A Guide to Online Culinary Degrees Accredited Online Degree Programs in Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & Culinary Arts

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Are you considering a culinary degree online? Hospitality as a career is an exciting and awarding choice for prospective college students. Many prospective students will enter into a hospitality degree track or culinary arts program when they want to work within the hotel or restaurant industry. In some cases, a dual degree option may be offered. For students deciding whether to enroll in hospitality management, food safety, pastry arts, or a culinary degree they may have the following questions:

Is a degree in hospitality management worth it?

The food service industry and hospitality management as a career allows the graduate to pursue different options based on his or her interests. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, more than 10 percent of all worldwide jobs relate to the hospitality industry. With so many potential job openings, graduates have a higher chance of finding immediate employment upon conferment. Also, hospitality degrees provide the option to switch careers if one doesn’t turn out to be a good fit. Hospitality management degrees are often offered as a fast-track one to two-year program with a low tuition cost and high return on investment.

Is a culinary arts education worth it?

Like hospitality management, a culinary degree has a high value to those who want to work in a trade position. Chef positions are always available throughout the nation with high salary potential based on culinary skills and experience. Most companies won’t hire an executive or assistant chef that has not attended culinary school. Culinary schools typically offer low tuition rates with a promised return soon after graduation.

Another typical question of prospective hospitality management and culinary students is how long they will need to commit to either of the programs. According to the Culinary Institute of America, students can expect to attend culinary school an average of one to four years. The length of the program depends on what type of degree is being earned, which ranges from certificate to master’s level. Hospitality management degrees are usually a maximum of three years, but may be done in as little as two years.  

Many chefs will recommend culinary school for prospective professionals. Not only will the student get an overview of cooking techniques and basics, but also can choose specialization. For instance, not all culinary school graduates because line cooks. Many go on to work as pastry chefs, food researchers, and caterers.

Most In-Demand Career for Graduates of Online Accredited Hospitality & Culinary Programs:

OccupationJob OpeningsAverage SalaryTypical Entry Level Education
Food Scientists and Technologists1,800$76,190Bachelor’s degree
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

What Can You Do with a Culinary or Hospitality Degree?

Jobs with a culinary degree are surprisingly versatile. Open positions depend on the person’s level of education. Jobs with an associate’s degree in culinary include cooking for a restaurant along with food-related careers such as food photographer, food writer, and food and beverage manager. Jobs you can get with an online culinary degree also extend to the manufacturing of food and beverage items. Online programs may cover subjects related to restaurant management and ownership. Culinary art degree jobs outside of a restaurant can also involve the science behind cooking. Career examples include culinary educator, food compliance agent, quality assurance examiner, and researcher.

The culinary arts job degree outlook is solid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs and head cook jobs are growing at a rate of 6 percent through 2029. This is a solid sign that positions within the culinary arts field will be widely available upon a student’s graduation. These positions can be obtained through a combination of work experience and training in an accredited culinary arts degree program. Some online programs offer hands on industry externship. Culinary art degree jobs within a restaurant can also include pastry chef, pastry arts, line cook, food prepper, and banquet chef.

Careers you can get with a hospitality management degree are typically related to certain jobs with a culinary degree. Careers with a hospitality degree relate to management positions within restaurants, bars, resorts, cruise ships, theme parks, and casinos. Hospitality management degree jobs are available at local establishments, other food service settings as well as tourist spots. Aspiring culinary professionals who have a longing to travel, pursue hospitality major jobs. A major perk is earning a substantial living while traveling the world.

Careers with a hospitality degree include event planner, flight attendant, head of resort operations, restaurant manager, hotel manager, conference coordinator, and leader of food and beverage operations. These jobs with a hospitality management degree are usually offered to those who have graduated with an associate or bachelor of arts. For executive or education positions, a master level degree may be a prerequisite.

Online Learning Degrees: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s

Accredited Online Associate’s 

Technical and community colleges may provide certificate programs or an associate’s degree in hospitality management online. Online culinary schools should have accredited programs and will usually require a minimum of 60 credits for degree conferment. An online associate’s degree in hospitality management will cover topics such as lodging operations, restaurant management, food and beverage management, dining room management, and customer relationships. Most online culinary schools offer an internship as a typical part of an associate’s degree in hospitality management online. This component confirms the student receives hands-on experience while attending all other courses virtually. Core classes at online cooking schools will make up half of the requirements for the associate’s degree in hospitality management online. The other half, approximately 30 credits, will feature general education along with their major courses. The general education classes cover core skills, such as college-level writing, professional public speaking, finance, and quantitative reasoning.  

An online associate’s degree in culinary business is possible. A virtual program is highly interactive and allows students to attend most, if not all, culinary education classes remotely. Courses that don’t require hands-on cooking for an associates degree in culinary education are done via virtual learning platforms. The student views live or pre-recorded seminars and may also have a interactive discussion component related to their current coursework. Assignments are uploaded online. Practical work for courses may be done in-person or the school could accept virtual submissions.

Coursework for the online culinary education degree will feature a strong foundation in basic cooking techniques. Topics are likely to include food safety, sanitation, knife skills, cooking measurements, seasoning, food cost analysis, and sizing portions. Courses will also cover subjects outside of cooking skills, such as nutritional sciences, entrepreneurship, and restaurant operations. For the general education classes, the culinary school may focus on hard skills that relate back to the industry. Examples include technical hospitality writing, food service finance, and restaurant accounting.

Accredited Online Bachelor’s 

A bachelor degree in hospitality management online sets students up for an executive position within the travel and tourism field. Bachelor degree program normally last between three and four years of full-time study. To graduate with a hospitality management bachelor degree online, the student needs at least 120 credits. Some programs are made up of 124 credits, depending on course requirements. Online bachelor’s degree in hospitality management programs will accept onsite work experience toward credit requirements. In some cases, as many as 30 credit work hours can be used to finish a bachelor degree.   

An online hospitality management bachelor degree will delve further into topics than an associate degree and really help you become one of the most skilled professionals in the food industry. An average of 60 credits will be dedicated to general education classes with the rest core classes, major electives, and an internship or apprenticeship. Same major classes include hospitality law, human resource management, hospitality technologies, and hospitality operations management.

An online culinary bachelor’s degree expands upon the subjects presented in an associates degree track. In many cases, a specialization is selected as part of a bachelors in culinary education online. Specializations may include advanced cooking, advanced pastry, food industry, banquet cooking, or wine studies. Courses within an online culinary bachelor’s degree program could include advanced cooking concepts, advanced knife skills, world cuisine, gastronomy, and baking skill development.

Accredited Online Master’s 

A master in hospitality management online is the highest level of education in the food industry field. At this level, the program will prepare the student to work as a high-level manager, an educator, or a researcher. Most hospitality management masters online program ask for a bachelor degree as a pre-requisite. The college may accept the undergraduate degree from any type of discipline or offer a dual-degree track that permits the student to earn a bachelor and master of hospitality management online at the same time. A master’s in hospitality management could also be selected as a specialization in an MBA program.

Online master degree in hospitality management normally take between one and two years to complete. Degree requirements are likely to include hospitality finance, operations management, ethical leadership, and marketing techniques. An externship is traditionally a degree requirement and could account for 15 credits within the program.

An online culinary arts master’s could position the food industry professional for a head chef or executive chef position. Educators and food researchers may also choose to pursue a master’s degree in culinary business. The graduate may be the chef for a large resort or a chain of restaurants. Similar to bachelor degree tracks, a specialization may be selected for the online master’s degree in culinary arts. Examples of specializations include wine master, culinary educator, or food business manager. The online culinary classes allows the chef to continue to work full-time while finishing master degree requirements. Most culinary schools accept 12 to 15 credits of professional work experience along with completion of major courses.

Online Culinary School Accreditation

 Accreditation is an important part of researching online culinary schools and online courses they may offer. The level of accreditation needed depends on the type of degree offered by the online culinary school. Technical colleges may provide national accreditation for online culinary programs while those that offer bachelor and master degree could have regional accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies are responsible for reviewing programs offered in a specific area of the United States. As an example, the New England Commission of Higher Education is responsible for accrediting colleges located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine.

Culinary arts accreditation is performed by professional organizations in the industry. In this case, specific components of the culinary degree will be evaluated. Organizations check the curriculum, faculty, and program outcomes before awarding accreditation to a culinary school. The American Culinary Federation is the most well-established accreditor within the industry. The ACF confirms that the postsecondary programs and online culinary schools meet the organization’s high-quality standards.

The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration or ACPHA is the most well-known agency for hospitality management degree tracks. Colleges must meet program requirements imposed by ACPHA and prove that culinary school students will receive a competitive education in the field prior to graduating.

Certifications and Licensure in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management

Certificates in culinary arts and hospitality management are widespread. The programs prepare the student for hard skills that may not have been covered during a standard degree track. Culinary arts and hospitality management certification programs are short-term and will usually be completed in less than 12 weeks. The certificate program may require an accredited degree before allowing the professional to enroll.  Examples of culinary arts certificates include French pastry chef, commercial cooking, event cooking, and Italian cuisine.

Programs for a certificate in hospitality management online include event planning, meeting coordinator, tourism management, and hospitality entrepreneurship. These certificate programs expand a resume and offer more expertise in the industry.

Licensing isn’t required for most culinary and hospitality management jobs. However, licenses may be required if the graduate ventures into entrepreneurship and owns a food or tourism business.

Financial Aid Scholarships to Help You in Your Culinary Career

Scholarships for hospitality management and culinary arts make it easier for a student to pay his or her tuition. Scholarship money, unlike college loans, are not repayable and can offset the cost of both an in-person and online degree programs. Scholarships for tourism and hospitality programs may require the student meet certain conditions. For instance, scholarships for hospitality majors could have a clause that requires the graduate to work for a company upon graduation. The student may also need to fall into certain demographics for any financial aid. For instance, some scholarships may be awarded to those from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.  

Hospitality scholarships for college students include:

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship

Wisconsin Restaurant Association Scholarship

AHLA Foundation Scholarships

The following are just a few examples of financial aid scholarships for hospitality and culinary majors. There are countless offerings from colleges, professional organizations, and private businesses for online students too.

Related Rankings:

Best Online Master’s in Hospitality Management

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Ready to start your journey?