Six reasons to attend an accredited culinary program

This post was originally published in June 2019 and was updated in September 2019 to include the latest information.


There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a culinary school. You want it to be affordable, in a good location and staffed by experienced educators, as well as have great facilities. One thing you may not have thought much about though, is whether or not the program is accredited. Most reputable colleges and universities are accredited in some way. This means that the school meets certain educational standards and expectations set by an accrediting body.

The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation accredits culinary programs to ensure that they meet our requirements. This means that any culinary program the ACFEF accredits has been carefully evaluated to make sure it complies with the standards of excellence set by culinary professionals.

Here are some more great reasons to choose an accredited culinary program.

Students preparing to participate in a culinary competition. Toques must be worn in the classroom kitchen as a requirement of accreditation.
    • You’ll get hired.

      Prospective employers are more likely to hire you if you came from an accredited program. If you came from an unaccredited school, they can’t be sure of what you actually learned. A degree from an accredited program means that everyone knows you had a good education and learned what you need to know. The ACFEF also has industry partners which prefer to hire our graduates.

    • Your diploma will mean something.

      Unfortunately, there are a lot of fake schools or “diploma mills” out there. These institutions defraud students and take money without giving you much of anything in return. Choosing an accredited program means you’re protecting yourself from potential fraud and you can rest easy knowing that you’re going to a real school where you’ll get a real education.

    • You’ll get the most up-to-date knowledge.

      Accredited programs follow certain educational standards and are evaluated regularly. There is a high level of accountability and professionalism in these schools. If your program is accredited, you can trust that it’s up-to-date with current knowledge and you’re learning the most important skills to help you succeed.

    • You could come out certified.

      If you attend a culinary school that has been accredited by the ACFEF, you’re guaranteed to learn the basic skills that are required to begin your certification journey. Since accredited schools must follow a particular set of standards, a lot of the fundamental knowledge and practical skills required to pass certification exams are rolled into the curriculum. In many schools, you can graduate with your first level of ACF certification under your belt.

    • Your credits may be transferable.

      Many secondary schools participate in “feeder pipelines” which can expedite your entry into local higher education institutions. Check with your secondary program for possible credit transfer to a post-secondary program. Should you choose to start your education in one accredited post-secondary program and transfer to another, your credits may be transferable to the new program, again, check with the program coordinator and policies at the new school. Want to get your education in the U.S. then take your skills to another country? Most international bodies will recognize your degree as long as it comes from an accredited program.

    • Your ACF membership might be free.

      ACF recently announced two new Student Membership programs for participating ACFEF-accredited programs — one for post-secondary students and one for secondary students.

      Our new Post-Secondary Student Program allows ACFEF Accredited post-secondary programs to provide their culinary students individual Student Memberships in the ACF for a reduced rate of only $50 per student. This is a decrease of nearly 40% from the regular fee of $82.

      Our new Secondary Student Program provides free ACF Student Membership to any Junior or Senior student attending an ACFEF accredited secondary program.

      Students who wish to enroll outside this program because their eligible program does not participate — or their program is not ACFEF-accredited — must enroll at the current fees. Click here to find out more about this new initiative.

    If you want to find an accredited culinary school or learn more about how to get your program accredited, click here.