establishments to choose from. Many of them showcase entrepreneurs and chefs who create trends in Bozeman through their vision and skills in culinary arts.

Flathead Community College

Flathead Community College

Since its establishment in 1967, Flathead Community College remained committed to promoting lifelong learning, emphasizing student success and community needs. They offer a variety of academic programs, from associate degrees to certificate and certification training. The college received accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

One of their programs in the offer is the Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. It is perfect for students who want to create outstanding food and start a thriving business in the food service industry. The program equips them with relevant knowledge and skills to help them attain entry-level job positions.

There is a good blend of theoretical knowledge and practical instructions, with further training on table service, cost control analysis, menu planning, storeroom management, and more. Students can enjoy the school’s new, cutting-edge instructional kitchen, including innovative supplies and equipment essential for comprehensive, hands-on learning.

Graduates of this program are expected to gain basic and advanced food preparation and service skills. They are also taught the proper usage and maintenance of culinary equipment, sanitation and line management, culinary arts history, evolution, and international diversity.

Students also obtain the necessary management skills that will enable them to operate within the food service facility on top of foundational knowledge and skills in culinary arts.

Located in Libby, Montana, Flathead Community College offers a rich dining experience for locals and tourists alike, from restaurants and cafes to pizza houses and local bars & grills. This opens plenty of employment opportunities for culinary arts students after they graduate.

Fortin Culinary Center

Fortin Culinary Center

Through the initiative and support of the Billings Food Bank, Fortin Culinary Center offers an onsite training program for adults to acquire the skills for a permanent, better-paying job.

Based on the curriculum in Washington called DC Central Kitchens developed by Robert Eager, the Culinary Job Skills Training program takes 12 weeks to complete. It includes ten weeks’ worth of training in the kitchen and another two weeks spent in the community with actual food service.

The latter serves as an externship that will help determine the placement based on the student’s interests. They can then choose various employment settings, including colleges, nursing homes, hospitals, retirement centers, and even hotels and restaurants. Graduates of this program will be provided by the Food Services of America with a ServSafe certification.

Some of the important skills they will learn within the training program include mastering culinary terminology, food, kitchen safety, preparing vegetables, meat, other ingredients, and knife skills. Students are expected to plan, prepare, and serve meals during their final exam.

Billings, Montana, is home to Fortin Culinary Center. This city is known for its vibrant food scene, where an assortment of rich culinary flavors can be found, whether one is in the mood for classic Western diners or modern martini bars. It is a good setting for students trying to learn the essentials of culinary arts. 

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor