How Much Does Cooking School Cost?

Thinking about going to culinary school? Or cooking school? Are you wondering how much it will cost and whether it’s going to be worth the investment?

We took a look behind the scenes to see if we’d recommend investing in cooking school. Here’s our conclusions.

How Much Does Cooking School Cost?

While the cost of cooking school varies from school to school, there’s not a dramatic difference between programs either. 

Cooking school is comparably expensive when you examine the costs of graduate programs and that’s because kitchens require a lot of equipment and trainee cooks need a lot of ingredients to work with. 


A typical semester’s costs can be as much as $16,500! With tuition costing nearly $13,000, the application and confirmation costs coming to $150, nearly $1,400 required for your tool kit, uniforms and textbooks, another $1,350 for rooms and a general fee of over $600!

And these programs can run for a long period of time, The Culinary Institute of America’s full program is 9 semesters long – for a total of $148,500! 

The cheapest program we could find was with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and that was $34,279 excluding the cost of board and tools. 

How Much Competition Is There For Cooking School?

Bad news. 

There’s a lot of competition for these schools and it’s rising. 

The New York Times estimated a rise of 30% year-on-year for those seeking admission to cooking school.

Is Cooking School Worth The Cost?

How badly do you want to work as a chef? 

Today, the hard truth is that there’s stiff competition to get into cooking school, it costs a lot of money to complete the program and there aren’t a lot of top jobs waiting for you.

Trainee Cooks

Most cooking school graduates can look forward to several years of poorly paid work before starting to land a chef’s role with a semi-decent salary and many other cooking school graduates will never get to use their qualification at all because they won’t get a job of any kind in cooking. 

If you’re prepared to work incredibly hard and focus on your career, top chefs can earn a fortune, but the payoff will be a long time coming. 

Alternatives To Cooking School 

learn how to cook

If you want to be a professional chef, there’s probably no good substitute for cooking school but if you just want to learn how to cook better, then you can check out these awesome cooking channels on YouTube, join an online cooking class, listen to cooking podcasts for aspiring chefs, read great food blogs like these ones for kids or even turn to a great cookbook.  

Final Thoughts On The Costs Of Cooking Schools

There’s no doubt that cooking school is the best way into the cooking profession today and that the huge cost of cooking school can be a worthwhile investment in a career. 

But if you’re just looking to improve your own cooking skills, you might want to try something a little cheaper and easier.