There are hundreds of culinary programs across the United States from short programs that can give you an introduction to the foodservice industry starting in high school to community colleges and private schools offering associate degrees and bachelors degrees in Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and Pastry Arts. High school programs include the National Restaurant Association Pro Start program that provides real-life experience opportunities in culinary and management skills training through an industry-driven curriculum.
Whether you choose a public or private school depends on your goals and also on your finances. Private schools including the Culinary Institute of America and Kendall College are recognized for their quality programs but their tuition is high, $65,000 for an Associate Degree at the CIA. Public institutions are more affordable, tuition is usually one third to one half the cost of a private school, but may not have the same standards or name recognition. The American Culinary Federation, the largest professional chef’s organization in the United States, accredits culinary programs based on a nationally recognized standards and competencies for faculty, curriculum and student services. Check this link for a list of accredited schools: http://www.acfchefs.org/ACFSource/Education/QualityPrograms.aspx
Regardless of what school you decide to go to, you should always look for scholarships and financial aid to minimize your tuition debt. Financial assistance is offered by the United States office of Federal Student Aid which provides grants, loans, and work-study funds for college or career school https://fafsa.ed.gov/ . Schools also have scholarships, some specifically geared towards a particular program or designated for women and minority students, so check with the institution to find out the criteria. Professional organizations including the American Culinary Federation, the National Restaurant Association, and the James Beard Foundation provide scholarships for individuals enrolled in hospitality programs too.