4 Things You Need to Know About the Culinary School Application

What to expect as you apply to a culinary arts program.

Ever dreamed about taking the title on Top Chef? Culinary schools are the perfect place for chefs-in-training to gain hands-on experience and develop new skills. Students can immerse themselves in the history of different cuisines while browning beef and rolling dough. However, you’ve got to apply before you can start creating.

If you’re unfamiliar with the culinary school application process, don’t worry — it can be easier than planning a menu. Here’s what you’ll need to know as you get cooking on those culinary school applications.

Culinary schools can cost as much as traditional colleges, so check your application for info on where you can apply for financial aid.

1. What’s on the application?

Like any other college or university, culinary schools will ask for a copy of your most recent academic transcript, letters of recommendation from culinary professionals, and a personal statement. You may also be asked to submit a work resume that details your cooking experience.

2. What you’ll need to get in:

Getting into a top culinary school requires more than the actual application. Some schools require applicants to have experience working in a professional kitchen. But having an impressive skill set on paper isn’t always enough — schools such as the Culinary Institute of America require applicants to pass a series of assessment tests. The tests help the CIA determine exactly what kind of skills and speed you possess.

3. How tough it is to get accepted?

What it takes to get into culinary school varies from school to school. Prestigious, “Ivy League”-esque schools such as Le Cordon Bleu and the Institute of Culinary Education are more of a challenge — you’ll need professional experience and an extensive resume. Culinary schools also look for different attributes than traditional colleges and universities. While a “typical” college wants students to stand out via their standardized test scores and GPAs, culinary schools prefer to hear about your specific cooking experiences. For example, the National Gourmet Institute asks applicants to share their experience with food. If you can show your schools how passionate you are about turning cooking into a career, you’ll easily win the admissions teams over.

4. How much does the application cost?

Submitting your culinary school application comes at a price. Every school requires a nonrefundable application fee — and this fee ranges from $100 to $250. Some schools will also require a tuition down payment immediately upon acceptance. Be prepared to put a few thousand dollars towards your tuition when you begin to receive your decision letters.

Quick Tips

  • Make a point to showcase your cooking talent. If you’ve got any experience at all, let schools know — it’ll help your application stand out.
  • Culinary schools can cost as much as traditional colleges, so check your application for info on where you can apply for financial aid.
  • When it comes to in-person skills tests, speed is often prized above all else — so make sure you practice your knifework!
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