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 food service industry. Graduates of culinary schools burst into a hospitality market poised for 9 percent job growth. The BLS expects that 11,300 additional executive chefs, sous chefs, and head cooks will be hired through 2024 for a mean salary of $47,390. To spice up your career opportunities, we’ve outlined the 30 Fastest Culinary Programs.
We began by using the NCES College Navigator tool to search U.S. colleges offering post-secondary certificates or accelerated associate degrees in culinary arts. The 12 results pages were narrowed based on the availability of programs lasting under two years. Priority was given to colleges accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Programs had to include hands-on kitchen experience, preferably at award-winning restaurants. Lastly, we reviewed rankings like the U.S. News, Niche, and Forbes to arrange programs by prestige.
Without further introduction, we offer our selections for the 30 Fastest Culinary Programs:
1. 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.
Tuition: $35,990 total
2. 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.
Tuition: $39,900 total
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Tuition: $133/credit (in-state) or $262/credit (out-of-state)
7. 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.
Tuition: $30,450 total
8. 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.
Tuition: $108/credit (in-state) or $401/credit (out-of-state)
9. San Diego Culinary Institute
Listed in the “20 Best Culinary Schools” by TheBestSchools.org, the San Diego Culinary Institute has 25+ years of experience and ACF accreditation to train health-conscious chefs. Classes capped at 16 students can complete the Advanced Professional Diploma in Cuisine Commis Culinary in eight months. Students specialize in the Savory Kitchen or Sweet Kitchen.
Tuition: $21,660 total
10. El Centro College
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.
Tuition: $6,660 (in-state) or $10,440 (out-of-state) total
11. 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. Study includes a complimentary, week-long gastronomic tour of France’s Champagne and Burgundy regions.
12. 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.
Tuition: $103/credit (in-state) or $390/credit (out-of-state)
13. 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.
14. 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 in Savory Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry Arts.
15. 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 median wage of $27,040.
Tuition: $147/credit (in-state) or $213/credit (out-of-state)
16. L’Academie de Cuisine
Located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, L’Academie de Cuisine has earned the IACP Award of Excellence and ranked among the top 15 percent of “Military Friendly Schools” by Victory Media. DC Metro courses are capped at 24 students for the fast, 50-week Culinary Arts Diploma. Study includes a 26-week paid apprenticeship at restaurants like Café Atlantico.
Tuition: $29,775 total
17. 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.
Tuition: $8,008 total
18. 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.
Tuition: $7,234 (in-state) or $17,481 (out-of-state)
19. 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.
20. 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.
Tuition: $219/hour (in-state) or $438/hour (out-of-state)
21. 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 experience in the food service industry.
22. Southern New Hampshire University
Boasting a Best of New Hampshire Award-winning restaurant, The Quill, Southern New Hampshire University is ranked the North’s 101st best college by the USNWR. The ACF-certified Culinary Arts (A.S.) Degree can be completed in 1.5 to two years full-time. Alumni have excelled with Carlo’s Bakery, Ambrosia, Blue Ginger, and Emeril’s Delmonico.
23. University of Akron
Declared America’s 120th “Best Big College” on Niche, the University of Akron awards a 24-credit Certificate in Culinary Arts or Restaurant Management through its ACBSP-accredited Hospitality Management Program. Students pursuing the fast, two-term certificate can join the Garde Manager Club, practice in the 70-seat Crystal Room Bistro, and intern with Marriott.
Tuition: $5,473/term (in-state) or $9,823/term (out-of-state)
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
Tuition: $31,025 total
27. 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.
Tuition: $322/credit (in-state) or $392/credit (out-of-state)
28. 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.
Tuition: $148/credit (in-state) or $265/credit (out-of-state)
29. 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.
Tuition: $158/credit (in-state) or $355/credit (out-of-state)
30. 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.