Cooking School Accreditation

How to tell if a culinary school offers a high-quality education

As more people become interested in pursuing a career in culinary arts, the number of schools offering programs in cooking and food has substantially increased. With so many schools to choose from, it can often be difficult to determine which culinary schools offer the highest-quality education. Accreditation and reputation are both good signs for a potential student to use when he or she weighs the value of one particular program or school against another.

Reputation

Find out what people are saying about the schools you want to attend. The "buzz" around a school can be a good sign of whether it provides a good quality education. Are there any well respected chefs teaching at the school? Does the school have a good graduation rate? Do its graduates have an easy time finding good jobs? Has the school you’re interested in won any culinary awards or distinctions? It’s never a bad idea to contact previous graduates to find out whether the school met their expectations in terms of training and career placement.

What’s Accreditation?

If a culinary school or program is accredited, that means that it has met or surpassed a set of minimum standards regarding the quality of course content, instruction and facilities. Only schools that have offered a program in culinary arts for more than five consecutive years are eligible for accreditation. There are several different regional associations which determine these standards and serve to accredit culinary-arts programs. The biggest accrediting agency for culinary-arts education is the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC).

Is it Ever Okay to Attend an Unaccredited School?

There are some instances when you may decide that your best option is to attend a school that isn’t accredited. There are a number of unaccredited schools that still offer a valuable education. However, before you make this decision, you must ask yourself a few questions. Most importantly, you’ll need to think about what you plan to do once you finish a program at an unaccredited school. If you want to attend a graduate culinary program, there’s a good chance that your application will be denied. Most graduate schools only accept applicants with Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees from accredited schools. The same can be said for some employers.

Accreditation and Financial Aid

If you’re hoping to receive state or federal financial aid to help you pay for culinary school, you’ll need to attend a school that’s accredited by the US Department of Education.

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