CIA or Johnson & Wales, RI. Curriculums?

Joined Mar 19, 2010
Hello! I am planning on pursuing a career in the baking and pastry arts field, and since I am a junior, I have to begin to decide which college I am going to for this (Bachlor degree).

I know that I have to visit each college, because everyone is different and everyone likes something different, however I would love your opinions!

Honestly, I don't care about the social life or amount of money.  I mean, I do, but that wont make my decision.

What I really want to know, is which has the better curriculum! Which one am I going to learn more from? I know I get what I put in at both, but which college will really teach me more?

Thanks so so so much!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif
Joined Dec 16, 2008
 Honestly, you are going to get a solid education at either school from what I understand.  If money is not an issue, I would probably choose CIA over J + W but it's not to say J + W is a bad choice.  

Visit the campuses and get a feel for each one and then enjoy your decision.  
Joined Apr 23, 2010
CIA is very well known as is J&WU. I think it depends on what you are looking to get out of the program. You should visit both campuses and talk to the heads of the program. I know a master chef and he told me that the name of the school matters when you get your first job, but then after that it doesnt matter where you went to school. What matters is your cooking talent/skill. Go wherever you feel like you would get the most valuable education. Most people would choose CIA.
Joined Apr 29, 2010
I had to go through that same choice after leaving the army. i mean its all paid for no matter where i go so that wasn't a problem. i ended up choosing JWU because of the teaching style. either way though both are going to be a good choice i think.
Joined Nov 27, 2010
As a CIA alum, you could accuse me of being biased, but it isn't just my loyalty to my alma mater that makes me say: CIA for sure. It opens doors like no other. An employer with a bunch of resumes on his desk will ALWAYS give the one from the CIA student a second glance, if not an invitation to trail in the kitchen. The CIA at Hyde Park has an unparalled library, lots of acclaimed staff and the added advantage of its proximity to NYC. I would put my money down there.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
 That is your opinion only. I don't care what school or no school  just let me see for myself in the kitchen. 

 For the 1000th time ""It is not the school, it't the student''
Joined Oct 28, 1999
If money isn't an object... Why not make a visit to each campus and talk with current students? I would bet that something will just 'click' at one of the campuses. As it has come up many times before, there is no one-size-fits all solution; some people need a big school away from home, some do well at a local, community college and others do well going straight into industry. Ultimately, it is what is the best fit for you.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Going to say this for the upteenth time:

Go and work in a restaurant or two BEFORE you sign on the school's dotted line.

I'm also 100% behind what Ed says about the student, not the school being the deciding factor.
Joined May 10, 2010
Being an Alum. of the J&W 4 year program I have to say that it is top notch.  Before I decided I looked at both schools and I thought that CIA may be a bit stronger for Culinary but in Baking & Pastry J&W had them beat.  At that time J & W had much more lab time than classroom time and the best way to learn is by doing.

J&W has 3 campuses each with their own strengths but I have to say that since the University is based in RI many of the best Chef's are there.  I understand that they have also done a major remodel since then.  So all of the labs are new and many of the faculty are as well.

You have to know that J&W is a 2 + 2 program, you do your 1st 2 years and have to apply for the 2nd two.  Only 13 of us were accepted and 12 finished.

I agree with others that it will help you to get your 1st job but the base of knowledge that you have is huge which will help you throughout your career. 
Joined Dec 17, 2009

C.I.A. = Cook It, Again! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif A B.P.S. degree from C.I.A. does not mean that you will necessarily succeed in the trade. The last 2 years [Junior, Senior years] would be mostly Management courses. Why not get better baking and pastry training elsewhere, and then earn a Baccalaureate degree in Bakery Science, Hospitality-, Culinary-, Restaurant-Management at a university?

Do not be enamored with the marketing and hype about C.I.A., J. & W., etc. What you can do for the Pastry Chef or Executive Chef is what will keep you employed or not. I don't mean to sound callous, but this is a ruthless industry, and no one cares if you have a B.P.S. from the C.I.A. Only C.I.A. cares if you spend your parents' money for their exorbitant tuition.

I would rather suggest to you, that you consider getting your manual trade skills at one of the 4 following schools, and then see you resume your education at a university to earn a B.A. or B.S. degree. That way, your parents will feel better for you and your future job prospects.

The top 4 schools for Baking and Pastry Arts in the U.S.[Perhaps 5 or 6, when Stephane Treand's school opens.]:

Private: NSPA, FPS, MOF Stephane Treand will be opening The Art of Pastry school in California, FCI-CA [FCI-NY].

Community Colleges: CMPC Pastry Instructors teach at both of these schools:

GRCC [Tuition] Program Goals, Brochure: Gilles Renusson, Ten Best Pastry Chefs 2007, World Pastry Cup USA Team,

Schoolcraft College [Tuition]: Introduction, Pastries, Baking, Joseph Decker, ACF Culinary National Team USA

More about GRCC & Schoolcraft here.


KSU: Bakery Science and Management

UNLV: Culinary Arts Management

Cal Poly Pomona: Hospitality Management

CSUF: Food and Nutritional Sciences

ACF Certification or RBA Certification is what many employers are requiring today.

J&W is a private, business university, which offered a Culinary Arts Program, in order increase their profits. I do not begrudge them for that. CIA is the oldest private, culinary/cookery school in the U.S.A., and in recent years, offered a B.P.S. degree. IMHO, it did so, in order to increase their profits.

Please read, So You Wanna Be a Chef by Anthony Bourdain,

and you might want to read, Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America.

Whatever you decide to do, please proceed cautiously before signing the contract at an expensive, glorified, trade school, such as C.I.A.!

My point is that it is not mandatory to attend such exclusive schools in order to become a proficient, or successful cook, baker, pastry cook in the trade.

Finally, another option, is an ACF Pastry Cooking Apprenticeship Brochure. Good luck in your future endeavors. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif
Last edited:
Joined Oct 28, 1999
No one cares if you have a B.P.S. from the C.I.A. Only C.I.A. cares if you spend your parents' money for their exhorbitant (sic)  tuition.
I would be cautious making blanket generalizations. There are many paths to follow, especially more paths than the "top 4 schools" mentioned. As it has been said many, many times throughout this forum, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Many professionals/professionals-in-training do well in smaller, community college programs. Some do well by making the break away from familiar territory and going to a larger school, while others do well by exploring options like the military for job training or going straight into industry. I think that by categorically saying some schools are "glorified" is an insult to the attendees and the graduates. There is no denying that those schools have helped launch the careers (and instilled requisite job skills) of many successful chefs.
Joined Dec 7, 2010
ok so it's simple. get a job baking in a bakery and do that.  people need to stop putting this industry in the same perspective as becoming some kind of academic in that you need to go to culinary school.  you're going to spend all that money to go to school and the kids who didn't and just entered the field are going to be 100 miles ahead of you when you graduate from where ever you choose.  that's not to say they aren't necessary (for career changers).  but you're like 17 or something, you just became conscious for god sakes, go get a job in a bakery first.  i saw way to many fresh out of high school dimwits who want to be the next cake boss or bobby flay and then realize it's a terrible industry for them and they really can't stand it.  if you end up in school though, and you want you're career to peak as a sous chef somewhere nice and then go on to an eternity of trying hard to get back to the top but this time "on top" as exec chef but keep landing dead end do nothing jobs, than i def suggest jwu.
Joined Jan 13, 2011
I've had both good and bad from both schools. It's all about what YOU put into the education. A degree is a great thing to have but you have to prove you can do the job first and foremost in this industry. Most of my best employees have been graduates from a community college culinary program. It's all about your drive and desire to be something in this world.
Joined Jan 4, 2011

Being that this thread is a little bit old (4 months before Deacon), I'm just going to laugh at this comment. It was obviously said by someone who has not been a student of the CIA. 

... and no one cares if you have a B.P.S. from the C.I.A. Only C.I.A. cares if you spend your parents' money for their exorbitant tuition.
Joined Dec 17, 2009

/img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif If you cannot argue issues, you resort to making ad hominem attacks against me rather than debating issues. If you are intent on provoking a flame-war, I will deny you that satisfaction. I refuse to engage in any flame-war. I have read your previous posts on other threads and I am already considering the source. Your attitude and conduct exemplifies the snobbery and elitism of many spoiled, pampered, coddled, wealthy, private, cookery-school graduates. "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

90% of C.I.A.'s graduates quit the cooking trade only 3 years after graduation, which is from C.I.A.'s own statistics, as told to me by a chef-instructor, an alumnus of C.I.A. -- Cook It, Again! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif

He and many chef-instructors whom I have known, including other working-chefs, had conceded that C.I.A. was not worth their exorbitant tuition, and that they have become an over-rated, overpriced, de facto diploma-mill, which does a great disservice to its students by misleading and overcharging them. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif

Is it a wise purchase to buy an automobile for $100,000+ when 9 out of 10 of them experience catastrophic failure and are fit only for the junkyard after its 3rd year? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif

I do not know of any Human Resources Director who will offer a Cook It, Again! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif graduate a $100,000/year Executive Chef job upon graduation without any previous experience. Employers invariably disregard the school's degree, regardless of the cost to attend said school, but regard the job-applicant's: previous work-experience, work-ethics, job-skills, ability to take direction, or follow instructions[e.g. follow a recipe/formula, comply with the Company's standards, policies, etc.], self-motivation, personal hygiene, sobriety, civility, ability to work under pressure, efficiency, effectiveness, ambition, industriousness, loyalty, willingness to work: weekends, holidays, overtime, and for the lowest wage offered, etc.

I had once met a C.I.A. alumnus working in a petrol-station/convenience store, and at a bar, flipping hamburgers and steaks... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
Last edited:
Joined Sep 20, 2010
One of the many things I enduringly love about working in the middle of a restaurant line is the variety of paths which the cooks on either side of me have taken to arrive there and to roll out beautiful food in top fine dining style. I've worked with people whose training ranged from that of most every major culinary school to the fundamentally self taught, from the U.S. army to the full course Parisian Cordon Bleu,           and agree wholeheartedly with the previous conclusions that it is the individual's drive, personality, talent and true joy in the field which determines their ultimate shot at success as I've witnessed both stellar and sad results from most all origins.

If you are genuinely interested talk your way into a kitchen with high standards and you'll soon learn where you want to go.   Start wherever you like and work hard enough to linger wherever you truly love it or chances are that you may settle for less than spectacular.

To keep growing in this challenging industry that simply will not be enough.

Good luck!
Top Bottom