April 29, 2022

Deciding to attend culinary school is a great first step on the path to a new career. But how do you know if you’re going to be admitted?

Culinary school isn’t like a traditional four-year college. You don’t have to write essays or take standardized tests, because those skills don’t predict a good cook or hospitality manager.

Find out what schools like Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts do look for in the admissions process, and what you can expect when you fill out your culinary school application.

How to Choose The Right Culinary School Program For You

Most culinary schools—including Escoffier—have multiple programs. They may offer culinary degrees and/or diplomas in several different disciplines, so you have the option to choose which is the right fit.

When considering your program, start by thinking about your career goals. If you hope to be an executive chef, a culinary arts program may provide the type of well-rounded education that can help you get there. If you plan to start your own vegetarian restaurant, then our plant-based culinary arts programs might be a better fit for you.

Escoffier student chopping an onion on a cutting board in the kitchen

Escoffier currently offers programs in five different disciplines:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Baking & Pastry Arts
  • Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management (available through Escoffier Boulder campus – residential or online)
  • Plant-Based Culinary Arts (available through Escoffier Boulder campus – residential or online)
  • Holistic Nutrition and Wellness (available through Escoffier Boulder campus – residential or online)

Culinary Arts

In Escoffier’s Culinary Arts programs, students can explore both traditional and contemporary culinary techniques, as well as business skills that may help them to improve profitability and provide better leadership. Whether you want to open your own food truck or work in a bustling, high-end restaurant, culinary school can help you build the skills you may need to reach your goals.

Baking & Pastry Arts

Escoffier’s Baking & Pastry Arts programs can help prepare students for a career as a professional pastry shop chef, as a wedding cake designer, as a home-based bakery owner, or many other roles. The baking and pastry program at Escoffier highlights breads, doughs, cookies, cakes, confiserie, and more. Depending on the credential earned, courses covered could also include entrepreneurship, cost control, and other business-focused topics.

Plant-Based Culinary Arts

Escoffier’s programs also include a degree or diploma offering in the Plant-Based Culinary Arts. The- courses in these programs build culinary foundations in both cooking and baking by focusing on the versatility of non-animal ingredients. They also include business-focused coursework, like foodservice management, purchasing, and entrepreneurship.

An artfully plated beet salad dish on a white square plate

Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management

An associate degree in Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management can help to prepare students for a future in the oversight and management of a successful foodservice or hospitality establishment. Leadership and communication, as well as event catering, beverage operations, and menu design are included in the curriculum.

Holistic Nutrition and Wellness

Working in a kitchen or restaurant setting isn’t the only way to make a career out of food. For those interested in the nutritional side of things, a rewarding path can be that of a nutrition coach or other wellness-related professional. Escoffier’s Holistic Nutrition and Wellness programs can prepare health-minded individuals for an opportunity helping others develop healthy nutritional habits.

Student adding cheese to bruschetta

All programs at Escoffier culminate in a hands-on industry externship. This opportunity can allow students to put what they’ve learned into practice and get a sense of how a professional kitchen or foodservice operation runs. Some students who already have industry jobs may even be able to use their current position for their externships. For others, the externship may be their first introduction to the professional kitchen.

Look carefully through the courses included in each program to see if they align with your goals. Remember that no culinary program will teach you absolutely everything you’ll ever need in your career. The goal is to provide foundational knowledge that you can continue to build on through real-world experience and further study.

What Are the Requirements to Attend Culinary School?

Minimum Admissions Requirements for Culinary School

To be considered for culinary school at Escoffier, you need to meet the following requirements:

Boulder Campus (including Online Programs)

  • Must be a minimum of 16 years of age (with permission of parent or guardian if under 18)
  • AESCA Enrollment Agreement (inclusive of written permission of parent or guardian if under 18)
  • Proof of High School Completion or Equivalent (must be obtained through one of the following):
    • High School Diploma or transcript
    • High School Equivalency Exam: GED, HiSet, or TASC
    • Official College Transcript from a Completed Associate or Higher Degree Program
    • State Approved Home School Certificate of Completion.
    • Documentation demonstrating that the student has passed a state-authorize
    • 60 Completed College Credits from one accredited institution
  • Application for Admission
  • Application Fee (see Catalog Addendum for current fee) or approved Fee Waiver and documentation**
  • Admissions Interview
  • FERPA Release Form

Austin Campus

  • AESCA Enrollment Agreement (inclusive of written permission of parent or guardian if under 18)
  • Proof of High School Completion or Equivalent (must be obtained through one of the following prior to the expected start date) :
    • High School Diploma
    • High School Equivalency Exam: GED, HiSet, or TASC
    • Official College Transcript from a Completed Associate or Higher Degree Program***
    • State Approved Home School Certificate of Completion.
    • For U.S. Veterans, DD-214 which reflects High School Equivalency
  • Application for Admission
  • Application Fee (see Supplemental Catalog for current fee or approved Fee Waiver
  • Admissions Interview
  • Tour of Facility
  • Record of Previous Education & Training (CSC-010)
  • Receipt of Enrollment Policies (CSC-005)
  • Information Release Form (FERPA)

And if you don’t have any previous cooking skills or work experience, that’s okay! While many culinary school students do have some experience or cooking knowledge, they’re not a requirement for admissions.

Is Culinary School a Good Fit for You?

Beyond the minimum requirements listed above, what kind of person does well in culinary school?

First, you should probably be pretty passionate about food. You’ll be thinking about food all day long! So your excitement about cooking (and eating) can go a long way in keeping your enthusiasm alive.

Three Escoffier students standing together and smiling in a kitchen

It’s beneficial to be organized—or be willing to learn. A disorganized station is often one of the biggest pet peeves of chefs across the board. Students are expected to build the habits of cleanliness and organization during school.

Another key trait? Teachability. No one enters culinary school knowing everything — not even executive chefs with years of experience. Every student is in school to learn. So come to class with an open mind and eagerness to absorb new information.

“What I liked best about my time at Escoffier was the guidance from all of my Chef Instructors! Very helpful, very understanding, and always made the classes fun!”*
Dannie White III, Escoffier Online Culinary Graduate

Finally, commitment is crucial. Culinary school is an investment of time, energy, and finances. Students are expected to make their education a high priority during their program. If you’re having trouble, you can reach out to tutors, your Success Coach, or Student Success Manager who can help you get back on track.

How Much Does Culinary School Cost?

Program costs vary depending on whether you’re in a diploma program or degree program, studying on-campus or online.

In general, you can expect culinary school at Escoffier to be much less expensive than a private or public four-year college program. Escoffier’s programs start at $16,016, as of the date this article was published.

Escoffier’s Financial Aid representatives work with students, helping them navigate applying for Federal financial aid, employer reimbursement, and military benefits to determine how they may choose to finance their education with Escoffier. Students can also seek out grants and scholarships to help them cover their education expenses. This route is very popular for many students who may not otherwise be able to afford culinary school. There are many grant and scholarship offerings available from both the government and private organizations.

Escoffier student posing next to a cake that looks like a piece of wood

How to Get Into Culinary School – The Application Process

Applying to culinary school is easier than you might think! If you fill out an information request form online, the Admissions Department will typically contact you first, doing an initial interview and overview before you fill out the actual school application. This allows them to get to know you and discuss your goals.

When you’re ready to get moving on your application, you can fill out an online application form, which shouldn’t take long to complete. You’ll also sign your Enrollment Agreement, pay your Application Fee if required ($25) or provide an approved Fee Waiver.

Then, you’ll be required to submit some additional documentation, including a copy of your photo ID and proof of high school completion. This could be a diploma, equivalency exam like the GED, official college transcript, or a state-approved home school certificate of completion.

During this time, you also have the option to work with the Financial Aid department to look for financing options like loans, grants, and scholarships to help fund your education.

Once you’re accepted and committed to the program, you’ll complete an orientation.

Escoffier student posing with two thumbs up for a picture

What You’ll Need When You Start Your Program

Most of what you need to get started will be provided by Escoffier and is included in your school tuition. These supplies will vary depending on your program and campus.

On-Campus Student Tools and Supplies

Students studying at our Austin, Texas or Boulder, Colorado campuses are provided with a uniform and toolkit that they’ll need during their courses. The official Escoffier uniform includes a white chef’s coat, apron, pants, and skull cap, which students wear daily. (Non-slip, oil-resistant black shoes are their responsibility to purchase.)

In their toolkits, students could find items like:

  • 1/4″ Offset Spatula
  • Y Peeler
  • 3.5” paring knife
  • 8” chef’s knife
  • Pocket thermometer
  • Measuring Spoon Set
  • Plastic bowl scraper
  • Double zip case*****

There are also specialty utensils that students may receive based on their program. Culinary Arts students and Pastry Arts students have different needs, for example, so their supplementary kits look different.

Online Student Tools and Supplies

Online students receive similar toolkits as on-campus students. Some items could include a scale, plastic bowl scraper, chef’s knives, thermometer, and more.

In addition to the tools they can receive a starter supply of pantry ingredients depending on your program.

Online Escoffier student brushes butter on dough in her kitchen

Since they’re studying online, these students also have some technological needs, beginning with a computer. Students can provide their own, or they can purchase a Chromebook through Escoffier. To access their learning platforms, they’ll need either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser installed on their computers, as well as a stable internet connection.

Online students also need a phone or camera for taking food photos. Many students already have all of this equipment at home!

“I think Escoffier’s online education makes a student very competitive. My culinary education so far has really helped develop my teaching skills, as well as my food styling. I would absolutely recommend Escoffier. It’s affordable, it’s flexible, and it’s comprehensive. The Chef Instructors are so wonderful, and they care very much about the success of every student.”*
Laura DeVries, Senior Graphic Designer, Creative Circle; Escoffier Online Program Graduate; former Food Stylist

Get Enrolled in Culinary School… and Get Cooking!

The application process and requirements for culinary school vary depending on the institution. At Escoffier, we work hard to make the process as simple as possible, answering your questions and addressing any concerns you have along the way. We’re excited for you to get enrolled and start exploring the culinary world!

If you have any questions about the application process or any program curricula, our Admissions Department is available to help.

To learn more about what to expect from a culinary education, try these articles next:

This article was originally published on February 15, 2019, and has since been updated.

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

**Application fee waivers are available for students previously attending another Escoffier school or Escoffier program, Active and Honorably Discharged Military Personnel, their spouse and children (acceptable military documentation includes but not limited to: DD214, VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE), membership card in the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars – excluding auxiliary member, LES/Leave and Earnings Statement, a letter from Commanding Officer for active-duty members only, or other official documentation indicating Honorable Discharge or Active Duty status), employees of approved educational partners, those with high school-issued waivers where applicable (distance learning) or high school students enrolling in programs requiring an application fee.

***Degree must be in a program that fully matriculates into a bachelors level program

****Application fee waivers are available for those Active and Honorably Discharged Military Personnel, Spouse or child of Active or Honorably Discharged personnel or high school-issued waivers where applicable.

*****Items may vary depending on the program and location.