Questions You Should Be Asking
Diploma program versus Degree program?
While many students choose to pursue a four-year degree program, there are those who thrive in smaller schools where they can pursue a lifelong passion. A diploma program at an industry-specific school allows students to actively learn through hands-on training in real working conditions.
At Arizona Culinary Institute, students work to earn a diploma in Culinary Arts, Baking and Restaurant Management. ACI's pragmatic education encourages a hands-on learner to succeed in ways that aren't available to them in other programs and has a proven history of success in placing over 90% of our graduates.
Do I need to take General Education classes?
While traditional degree programs require students to take a wide range of general classes, many industry-specific schools focus solely on courses related to their specific trades. ACI offers a culinary-only program, and therefore students are not required to take English Lit, Algebra or other General Education classes. Instead, ACI focuses exclusively on material that will help students pursue their passion and become successful professional chefs through extensive hands-on work in a kitchen setting.
Hands-on Learning versus Online Education?
Many schools have begun shifting to a virtual classroom model as a way of cutting costs and appealing to a broad spectrum of students. Though online education can be convenient, it is not without its drawbacks. ACI holds to the belief that there are some things that just can't be taught online. To learn proper cooking techniques students need to cut, cook, smell, taste and then receive feedback from a qualified Chef Instructor. Too much of the sensory experience of cooking is lost when relying heavily on online culinary training, rather than getting your hands dirty in the kitchen.
How much time is spent in the kitchen versus the classroom?
Culinary schools employ different strategies in balancing time in the kitchen and time in the classroom. Arizona Culinary Institute's teaching model incorporates a full spectrum of learning styles: hearing, seeing, doing, tasting and discussing. While some schools have had students spend as little as 20% of their time in the kitchen, ACI's curriculum calls for 80% direct kitchen time. Students are graded weekly, with both written and practical quizzes, to provide benchmarks for their progress, and exams evaluate the students' overall competency. Upon completion of the course, ACI graduates are comfortable and competent in the working kitchen setting that lies ahead in their future careers.
Large class size versus small class size?
Culinary schools come in all shapes and sizes, and the type of school students choose should fit their needs. Some students decide to enroll in large national chains, while many succeed with the one-on-one attention available in smaller, locally based schools. Arizona Culinary Institute is an authentic, community-minded culinary school that is not a part of a national chain. ACI places a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning and offers a low student–teacher ratio, which assures students that they will receive the individual attention that they are looking for (ACI never has more than 20 students in a classroom at a time). With small classes, Chef Instructors are able to work one-on-one with students to promote their passion, creativity and culinary skills.
When will I start cooking?
At ACI, students spend Day 1 learning the rules and expectations of the program. They then begin working in the kitchen cooking on the second day of school. For the remainder of the program, students spend roughly 80% of their time in the kitchen.
What is the importance of ACI's accreditation?
Accreditation provides assurance that culinary schools are engaged in continuous outside review of their curriculum, instruction and placement. Accredited schools are required to meet nationally endorsed standards in the profession and are kept accountable for achieving the goals set out in their respective charters. A prospective student should always make sure any culinary school they consider attending is currently accredited.
Arizona Culinary Institute is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and ACI received the 2009-2010 ACCSC School of Excellence award.
What is the "Paid Internship" requirement?
An internship offers students the unique opportunity to experience real-world working conditions while still in school, and it is a valuable experience that any student should pursue. ACI's internship requirement is meant to give students practical experience beyond the comforts of ACI's kitchens. Rather than sending inexperienced graduates off to look for a job on their own, ACI requires students to get practical work experience before they complete their diploma program. ACI employs a full-time Placement Director who will assist you in finding an internship location to finish your last block of instruction, and although on a rare occasion students accept unpaid internships, most are paid while completing their internship.
What is the school's placement rate?
Licensed and accredited Institutions are required to submit this information to their accrediting agency to maintain accountability in the industry. ACI has averaged a near to 95% placement rate over the past decade, even when the economy and job market were in decline. ACI always posts the most current information on our Placement Success page. Prospective students should always make sure they are getting the most updated information when looking at other schools and not an outdated number that may sound impressive.
What is the school's graduation rate?
Prospective students can get the most up-to-date information from the US Department of Education's website by searching for the school you are interested in and looking for the graduation rates.
How much will I make when I graduate?
Any student considering attending culinary school should keep an eye on the future and assess the career opportunities a school provides. Arizona Culinary Institute has shown consistently high job placement rates for graduates, even during periods of economic decline. ACI's success in placing students is a testament to our hands-on education method, which provides students with the foundation to succeed in the highly competitive culinary industry. That said, Arizona Culinary Institute would never guarantee a graduate's salary, as the culinary industry offers many different positions and pay scales based on skill set and region.
How much is the tuition?
Arizona Culinary Institute focuses on one program: Culinary Arts, Baking and Restaurant Management. Our tuition and program fee includes everything needed to complete your education. You can contact any admissions representative for the current tuition rate here or by calling 1-866-294-CHEF (2433).
Do you offer Financial Aid?
Arizona Culinary Institute offers a wide variety of financial aid programs to help you reach your educational goals. In order to make the process easier and less intimidating, ACI's Financial Aid Department provides personal assistance through all phases of the financial planning process. More information about ACI's financial aid offerings can be found on the Financial Aid page.
Are your graduates happy with their education after finishing your program?
Arizona Culinary Institute's graduates are proud of their school, and many are working in some of the most highly regarded restaurants in the country. ACI is committed to being the best non-corporate culinary school available and has a proven track record of placing students in highly competitive job markets. Because ACI is smaller than many of its national-chain competitors, it offers a hands-on education that gives students a rock solid foundation and proven placement resources that they can't find at other schools.
Students are welcome to repeat any class based on space availability at no extra tuition charge, and many graduates come back and take advantage of this opportunity. ACI works diligently to support students while they are in school and continues that same level of care and assistance throughout the career of the ACI graduate.