CIA Baking and Pastry Arts Associate Degree

  • Learn to run your own bakery or café, create eye-pleasing and delicious cakes, and prepare desserts for world-class events through the CIA Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) in Baking and Pastry Arts degree. Our industry-experienced faculty at The Culinary Institute of America California campus will ensure you receive a hands-on learning experience that provides you with the foundation for a successful career. After you’ve earned your degree in less than two years, you’ll be trained to design superb chocolates, confections, pastries, and plated desserts. A CIA associate degree is the perfect way to seamlessly enter our bachelor’s-level programs. Or hit the ground running by pursuing a CIA bachelor’s degree in your first year!


    • Throughout your education, learn to create artisan breads, desserts, pastries, chocolates, and confections.
    • Understand the basic fundamentals of cooking, food safety, cost control, gastronomy, menu development, and wines.
    • Learn pastry techniques, nutrition, principles of design, baking ingredients and technology, and hospitality.
    • Using a variety of techniques and presentations, bake simple and complex cakes and tortes.
    • Hone your skills with courses every business owner should know, including management, communications, and finance.
    • Through a semester-long paid internship, gain real-world experience at one of CIA’s 2,000+ food industry partners.
    • By working in the CIA’s student-staffed Bakery Café by illy, experience firsthand how a successful bakery café is operated. All CIA restaurants are public-facing, fully operational retail dining establishments that serve more than 333,000 customers annually.

    Ready to get started? Apply Today!

    Fully Baked Opportunities

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employment opportunities for chefs, including dessert and pastry chefs, will grow nine percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the national average for other careers. You’ll find plenty of employment opportunities at:

    • Bakeries
    • Bistros
    • Hotels
    • Private clubs
    • Resorts
    • Restaurants

    With so many possibilities, our Career Services staff is ready to help you every step of the way. There’s no network like the CIA network, which includes some of the world’s most renowned culinary, beverage, and hospitality experts.

    The list of celebrated CIA alumni is as diverse as it is extensive. They’ve found success doing what they love. Now it’s your turn.


    The 69-credit AOS in Baking and Pastry Arts degree program includes:

    • 55.5 credits in baking and pastry arts requirements
    • 7.5 credits in liberal arts requirements
    • 6 credits in business management requirements

    You will get a hands-on experiential foundation in the baking and pastry arts, including specialty breads, confectionery art, production desserts, design, advanced baking principles, menus, and café savory foods.

    As part of your degree program, you’ll get real-world experience during a semester-long internship at one of more than 2,000 CIA-approved businesses, as well as in the kitchens and dining rooms of the CIA’s award-winning public restaurants.

    See catalog for curriculum details

    Requirements for Admission

    • A high school diploma or GED credential.
    • Recommendation—One character letter of recommendation is required. It should be from an employer, teacher, or professional colleague either within or outside the foodservice industry. The letter should address your commitment to the food world, problem-solving ability, and persistence in either work or academics.

    How to Apply

    Baking & Pastry School Costs

    The CIA is very committed to making your CIA education as affordable as possible. Our costs are comparable to similar colleges, and here’s even better news—more than 90% of our students receive some form of financial aid.

    Don’t let applying for financial assistance keep you from going to the world’s premier culinary college. No matter what your individual circumstances are, we will work with you to help make attending the CIA an affordable investment in your future in the world of food.

  • Sarah Baldwin, CIA baking and pastry arts alumni. Photo taken at Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, New York, NY.

    Alumni Spotlight

    Sarah Baldwin
    Creative Director, Ron Ben-Israel Cakes
    Read about CIA alumna Sarah Baldwin, who is currently working at her dream job: Creative Director for Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City.
    Makenna Barnes, Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts student at the CIA in California.

    Student Spotlight

    Makenna Barnes
    Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
    From a very young age I had a passion for baking. As a little girl I always helped my grandma bake for every occasion.
  • 100% of CIA students get real-world experience during externships—there are more than 2,000 approved sites!