Best Culinary Schools In Virginia | Cost, Requirement & How To Apply

When it comes to satisfying your desire for more culinary knowledge, look no further than Virginia. There are private institutions, community colleges and culinary schools in Virginia that can provide the best training and education.

The level of programs also varies from diplomas and certificates to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. You have three programs to choose from when you start a culinary arts program in Virginia.

The certificate is the shortest option and takes only one year of full-time study. At two years, an associate degree program is slightly longer. A bachelor’s degree requires four years of full-time study and also gives you the opportunity to earn a master’s degree.

Are There Culinary Schools in Virginia? 

There are 18 culinary schools throughout Virginia that give you the opportunity to earn a culinary degree no matter where you live. The average cost of tuition in Virginia is $8,184, but tuition ranges from $2,808 to $17,496.

As a new culinary student, you will build a strong foundation of practical knowledge that you will refer to throughout the program.

This knowledge base consists of practical kitchen skills, kitchen terminology and how to work in a busy kitchen. These topics will come up again and again in your course, so it’s important to practice.

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How Much Do Culinary Schools Cost in Virginia? 

There are 18 culinary schools throughout Virginia that give you the opportunity to earn a culinary degree no matter where you live. The average cost of tuition in Virginia is $8,184, but tuition costs range from $2,808 to $17,496.

What Are The Requirements For Culinary Schools In Virginia? 

Culinary schools in Virginia offer opportunities for everyone, and the admissions process is equally open. Usually all you need is a high school diploma or GED, an application and a fee, and a willingness to learn how to cook.

If you’re looking for more competitive programs, you may have to do a little more. Often this would include an assessment of kitchen skills or basic knowledge of recipes.

But don’t worry: work experience and other learning, such as seminars and workshops, are often assessed during admissions. Some even make decisions based on personal training or industry knowledge.

Rest assured that wherever you choose to go to school, the program has a quality facility with a well-stocked and fully equipped student-run kitchen. Also look for an open kitchen program. Often these programs include dinners and other events for the public.

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What Are The Best Culinary Schools In Virginia? 

Community College of Central Virginia

Central Virginia Community College is located in Lynchburg. Students can enroll in the 4-semester Culinary Arts Certificate Program or the 5-semester Associate in Culinary Arts and Management Program.

The certified program provides a solid foundation for meat/seafood/poultry, fruit/vegetable/starch, baking and broths/soups/sauce, as well as food production and sanitation.

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Admission to the associate degree program is competitive, and the program adds courses in horticulture, American regional cuisine, food production, menu management, and internships.


J Sargeant Reynolds Community College

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, located in Richmond, offers an associate degree program in culinary arts and a certificate in pastry arts.

The associate degree program can be completed in two years, or students can choose an accelerated 15-month schedule.  The accelerated program is designed for students with culinary experience and prior college education.

The Pastry Arts Certificate is also an advanced program designed for students with specific experience, including a minimum of three years of commercial bakery or pastry experience, prior culinary arts college coursework, or American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification.

The school also provides the training component for the 3-year ACF Apprenticeship Program in Culinary Arts, but does not organize apprenticeships.


Virginia Western Community College

The Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program at Virginia Western Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts and Career Education Certificates in Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry.

The certificate program is a 27-hour program that provides a solid foundation in food production, culinary arts, and hospitality. The AAS program can be completed in two years and prepares students to become bakers, dressers, pastry chefs, sous chefs and vegetable chefs.

Students have access to the Claude Moore Culinary Kitchen, a state-of-the-art kitchen laboratory where students can learn their craft in a hands-on environment.


Tidewater Community College

Tidewater Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. The degree is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Students study both business and the art of cooking and serving a variety of dishes.

Students complete a 240-hour internship opportunity in a commercial kitchen, working alongside professional chefs. Tidewater has a commercial kitchen lab, so students have the opportunity to learn their trade using the latest kitchen technology.

Students can complete the program in just four semesters, making this program an affordable choice for students who need to save money.


Virginia Polytechnic and State University

For those interested in the culinary arts as part of the hospitality industry, there is the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Virginia Tech.

Specialized courses are available in a variety of topics similar to the concentration.  These include catering and restaurant management, as well as event management.

In addition to taking courses, students gain valuable experience through hands-on learning, experienced instructors, and internships. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees are offered.


Virginia Piedmont Community College

The Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts program at Piedmont Virginia Community College is a 67-hour program that includes an internship. Students have the opportunity to learn both vocational and culinary skills through this top culinary program.

Courses cover areas such as gardening, food purchasing, cost control and cooking. Graduates are prepared to work as bakers, caterers, chefs or cooks in a variety of establishments including restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and cruise ships.


Dabney S. Lancaster Community College

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College offers both an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts and a Certificate in Culinary Arts. Students study with experienced teachers in a modern teaching kitchen.

General education courses are taught using a variety of methods, including lectures, the Internet, independent study, and videos. Students learn a variety of skills such as menu planning, budgeting, safety, sanitation and food preparation.

Coursework covers topics such as nursery, soup, stock and sauce making, American regional cuisine, and international cuisine. Internship experience is included in the AAS Degree program.

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Art Institute of Virginia Beach

The Art Institute of Virginia Beach is a premier culinary school that offers exciting internship opportunities, a state-of-the-art learning environment, and experienced professional instructors. Students have the opportunity to study outside the classroom or laboratory.

The Art Institute offers a variety of degree and diploma programs that allow students multiple entry points on the career ladder. Degrees include Associate in Culinary Arts and Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts Management.

 Diplomas in Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry are also offered. Regardless of the program chosen, students have the opportunity to study world cuisines, which allows them to diversify their talents and make them more in demand in the industry.


Stratford University

Stratford University is accredited by the Culinary Federation of America and provides students with a global perspective on the culinary arts. Students can complete courses during the day, evening or on weekends to fit busy schedules.

The modern kitchen allows for individual instruction when needed and promotes a collaborative learning environment. Stratford offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Advanced Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry, as well as an Advanced Diploma in Culinary Arts.

The curriculum for both the degree and diploma teaches students how to solve problems, manage a budget, control expenses and prepare a variety of meals.

With five different program start dates throughout the year and classes that can be completed in as little as five or 10 weeks, students can be in the workplace in less time than many other schools.


Culinary Institute of Virginia, ECPI University School of Culinary Arts

The Culinary Institute of Virginia is a top accredited culinary school with a variety of programs in both baking, pastry, and culinary arts.

Students can earn a diploma in as little as 40 weeks or an AAS degree in 15 months. Baking and Pastry students learn advanced techniques such as layered cake design; and sugar, chocolate and pastille exhibits.

Culinary students learn about meat selection, international cuisine, a la carte and culinary catering, among other things. Externship opportunities are part of both programs, allowing students to gain professional experience before they enter the workforce.


How Much Do Chefs In Virginia Earn?

Chefs and cooks in Virginia earned an average of $54,320 a year in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest earners in these positions earned $80,520 or more.

Bakers can expect to earn around $25,830 per year, while food service managers earn around $64,120 per year and up to $101,000 per year and above. Culinary careers in Virginia are booming, offering new professionals great prospects for the future.

If you hope to one day become a head chef or chef, the number of such jobs in the state is growing by 13.6 percent, meaning nearly 500 new jobs will be available in the next few years.

The increase for restaurant cooks is almost 15 percent, and for restaurant or cafeteria cooks – 16 percent. Pastry chefs and bakers can expect growth of 12.6 percent.

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How Do I Become A Chef In Virginia?

There are no specific requirements to become a cook or chef in Virginia, but there are two typical paths people take to become a chef. The first is to get all your training and education on the job.

With at least a high school diploma or GED, you’ll be able to get a job in a kitchen, but you’ll have to learn and train on the job and start in a position below that of a cook or chef, such as washing dishes or serving. .

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Another route is to start with an academic program in culinary arts, pastry arts, baking, or catering or hospitality management. These programs can give you the skills and knowledge you need to bypass a menial kitchen job and start as a chef, sous chef or assistant manager.

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What Are The Best Paying Culinary Arts Jobs in Virginia

When looking for your first culinary job in Virginia, look at restaurants, catering companies, test kitchens, hotels and resorts along the coast, hospitals and schools. Trained cooks and chefs are needed in all settings.

Most job opportunities will be in major cities like Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Newport News, and the surrounding DC area, but you can also find work in the suburbs and rural areas if you’re qualified and love to eat .

The skills and knowledge you gain in culinary school can be applied to a variety of work settings and environments. The most common of them is a restaurant; in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 46% of chefs work in restaurants.

If you work as a caterer or private chef, you can go to various parties and private homes of clients to cook for them. These positions tend to require more hours, especially if you are self-employed.

Some of the best-known culinary employers in Virginia include Patrice & Associaties, Zoe’s Kitchen and Bonefish Grill.

Very few places in the United States require licenses for cooks and chefs, and Virginia is not one of them. Once you’ve earned your degree, you won’t have to worry about getting a license or certification to start your career.

Although certification is not required, some chefs find it easier to find work with a culinary certificate. The American Culinary Federation offers certification in a variety of areas and skill levels.

Chefs earn different salaries that depend on their experience, seniority and the type of restaurant they work for. In a restaurant kitchen, sous chefs tend to be the highest paid chefs, followed by sous chefs and line chefs.

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Best Culinary Schools In Virginia FAQs

Where Do People With Culinary Degree Work In Virginia?

Chefs in Virginia are culinary professionals who create menus and dishes in restaurants, hotels, resorts, cafeterias, and personal kitchens. With a culinary degree, you’ll be ready to work in any of these places in Virginia, but there are other career opportunities as well. You can become a catering manager, baker, confectioner or entrepreneur by starting your own catering business or even buying a van.

Do You Need License To Work As A Chef In Virginia?

While you don’t have to be certified or licensed to start this career, many cooks and chefs choose to get certified to validate their skills and earn a better salary. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a leading organization that offers 16 areas of specialization for certification. With passing scores on the written and practical exams, you can get a certificate. ACF certifications are recognized and respected nationally.


To compile the top 10 culinary schools in Virginia, we started by compiling a list of any two- and four-year colleges, culinary institutes, and technical schools that offer culinary arts degrees and certificates. For consistency, we have only included culinary programs that are accredited by a legitimate culinary-related accrediting body.

We then took a comprehensive approach to narrow our list to only those culinary programs that offer hands-on training, professional faculty and staff, and a variety of degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

References – Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Virginia 2021


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