A career in the culinary arts might seem as simple as tying on an apron and having a passion for cooking, but formal education also is important. Although culinary experience can be acquired by moving through the ranks, most businesses require a formal culinary education, including a degree.

Programs

More than 100 schools offer culinary degree programs, according to the American Culinary Federation. Degree programs are available in two forms: associate's and bachelor's.

Considerations

Both programs frequently require the applicant to have graduated from high school or to have a GED, plus an application and an entrance exam. Some schools also require at least six months of hands-on experience in a commercial kitchen; others require that you write an essay.

Associate's Degree

Class requirements for an associate's degree often include baking, sanitation and food safety, pastries and desserts, garde manger, a look at a variety of international cuisines, menu development and charcuterie (meat preparation).

Bachelor's Degree

Requirements for a bachelor's degree aren't much different, although the last two years of the four-degree program generally go more in depth into international cuisines and examine menu pricing and accounting.

In Addition

An externship or internship also is required. Externs are not paid for outside experience while interns are.