Affordable culinary schools in the US for international students

us culinary schools
Community colleges offer a more affordable and practical education in the culinary arts that seldom leave students in debt after graduation. Source: Frederic J. Brown/ AFP

Culinary school doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, there are many affordable options out there — and they come in the form of a community college education.

Despite their reputation for being second-rate, community colleges are working to develop an education in the culinary arts that rival prestigious, private US culinary schools in one major aspect: practicality. Due to the pandemic, restaurants in the US are facing a shortage of capable, competent staff, and many turn to community colleges in their hiring processes.

This helps combat the one challenge many graduates from US culinary schools face: finding a job after they complete their education. Graduates of even the most prestigious culinary schools earn only between 2% to 11% more than chefs with high school diplomas.

International students considering a community college education certainly have more options available to them — and, most importantly, US culinary schools that don’t cost a fortune to attend. Here are some of our top picks:

Restaurants in the US are facing a shortage of capable, competent staff, and many turn to community colleges in their hiring process. Source: Oli Scarff/ AFP

Affordable US culinary schools for international students

Butler Community College 

Butler Community College offers both a two-year degree or nine-month certificate, giving you full flexibility to tailor your education around your future career goals. Learn the history and fundamental techniques of the professional kitchen; analyse ingredients and use taught techniques to maximise their flavour; prepare stocks, butcher meats, bake classic French pastries, and more. Here, you’ll be given all the preparation you need to progress onto the next stage of your culinary career.

Yearly tuition for 30-credit courses at Butler Community College typically costs around US$8,000 — a relatively low price for an education in the culinary field. A number of scholarships are available for students across a variety of categories as well.

Sussex County Community College

At Sussex County Community College, you’ll receive an education that’s tailored to the needs of the local community — giving you a high chance of finding employment as soon as you graduate. To boost this, you’ll be given training on the technical and management skills required to work in restaurants and food service operations, as well as opportunities to work in real-world environments.

The two-year programme is designed to support your journey into the culinary world, with advisors and practising instructors there to guide you the entire way. On top of that, it may cost you as low as US$5,840 per 16 credits, and if you’re struggling with your fees, you can opt for a list of scholarship options that support Sussex students in their education every year. It’s certainly a great option if you’re considering cost-friendly US culinary schools.

Culinary Arts at the University of Hawaii Maui College

At the University of Hawaii Maui College, students are grounded in the foundational skills of the culinary world in two specialty areas: Culinary Arts and Baking. This two-year programme is competency-based, focusing on the skills, knowledge, and attitudes you’d need to succeed in the hospitality industry.

On top of that, its Culinary Arts programme is fully accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC), speaking for its quality and standards of education at a lower price.