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2021 Best Value Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Schools

Highlighting Quality Schools With More Affordable Pricing

129 Colleges
$6,220 Avg Tuition & Fees*
$24,331 Avg Salary

Finding the Best Culinary Arts Associate's Degree School for You

In 2018-2019, 26,643 culinary arts students received their degrees and certificates, making the major the #9 most popular in the country.

Today's trade school students have lots of options to pick from when considering higher education opportunities. You can choose a traditional brick and mortar school, or with the growth of online education, you can attend a school half-way across the country without even leaving your house.

To assist you in seeing some of the education options that are available to you, Trade College Search has created its Best Value Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Schools ranking. This report analyzed 129 schools in the United States to see which ones offered the best value associate's degree programs for culinary arts students. The goal was to highlight schools with more affordable prices than others offering similar quality experiences.

Our ranking of value is based on the quality of a program as defined in our per sticker price dollar. Specifically, our score for quality is discounted by the published tuition and fees charged by the given college. This gives the cost per unit of quality for each college. The more quality your dollar buys, the better the value.

In our regional and nationwide rankings, out-of-state tution and fees are used in our calculations. For statewide rankings, we use average in-state tuition and fees.

2021 Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools in the United States

The following schools top our list of the Best Value Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Colleges.

Top 15% Best Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Schools

Our analysis found Southeast Community College Area to be the best value school for culinary arts students who want to pursue a associate’s degree in the United States. Located in the city of Lincoln, Southeast Community College is a public school with a medium-sized student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Southeast Community College are $3,096 per year. Culinary Arts majors at Southeast Community College take out an average of $15,769 in student loans while working on their Associate's Degree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $134, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

Southeast Community College also claimed a spot on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list. It’s in the top 10% of all schools in this category.

Full Culinary Arts at Southeast Community College Area Report

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#2

Johnson County Community College

Overland Park, KS

The excellent associate’s degree programs at Johnson County Community College helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best value culinary arts schools in the United States. Located in the midsize city of Overland Park, JCCC is a public school with a large student population.

JCCC undergraduate students pay an average of $6,690 in tuition and fees each year. While working on their Associate's Degree, culinary arts majors at JCCC accumulate an average of around $12,449 in student debt. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $128.

JCCC excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list.

Full Culinary Arts at Johnson County Community College Report

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You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools list. Southwest Tech is a small public school located in the rural area of Fennimore.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Southwest Tech are $6,481 per year. While working on their Associate's Degree, culinary arts majors at Southwest Tech accumulate an average of around $9,190 in student debt.

In addition to its great value ranking, Southwest Tech is in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list.

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#4

Kirkwood Community College

Cedar Rapids, IA

Out of the 129 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, Kirkwood Community College landed the # 4 spot on the list. Located in the midsize city of Cedar Rapids, Kirkwood Community College is a public school with a fairly large student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at Kirkwood Community College are $6,970 a year. While working on their Associate's Degree, culinary arts majors at Kirkwood Community College accumulate an average of around $16,424 in student debt. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $169.

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Out of the 129 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, Clover Park Technical College landed the # 5 spot on the list. Located in the small city of Lakewood, CPTC is a public college with a small student population.

CPTC undergraduate students pay an average of $5,740 in tuition and fees each year. Culinary Arts majors at CPTC take out an average of $15,418 in student loans while working on their Associate's Degree.

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#6

Saint Paul College

Saint Paul, MN

Saint Paul College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for culinary arts students to get a associate’s degree. It came in at #6 on the list. Saint Paul College is a medium-sized public school located in the large city of Saint Paul.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Saint Paul College are $5,736 per year.

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With a ranking of #7, San Jacinto Community College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for culinary arts students working on their associate’s degree. Located in the large suburb of Pasadena, San Jacinto College is a public college with a fairly large student population.

San Jacinto College undergraduate students pay an average of $5,040 in tuition and fees each year.

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Metropolitan Community College ranked #8 on this year’s Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools list. Located in the large city of Omaha, MCC is a public college with a large student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at MCC are $4,545 a year. While working on their Associate's Degree, culinary arts majors at MCC accumulate an average of around $9,288 in student debt.

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Fox Valley Technical College ranked #9 on this year’s Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools list. FVTC is a fairly large public school located in the midsize suburb of Appleton.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at FVTC are $6,688 a year. The average amount in student loans that culinary arts majors at FVTC take out while working on their Associate's Degree is $11,865. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $121.

As a testament to the quality of education it offers, FVTC also is in the top 10% of our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools ranking.

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#10

Hennepin Technical College

Brooklyn Park, MN

Hennepin Technical College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for culinary arts students to get a associate’s degree. It came in at #10 on the list. Hennepin Technical College is a small public school located in the suburb of Brooklyn Park.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at Hennepin Technical College are $5,248 a year. While working on their Associate's Degree, culinary arts majors at Hennepin Technical College accumulate an average of around $14,989 in student debt.

Hennepin Technical College excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 20% of all schools on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list.

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Gateway Technical College came in at #11 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools ranking. Located in the midsize suburb of Kenosha, Gateway Technical College is a public school with a large student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Gateway Technical College are $6,575 per year. After completing their Associate's Degree, culinary arts graduates from Gateway Technical College carry an average student debtload of $16,352.

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University of Hawaii Maui College came in at #11 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools ranking. Located in the small city of Kahului, UH Maui College is a public college with a small student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at UH Maui College are $8,414 per year. After completing their Associate's Degree, culinary arts graduates from UH Maui College carry an average student debtload of $14,548.

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#13

Savannah Technical College

Savannah, GA

With a ranking of #13, Savannah Technical College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for culinary arts students working on their associate’s degree. Located in the city of Savannah, Savannah Tech is a public school with a small student population.

Savannah Tech undergraduate students pay an average of $5,422 in tuition and fees each year.

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Kapiolani Community College came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools ranking. Located in the large city of Honolulu, Kapiolani CC is a public school with a moderately-sized student population.

Kapiolani CC undergraduate students pay an average of $8,420 in tuition and fees each year. After completing their Associate's Degree, culinary arts graduates from Kapiolani CC carry an average student debtload of $12,409. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $106, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

On top of its placing in our value ranking, Kapiolani CC also did well on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#15

Del Mar College

Corpus Christi, TX

Del Mar College came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools ranking. DMC is a fairly large public school located in the city of Corpus Christi.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at DMC are $5,441 per year.

DMC also claimed a spot on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

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#16

Southern Maine Community College

South Portland, ME

Southern Maine Community College ranked #16 on this year’s Best Value Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Schools list. Located in the small city of South Portland, SMCC is a public college with a moderately-sized student population.

SMCC undergraduate students pay an average of $6,604 in tuition and fees each year. The average amount in student loans that culinary arts majors at SMCC take out while working on their Associate's Degree is $11,835.

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Cincinnati State Technical and Community College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for culinary arts students to get a associate’s degree. It came in at #17 on the list. Cincinnati State is a medium-sized public school located in the large city of Cincinnati.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at Cincinnati State are $8,379 a year. The average amount in student loans that culinary arts majors at Cincinnati State take out while working on their Associate's Degree is $17,482. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $152.

On top of its placing in our value ranking, Cincinnati State also did well on our Best Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Trade Schools list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

Full Culinary Arts at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Report

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#18

Saint Louis Community College

Saint Louis, MO

With a ranking of #18, Saint Louis Community College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for culinary arts students working on their associate’s degree. Located in the suburb of Saint Louis, Saint Louis Community College is a public college with a large student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Saint Louis Community College are $6,645 per year. After completing their Associate's Degree, culinary arts graduates from Saint Louis Community College carry an average student debtload of $10,050. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $88.

Full Culinary Arts at Saint Louis Community College Report

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#19

Gwinnett Technical College

Lawrenceville, GA

Gwinnett Technical College landed the #19 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value associate’s degree culinary arts programs. Located in the large suburb of Lawrenceville, GTC is a public college with a medium-sized student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at GTC are $5,636 a year. On average, culinary arts graduates from GTC take out $11,900 in student loans while working on their Associate's Degree.

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Honorable Mentions

Here are some additional great value schools for Culinary Arts students seeking value that almost earned our Best Value Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Schools award.

Rank College Location
20 Columbus Technical College Columbus, GA
21 Macomb Community College Warren, MI
22 Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee, WI
23 El Paso Community College El Paso, TX
24 West Georgia Technical College Waco, GA
25 Schoolcraft College Livonia, MI

Culinary Arts by Region

View the Best Value Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

One of 3 majors within the trade school area of study, culinary arts has other similar majors worth exploring.

Culinary Arts Focus Areas

Major Annual Graduates
Culinary Arts/Chef Training 12,205
Baking & Pastry Arts/Baker/Pastry Chef 4,964
General Cooking & Related Culinary Arts 4,765
Restaurant, Culinary, & Catering Management/Manager 1,802
Food Preparation/Professional Cooking/Kitchen Assistant 1,210
Other Culinary Arts & Related Services 734
Bartending/Bartender 289
Culinary Science/Culinology 225
Institutional Food Workers 193
Wine Steward/Sommelier 112
Food Service, Waiter/Waitress, & Dining Room Management/Manager 98
Meat Cutting/Meat Cutter 46

Related Major Annual Graduates
Cosmetology 103,674
Funeral & Mortuary Science 1,965
Other Personal & Culinary Services 320

Notes and References

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to U.S. Army Europe Images.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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