30 Best Culinary Schools Ranked by Affordability

Updated November 22, 2022

Find the Best Culinary School from this list of the most affordable Culinary Degree Programs.

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It's a good time to look into the best culinary schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for chefs and line cooks is expected to grow 10% by 2026. That's above average, according to the Bureau! Whether one aspires to cook at a local restaurant or become the next Gordon Ramsay, the choice of culinary school matters. That's why we went on the hunt for the 30 best culinary schools in the United States, then ranked them by affordability.

Top 30 Most Affordable Culinary Schools

  1. University of Hawaii — Maui College

    Kahului, HI



    There aren't many culinary programs as flexible as that of Maui College. Students can choose to pursue a 20-credit Certificate of Competence in Culinary Arts or Pastry. The tuition for this is listed above. Or they can continue on in their education by pursuing a 31-credit Certificate of Achievement or even a full Associate's degree. Regardless of the educational path chosen, students are well prepared to work in the food industry. Perhaps best of all, students master necessary culinary skills in one of the best tourist destinations — and therefore, food destinations — in the world.

  2. Culinary Institute of Savannah

    Savannah, GA



    Aspiring chefs considering Culinary Institute of Savannah have their choice of degree programs:

    • Associate degree in Culinary Arts
    • Associate degree in Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts
    • Diplomas in Culinary Arts or Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts
    • Technical certificates for food production workers or prep cooks.

    Those pursuing a diploma or associate degree take a variety of classes, including some general education courses, that prepare them for a career in the real world. At the end of training, students are required to pass a practicum to finally earn their chosen degree.

  3. Trenholm State Technical College

    Montgomery, AL



    Trenholm State Technical College is home to one of the best value culinary schools in the United States. It's also home to the largest culinary arts programs in the state of Alabama. Over the course of six semesters, aspiring chefs studying at Trenholm are exposed to many skills workshops. Here they master food preparation, kitchen safety, nutrition, table service, cost control, and of course, cooking. During the last two semesters, students also gain valuable real-world experience by participating in an apprenticeship of their choice.

  4. Pierpont Community and Technical College

    Fairmont, WV



    West Virginia residents have the luxury of being close to Pierpont Community and Technical College, home to one of the 30 best culinary schools in America. Pierpont offers AAS degrees in:

    • Culinary Arts
    • Dietary [Management]
    • Pastry & Baking Arts
    • Resort & Hotel Management.

    Regardless of major, students are prepared for a career in the food industry through classes on everything from food purchasing to preparation. There's also advisement on topics ranging from resumes to networking.

  5. St. Philip's College

    San Antonio, TX



    No matter what facet of the culinary industry interests you, you're likely to find a suitable degree program at St. Philip's College. Included are Associate of Applied Arts degrees in:

    • Culinary Artslip>
    • Baking and Pastry Artslip>
    • Hospitality Management

    Students may also choose to pursue certificates in:

    • Baking Principles
    • Cake Decorating
    • Restaurant Supervision
    • Artisan Breads & Specialty Desserts
    • Catering Management.

    When not mastering skills in class, St. Philip's students gain hands-on, real-world experience by working at Artemisia's, the popular on-campus restaurant.

  6. Boston University Metropolitan College

    Boston, MA



    Boston University Metropolitan College's culinary arts program was founded by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. Pépin still serves on the advisory board. The program is designed to get students working in the industry as quickly as possible. Each class of the semester-long program is capped at 12 students. This ensures that each aspiring chef is provided with an intensive, quality, and personal education. In addition to mastered skills, students get resume assistance, networking skills, and their choice of a wide range of certifications.

  7. College of Southern Nevada

    Las Vegas, NV



    Anyone who's been to Las Vegas knows that it is one of the premiere places in the country for food. Nearly every well-known chef in the world has a restaurant here. For those aspiring to make their culinary mark on Sin City, there's the College of Southern Nevada. This accredited program offers associate degrees and certificates in culinary arts and pastry arts. There's also the opportunity to continue to a bachelor's degree program at nearby University of Nevada — Las Vegas. No matter their program choice, students are given ample opportunity for hands-on training in everything from food safety to hospitality. Classes are in state-of-the-art kitchens. Classes are capped to ensure that each chef-in-training receives personalized attention from professional chef instructors.

  8. Sullivan University

    Louisville, KY



    Sullivan University has campuses throughout Kentucky. However, associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts are only available in Lexington and Louisville.

    Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students. The institution offers career-focused curricula with increasing rigor from the certificate through diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. Throughout those curricula, the university seeks to promote the development of critical thinking, effective verbal and written communication, computer literacy, and teamwork as well as an appreciation for life-long learning, cultural diversity and the expression of professionalism in all activities. At the graduate level, the university also seeks to promote a culture of research.

  9. Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College

    Traverse City, MI



    The Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College offers both an Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts and various certificate programs. Regardless of program, students get hands-on training in state-of-the-art kitchens, as well as an internship opportunity for professional networking.

  10. San Diego Culinary Institute

    La Mesa, CA



    Students at San Diego Culinary Institute have the option of pursuing one of two programs:

    • Commis de Cuisine (general culinary arts)
    • Commis de Patisserie (pastry arts)

    Because "commis" means "apprentice chef," students can be assured that much of their education at San Diego Culinary Institute is hands-on and focused on mastery. Throughout the eight-month program, aspiring chefs take part in small classes and learn from chef-instructors. All instructors have been executive chefs in fine dining establishments. They've worked in the industry a minimum of 25 years. Eighty percent of instruction takes place in the kitchen, with lecture classes limited to topics like safety and entrepreneurship. The program culminates in a 220-hour externship program during which students work in a real kitchen.

Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

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Factors Considered When Ranking Culinary Schools

To come up with the very best culinary schools, we considered the following factors:

— Variety of Degree Programs: We considered the degree programs offered by each school. While some specialize in one or two culinary fields, others offer a certificate or degree in just about every facet of the hospitality industry.

— Program Length: The length of each program, compared to the types of degree programs offered, was also considered.

— Methods of Preparedness: We considered how each culinary schools prepares its students for success working in the culinary industry. Many of these schools offer networking opportunities, resume and career guidance, and internships and externships.

— Facilities: Where one learns matters, so we considered those culinary schools which provide its students with state-of-the-art kitchens, on-campus restaurants, and even some bonus features like campus gardens.

— Reputation: We considered the reputation of each culinary school within the industry, and even considered each school's list of notable alumni.

— Cost: Though cost did not go into the overall consideration about which culinary schools were best, we did use cost in our ranking. Despite the fact that not every institution offers the same degree programs, we ranked the culinary schools in order from most to least affordable.

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