Arkansas has a lot to offer culinary arts students, with universities in the state offering associate and bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts, as well as associate degrees in culinary arts.
Students who pursue an associate degree can choose to work in a two-year program or a combination of two- and four-year programs. In the two-year programs, students take all of their classes in the culinary arts, allowing them to become well-rounded culinary arts professionals.
In the four-year programs, students can choose to pursue a degree in another field, such as a business administration degree. When they are ready to begin their culinary arts education, students can spend their third year in culinary arts courses.
Culinary arts is a challenging degree that requires students to have a strong work ethic. Those who pursue a degree in culinary arts must be able to work well as part of a team and be willing to learn from their mistakes.
The following list of culinary schools in Arkansas is ranked according to the schools’ culinary arts programs. Each school offers a variety of courses, ranging from introductory courses in the basics of food preparation to advanced courses in the latest culinary trends.
Additionally, many of these schools offer students the opportunity to earn a certification in the Institute of Food Technologists College Program. Students who earn this certification are prepared for a career in the foodservice industry.
The Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ozarka College prepares students to enter the workforce or continue their education in a variety of fields, including culinary arts.
Through the associate degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, students gain foundational knowledge in the hospitality and tourism industry, including management, sales, marketing, and finance. With a concentration in culinary arts, students learn basic cooking techniques and how to prepare tasty, healthy food.
Through the associate degree in Culinary Arts, students take core courses in the first two years that prepare them for the apprenticeship in the second two years. Along with the required courses, students earn 60 hours in the kitchen, where they learn culinary techniques from professional chefs. Additionally, students complete a total of 64 hours of general education courses and an additional 16 hours of math and science courses.
Ozarka College puts its students ahead of the curve by teaching them both the technical and practical skills they need to succeed.
Arkansas Tech University
As one of the top technical universities in the state, Arkansas Tech University has earned a reputation for its quality academics and affordable tuition. The school offers a variety of culinary bachelor's degrees, allowing students to pursue their interests in a number of areas.
Bachelor of Applied Science degrees are offered in culinary management and baking and food service. Those looking for a more technical education can pursue a bachelor's of science in food science. All of ATU's culinary programs are offered at the associate's degree level and can be completed in one to two years.
Students in the culinary programs at ATU learn under the guidance of top-notch faculty, including award-winning pastry chef and author Karen Brittain. Brittain is the author of The Happy Baker: The Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Guide to Delicious, Healthy Breads. She has also won national awards for her artisan cheeses.
Under the guidance of faculty members with industry experience, students in the ATU culinary program develop the technical and soft skills needed for a career in the foodservice industry. Courses give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the classroom and the lab, including a fully functional commercial kitchen.
Pulaski Technical College
As the only technical college in the state of Arkansas to offer a culinary arts associate degree, Pulaski Technical College has plenty to be proud of.
In order to earn their associate degree in culinary arts, students must complete a total of 64 credits. These credits are divided among core courses and electives in the culinary arts and trade and technology areas.
Culinary arts core courses include food preparation, food service management, and principles of foodservice.
Students can choose from a variety of trade and technology electives, which allow them to explore interests outside of the culinary arts. Options include air conditioning and refrigeration, hvac technician, plumbing, and vehicle repair.
Pulaski Technical College also offers students the opportunity to earn a diploma in the International Baccalaureate Program.
NorthWest Arkansas Community College
As part of the Arkansas Community College System, NorthWest Arkansas Community College has a reputation for high quality, low cost associate degrees.
NWACC offers two culinary associate's degree programs: a food service management and a food and hospitality management.
In the food service management track, students learn about the business side of the food service industry, including management, marketing, and accounting. They put their knowledge into practice in the kitchen, learning about food preparation, sanitation, and customer service.
In the food and hospitality management track, students focus more on the customer side of the industry, learning about customer service, sales, and marketing. They also learn about event planning and catering.
No matter which track they choose, NWACC culinary students get to put their knowledge into practice in the school's Teaching Kitchen and Food Lab. The Teaching Kitchen features four commercial-grade appliances and a sink station, allowing students to practice basic food preparation skills. The Food Lab provides a space for students to learn about food chemistry and composition.
NWACC's culinary program has a strong track record of success. Many of its students go on to work in restaurants, hotels, and other food service industries. Others use their new knowledge to start their own businesses.
Black River Technical College
The AAS in Food Service Management at Black River Technical College can put students on a fast track to a career in the food service industry.
This program requires the completion of 10 core courses in business, computer applications, food service management, and food preparation.
Students then have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the food service industry by completing a rotation in a food service operation.
Courses in this program provide students with the knowledge and skills required to operate food service management businesses, including restaurants, institutional, or convenience stores.
Through this program, students learn how to implement good food safety practices and quality customer service to drive business success.
Those who complete the program are prepared to pass the ServSafe Food Handler Certification exam, which is the industry-standard certification for those working in the food service industry.
Students in the AS degree in Culinary Arts at Black River Technical College learn how to prepare delicious meals from around the world.
Through this program, students gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to enter the workforce as a professional cook or chef.
Through a combination of lecture, demonstration, and hands-on experience, students in this program learn about the history and culture of food, the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and the science of cooking.
Courses also provide students with opportunities to develop their knife skills, master the art of seasoning and flavoring, and create gourmet dishes.
Arkansas State University - Newport
Although not officially designated as a “creamery school,” Arkansas State University does boast a nationally recognized dairy science program and the largest lecture hall in the nation devoted to the subject.
As such, ASU is an excellent choice for those who want to get their hands dirty in the kitchen. The school's culinary arts program emphasizes the science of cooking, teaching students the chemistry and physics behind the processes that transform raw ingredients into delicious dishes.
Students in the program spend their first two semesters in the classroom, learning about the history and theory of cuisine, as well as the chemical properties that affect the way we taste food.
Later semesters bring hands-on experience in ASU's commercial kitchen, where students can apply the knowledge they've gained in the classroom to actual cooking projects.
Graduates leave the school with a broad knowledge of cooking, having studied its cultural history, chemistry, and social impact. They also leave with a portfolio of dishes they created in their final semester, giving them the experience-based confidence to begin a career in the culinary world.
South Arkansas Community College
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average annual tuition for a student pursuing a culinary arts degree is $10,927. That's no small number, especially for those pursuing a career change.
But South Arkansas Community College offers an excellent program at an affordable price. The Paragould school's culinary arts associate degree is designed to give students the skills they need to enter the job market as a cook.
Students learn the basics of food preparation, with an emphasis on baking and pastry, as well as basic cooking techniques. Courses include instruction in basic kitchen management, food preparation, and food preservation.
In addition,SAYC offers a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience by working with the school's student-run food service, the South Cafe.
The South Cafe serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, giving students the chance to put their skills to work for the community.
Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas
A part of the University of Arkansas Community College System, Cossatot Community College offers associate degree programs in culinary arts and baking and food preparation.
In the culinary arts associate degree program, students gain knowledge in food production, management, and merchandising. Students study the chemistry and processing of food, along with the management of the foodservice industry. Courses include food safety, management and operations, entrepreneurship, foodservice equipment, and marketing.
Students in the baking and food preparation associate degree program learn the science behind food production. Courses cover the production of baked goods and the processing of food. Students study the chemistry of food, the processing of grain, and the history of food.
Students in Cossatot Community College can also earn a Certificate of Completion in the Culinary Arts, Professional Baking & Pastry Arts, or Restaurant Management programs. These courses give students the knowledge and experience to work in the foodservice industry. Courses cover topics such as food production, management, and merchandising.
Arkansas State University Mid-South
Located in the state's capitol, Arkansas State University Mid-South is a small school with a big reputation. Part of the ASU System, the school has an enrollment of approximately 6,500 students, 55% of whom are women.
AUSU Mid-South is nationally recognized for its culinary arts program, which is so impressive that the school was featured in an article in The Times of Higher Education as one of the most underrated schools for cooking schools.
Students in the culinary arts program learn fundamental cooking and baking skills, as well as food safety, sanitation, and quality control. Additionally, students gain experience in front-of-house skills, such as customer service and hospitality.
In addition to the wide range of classes offered on campus, AUSU Mid-South also provides students with plenty of opportunities to get hands-on experience. The school's hospitality institute allows students to work with businesses to develop industry-approved programs that fit their schedules and needs. Students in the institute gain experience in areas such as food service management, sales and marketing, travel, and more.