How International Students Can Get a US-based Culinary Education

Want to study culinary arts in the U.S. but can’t get here? Our guide can tell you how international students can study culinary arts online at Escoffier.

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Get the Guide to Culinary School for International Students

Whether you plan to study at one of our campuses or online, applying to culinary school from abroad can involve some extra steps – so we created this guide to make things simpler!

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March 25, 2024 14 min read

If you’ve dreamed of attending a U.S.-based culinary school but became overwhelmed at the thought of travel, visas, relocation, expenses, or even homesickness, take heart—you’ve got other options.

Did you know you can attend culinary school online?

International students who aren’t able to come to the United States might find that Escoffier’s online culinary programs provide a great alternative. These programs can combine the conveniences of an online platform with similar rigor you’d find in on-campus programs.

Escoffier online programs can be highly interactive, with feedback from Chef Instructors, chef demonstrations and weekly assignments. And it makes no difference whether you receive a degree or diploma online or in person—upon completion, you can still be a culinary school graduate!

Table of Contents

You Can Earn Degrees and Diplomas On-Campus or Online

Online students can choose from one of six disciplines to pursue a degree or diploma:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Baking & Pastry Arts (Boulder Residential and Online)
  • Food Entrepreneurship (Online only)
  • Plant-Based Culinary Arts (Degree is online only, diploma is online or on-campus)
  • Holistic Nutrition & Wellness (Online only)
  • Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management (Online only)

Diploma programs usually take less time to finish than degree programs, and they can help students gain technical skills they might need in a professional setting. Associate degree programs go a bit more in-depth, adding logistical and communication skills to students’ repertoire.

How Online Culinary School Works

Escoffier’s school week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday and includes live and recorded sessions, discussion boards, and weekly assignments. Students generally commit around 15-23 hours per week on school-related activities, depending on their program and personal pace.

Students can access scheduled, live, online instruction during which professional Chef Instructors may demonstrate techniques, discuss upcoming assignments, and review previous reading material. Students can ask questions and also interact with other students, building a network from almost anywhere in the world.

Time zone differences might preclude some international students from being able to attend live sessions, but that’s ok! If a student has a schedule conflict, they can watch a recording later and reach out to faculty for 1-to-1 appointments if needed. Faculty may also communicate with students by text, email, or phone.

Each week, students are given a weekly assignment along with supplemental material to help them execute their work. Lessons can include assigned reading and video content, and students may also choose to participate in discussion boards, sharing ideas and asking questions. Students also have access to hundreds of step-by-step videos if they need or want extra instruction.

“The quality of chef instructors is so good. It’s very personal, they really join hands with you one-on-one, they talk to you, and they walk you through every step of the program. I could reach out to any Chef Instructor whenever I needed. It’s never ending, I keep learning each and every time I am in need of knowledge from Escoffier.”*
Arnold Safari
Arnold Safari
Escoffier Online Culinary Arts graduate, Owner of Eat Zawadi restaurant

Courses Can Include a Variety of Techniques

Escoffier’s online classes can include a wide range of subjects similar to those taught on campus. They may include classic French techniques as well as other techniques and skills that culinary students can take into their careers and businesses.

Those skills may include concepts like mise en place, a prep and organizational practice that online international students are encouraged to implement for their assignments at home, as well as knife skills and food safety and sanitation. Students may also discover world cuisines, baking and pastry, and a variety of other coursework options.

Where applicable, Escoffier’s online culinary school may also include classes that touch on business principles, which can empower students not only to become successful in the foodservice industry, but also successful business people in general. Whether you’re interested in management or opening your own restaurant or other business, these classes can be important components for an understanding of purchasing and managing costs, effective communication, and other foundational business principles.

How Chef Instructors Evaluate Online Students’ Work

As students work in their own kitchens to complete their weekly assignments, they record their cooking process and describe the flavor profile they’re building, documenting their progress with photos and a written summary.

They might also use the Escoffier Flavor Wheel to describe the flavor profile they’re building, using a common language of the tool to describe their process. Students submit an evaluation of the taste, texture, and overall outcome of their dish to their instructor.

The Chef Instructor reviews each student’s narrative and production sheet, and their photos. They determine whether a dish succeeded through visual cues combined with the information students submitted. Then, the Instructor can provide feedback via video, letting students know what worked well and offering tips for improvement where necessary.

Chef Luke discusses online culinary students and their food tasting process.

Getting Hands-On Experience With Externships

Students in both online and on-campus programs must complete one or two industry externships, depending on their programs, as a requirement for graduation. It is the student’s responsibility to secure an externship location, but Escoffier’s Career Services is available to help with the variety of steps along the way, including general guidance and approving the externship location.

Externships are usually aligned closely with the specific skills the student has learned. Like our campus students, online students get the opportunity to sharpen their skills in a professional setting and receive in-person feedback. For all students, an externship can also be a great way to network, try out different types of work, and potentially line up a job for after graduation.

An Accredited School, Available Online

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder, Colorado, Campus is an accredited institution that offers fully online diploma and degree programs that include culinary classes, lecture classes, and hands-on industry externships..

The campus is accredited by ACCET—A Partnership for Quality®. The U.S. Department of Education lists ACCET as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Schools must meet and maintain certain standards to receive accreditation, which can add layers of accountability and credibility.

A student in a white chef’s uniform with black-and-white striped apron smiles into the camera and holds a whisk and a plastic container. They are standing next to a window inside a house with an array of ingredients on a small wooden table in front of them.

Online students can complete their coursework from home.

The 3 Steps to Apply to Online Culinary School as an International Student

The online application process is convenient and user-friendly for international students who plan to attend culinary school online. Whereas in-person students need to complete eight steps, online students only need to complete three:

1. Apply for Admissions to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

The basic application process is the same for international students as domestic students. Once you’ve selected a program and location—in this case, online—you can apply for culinary school in just a few minutes.

2. Provide Proof of High School Graduation or Equivalent

All Escoffier students must show proof of high school graduation or an approved equivalent. To make sure your documentation is considered qualified, have your graduation document evaluated for U.S. equivalency by a translation company approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services.

3. Provide Proof of English Proficiency

Escoffier’s courses are taught in English, so students must be able to speak, read, and understand English. You can demonstrate proficiency in a number of ways:

  • Demonstrate a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of B2 or higher
  • Complete a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with an Internet-Based Test score of 65 or higher, Paper-Based Test score of 500 or higher, or Computer-Based Test score of 173 or higher
  • Complete a test with the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a level of 6 or higher
  • Earn a Cambridge English: First (FCE) grade of a C or higher or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade of a CEFR B2 or higher
  • Earn a grade of C or better in an intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) course
  • Graduate from an English-speaking secondary institution
  • Provide evidence of having completed 8 semester hours or 12 quarter hours with at least a C (70%) average at a United States Department of Education (USDE)-recognized post secondary institution in which English was the language of instruction.

If you don’t yet have the necessary proof of your English proficiency, you may be able to get “conditional acceptance” to Escoffier. This allows you to start the application process, but you won’t receive final acceptance until you’ve sent your proof of proficiency.

Additional Steps To Study Culinary Arts in the U.S.

The application process for international students interested in studying at either of Escoffier’s residential campuses is slightly different from the online-only process. It includes the three steps outlined above, as well as the following:

Provide Financial Affidavit of Support

In order to receive a student visa, prospective international students must show that they have the financial means to live and study in the United States. This is because student visas either don’t allow students to work, or put limits on where and how much they can work during their time in the U.S.

This proof requires a sworn Financial Affidavit of Support and supporting bank statements in U.S. dollars or its local equivalent from within the past six months. The affidavit can be in your own name if you have the funding, or it can be from a family member or sponsor who is willing to support you financially.

Provide Additional Documents Required for Transfer Students (If Applicable)

If you’re an international student transferring from another U.S. school to Escoffier, you must provide the following:

  • A copy of your current I-20 from your previous school
  • A copy of your passport ID page
  • A copy of the F-1 student visa page from your passport
  • A copy of your Customs and Border Patrol arrival information (accessible online from CBP)
  • Transfer Verification form (Escoffier can provide a copy of this form, and it must be filled out by the student and their international student advisor at their current school)
  • College-level transcripts for possible transfer credits

If you’re not transferring to Escoffier from another U.S.-based institution, you can skip this step!

Escoffier Issues Your Form I-20

If you are accepted to Escoffier, you will be issued a Form I-20: Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Students. You’ll need this form in order to apply for a student visa to enter the United States.

Form I-20 will include details about your school and program start date. International students can only enter the United States 30 days or less before their program starts.

Three Escoffier students wearing white chef’s uniforms smile and laugh together.

Escoffier students can form lasting personal and professional relationships with their peers.

Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a database that allows the U.S. government to monitor international students in the United States. Students must pay a fee to register with SEVIS. This fee is $350 for most students, as of March 2024.**

This fee can only be paid after you receive your I-20 form from Escoffier, as that document will include the necessary SEVIS ID number.

Apply for Your M-1 or F-1 Student Visa in Your Home Country

There are several types of student visas available. At Escoffier, students will need either an M-1 or F-1 student visa. To get a visa, students must apply and complete an interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. They must have their Form I-20 at the interview.

M-1 Visas for Austin, Texas or Boulder, Colorado Diploma Students

Diploma students at both Escoffier campuses will need an M-1 visa. This visa allows students to attend school at Escoffier but prohibits students from accepting any paid employment while they are enrolled in school in the United States. They may accept an unpaid position, which will allow them to complete their culinary externships.

After completing their programs, graduates may do up to two months of “practical training,” depending on their program length and location. The rules regarding this training are complex, and it requires the completion of several forms on or before specific deadlines. Get more information about practical training here.

F-1 Visas for Austin, Texas Associate Degree Students

Associate degree students at Escoffier’s Austin campus need an F-1 visa. This visa has specific rules regarding work as well, but they vary based on how far the student has advanced in their program.

The Tools You May Need

The most obvious tool an online culinary school student needs is a reliable internet connection, especially if you plan to attend live classes. In addition, you’ll need a space to cook, ingredients, and some other tools.

Online culinary students may receive a standard toolkit containing essential utensils and tools (like knives and a kitchen scale) as well as a chef’s uniform with coat, apron, and skull cap. The toolkit’s supplies depend upon the specific program students are enrolled in. For example, students in the Holistic Nutrition and Wellness program receive an Escoffier polo shirt but no toolkit or other apparel. Kit contents are also subject to change.

Students also need to shop for and find the ingredients they need for their weekly assignments. Chef Instructors provide online students with a list of ingredients and equipment ahead of time so students can have time to prepare and find what they need.

An overhead view of the items included in an online student's toolkit. Some of the items include a German steel sharpener, a polyurethane pastry bag, paring knife, boning knife, 8-inch chef's knife, kitchen scale, a hi-temp spoon, and other materials.

Online culinary students are equipped with a toolkit of culinary essentials.

How Much Do International Students Pay for Online Culinary School?

International students and domestic students invest the same in culinary school at Escoffier. For 2023-2024, the tuition cost ranges from $19,824 to $32,760, depending on the program. Prospective students can connect with an admissions representative for information specific to international students.

Support is Available for International Students

International students can find plenty of support as they navigate online culinary school. Escoffier offers a variety of support services in formal and informal settings.

As potential students explore their options, they can interact with the school’s Admissions department, whose staff are ready to help answer questions and offer guidance.

Once school starts, students are also encouraged to get to know and communicate regularly with their Chef Instructors, who can serve as guides and mentors. Instructors come from a multitude of backgrounds, including restaurateurs, cookbook authors, bakers, pastry chefs, and more.

Then, there are Escoffier’s Success Coaches and tutors, who can offer individualized support if needed. Students who run into challenges along the way might be connected to a Success Coach who will reach out to check in and offer to work toward a solution. Whether the issue is a technical difficulty, personal matter, or scheduling challenges, Success Coaches are available to offer help.

Location Is No Obstacle to Culinary School

No matter the distance, culinary education can be within reach. An online education with Escoffier can provide you with in-depth culinary training from qualified instructors.

All you need is a good internet connection, access to kitchen to prepare food, and the motivation to craft your schedule and complete assignments from home. And remember that you don’t need to go it alone—reach out for help at any point in the journey.

For more information about online or residential culinary school in America for international students, contact us today!


*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

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