Culinary Education as an Alternative to College

If you’re getting ready to graduate from high school and you’re still unsure of your next step, you might be considering some alternatives to the traditional four-year college. If you love cooking or baking—or even if you’ve thought about a career in the kitchen—International Culinary Center’s professional programs may be the next step in your education and on your road to a fulfilling, rewarding career.

Build the Culinary Career of Your Dreams

Many high school graduates who’ve spent time in the kitchen know that their next step is culinary school and choose International Culinary Center in either New York or California. Nick Wuest, a student in ICC’s Pastry Arts program, also decided to pursue his passion for pastry right out of high school. During his search for the right culinary school, one visit to ICC’s New York campus helped him make the decision.

“As soon as I met the students and faculty [at ICC], I felt home, a feeling that was only reinforced by my first chef-instructor, Chef Tom Jones.” –Nick Wuest, Professional Pastry Arts November 2015 graduate, who now works as a pastry cook at American Cut

Alumnus of ICC’s first-ever graduating class in 1984 and Food Network superstar Bobby Flay came to the culinary school in New York City when he was only 18 to start his training in the kitchen. Other alumni like Professional Pastry Arts graduate Mame Sow, now with two executive pastry chef roles on her resume, also started their culinary training as a teenager. Sow graduated from Park West High School’s Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) in New York, which helped her earn a scholarship into ICC’s program as the next step in her pastry education and career.

The Kitchen is a Classroom for the Non-Traditional Learner

Cooking school isn’t just for those who have always dreamed of a culinary career. Students who struggle in the traditional classroom—listening to lectures and learning straight from textbooks—may find greater success in a hands-on environment like the classroom kitchen. Having a passion for cooking and an active learning style can set you up for great success at ICC.

Starting on the very first day of class in the Professional Culinary Arts and Professional Pastry Arts programs, students observe live cooking demonstrations, then get to work trying the recipe on their own. Under the guidance of expert chef-instructors, students learn essential techniques, recipes and equipment through this Total Immersion curriculum method.

Unparalleled Support from Instructors

The support that surrounds each student at ICC sets its programs apart from four-year college tracks. Professional-level class sizes at ICC are small, with low student-to-teacher ratios, meaning each student gets individualized feedback and attention on their work to help them improve.

Students are also encouraged to participate in workshops provided by chef-instructors outside of class time to get any extra help they may need to master techniques and recipes, and tutoring is available as well. One student reviewer on College Prowler described the unparalleled support students receive in the kitchen:

“The chefs walk around and can give individual attention to any one person at a time. We are also learning skills to help us in a kitchen to understand what it is like to be there and do what normal chefs do every day.” – Student review from College Prowler

A Fast-Track Alternative to College

If you’re tired of the typical school environment and you’re ready to start your career, enrolling in a four- or two-year college degree program might seem overwhelming and time-consuming. When you join one of ICC’s professional programs, you can earn your culinary diploma in just six to nine months, meaning you can get into the industry sooner. ICC ensures that each student is prepared to start their career from graduation day onward, bolstered by internships and Career Services advisers who help the school’s alumni throughout their career, something even the finest educational institutions do not offer.

“All students manage to stay focused—it’s a lot to learn in a short period of time so there is no time to waste. I have a passion for cooking which made my experience fantastic and I enjoyed every moment.” – Student review from College Prowler


Get a Culinary Education and a College Degree

Even if you’re sure you want to get a culinary education, getting a college degree might still be important to you and your long-term career goals. ICC’s partnership with The New School in New York City allows students in Professional Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs to earn credit toward a bachelor’s or associate’s degree at the university in addition to their culinary diploma, with priority admission and no SAT or ACT score required.

A partnership with Pace University’s BBA in Management – Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) program allows students in Lubin’s BBA HTM program to take ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts Program with priority admission, and graduates of the Culinary Program will be able to transfer 15 credits toward the Pace BBA HTM program, rounding out their education.

Learn more about our College Degree + Culinary Diploma program or contact us to discuss the next step in your education.

ICC Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities for High School Graduates

Just like financial aid for traditional college, federal loans are available to eligible culinary students including Pell Grants, Direct Stafford Loans and PLUS loans—designed for parents helping to pay for their child’s education. Many students also take advantage of loans from private lenders to help cover the costs of culinary school tuition. New Jersey and California residents are also eligible to receive additional federal and state funding for their culinary education.

ICC also offers a number of scholarships for which high school students may be eligible to apply. Students and families of students applying to ICC can explore other scholarship resources or contact us to learn more.

Upcoming Open House for High School Students and Recent Graduates

Perspective students ages 15-20 are invited to join ICC faculty at the SoHo, New York campus Saturday, October 21 for an Open House. Young adults interested in seeing the culinary campus and learning more about ICC’s professional programs are welcomed to come meet the chef-instructors and get information about the professional programs, the Total Immersion curriculum, financial aid, career services and more. Register for an open house or—for those unable to attend—schedule a visit to plan a trip to explore the New York or California campuses.

Not Graduating Yet? Check Out Our Culinary Camp for Teens

It’s never too early to start thinking about your culinary career—and ICC’s classes and camps for teens can help you get a head start before graduating high school and applying for your professional culinary training.