Culinary Management Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

About this article
What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in culinary management? Find out about degree requirements, online options and courses for culinary management programs.
View available schools

Studying Culinary Management: Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees At a Glance

If you want to hone your cooking skills while learning the business concepts needed to operate a culinary business, a program in culinary management could be a good fit. As a student in a culinary management associate's or bachelor's degree program, you might learn about industry laws, marketing, accounting, inventory, staffing, menu planning and recipe development, all while exploring various cooking methods and culinary trends.

You should be aware that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that food service managers could see a 3% decline in jobs between 2010 and 2020, and competition for job openings is expected to be relatively stiff. However, those with postsecondary training in the field should have the upper hand when it comes to positions at fine-dining restaurants. Little to no change in employment was expected for executive chef positions, according to 2010-2020 BLS projections.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for?Individuals without any prior cooking or management experience or those with related certificates who want to advance their education Students without any culinary or management experience or those with an associate's degree
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary) - Executive chef ($42,000)*
- Restaurant manager ($48,000)*
- Entrepreneur/culinary business owner (unavailable)
- Postsecondary culinary instructor ($64,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements- Approximately 62-70 credits
- Internship/externship
- Approximately 132-180 credits
- Senior project
- Internship/externship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- 6 months of kitchen work experience (some schools)
- High school diploma or GED
- 6 months of kitchen work experience (some schools)
Online Availability Some hybrid programs availableSome programs available for students who already hold an associate's degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Culinary Management

As you pursue your associate's degree in culinary management, you should gain a firm foundation in how to operate a restaurant or other food service business. Additionally, you'll attend classes in campus kitchens, where you'll learn cooking techniques and preparation methods. Off-campus learning through internships/externships is typically required.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many employers at upscale restaurants seek management candidates with postsecondary education
  • Some schools offer portions of their programs online for greater schedule flexibility
  • Hands-on learning is typical in culinary programs

Cons

  • You might need to purchase cooking equipment after enrolling
  • You might compete for jobs with individuals who have less education but more experience
  • Many years of working in the industry are often needed to obtain an executive culinary position

Courses and Requirements

In addition to taking general education courses, such as English, science and math, you can expect to learn about managerial accounting principles, leadership, hospitality marketing and food cost. You'll also learn to supervise personnel, ensure food quality and handle customer relations. Your culinary classes may begin with basic food preparation and work up to food specialties and various types of cuisines. Examples of classes you might take include:

  • Dining room procedures
  • Purchasing
  • Garde manger
  • Hospitality law

You'll typically be required to complete an internship or externship; this enables you to work collaboratively with a dining establishment and your school to gain professional experience in a professional setting.

Online Degree Options

Online programs in culinary management are rare; however, you may be able to find some that offer a hybrid format where the management component can be completed online. Due to the nature of the culinary aspect of such programs, in-class participation is usually necessary.

Stand Out with this Degree

Many of your duties, such as inventory, food cost and ordering, can be done using specific software programs. While earning your degree, you can sharpen your computer skills while mastering industry software programs.

After gaining sufficient experience in the field, you can earn certifications from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The Certified Culinary Administrator credential is awarded to individuals holding the Certified Executive Chef or Certified Executive Pastry Chef credential who have at least 3 years of experience as an executive chef; minimum education requirements for this certification can be met with an associate's degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts Management

In a bachelor's program in culinary management, the same business and culinary concepts are taught as in an associate's degree program; however, classes typically go into greater detail, and you may engage in more projects. Programs also might be more specialized, allowing you to focus on culinary or pastry arts.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Opportunities for internships/externships, which allow you to gain valuable professional experience and establish connections
  • You can learn about new culinary trends, which you might not encounter without an education
  • May have the opportunity to travel abroad and experience food cultures in other parts of the country or world

Cons

  • A bachelor's degree can be overkill
  • Competition for work at upscale restaurants is high
  • Working long hours and holidays, nights and weekends often is associated with culinary positions

Courses and Requirements

Curricula in these programs concentrate on enhancing your cooking or baking skills while teaching you about foods and cultures from around the world. At the same time, you'll hone your business expertise and communication skills. An externship that involves applying management capabilities might be required as well as a capstone project. Some of your classes might cover topics such as:

  • Menu planning
  • Kitchen management
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Purchasing and cost control

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's programs are rare, but if you already hold a relevant associate's degree, you may be able to find an online program that focuses on business and management aspects of the culinary field. These programs are mainly designed for individuals who already have culinary training, are working in the field and want to acquire business proficiency in order to advance.

Stand Out with this Degree

While earning your degree, you can gain entry-level positions in restaurants, catering companies or other foodservice businesses in order to begin gaining industry experience. You can also seek a mentorship with an executive chef or other culinary professional with management responsibilities. This allows you to learn first-hand what the job entails and also helps you to establish a professional connection with someone who likely has many years in the industry.

Alternative Degrees

If you want to earn a bachelor's degree in a field where you might have better or more diverse job prospects, consider majoring in hospitality management. You might study similar business concepts that relate to tourism, hotel, restaurant and casino operations. After graduating from a hospitality management program, you might qualify for management careers in a wider range of hospitality businesses, including restaurants, resorts, clubs, theme parks, cruise lines and event planning.

Hospitality-related career prospects vary for each job. For example, event planners could see extremely high employment growth of 44% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. On the other hand, the BLS expected sluggish growth of only 8% for lodging mangers during this time.

Popular Schools

  • Seattle, WA

    The Art Institute of Seattle

  • Phoenix, AZ

    The Art Institute of Phoenix

  • Philadelphia, PA

    The Art Institute of Philadelphia

  • Novi, MI

    The Art Institute of Michigan

  • Henderson, NV

    The Art Institute of Las Vegas

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

    The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

  • Charlotte, NC

    The Art Institute of Charlotte

  • Minneapolis, MN

    The Art Institutes International-Minnesota

  • Austin, TX

    The Art Institute of Austin

Featured Schools

The Art Institute of Seattle

The Art Institute of Phoenix

The Art Institute of Philadelphia

The Art Institute of Michigan

The Art Institute of Las Vegas

The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

The Art Institute of Charlotte

The Art Institutes International-Minnesota