Higher education is layered with several degree levels that designate different levels of expertise. In keeping with this well-established educational structure, a culinary degree can be one of different levels, too.
Perhaps the most common culinary degree awarded today is the associate's degree. This degree takes about two years to earn and is the perfect foundation for building a rewarding career in the food and beverage industry.
An associate's culinary degree is also very useful when applying for jobs in the hospitality field in general and for management positions in food-service establishments.
Less common are bachelor's culinary degree programs. One reason for the limitation of bachelor's degrees awarded is that the demand for such degrees is very new and most colleges and universities haven't developed educational programs that focus entirely on the culinary field as such.
Instead, degrees in food science, nutrition, and home economics are awarded in lieu of a culinary degree. These programs delve into some of the more scientific aspects of the culinary world but may not offer such thorough coverage of the skills and techniques needed to work effectively in the fast-paced commercial food-service establishment.
When studying for even an associate's culinary degree, a large portion of the coursework will cover the sciences behind the meal. Cooking is all about chemistry, thermodynamics, agriculture, biology, and botany. Students interested in learning more about these subjects as they relate to food will likely receive a degree in the science itself instead of a culinary degree.
More advanced degrees are available, too, and the studies behind them can be channeled in such a way as to represent a sort of advanced culinary degree. Once again, the degree itself is likely to be a master's or doctorate degree awarded in a specific science but it's quite possible to focus the subject matter of the research and writing required to earn the degree on some aspect of the industry of food.
One very comforting thing about higher education is that it can be resumed at any time. A student receiving an associate's degree may enjoy working in the industry for a while and uncover special interests within the field.
The discovery of a special interest may lead the student to seek a more advanced culinary degree in order to change the focus of his or her career path. At any level, a college degree offers an opportunity to explore an industry for a while and pursue it as practical, hands-on experience or in the classroom.
A culinary degree leads to those same opportunities.