Culinary School: Do I Choose My Classes?

by Olivia DeWolfe
CulinaryEd Columnist
February 23, 2011

Culinary courseworkIf you are thinking about enrolling in culinary school, you may wonder how your course curriculum is decided. Culinary degree programs are designed by professional chefs, chef instructors and experts in the industry, and their general goal is to produce qualified graduates who are ready to develop successful careers in the industry.

For that reason, many schools offer a set curriculum that is designed with classes that build upon one another. These should provide you the solid foundation that you need to get working. So how do know that the education you pick is the right one for you?

Choices within the culinary-school curriculum

Whether looking for a traditional or online culinary-degree program, your first decision is about the area you want to specialize in. What type of culinary-arts career do you want: baker, chef, instructor, manager, wine steward, etc.? Are you interested in catering, food science, hospitality, natural foods, nutrition, hospitality or being a private chef? Do you want the skills, such as accounting and marketing, to run a food service business? Making these decisions will help you decide which program to choose, and the classes that will be right for you.

The length of the program you choose can also determine how much say you have with your classes. Shorter programs such as a certificate or one-year diploma or even a two-year associate's degree may offer less choice because the time frame is limited and the essentials need covering. Conversely, longer-advanced culinary degree programs, such as a four-year bachelor's degree, may provide more options.

For example, with a longer program, you may have elective choices in your final year. You can also decide where to do your externship. However, this may be true for two-year programs as well.

In the culinary field, there is not a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to choosing your individual classes. Rest assured, however, that your curriculum is designed to be totally thorough when it comes to preparing your for chef jobs in the culinary arts world.

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