The Top 15 Pastry Schools in the US – 2024 Review

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The food industry is one of the most thriving industries and will continue to stay relevant even in the face of pandemics and diverse economic challenges. The fact of the matter is, regardless of our circumstances we’ve all got to eat. According to a forecast by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for line-cooks and chefs in the United States will increase by 10% between 2019-2029.

Therefore, ample opportunities exist for aspiring chefs and bakers who are willing to take the necessary steps for success in the culinary industry. Because a comprehensive pastry education is central to success in the pastry industry, choosing the right school that offers quality pastry education is your first step towards becoming the world’s next big pastry extraordinaire.

If you are a potential student trying to decide on the best choice of pastry school, the following top 15 pastry schools are worth considering based on the quality of culinary education, lab and kitchen facilities among other factors. Read on for more school-specific details! 

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CulinaryLab Contemporary Cooking School

Culinary Lab prides itself on being non-discriminatory in terms of student’s experience. That is to say, irrespective of your culinary experience there is always a place for you. As a result, the students may include aspiring chefs, home chefs, as well as professional chefs.

Located in Tustin, California, the school offers a modern and practical 12-month long professional Pastry Diploma for aspiring pastry chefs bakers committed to learning modern techniques with the hope of pursuing a career in a professional kitchen or bakery. It also offers other related courses in food science.

CulinaryLab School’s flexibility in class schedules makes it appealing since students attend live classes only twice a week, this ensures that people who work or balance being a mother, a caregiver, etc with school can also enroll . Limited class size (12 maximum) ensures that you enjoy full access to the instructor without getting them overwhelmed, and also addresses concerns about COVID-19 safety by allowing for proper social distancing in the classroom. 

However, these are not even the best aspect of the program CulinaryLab offers. In fact one of the most important qualities of a CulinaryLab education is the 1000-hour paid apprenticeship program, which many students opt into. The apprenticeship program allows students to learn directly from the head chefs of a variety of local, well-established restaurants while earning a respectable wage. This program is especially appealing to students who need to meet their financial obligations while attending school.

Via an apprenticeship, students can gain valuable insight to the inner workings of a professional pastry kitchen and apply their training in real time. The school is able to execute this aspect of its program through its various  affiliate partners made up of top pastry chefs and restaurateurs in Orange County and surrounding areas. 

CulinaryLab partners are chosen after meeting specific criteria set forth by the school. This ensures that students are sent only to the best and most credible restaurateurs within the local area.You can learn more about the apprenticeship affiliate program on their website.

You can also contact CulinaryLab for a 30 minutes phone interview geared towards understanding your vision and career goals in the culinary world and how the founder and CEO, Ryan Wagner and his staff can help you to realise your fullest pastry potential.

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Culinary Institute of America (CIA)

With a roster of over 150 world-class chefs including several pastry chefs, cutting edge kitchen facilities, culinary science labs and a conducive environment for learning, CIA tops the list as the best pastry school in the US. Located in Hyde Park, New York with several satellite campuses within and outside the US, CIA focuses on providing quality pastry education with emphasis on real-world apprenticeship experience – which plays a significant role in the eventual success of its students. The school offers varying degree options including both Associate, Bachelor degrees programs and more.

The students can choose between going for at most a 2-years long Associate degree program in Baking and Pastry Arts with at least 4-months externship and 44-days real stint in the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe or about a 3-years long Bachelor degree program in Baking and Pastry Arts Management. CIA is globally renowned with a lot of well-respected alumni, most notably top celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

International Culinary Center (ICC)

Previously referred to as French Culinary Institute, the International Culinary Center delivers top-notch Pastry and Baking Arts degree programs and more by combining both classical pastry techniques with modern trends. With legendary master chefs Jacques Pepin and acques Torres as deans of study, programs are designed with emphasis on key elements of fine pastry, ranging from production to presentation. ICC operates in both New York City and Campbell (California) with top-notch facilities that include; chocolate lab, culinary technology lab, hydroponic farm and mixology center.

Depending on whether you have prior kitchen experience or not, you can take up either amateur or specialist courses. Program can last for up to 8, 10 and 11 months depending on whether you enroll for morning, afternoon, evening or weekend classes. David Chang is a notable alumni.

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Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Art is one of the prestigious culinary institutions in the US. Headquartered in Providence (Rhode Island) with branch campuses in Colorado, Florida and North Carolina, the school offers both Bachelor and Associate Degree programs in Baking and Pastry Arts as well as other related courses with a compulsory internship. Among its numerous facilities are 52 kitchens and labs

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)

In 2016, the Princeton Review named Indiana University of Pennsylvania among one of the top institutions in the country. The Indiana University Academy of Culinary Arts offers an exceptional certificate program in baking, pastry and culinary arts, a 5-semester long program that is divided into 3 phases…

  •  The first phase involves a foundational class during which the students are taught the fundamentals of culinary arts
  •     In the second phase the student spends two semesters learning and mastering the rudiments of baking and pastry arts.
  •  The third and last phase enables the student to acquire on-the-job experience by undertaking a four months internship program in a top-tier hotel (4,5 or 7 stars).

This structuring enables the student to acquire vital skills that boost their chances of success in the culinary industry. The specific programs offered in the academy is the Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts as well as the Certificate in Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts.  

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Kendall College School of Culinary Arts

With about 93% of its graduates reporting employment within the first six month of graduation in their respective fields and a handful of its alumni haven’t won the James Beard Foundation award, Kendall College School of Culinary Arts is rightfully considered one of the best culinary schools in the US.

The school is located in Chicago and is equipped with a 12-professional grade commercial kitchen, specialized sugar/chocolate lab, outdoor bread oven, a sustainable garden and more, thereby providing an enabling environment for students hoping to pursue Associate Degree Program in Baking and Pastry Arts as well as other related courses. Programs last about six quarters and tuition is also affordable. Michael White is a notable alumni. 

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

In SNHU, students have an option to either pursue a 24-months long Associate Degree program in Baking and Pastry or Baking Certificate. The program is structured almost similar to IUP.

 In the first year, the student learns the fundamentals of baking and pastry making thereby laying a solid background that ushers them into the second year which is dedicated to the mastery of baking and pastry arts while also having an on-the-job experience in the university’s restaurant. 

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

Founded in 1895, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts is a global brand with campuses in London, Paris, Canada and Australia. The US campus is located in Hollywood and Pasadena in Los Angeles stretching as far as San Francisco. There is also a satellite campus in Miami.

Apart from its world-class facilities and conducive learning environment, the school is unique in that it takes relatively less time to earn a degree when compared to other schools. Therefore, one can easily earn a Diploma degree in Patisserie and Baking in less than 30-weeks duration except of course you hope to go for an Associate degree program which may last up to 15-month.

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The Art Institutes: International Culinary Schools 

With campuses located all over US cities including Houston (Texas), Miami (Florida), Atlanta (Georgia) and others the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes is among the dominant culinary schools in the US. The specific type of degree offered largely depends on the specific campus, however most campuses offer Associate Degree programs and Diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts. As part of one of the top Art schools in the world, the school is well equipped with kitchen facilities and labs to cater for the needs of the students.

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

With campuses in Boulder (Colorado) and Austin (Texas) and equipment that encompasses culinary technology labs fitted with a tandoor oven, rotisseries and others. The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts pride itself on its ability to provide quality culinary education for the next generation of chefs and bakers in such a way that enables them to compete favorably in the culinary industry. The school is an affiliate of Auguste Escoffier Foundation of which it is named after. Although it offers other degree programs, the specific program of interest for a potential pastry student is Diploma in Pastry Arts.

Sullivan University National Center for Hospitality Studies 

Founded by A. O. Silver and son A. R. Silver in 1962 and located in Louisville (Kentucky), the school is renowned for its exceptional chefs. During the 2008 Olympic in Beijing, the school was invited to cook for the athletes and sponsors (the first of such invitations among US culinary schools). There are a lot of program options to choose from but a student hoping to pursue a career in Baking & Pastry will most likely settle for a Diploma program in Professional Baking, Personal/Private Chef or an Associate Degree program in Baking and Pastry Arts.

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Culinary Institute, LeNotre 

Founded by Alain Lenotre and his wife, Marie Lenotre in 1998, and located in Houston (Texas), Culinary Institute, LeNotre,  prides itself on its exceptional pastry classes, with emphasis on classical French cuisine. The school boasts modern equipment including 10 kitchens and pastry labs. LeNotre offers Associate degrees and Diploma in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, hotel & restaurant management and Sommelier. 

San Diego Culinary Institute, San Diego

If you are hoping to pursue an Advanced Professional Diploma in Pastry, then San Diego Culinary Institute is the right place for you. Located in the city of La Messa, San Diego (California), this culinary school also offers Advanced Professional Diploma in Cuisine. It is relatively a small institution with modern kitchen equipment that guarantees quality education. Both of the degree programs last for a duration of 8 months including externship and costs about $23,556. 

80% of course work happens in the kitchen classroom, with 220 hours of externship. Strict class sizes are maintained at a maximum of 16 students per class.

Milwaukee Area Technical College

Located in downtown Milwaukee (Wisconsin), the school  offers varying degree options including Baking and Pastry Art, Culinary Arts, Catering and Restaurant management and many others. Students looking to pursue their culinary/pastry education in Milwaukee Area Technical College will benefit hugely from their state-of-the-art lab. The school also offers scholarship opportunities to well deserving students.

 Houston Community College

The Baking and Pastry program in Houston Community College (Texas) is tailored towards providing the student with essential theoretical knowledge and technical skills that will enhance success in the culinary industry. Students can choose to pursue either 24-months long Associate Degree program or Certificate program in Baking & Pastry Arts or more. While gaining these vital skills, emphasis is placed on food sanitation, equipment handling etcetera. The school also offers degrees in Culinary Arts