Business, Social Science, & Public Service Academic Division Norfolk Campus: How to Choose a Culinary School or Hospitality Program
Thirty years ago, there were only two post-secondary culinary arts programs and a handful of hotel schools in the country. The decision was easier. Today, the choices are more varied and it takes some investigation and research to make the right choice. [print information in pdf]
Possible offerings by various programs:
- To complete a culinary/hospitality degree - from a few weeks to three or four years.
- Certificate programs of a year or less usually prepare you for entry level positions
- Two and four year degree programs can supply you with general education and elective courses that will result in a more well rounded education.
- In better culinary programs, you may be attending class eight hours a day, five days a week for up to two years. That may equate to more than double the time most four-year college students dedicate to a bachelor’s degree.
- Tuition costs can range from
- a few hundred dollars at a well-established community college
- $10,000 or $20,000 per year from a hospitality or culinary school with specialized training.
- Apply for scholarships and loans.
- Industry experience
- Vocational high school training
- High school diploma
- Part time or flexible scheduling?
- Do classes need to be taken in a particular order?
- How often they are offered and what time of year?
- Evening or weekend programs availability
- Can you complete you course of study in your time frame and at your own pace?
- General education classes online?
Facilities and Resources
- How up to date are the laboratory and teaching facilities?
- What percentage of time is spent doing hands-on lab work and how much time in a lecture environment?
- Will you be exposed to a variety of experiences?
- What kind of technological resources does the institution possess? (Computer access, multimedia, state of the art equipment)
- Is there an area, like a working restaurant dining area, where you can put into practice skills as you learn them?
- Does the school have learning resources such as a research library or video collection?
- At most colleges and universities, instructors usually have industry certifications from
- the American Culinary Federation,
- American Hotel and Lodging Association or
- Most also hold a university degree and many years of industry experience.
- Do they hold any other distinctions or awards for achievement?
- Has any of the faculty won competitions or prizes or have they published anything?
- Does the faculty continuously upgrade their skills and participate in professional development?
- Any school that has been operating for at least five years should have some form of accreditation.
- Is the school accredited by one of the six regional associations or by one of the three organizations that accredits private colleges?
- Industry certifications are also a plus.
- Groups like the American Culinary Federation certify about 100 programs nationwide as meeting the hospitality industry standards for learning.
- Public restaurants or lodging venues that are staffed by students as a part of the program
- Co-operative education
- Does the school have a placement office that will help you become gainfully employed in your new career?
- Do they track the progress of past graduates and monitor their success?
- Where do the graduates of the program go to find jobs?
- As a past graduate, will you be able to use the school as a source of finding employees or interns for your own operation?