Requirements for applying to cooking school vary considerably depending on the type of program and competitiveness of the school.
- For instance, if you want to attend the Culinary Institute of America you will need to have graduated from high school or received a general equivalency diploma (GED).
- You will also need letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, and/or employers. Cooking schools do not require you to take the SAT or ACT, but if you have not you may need to take another qualifying entrance exam.
- Alternately, you may need to prove that you received an adequate grade in certain required classes at a college or junior college. Finally, you will have to demonstrate that you have worked for at least six months in a professional kitchen, working hands-on with fresh ingredients (that is to say, not a fast-food chain)
At the other end of the spectrum, there are no prerequisites for attending most casual cooking schools that offer no degree or certificate. These would include classes at private kitchen-shop schools, gourmet shops, or community extension classes (such as cooking classes held at the local high school on nights or weekends).
In between these two poles, you will find a variety of requirements. Usually they are not difficult to meet and are less rigorous than the requirements to get into most four-year colleges.
Culinary school is for working professionals. If you have what it takes to graduate and find productive work, you will almost certainly find a place at one.