Online Culinary Schools
Whether the goal is to become a professional chef or to hone your at-home cooking skills, completing a culinary arts program is a great first step. There are numerous different training avenues for the prospective culinary professional that spans a spectrum of specializations, including:
- Baking and Pastry Arts
- Culinary Arts
- Culinary Management
- Food and Beverage Management
- Hospitality Management
Taking culinary classes online
The internet provides a whole new medium for education, and has greatly altered the way students learn and access information. Taking online classes affords working professionals or students with other commitments a chance to develop an educational schedule that works for them. There are a variety of online learning programs related to culinary arts, ranging from non-credit classes to bachelor's degrees in culinary management.
These classes are designed for individuals seeking training in different topics, but do not need academic credit. These classes are offered by community colleges, four-year institutions, technical and trade schools, and some professional associations.
The dedicated, self-paced learner can use YouTube and other online training portals, such as edX and Coursera, to access no-cost, online classes in the culinary arts.
Certificate or diploma
Certificate and diploma programs can be found traditionally at community colleges and trade/technical schools. Online certificate/diploma programs vary by topic, but are available in areas such as culinary arts, culinary management, and baking and pastry arts.
The number of online associate programs in culinary arts is limited, but they do exist. Generally offered as an Associate of Applied Science, students complete approximately two-years of in their academic area of choice, such as hospitality management, culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, or restaurant management.
Fully online bachelor's degree programs in culinary arts do not exist, but are available as degree completion options or in a hybrid (both online and campus format). In degree completion programs, students complete an associate-level program in the culinary arts and then may finish their academic studies through online classes.
What to expect from an online culinary program
Online culinary arts programs are traditionally delivered in several different formats, each of which presents a different learning experience for prospective students. Although online instruction varies by institution, students engage with the curriculum in several different ways, including the following:
- Live chef demonstrations
- Instructional videos
- Interactive quizzes
- Online learning management platforms
- Individual mentor and instructor support
Students seeking flexibility in their education can select the delivery format that works best for them. Below is an overview of the common types of online culinary arts programs:
- Individual classes: Some programs, such as Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy, offer a roster of single topic classes through their online learning platform. Curriculum is delivered through interactive learning modules, skills-based instructional videos, and online assessments.
- Hybrid: Hybrid programs blend online education with hands-on instruction in a physical location. Although curriculum varies by individual institution and area of study, students typically complete knowledge and theoretical-based instruction through online classes and complete a practicum or externship in a professional kitchen under the supervision of an instructor to hone their skills.
- Fully online: Some culinary programs, such as culinary operations or hospitality management, may be completed entirely through online studies.
Recommended online culinary arts schools
Here is a list of three culinary institutions that provide a blend of fully online and hybrid programs in the culinary arts: Le Cordon Bleu, Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy, and Virginia College.
Le Cordon Bleu
Le Cordon Bleu offers three online culinary programs, an associate degree in culinary operations: Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary Operations; Associate of Occupational Studies in Hospitality and Restaurant Management; and Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Management.
- Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary Operations: Consisting of a hybrid training approach, this program combines hands-on instruction in a professional kitchen and the flexibility of online learning. Students receive foundational training in cooking, baking and kitchen operations at a Le Cordon Bleu campus and complete their education in areas such as food safety, cost control, and restaurant management through online classes.
- Associate of Occupational Studies in Hospitality and Restaurant Management: This program is offered 100% online and provides students with practical training in the business operations of restaurants and the hospitality industry. Curriculum covers topics from food and beverage management to wine studies, business law to customer service.
- Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Management: This degree is part of a 2+2 program, which means entering students should have completed associate-degree level studies prior to enrolling. Students complete 15 to 21 months of degree completion curriculum completely online. The degree prepares students for a variety of entry-level careers in the culinary industry, such as assistant general manager, chef, kitchen manager and sous chef.
Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy
Students may select from a variety of online programs and classes in the baking and pastry arts and culinary arts at Escoffier Online International Academy. Online options range from a single class in classic pastry elements to an online Certificate in Culinary Arts. Students can access their courses anytime, anywhere, use interactive tools, watch instructional videos, participate in live chef demonstrations, and have access to chef mentors.
- Certificate in Culinary Arts: This program is a certificate of completion in culinary fundamentals and can be completed entirely online. It is a 13-week program that concludes with a 6-week, 150 hour externship. Curriculum covers the fundamentals of culinary arts, including areas of study such as knife skills, menu planning, and business management.
For individuals seeking a flexible culinary education, Virginia College offers an associate degree in culinary and pastry arts that can be completed online. Students must hold a diploma or certificate from another culinary arts program to be eligible for the associate degree program.
- Associate of Applied Science in Culinary and Pastry Arts: A 96 quarter credit hour program, students learn about the fundamentals of baking, cooking, and culinary management. Topics of study include marketing and cost control; hospitality industry supervision and food science. Graduates are prepared to pursue a range of entry-level positions in the hospitality and food service industry.
Getting started in the culinary industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 11 million people are employed nationally across the diverse food service industry. Graduates of online culinary schools may choose to pursue a variety of entry-level positions within the various sectors of the food service industry, such as food and beverage, cooking, baking and pastry, hospitality, and tourism. Browse the listings below to find a school in your area.
- Le Cordon Bleu, Online Programs, http://www.chefs.edu/Programs/Le-Cordon-Bleu-Online-Programs
- Virginia College, Associate of Applied Science, Culinary and Pastry Arts, https://media.ecacolleges.com/dbmedia/PDF_Link/online-culinary-pastry-arts-associate-2014-09.pdf
- Escoffier Online International Academy, http://www.escoffieronline.com/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Foodservice Industry, http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag722.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh