The 30 Fastest Culinary Programs in 2021 Accredited by the ACF

Are you looking for the fastest culinary programs? Accelerated training abounds for cooking enthusiasts to quickly develop the skills for running your dream restaurant or bakery. Culinary programs often involve year-round courses to prepare for the fast-paced, high-energy foodservice industry.

culinary programs

Graduates of culinary schools burst into a hospitality market poised for 6 percent job growth. The BLS expects that 9,500 additional executive chefs, sous chefs, and head cooks will be hired through 2029 for a mean salary of $53,380. To spice up your career opportunities, we’ve outlined the 30 Fastest Culinary Programs.

Table of Contents

People Also Ask

How long does it take to get a Culinary degree?

Depending on the level of education you desire, certificate programs can take as little as one year, while an associate degree will take two years. Also, if you would like to transfer your credits and spend another two years in training, you can earn a bachelor’s degree in the culinary arts.

Is a Culinary degree worth it?

Most likely. As the industry projects an average job growth rate increase over the next ten years, rest assured, food service personnel positions will always be plentiful. However, for a management position, you may need extra credentials, such as a bachelor’s degree. You will need to compare your educational investment to your potential salary to see if earning a degree is worth it.   

Can I earn a Culinary Arts degree online?

Online versions of cooking school often involve a certificate or diploma program. You can complete your coursework online; however, you will be given assignments to cook at home. You may be required to provide pictures of the finished product and do your own taste-testing.

What’s the difference between a Cook and a Chef?

Cooks are often thought of as hobbyists or “home cooks.” While a chef is also a “cook,” they normally have extensive training, have perfected their recipes, and continue to develop new skills through additional training courses and/or degree programs. Often, they are hired to work in fine restaurants or hotels that serve meals. They also work as personal chefs. 

What kind of Culinary Arts degree should you get?

That depends solely on your end goal. If you wish to achieve an entry-level job in the restaurant business, you should do fine with a certificate or associate degree program; however, to take your career to the next level, like as a chef in a fine restaurant or in the hospitality business, you should think about earning your bachelor’s degree.

What can you do with a degree in Culinary Arts?

  • Restaurant Sous Chef or Head Chef
  • Caterer
  • Food and Beverage Manager
  • Pastry Chef
  • Recipe Developer
  • Food Stylist
  • Personal Chef
  • And, much more! 

Are “fast” culinary certificate programs good and respected in the field?

Accelerated culinary certificate programs have their advantages. They allow you to gain specific skills needed in the kitchen and are designed to get you out into the workforce faster than earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. Certificate programs are respected by employers that are looking for individuals to fill entry-level positions; however, they should be properly accredited by the ACF.

How important is American Culinary Federation (ACF) accreditation for a Culinary Arts program?

It is very important. A program that has passed the qualifications required by the ACF will ensure you and your potential employer that you have gained a quality education and have successfully learned the skills you need to function adequately in a kitchen environment. 

METHODOLOGY

Let us help you find the best Culinary school program that fits your educational requirements for starting a new career, a job promotion, or simply meeting your personal goals. Our researchers at PremiumSchools.org utilize these indicators of excellent academic standards to locate exceptional Culinary school programs designed just for you. 

The following schools are listed in random order. As each and every school displays its own unique qualities and strengths, you should search our list based on your needs and career aspirations.

The following factors were considered: 

  • Offers on-campus classes for flexible or convenient attendance without compromising hands-on training,
  • Exhibits rigorous, yet engaging and innovative training in the field of culinary coursework that takes into account the readiness of students in taking the next step to their budding career,
  • Taught by outstanding faculty consisting of experts in the field of culinary studies,
  • Held in high esteem among academic agencies, industry organizations, and journalistic resources,
  • Displays stellar reviews and feedback from school alumni and students,
  • Offers a convenient application process,
  • Provides exceptional Student Career Centers, Resource Departments, and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems, where applicable, 
  • Permits a wide range of scholarships, grants, and other financial support programs for eligible students,
  • Ensures the proper Accreditation in accordance with academic standards in the field of culinary studies by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

If you would like to learn more about our selection process, feel free to see our Methodology page! 

The 30 Fastest Culinary Programs

Institute of Culinary Education

Based in New York City since 1975 to produce 13,000+ alumni, the Institute of Culinary Education was crowned the #1 “Best Culinary School in America” in 2016 by The Daily Meal. Students can quickly finish the ACCSC-accredited, 650-hour Culinary Arts Diploma in eight to 12 months with externships at 300+ restaurants.

*****

International Culinary Center

Awarded the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) “Best Vocational Cooking School of the Year” title, the International Culinary Center has trained renowned chefs like Bobby Flay and Christina Tosi. In New York City or San Francisco, students can start the 600-hour Professional Culinary Arts Diploma year-round. The six-month, daytime program involves externships at Jean-Georges, Morimoto, and more.

*****

Kendall College

Given the 2008 Cordon d’Or Gold Ribbon Award, Kendall College in Chicago is ranked the Midwest’s second most ethnically diverse school by the U.S. News. Students holding a bachelor’s could complete the ACF-accredited A.A.S. in Culinary Arts Accelerated Program in only five quarters. The Goose Island Campus has 12 professional-grade kitchens for practice.

*****

Culinary Institute of America

Deemed America’s 138th “Best Small College” with the fourth “Best College Food” on Niche, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park lets students earn the ProChef Certification fast. The Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) in Culinary Arts takes just 21 months. Students gain real-world cooking experience in the award-winning Bocuse Restaurant.

*****

Le Cordon Bleu College

Noted for alumni like Julia Child and Mario Batali, Le Cordon Bleu was ranked fifth among culinary schools by TheBestSchools.org. Food enthusiasts can pursue the nine-month, HLC-accredited Culinary Arts Diploma or Patisserie and Baking Diploma at 15 U.S. locations. There’s also a fast Associate Degree in Culinary Options with seven-week, online modules.

*****

Ivy Tech Community College

Community College Week ranked Ivy Tech as the United States’ sixth best school for one-year certificates. Fully ACF-accredited, the Hospitality Administration Division offers the speedy 32-credit Culinary Arts Technical Certificate for two-term completion. Courses are conveniently available at nine Indiana campuses, including Muncie, Gary, and Evansville.

*****

Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

Named for the “King of Chefs” who invented some 5,000 recipes, the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts was recognized for the eighth-best culinary programs by College Rank. The ACF-accredited Austin Campus confers the A.A.S. Degree in Culinary Arts in just 13 months. Accelerated courses come with a 10-week Farm to Table externship experience.

*****

Florida State College

The School of Business, Professional Studies, and Public Safety at Florida State College’s Jacksonville Campus holds ACF accreditation for an accelerated, 35-credit Culinary Arts Technical Certificate. Applauded in “America’s Top 20 Culinary Schools” by Food Newsfeed, the 14-month program offers courses from food production to menu marketing with field experience.

*****

Dallas College, El Centro Campus

Accredited by the ACF, El Centro College’s Food and Hospitality Services Institute in Dallas was featured with FSR Magazine’s “Top 22 Culinary Schools.” Students can complete the 60-credit Fast Track A.A.S. in Culinary Arts with daytime or evening courses. Hands-on experience is gained in the busy Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

*****

Walnut Hill College

Opened in 1974 as the United States’ first private restaurant school, Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia is ranked #5 in Food, Drink & Franchise magazine’s Northeast rankings. The ACCSC-accredited college awards an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts within 60 weeks. The study includes a complimentary, week-long gastronomic tour of France’s Champagne and Burgundy regions.

*****

Valencia College

Awarded the 2011 Aspen Prize for College Excellence, Valencia College was ranked 17th nationally for Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine. Diverse students complete the fast-track, 35-credit Culinary Arts Certificate within 12 months. Courses are taught in a 61,000-square-foot, high-tech kitchen with 20 well-equipped workstations and a banquet room.

*****

Sullivan University

Stamped with the ACF Exemplary badge, Sullivan University in Louisville is ranked America’s 157th “Best College Campus” with the 31st “Best College Food” on Niche. Students may complete the NCHS’ Accelerated Associate Degree in Culinary Arts in only 18 months. Essentials like food sanitation and baking science are practiced at the 3.5-star restaurant.

*****

Louisiana Culinary Institute

Honored among the “Top 25 Culinary Schools in America” by Premium Schools, Louisiana Culinary Institute offers ACF-accredited, accelerated cooking programs in Baton Rouge. The 75-credit Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts can be finished in 16 months full-time. Students choose to concentrate on Savory Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry Arts.

*****

Fox Valley Technical College

Fox Valley Technical College, America’s 37th “Best Trade School” on Niche, is located in Appleton near the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner Apollon. Accepting transfers from 65+ colleges, the Associate (A.A.S). in Culinary Arts has an accelerated format for 16-20 months. Graduates have a 100 percent placement rate and a median wage of $27,040.

*****

Western Colorado Mesa University

Employing the 2013 Colorado Chef of the Year, Jonathan St. Peter, Colorado Mesa University is crowned the West’s 23rd best college and sixth top public school by the U.S. News and World Report. Its Western Colorado Community College grants a 30-credit Culinary Arts Technical Certificate in only 10 months. Courses include service at Grand Junction’s Chez Lena Restaurant.

*****

Nicholls State University

Nicholls State University, the South’s 38th best bang for the buck in Washington Monthly, has housed the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute since 1996. Transfers who fulfill general education courses can complete the A.S. in Culinary Arts within just 12 months. Skills preparing Cajun cuisine are practiced in Le Bistro.

*****

ECPI University

Headquarters in Virginia Beach with 19 U.S. campuses, ECPI University was ranked America’s 56th “Best Test-Optional College” for 79 percent acceptance. The ACF-accredited College of Culinary Arts lets students finish the Associate of Applied Science year-round in less than 15 months. Cooking methods, baking skills, and plating techniques are practiced with two externships.

*****

Arkansas Tech University

Chosen as America’s 72nd “Most Conservative College” with the 97th “Best Food” on Niche, Arkansas Tech University offers ACPHA-accredited hospitality education. At the Ozark Campus, the Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Arts requires just 15 credits. Real-world experience is gained within the Williamson Food Lab & Dining Room.

*****

Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University, the North’s 67th best college according to the U.S. News, offers an Advanced Study track to complete the Associate in Culinary Arts in just 12 months. Students spend four, 11-week terms studying in Charlotte and completing an internship. Admission requires 2-5 years of experience in the foodservice industry.

*****

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Ranked the Northeast’s 192nd best college by Forbes magazine, Indiana University of Pennsylvania is one of the PASSHE system’s largest members with 14,500 students. Some enter the accelerated 16-month, ACF-accredited Culinary Arts Program to learn classical and contemporary cuisine. Externships are arranged at Pinehurst Resort, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, The Breakers, and more.

*****

Stratford University

Granted the President’s “E” Award for Exports in 2016, Stratford University in Alexandria, Virginia, is an ACICS-accredited school recognized by Niche for America’s 242nd “Best Professors.” Students can pursue the 63-credit ACF Culinary Arts Professional Diploma in 18 months. The speedy five-week online or on-campus courses span from hospitality marketing to catering before a capstone project.

*****

Institute of Technology

Dually accredited by the ACCSC and ACF with Exemplary status, the Institute of Technology in Clovis is ranked America’s 330th “Best Trade School” on Niche. Students could obtain the Certified Culinarian credential fast with the 70-week Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts. The curriculum includes a 180-hour externship in the San Francisco Bay Area.

*****

College of DuPage

The 60,000-square-foot, LEED-certified Culinary & Hospitality Center at College of DuPage, America’s 474th “Best Trade School” on Niche, offers a fast-pace, 18-month Certificate in Culinary Arts. Hands-on training in the Skills Kitchen is applied at the Wheat Café and Waterleaf Restaurant. Credits can transfer into the Culinology and Food Science A.A.S.

*****

Jefferson State College

Graded B for diversity as America’s 527th “Best Trade School” on Niche, Jefferson State College in Birmingham, Alabama, offers a fast, 18-month Associate of Applied Science in Foodservice Culinary Management. Accredited by the ACF and SACS, the program places students in state-of-the-art kitchens to run the Shelby-Hoover Campus Bistro.

*****

Reynolds Community College

Known for training the 2014 Elby Award Culinary Student of the Year, Reynolds Community College is ranked America’s 569th “Best Trade School” by Niche. The ACF-accredited, Richmond-based college confers the A.A.S. in Culinary Arts with a hasty, 15-month schedule. Students select specializations in Pastry Arts or Culinary Management.

*****

Eastwick College

Accredited by the Accrediting Council For Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Eastwick College is graded “A-” for academics on Niche and placed 20th in New Jersey for affordability. At the Hackensack location, students can complete the Associate in Culinary Arts with an accelerated, 18-month daytime schedule. The curriculum was designed by Virgil’s head chef Glen Rolnick and Wyckoff Bakery’s head baker Frank Acurso.

*****

Remington College

Remington College is located in Memphis, TN, and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. If you are interested in turning your hobby into a career, Remington College is there to help. Through its hands-on training, they will prepare you for a culinary career or in the field of restaurant management or event planning.

*****

Keiser University

Keiser University is located in three Florida locations, Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee. They offer an AS degree in Culinary Arts and AS in Baking and Pastry Arts degree program. Hands-on experience will ensure you are knowledgeable in all culinary skills, like food preparation, handling, and basic cooking skills, as well as how to cook pastries, cakes, candies and cookies, depending on which program you choose as your focus.

*****

New England Culinary Institute

The New England Culinary Institute is located in Montpelier, Vermont. For the really dedicated, students may be interested in earning a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts. If you inspire to someday open your own restaurant, you can begin at NECI with an associate degree and then return to finish out your Bachelor of Arts degree program in the Culinary Arts. With hands-on learning and kitchen experience taught in this program, you will be prepared for any number of food service opportunities.

*****

Metropolitan Community College

The Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, NE provides two Culinary Arts and Management program options: Culinary Arts & Management, as well as Hospitality & Restaurant Leadership. They provide a state-of-the-art kitchen facility for hands-on experience. Also, your credits through these programs can be transferred to the University of Nebraska or another four-year university if you choose to pursue additional education. MCC also offers certificate programs, perfect for those who want to get out into the workforce faster.

*****

Have you always dreamed of owning your own restaurant or catering business? Are you interested in a management or supervisory position? Do you need extra training for a job promotion? You should follow your dreams and earn additional credentials to get started in a new career in the culinary arts.

If you are thinking you don’t have enough time for a lengthy bachelor’s degree program, our list of the 30 Fastest Culinary Programs should get you started. Our list ranges from certificate diploma options to earning an associate degree in the field. In addition, if you think you may want to obtain your bachelor’s degree, be sure your associate degree credits will transfer and that you are attending a properly accredited program.

We would love to provide you with some additional information to help you with your program search. Check out these articles: What is an Associate Degree? and What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

AND… check this out: The 30 Best Online Courses For Starting A Restaurant

Are you interested in Bartending? If so, we have some information for you about that, too! See: Will Taking Online Bartending Classes Help My Bartending Career? and How Much Can I Earn After Taking Online Bartending Classes? And lastly, Where Can Training From An Online Bartending School Take You?