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Start your career as a cook or chef's assistant 

Program facts  arts icon

  • Credit hours: 32
  • Stackable to degree: No
  • Potential job outcomes: Head cook, line cook, chef's assistant

Prepare for a career in the food service industry with this 32-credit-hour certificate program in culinary arts. Upon graduation, you’ll be ready to seek entry-level employment as a cook or chef's assistant.

Take classes in quantity bread and pastry arts, food standards and sanitation, menu planning, classical baking, cake decoration, food prep/production, introduction to the hospitality industry, dining room operations, garde manger, purchasing and storage, restaurant layout and equipment, wine/spirits/beverage management and more. All courses are taught by knowledgeable instructors who are experts in their fields.

Harper College is a great place to advance your education and explore various career paths that might interest you. Certificate programs like this one are extremely affordable, and you may qualify for an apprenticeship program which will allow you to graduate debt-free and have a full-time job lined up after graduation. You can also engage with the campus community by participating in leadership programs, honors classes, social events, concerts, entertainment, athletics and more than 60 student organizations.

Certificate program requirements

This is a 32 credit-hour certificate program planned to prepare students for entrance into the food service industry. Graduates may be able to secure positions as head cooks, assistant cooks, specialty cooks, or chef's assistants.


Number Course Title Credits
FSM 107 4

Description: Introduces basic quantity baking of breads and pastries. Students will learn the fundamentals of baking science, terminology, ingredients, weights and measures, formula conversion, and storage. Sanitation and hygienic work habits conforming to health regulations are emphasized.

FSM 109 4

Description: Introduces basic cooking skills that can be developed to produce quality food products. Students will learn fundamentals of cooking and baking through daily assignments and production. All aspects of the industry will be covered including proper handling and storage, heating and holding, weights and measures, safety, sanitation, and personal hygiene.

FSM 110 4

Description: Continues FSM 109 with special emphasis in the dining experiences. Students will prepare meals for the College dining room, banquets, catered functions, and special culinary arts events. Students will discuss theory as well as procedures in the “back of the house.”

Prerequisite: FSM 109 with a grade of C or better.

FSM 113 3

Description: Introduces theory and practice of quantity food serving including practical experience in dining rooms and catering services. Involves set-up, tableside preparation and presentation of food and beverage. Examines various roles of dining room personnel.

FSM 114 2

Description: Introduces safe food handling practices and discusses the standardized procedures involved in the procurement, storage, preparation, holding, and service of safe food. Prepares students for the State of Illinois-approved Food Service Sanitation Manager’s Certification test.

FSM 162 4

Description: Introduces comprehensive integration of previous culinary production course work or work experience and provides food production for the department’s special events, culinary competitions, and the College dining room. Demonstrations, food labs, and lectures are used to present the material.

Prerequisite: FSM 109 and FSM 110 with grades of C or better.

FSM 115 3

Description: Studies menu planning theory and principles for various types of food service operations. Examines the relationship of menu planning to the functional areas within food facilities. Menu planning and its importance as a determination of food cost, selling price, and profitability is also emphasized.

FSM 163 2

Description: Provides students with skills and knowledge in the preparation of cold hors d’oeuvres, sandwiches, salads, garnishes, pates, terrines, mousses, vegetable carving, chaud froid sauce, tallow, and ice carving.

Prerequisite: FSM 109 with a grade of C or better.

Electives: Select at least six credit hours from the following:

Number Course Title Credits
FSM 111 3

Description: Orients students to the hospitality industry, its organizational structure and integration of the modern industry components. Operational considerations are discussed. Career opportunities are explored.

FSM 172 2

Description: Concentrates on methods and procedures for producing high quality specialty tortes and buffet items for bakeries and fine dining clubs, hotels, and restaurants. Pulled sugar, pastillage, nougat, marzipan, chocolate, ice cream, candies, and desserts are included. Emphasis is on individual skill development through practice.

Prerequisite: FSM 108 with a grade of C or better.

FSM 173 2

Description: Presents methods and procedures for producing high quality wedding and specialty cakes for bakeries and fine dining clubs, hotels, and restaurants. Emphasis is on individual skill development through practice.

FSM 211 3

Description: Standards and identification of quality meats, dairy products, produce, groceries, frozen foods and supplies. Methods of purchasing, purveyor relations, and proper storage techniques and purchase standards for convenience foods.

FSM 212 3

Description: Studies the theory and techniques of supervision as related to the hospitality industry.

FSM 214 3

Description: Provides practical application of operational analysis used by food, lodging and travel-related fields. Use of ledgers, automated information systems and basic financial statements are discussed.

FSM 215 3

Description: Maximizing employee productivity through various types of food equipment and proper equipment arrangement. Effects of use of convenience foods on equipment planning.

FSM 216 3

Description: Studies alcoholic beverage classifications, alcoholic beverage laws, wine regions, purchasing and control, promotion and service. Beverage management principles and theories are presented which support and reinforce the practical aspects.

Prerequisite: Minimum age of 21.

FSM 220 3

Description: Provides Hospitality Management majors with a solid background in hospitality promotions. Focuses on promoting highly perishable, people-intensive intangibles in a highly competitive environment.

Related programs

Students interested in hospitality management may also be interested in:


Next steps

For more information about Harper's culinary arts program, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.