Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America


By Carolyn M. Tragni, Dean—Academic Engagement and Administration

There’s no doubt, the food profession is exciting—there’s plenty of energy, creativity, fun, and self-fulfillment to be had. It’s why so many people have such a strong passion for it.

But here’s another reality of our industry: it’s competitive, it’s a business, and you need to be prepared to compete. You and your student have goals, with a lifetime of success and good earning potential both probably pretty high on the list.

More Learning Means More Earning
While it’s not easy to quantify the full value of an education, there’s plenty of information to support the notion that the higher a degree you earn, the better your ultimate earning power will be. We don’t make the rules—we let the data do the talking, like the latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on median usual weekly earnings for individuals 25 and over:

Bachelor’s degree holders: $1,173
Associate degree holders: $836

That’s nearly 30% more per week for bachelor’s graduates! Extrapolated out to 52 weeks, that’s about $17,500 more per year. The BLS also cites that, within the same demographic, the unemployment rate for bachelor’s grads is almost a full percentage point lower than their associate degree counterparts.

Growing as a Professional—and as a Person
There are plenty of other benefits that don’t carry a dollar sign but are just as valuable. Bachelor’s students learn advanced principles, in greater depth, about topics crucial to the increasingly complex food world. They greatly expand their “tool box” of skills. They gain essential experience managing not only the intricate facets of the food business, but their everyday personal lives. Plus, there are many more opportunities to build a strong professional network.

And that’s not all. Bachelor’s students are more likely to be hired for—and more quickly promoted to—leadership positions within a company. At a recent CIA Career Fair, the director of talent acquisition strategy for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ron Emler, had this to say: “Three of our managers are CIA bachelor’s degree graduates, which accelerated their moving up the organization much more quickly...and they’re rocking it, they’re doing great!”

Why am I telling you all this now?

  • It’s a reminder that there’s more earning potential and opportunity out there for your student with a CIA bachelor’s degree in hand. (And we offer master’s degrees now too, if they want to take it even further.)
  • The timing is absolutely right. Once students have earned a CIA associate degree, it’s only about 18 additional months (or even fewer) to continue on and receive the bachelor’s. That’s easier and more efficient than leaving the college...working for a while in the industry...deciding they want more...and then interrupting their career to come back for the bachelor’s.
  • There’s still generous financial aid available for students in their junior and senior years.

Everyone here at the CIA wants what’s best for your student. It’s in that spirit that I urge you to make a smart business decision. Encourage your student to strongly consider staying on at the college and earning a CIA bachelor’s degree while they’re here. They’ll not only be better able to compete in the food world—they’ll be ready to lead it.


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Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499