How Much Does Culinary School Cost?

Culinary school tends to be pricey, but there are some affordable alternatives.

With glamorous cooking TV shows and celebrity chefs becoming more popular, there are an increasing number of students who are considering a culinary career. According to Time, the overall enrollment at culinary schools has risen by about 20% a year for the last two years. In addition to being selective and competitive, however, culinary schools can also have high tuition rates.

So then, how much does culinary school cost exactly?

Culinary school degrees often focus on either culinary arts or baking and pastry making.

Tuition Rates for Culinary Schools

In addition to traditionally high tuition rates, the costs of culinary schools are also rapidly rising. Currently, culinary school tuition typically costs over $30,000. That’s a steep price for most students to consider, and one that will force many students to utilize financial aid.

When looking at culinary school tuition, pay close attention to whether the dollar amount covers the whole degree program or only a portion of the program. In many cases, it isn’t the same as a yearly tuition fee that you’ll find at a four-year college. Instead, culinary school tuition typically encompasses the cost of the entire degree program. For example, the Arizona Culinary Institute has a nine-month program that costs $25,990. Meanwhile, The Culinary Institute of America charges about $12,950 per semester for a nine-semester program. The difference in total cost is significant, so it’s important to look into these kinds of details when researching culinary schools.

Why is Culinary School So Expensive?

Culinary schools typically require students to commit to an intensive program. Students may spend more time in the classroom (or the kitchen) compared to students getting a traditional four-year degree. School officials also have to consider the cost of all the ingredients and tools used in culinary courses.

As with other colleges and universities, culinary schools also require students to pay a variety of fees in addition to their tuition. As an example, we’ve included a breakdown of culinary school fees for one semester at The Culinary Institute of America:

  • Tuition: $12,950
  • Application: $50
  • Confirmation: $100
  • Culinary tool kit, textbooks and uniforms: $1,395
  • Board: $1,330
  • General fee: $615
  • TOTAL: $16,440

Types of Degrees Available

Culinary school students have several options when it comes to pursuing a degree. Schools may offer bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees or certificates. While smaller culinary schools only offer one option, larger schools like Le Cordon Bleu offer all three. In general, bachelor’s degree programs are the most expensive but also provide the more experience and prestige.

Culinary school degrees often focus on either culinary arts or baking and pastry making. In addition, there are degrees in culinary management, in hospitality and restaurant management and in culinary operations. Today, some of these programs are even available through online schools.

Cost of Art School Quick Tips/Facts

  • The culinary industry is notoriously competitive. Many culinary school grads find that, even with their degree, they still have to start out in low-paying jobs. Keep that in mind when deciding if you can afford culinary school.
  • If possible, try to talk to professionals in the industry. The L.A. Times reported that only a portion of chefs and restaurateurs recommended culinary school out of the dozen they spoke to.
  • Find helpful tips about paying for culinary school by using our financial planning tools.
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