Baking & Pastry Arts Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you lean in an associate or bachelor's degree program in baking and pastry arts? Read about the requirements and the pros and cons of an associate degree versus a bachelor's degree in baking and pastry arts.
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Studying Baking and Pastry Arts: Degrees at a Glance

If earning your daily bread by baking bread is one of your dreams, an associate degree or bachelor's degree in baking and pastry arts can make it come true. These degrees prepare students for jobs as bakers, bakery owners, executive pastry chefs and food service managers. Students develop baking and business skills through coursework and on-the-job internships. Hands-on food preparation classes include artisan bread baking, preparation of pies and tarts and confectionary arts, such as cake decorating.

Although a high school diploma or a GED is the only credential absolutely necessary for most culinary jobs, training and connections made through college classes and internships improve chances of finding satisfying employment. A degree in baking and pastry arts may provide an edge in this competitive field that promises little or no expansion between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicted that there will be little expansion of the job field for bakers (2%) during that decade, and expected a stagnant or slow decline in the number of new jobs for chefs (-1%) and food service managers (-3%) over that same time period.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Students who want to become bakers, pastry chefs or food service managers Students who want to become pastry chefs, head chefs or food service managers and want to maximize industry connections
Common Career Paths (approx. median annual salary) - Baker ($23,000)*
- Chef or Head Cook ($41,000)*
- Food Service Manager ($48,000*)
- Chef or Head Cook ($41,000)*
- Food Service Manager ($48,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full time 4 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 22 to 27 classes
- General coursework in English composition, math, food safety and nutrition
- Culinary classes about baking, pastry making, confectionary arts and business management
- Culinary internship
- Roughly 46 to 48 classes
- General coursework in English composition, math, food safety, nutrition and social sciences
- Culinary classes extending the basic core from the associate degree program and including business management, and specialty bread, pastry and confectionary arts
- Internship (usually completed during first two years)
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED for direct entry into bachelor's program; previous attainment of associate degree in baking and pastry arts if transferring in at junior year and entering bachelor's program in bakery food service management
Online Availability Rare, may not be professional program Rare, may not be professional program

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2010 figures).

Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

The culinary world is competitive and promises little growth or even slight declines in the number of jobs in this industry from 2010 through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the BLS notes that job opportunities for bakers, chefs, head cooks, food service managers and culinary educators are best for those who have work experience in the culinary arts. An associate degree not only offers some of that on-the-job experience through internships, but also helps connect students with industry insiders who can help in obtaining employment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Allows you to enter the culinary arts, obtain internships, network and possibly find the job you want while gaining in-depth training in preparation of breads, cakes, pastries and confections
  • Helps you gain skills in a variety of bakery and pastry arts positions, including business management as well as food preparation
  • Broadens job skills through liberal arts coursework and can lead to further education, such as a bachelor's program in baking and pastry arts that is focused on food service management
  • Graduation from an ACF-accredited associate's degree program takes the place of experience and exam requirements for the Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC) credential

Cons

• Associate's degrees typically take 2 years to complete and cost more than enrolling in a shorter certificate program

• Doesn't offer as many networking opportunities as the bachelor's degree

•Investing in a degree for an industry that is expected to experience flat growth is less promising than earning a degree for other growing professions.

Courses and Requirements

While baking and pastry arts associate degree programs immerse students in learning skills such as how to make artisan breads and specialty cakes, they also require time for general studies that will help you succeed in the field. General education classes likely will include basic college math, English composition, communication skills and food industry basics, including nutrition and food safety. Professional studies and food preparation classes may encompass:

  • Management of business staff and budget
  • Dessert baking (pies and tarts)
  • Specialty bread making
  • Cake decorating and other confectionary arts.

Online Info

Baking and pastry arts programs are intensive training experiences requiring hands-on kitchen time supervised by instructors and internship mentors. While it may be possible to take some general education or managerial coursework online, opportunities are scarce for professional culinary classes online. Also, such classes are likely to be part of non-degree or unaccredited programs.

Stand Out with this Degree

According to the BLS, a combination of creativity, business acumen and work experience in culinary jobs is more likely to be competitive in the current job market when seeking a job as a chef. A two-year degree from a school approved by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) allows you to obtain the professionally helpful ACF title of Certified Pastry Culinarian.

It may be possible to parlay your training into a position as a food service manager if you choose classes related to budget and staff management; an internship in a hospitality or food service setting will also boost your level of experience and your list of contacts. Participating in baking competitions and volunteer projects involving event planning and food preparation are additional ways to stand out from the crowd.

Bachelor's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts

Depending on your previous work experience, it may be easier to get the job you want in the culinary industry if you earn a bachelor's degree in baking and pastry arts. Aside from increasing your depth of experience in producing baked goods and confections, it increases background in business practices that will likely be attractive to employers in a competitive market. It may also increase your connections through more internship and school-related work placements.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Allows you to enter or strengthen your position in the culinary industry and provides more internship and networking opportunities than an associate degree program
  • Fosters a wider range of skills necessary for higher-level bakery and pastry arts positions, including business management, and offers more hands-on training in specialty baked goods, pastries and confections than an associate degree
  • Requires liberal arts and professional development courses that may increase poise and business skills, which can aid in finding jobs

Cons

  • Takes about 4 years to complete a bachelor's degree program, during which it is difficult to work full time
  • Costs significantly more than an associate degree program
  • A 4-year degree may not make up for the culinary industry's flat growth rate, which may inhibit job possibilities despite the advanced degree

Courses and Requirements

During the first 2 years in a bachelor's degree program, students cover many of the same topics and courses as in an associate degree program. This includes the main internship. A bachelor's program may offer additional internships or opportunities during junior and senior years to study culinary arts abroad. In addition to associate degree requirements, a bachelor's degree may include further general education courses, including a foreign language and higher level language arts and social studies classes. Additional professional studies and food preparation coursework may include:

  • Food service financial systems
  • Human resource management
  • Marketing and promoting food
  • Advanced specialty baking classes (e.g., sensory analysis and wedding cake design)

Online Info

Once again, professional cooking classes are rare online because baking and pastry arts is a field in which it's usually necessary to do hands-on work with a mentor, such as a professor or professional baker. However, students may be able to take some general education classes, such as nutrition, online.

Stand Out with this Degree

A 4-year program in baking and pastry arts readies you for many careers in the culinary field. The degree itself may help you stand out from other job candidates: the BLS reports that job opportunities are most available for those who have well-rounded experience in the field, something that a 4-year graduate is well on the way to developing. In addition to accessing all the available training in classes, experience gained during internships, competitions and volunteer events expand experience.

Showing skill in an essential foreign language, such as Spanish, is helpful in many areas of bakery and pastry work, including human resource management. Knowing how to form a marketing plan and communicate your promotional ideas will help you catch the eye of business owners and managers. Also, don't forget to apply for ACF Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC) status following the first 2 years of the program.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
  • Wilkesboro, NC

    Wilkes Community College

  • Berlin, NH

    White Mountains Community College

  • Youngwood, PA

    Westmoreland County Community College

  • Orlando, FL

    Valencia College

  • River Grove, IL

    Triton College

  • Minneapolis, MN

    The Art Institutes International-Minnesota

  • Tucson, AZ

    The Art Institute of Tucson

  • Charlotte, NC

    Johnson & Wales University

  • Seattle, WA

    The Art Institute of Seattle

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management

Which subject are you interested in?

Wilkes Community College

White Mountains Community College

Westmoreland County Community College

Valencia College

Triton College

The Art Institutes International-Minnesota

The Art Institute of Tucson