Where Can I Take Cooking Classes in Northern Virginia?

Find schools in northern Virginia offering cooking degree programs and classes. Learn about state requirements, and get job growth and salary info for a head cook or chef living in Northern Virginia. Schools offering Baking & Pastry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Certificate, diploma, associate's degree and bachelor's degree options are available to students seeking cooking classes in Northern Virginia. Public and private schools offer this training; some schools offer on-site dining facilities where students taking cooking classes can get real-world experience preparing meals, developing menus and managing a kitchen. Certificate and diploma programs may concentrate on culinary arts classes only and career preparation; programs feature classroom and hands-on learning opportunities. You may be able to take a program that emphasizes a specialty, like Asian or American cooking. Internships may also be offered.

Degree programs in culinary arts and hospitality offer cooking classes, and they require that you take general education classes too, such as math and English. The curriculum includes hands-on kitchen training; internships or externships are typically required. You can specialize in cooking topics like baking and pastry arts. You may also learn management and business skills in preparation for employment or entrepreneurship. The area bachelor's degree program requires that you already have an associate's degree in the field or the equivalent in experience. Read on to learn more about these programs.


Culinary Arts Certificate Programs in Northern Virginia

Columbia College

  • Program: Culinary Arts of Chef Training Certificate
  • Program Length: 60 weeks of full-time study
  • Tuition: $13,500 (program cost as of spring 2012)
  • School Type: 2-year, private for-profit; nearly 400 students (all undergraduate)
  • Address: 8300 Merrifield Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22031
  • Phone: 877-307-2232

Columbia College is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, an agency that's been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. At this career and vocational school, you can pursue an instructional and lab-based cooking program that emphasizes Asian cuisine, food service and sanitation. Requirements for the certificate include courses in culinary arts theories and techniques, creative cooking and a restaurant-based externship.

As a student in the program, you can learn to choose, prepare and preserve quality fish products, make sushi and organize a dining menu. If you're interested in starting your own business, the curriculum also includes topics in commercial cooking and restaurant management.

Northern Virginia Community College

  • Program: Culinary Arts Certificate
  • Program Length: 31 credit hours (one year)
  • Tuition: $136 per credit hour for state residents and military contract students, $196 per credit hour for business contract students, $315 per credit hour for nonresidents (as of 2012-2013, excluding fees)
  • School Type: 2-year, public; approximately 50,000 students (all undergraduate)
  • Address: 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003
  • Phone: 703-323-3457

The Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College is located a little less than 15 miles from Washington, D.C. If you're interested in the culinary arts certificate, you can choose between a 1-year classroom program or an apprenticeship program that takes between one-and-a-half and three years to complete. The curriculum for both options includes topics in baking, cold food preparation, nutrition and menu planning.

The apprenticeship program includes one day a week of on-campus coursework and 6,000 hours of on-the-job-training under the direction of a professional chef. It's offered in conjunction with the Nation's Capital Chef's Association (NCCA) and can help prepare you for the American Culinary Federation Educational Institute's Certified Cook exam.


Culinary Arts Diploma Program in Northern Virginia

Stratford University

  • Program: Advanced Culinary Arts Professional Diploma
  • Program Length: 60 quarter credits (50 weeks of full-time study)
  • Tuition: $370 per quarter credit hour (as of 2012-2013, excluding fees)
  • School Type: 4-year, private for-profit; approximately 1,300 undergraduates and over 500 graduate students
  • Address: 7777 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043
  • Phone: 703-821-8570

Stratford University is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a commissioning body that has been recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Through the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, you can pursue a diploma in the culinary arts and acquire the training you need for an entry-level position in food service.

The core class in theory and sanitation covers topics in kitchen tools and staples, culinary measurements and dairy products. You'll also take courses that can teach you to prepare entrees, soups and sauces, as well as a variety of breads, desserts and pastries. Additionally, this program gives you a chance to take an elective in American regional cooking or international cuisine.


Culinary Arts Associate's Degree Programs in Northern Virginia

Columbia College

  • Program: Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts
  • Program Length: 92 quarter credits (two years of full-time study)
  • Tuition: $15,150 (program cost as of spring 2012)
  • School Type: 2-year, private for-profit; nearly 400 students (all undergraduate)
  • Address: 8300 Merrifield Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22031
  • Phone: 877-307-2232

The 2-year program in culinary arts at Columbia College includes over 1,000 hours of classroom and hands-on training, as well as general education classes in critical thinking, computer science, biology and speech. The program provides instruction in both Asian and Western cooking and gives you the opportunity to take beginning, intermediate and advanced courses in banquet techniques and services.

Individual classes include topics in fermented and world cuisine, food culture and science, party planning and baking. You can also study business and marketing aspects of food service management and have the chance to participate in an externship.

Northern Virginia Community College

  • Program: Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management with a specialization in food service management
  • Program Length: 65 credit hours (two years of full-time study)
  • Tuition: $136 per credit hour for state residents and military contract students, $196 per credit hour for business contract students, $315 per credit hour for nonresidents (as of 2012-2013, excluding fees)
  • School Type: 2-year, public; approximately 50,000 students (all undergraduate)
  • Address: 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003
  • Phone: 703-323-3457

At Northern Virginia Community College, you can pursue an associate's degree program in food service management that includes the study of food preparation and presentation, commercial cooking and catering. This is a career-oriented program that may help you acquire the management skills you need to work in a restaurant, resort, private club or institutional facility.

The course in food preparation emphasizes scientific concepts and techniques and includes the study of animal fats, carbohydrates, dairy and fish. On the creative side, a class in garnishing can teach you to work with food colors and shapes to create edible carvings and sculptures. Through lectures and labs in food production and catering, you can also learn to standardize recipes, oversee a commercial cooking venture or plan a catered event.

Stratford University

  • Program: Associate of Applied Science
  • Specialization Areas: Advanced culinary arts, baking and pastry arts
  • Program Length: 90 quarter credits
  • Tuition: $370 per quarter credit hour (as of 2012-2013, excluding fees)
  • School Type: 4-year, private for-profit; approximately 1,300 undergraduates and over 500 graduate students
  • Address: 7777 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043
  • Phone: 703-821-8570

The culinary arts associate's degree program at Stratford University is accredited by the American Culinary Federation and includes an option to complete some of your required coursework online. The core curriculum is identical to that of the diploma program, but you also need to fulfill an arts and sciences requirement. To meet this requirement, you can take classes in areas such as foreign language, oral communication, math and world culture. While the major in pastry arts includes some of the same core classes as the culinary arts program, you can also learn to make artisan breads, petit fours, plated desserts and wedding cakes.

Similar to the diploma program, both the culinary and pastry arts majors include a for-credit externship and the chance to receive on-the-job training at a school-designated site.


Culinary Arts Bachelor's Degree Program in Northern Virginia

Stratford University

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Management
  • Program Length: 180 quarter credits (140 weeks of full-time study)
  • Tuition: $370 per quarter credit hour (as of 2012-2013, excluding fees)
  • Prerequisites: Associate of Applied Science in advanced culinary or baking and pastry arts or equivalent coursework
  • School Type: 4-year, private for-profit; approximately 1,300 undergraduates and over 500 graduate students
  • Address: 7777 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043
  • Phone: 703-821-8570

If you'd like to learn more about what's happening in the restaurant field today, you might be interested in the 4-year culinary management program at Stratford University. Some of the issues you can discuss include current nutrition and safety concerns, demographic changes and the impact of new technology on management procedures.

The curriculum builds upon what you've learned through an associate's degree program and includes additional course topics in catering, financial and sales management, culinary traditions and gastronomy. To fulfill your elective requirements, you may be able to take classes in business, recipe development, seafood or the wine industry. Other program features include a number of culinary arts and restaurant-related seminars, as well as a required externship.


Career Information for Culinary Arts Students in Northern Virginia

If you're interested in taking cooking classes, there are a small number of public and private colleges in Northern Virginia that offer formal training in the culinary arts and hospitality. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you don't need a degree to work as a cook, and many professionals acquire their kitchen skills through on-the-job training. However, formal training can assist you in developing your culinary skills. Additionally, certification from the American Culinary Foundation could help you advance to a supervisory position and possibly increase your earning power.

Individuals thinking of opening a business should note that the health code for Arlington and Fairfax counties requires food service businesses and restaurants to have a supervisor with a Northern Virginia Certified Food Manager license on site at all hours. Licensure requires a passing score on a food safety exam.

Job Growth and Salary Info for Chefs and Head Cooks

The BLS reported that, as of 2010, just over 40% of cooks and 46% of chefs and head cooks worked in full-service restaurants. Between 2010 and 2020, the BLS predicted a slower-than-average increase in jobs for cooks nationwide (eight percent), with minimal or no change anticipated for chefs and head cooks. Prospects vary according to area of specialization, with chain and high-end restaurants and hotels offering the best opportunities for quality candidates.

According to the BLS, in May 2011, there were 2,360 chefs and head cooks employed in Virginia who earned annual mean wages of nearly $46,000. During the same month, there were approximately 27,000 restaurant cooks employed in the state who received salaries of almost $24,000 per year.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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