The Real Cost of a Culinary Arts Degree

The question we often get is “What is the real cost of a culinary arts degree?” Does it make sense to pursue a degree from a culinary program instead of starting as a line cook and slowly working your way up with work experience?

The answer really depends on what you are trying to do in the culinary field. Some careers such as Food Scientists and Nutritionists definitely require a degree to have a fair shot in the competitive job market. If you aspire to be an executive chef, you will also be miles ahead with an official degree from a known culinary program. On the other hand, you can also become a successful chef by starting in an entry level position and working your way up.

Your finances, time availability, and career choice will all play a role in the path you choose for your education or the lack of.

Costs of Top Culinary Programs

  • Johnson & Wales University: $55,000 – $105,000
  • Kendall College: $50,000 – $90,000
  • Culinary Institute of America: $50,000 – $105,000
  • New England Culinary Institute: $52,000 – $82,000
  • The International Culinary Center, CA: $30,000 – $35,000
  • The International Culinary Center, NYC: $38,000 – $50,000
  • Institute of Culinary Education: $30,000 – $35,000
  • Le Cordon Bleu Los Angeles: $20,000-$40,000

The International Culinary Center is ranked #1 on our list for top value & quality

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Culinary Arts

Accredited culinary programs are able to offer federal scholarships, grants, and loans to assist with the costs associated with their degrees. It is important to remember that a culinary education is very hands on and interactive. Besides the formal education piece, there are many activities and learning experiences within the kitchen environment which impacts costs and resources. Every dollar can be well worth it if you are serious about your culinary career.

Lower Cost Path to Culinary Degree: Community Colleges & Technical Schools

Various factors impact the cost of your culinary arts degree. The above programs are some of the most sought after and therefore demand a higher cost. Community colleges and vocational/technical schools offer a cheaper route to a culinary arts degree.

The cost of education for culinary degrees is substantially lower at community colleges. Costs typically range from $2,000 to $5,000. Public universities are also a good option but are more expensively, typically ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 in tuition per year.