The length of time it takes to get a culinary degree depends on a number of factors, including the school, the type of degree, and even what culinary subset you work toward. A simple certification can take as little as six weeks. Getting a bachelor's from the Culinary Institute of America, however, takes much longer and starts even before you step foot on campus. One of the requirements among major culinary schools is that you have some experience in the culinary field to start with.
The Culinary Institute of America's program has its students take more than 38 months of formal training, including more than 1,000 hours of hands-on cooking and baking, to earn its bachelor's certification.
Just learning how to cook isn't enough to qualify you for the degree, however. Most programs also have you do an externship to affiliated restaurants to garner hands-on experience at the professional level. These are not short stints; they last as long as 18 weeks.