Is Accreditation Important For Culinary Schools?
You have just finished high school and are pondering your next step. You’re researching 4-year colleges, but as of now, are keeping your options open.
You happen to stumble upon the idea of culinary school while doing some research. It peaks your interest and you look further into it.
A search on Reluctant Gourmet provides you with lists of culinary schools at the tip of your fingers – but how do you sift through them to find the best fit? A big consideration should be whether or not the school is accredited. Here’s what you need to know about culinary school accreditation.
What Does Accreditation Mean?
Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘accreditation’ before, but aren’t confident on its actual meaning. You know it sounds official, but what does it really mean for a school to be accredited?
Colleges and universities use accreditation to let prospective students know that their institution provides a reliable and high quality education.
Acquiring accreditation is voluntary. If an institution wants to get accredited, they must request to be assessed by one of the many accrediting agencies.
Each agency comes up with its own set of quality standards, yielding accreditations with differing levels of prestige, depending on the agency.
Who Is in Charge of Accrediting Schools?
Accrediting agencies are in charge of assessing institutions and rewarding accreditation. These agencies are responsible for creating their own standards of accreditation.
Due to the breadth of types of schools requesting accreditation (think of cooking schools versus medical schools), agencies often focus their standards to a specific field of study.
There are two types of accrediting agencies: recognized and unrecognized. Recognized agencies have received the stamp of approval either from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), whereas unrecognized agencies have not received this approval.
This does not imply that all unrecognized accrediting agencies have low standards; however, you should proceed with caution when dealing with unrecognized agencies until you have further research on their reputation.
The largest and most reputable culinary accreditation agency is the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC). This organization is recognized by CHEA.
A culinary institution recognized by the ACFFAC can provide a reliable education. However, it is not the only reputable culinary accrediting agency. Other dependable accrediting agencies that are considered sound in the culinary world are:
Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA)
International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE)
National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF)
Retailers Baking Association (RBA)
In addition to these national agencies, there are six regional agencies across the United States that are considered to be respectable accrediting agencies as well.
The Benefits of Culinary School Accreditation
You have taken the time and dedication to go to culinary school, so why not make your time there worthwhile? Attending a school that has been accredited by a private agency ensures the legitimacy and quality of program.
By attending an accredited institution, you can trust that your school will have recognized standards that have been carefully reviewed.
The professionals responsible for passing their knowledge onto you will be accountable and credible. You want to make sure your professor can distinguish a julienne from a chiffonade!
Additionally, attending an accredited institution ensures that you are receiving the most up-to-date culinary practices and techniques. Sure, seafood Newburg is a tried and true classic, but you want to learn how to cook lobster tails in a sous-vide!
Attending an accredited culinary school could also make you more competitive to future job employers and increase your chances of scoring one of those highly competitive restaurant chef positions!
Accreditation can even be a benefit to you in terms of financing this newly cooked up plan of becoming a chef. ACFFAC accreditation serves as a third party endorser for financial aid in the form of federal funding.
So, by attending an accredited university, you are not only ensuring the quality of the program, but are also potentially getting a break on your wallet when it comes to paying for your education.
Highly Accredited Culinary Schools
There are hundreds of culinary institutions out there. Right now, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed! Luckily, we’ve compiled a few of the top accredited culinary schools out there.
Scan the list and do your research – you’re well on your way to a career in the culinary field!
Culinary Institute of America
Institute of Culinary Education
Kendal College of Culinary Arts
New England Culinary Institute
L’Academie de Cuisine
Long story short, you may want to put in the extra time to look to see whether a school has accreditation, as these institutions typically have higher quality standards. Do you research and find the best fit - it will be worth it in the end!