Earlier this week, students at the Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park location staged a walkout to protest what they perceived as weakening academic standards alongside massive debt accrual. Folks in the restaurant industry have long debated whether culinary school is worth the high tuition rates for an industry in which entry-level jobs are notoriously low-paying. So what are culinary students getting for their money these days? Here's a look at 11 programs across America, including tuition rates, programs offered, duration, and notable alumni. To keep things simple, this list looks only at each school's basic culinary arts programs — not pastry, accelerated courses or bachelor's degrees in management or any other specialty.
Johnson & Wales [Photo: Facebook]
Johnson & Wales University: $54,312-$108,624
Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales offers undergraduates the option of a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor of science degree. For the 2013-2014 academic year, tuition is set at $27,156 per year, or $502 per credit. At the associate degree level, students can select either culinary arts or baking & pastry arts, while the bachelor degree level offers five different programs (not all of which are available at the university's satellite campuses in Miami, Denver and Charlotte). Alumni include Emeril Lagasse, Sean Brock and more.
Kendall College [Photo: Facebook]
Kendall College: $53,772-$89,667
Among its culinary offerings, Chicago's Kendall College offers an associate of applied science in culinary arts degree that spans six quarters for a tuition rate of $53,772, a program which includes general education courses. Kendall also offers a bachelor's degree in culinary arts, which is a traditional four-year program with a tuition rate of $89,667. Notable alumni include Michael White, Mindy Segal, and José Garces.
CIA, Hyde Park [Photo: Facebook]
Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park: $52,920-$105,840
The Culinary Institute of America's main campus in Hyde Park, New York offers both an associate degree in culinary arts and bachelor's degree programs in either culinary arts or culinary science. A student must complete the associate degree before continuing onto a bachelor's degree program. For the 2013-2014 school year, each semester costs $13,230 in tuition, so the four semesters of the associate program totals $52,920 while the full eight semesters (four years) of the bachelor's programs total $105,840. Notable alumni include Alinea's Grant Achatz, Aureole's Charlie Palmer, and more.
CIA, Greystone [Photo: Facebook]
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone: $52,920
The Culinary Institute of America's outpost in St. Helena, California, offers an associate degree program in the culinary arts. This 21-month course is divided into four semesters, each one with a tuition rate of $13,230 for the 2013-2014 school year. There's also an 18-week externship and students work in the school's own restaurant at the end of sophomore year.
New England Culinary Institute [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]
New England Culinary Institute: $52,500-$82,350
Vermont's New England Culinary Institute counts both an associate degree of occupational studies in culinary arts and a bachelor of arts in culinary arts among its programs of study. Tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year for the associate degree costs $52,500 spread out over three years, the third of which is a six-month internship. Tuition for the bachelor's degree comes out to $82,350 over five years, the first three of which alternate residency and internships and the last two involve three final months of residency and nine months of non-residency (internships and online coursework). Notable alumni include Alton Brown and Heather Terhune.
International Culinary Center, NYC [Photo: Official]
The International Culinary Center, NYC: $38,500-$48,750
The New York City location of the International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute) offers a variety of culinary arts training programs, including farm-to-table, French or technology intensive programs. The basic Classic Culinary Arts course, though, is a 600-hour program whose tuition varies depending on which schedule you choose. The daytime schedule, which runs on weekdays for six months costs $48,750. There's also an evening schedule that runs three days a week for nine months. The Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule starts at $38,500, while the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule starts at $38,900. Notable alumni include Momofuku's David Chang and wd~50's Wylie Dufresne.
Institute of Culinary Education [Photo: JGNY/Flickr]
Institute of Culinary Education: $30,278.90-$34.278.90
The New York-based Institute of Culinary Education's School of Culinary Arts offers a variety of schedules for its 650-hour curriculum. There are no more than 16 students per class and the schedule options range from six months to 14 months. The tuition rate for the morning, afternoon, evening and intensive program schedules is $34,278.90, while the twilight schedule is $30,278.90. Weekend and hybrid (evening and weekend) schedules, meanwhile, are $31,278.90. Externships count for 210 of those 650 course hours. Notable alumni include Missy Robbins and Armandino Batali.
International Culinary Center, California [Photo: Official]
The International Culinary Center, California: $29,500-$34,700
Meanwhile in California, the ICC offers a Classic Culinary Arts course with work experience. Like in New York, the scheduling here is flexible and lasts either six or nine months with a total of 600 hours. The six-month-long Monday to Friday daytime schedule costs $34,700, while the nine-month evening schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) costs $29,500. The ICC runs its own restaurant in New York City, but California students take up externships at sites such as Bottega, Spruce, Café des Amis, the Mina Group and even Google.
L'Academie de Cuisine [Photo]
L'Academie de Cuisine: $29,500
Located just outside of Washington, DC, L'Academie de Cuisine offers a three-phase culinary arts program that includes classroom learning, kitchen training and a paid externship at a fine-dining restaurant. Tuition is $29,500, and schedules include daytime (50 weeks overall) and evening (62 weeks overall). Altogether, each program includes 1620 hours of education. Notable alumni include Carla Hall and Angela Pinkerton.
California Culinary Academy [Photo: Facebook]
California Culinary Academy: $19,200-$36,200
The California Culinary Academy's program offerings include a certificate in culinary arts and an associate degree of culinary arts. The former costs $19,200 over a 12-month period, while the associate degree costs $36,200 for about 21 months of instruction. This Le Cordon Bleu-affiliated school in San Francisco includes externships in the curriculum, as well as an opportunity to work at the on-site restaurant. It is perhaps worth noting that the California Culinary Academy settled a class-action lawsuit in 2011 from graduates who claimed to have been misled by recruiters.
Le Cordon Bleu, Los Angeles [Photo: Official]
Le Cordon Bleu Los Angeles: $19,200-$39,200
Le Cordon Bleu's Los Angeles campus offers slightly different courses from its neighbor to the north. Rather than the certificate in culinary arts, this Los Angeles location offers a diploma in culinary arts and an associate degree in culinary arts. The diploma in culinary arts costs $19,200 as well and spans about 15 months. Meanwhile, the culinary arts associate degree at this Pasadena campus costs $39,200 for the 21-month period.
One to Watch:
San Francisco Cooking School [Photo: Official]
San Francisco Cooking School: $24,500
One to watch, the San Francisco Cooking School is still in its first year of operation. The school offers a certificate program in culinary arts on either a six-month full-time schedule or nine-month part-time schedule, each at a $24,500 tuition rate. Classes are limited to 14 students and a rep for the school says that the interview process is fairly rigid to ensure that everyone is getting into cooking for the same reasons. There's an intensive tasting workshop to kick off the program and two-month externship placements at top San Francisco restaurants including Coi, Delfina and State Bird Provisions. Daniel Patterson, Craig Stoll and Bill Corbett serve as deans, and there's a pretty impressive board of advisors.