Johnson and Wales: a New England gem
Do you dream of owning your own restaurant, being a world-renown pastry chef, or winning awards for your chocolate creations? The food world has countless dimensions, and Johnson and Wales is a center for them all. A private co-educational school that was founded in 1914, the Providence, Rhode Island university means business with its mission to provide an “exceptional education that inspires professional success and lifelong personal and intellectual growth.”
The facilities on the attractive 126-acre sprawling Rhode Island campus are a foodie’s dream, including the magnificent Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Notable alumni include the world-famous celebrity chef and author Emeril Lagasse, chef and television host Tyler Florence, and celebrity chef and reality television personality Chris Cosentino.
Johnson and Wales has expanded its academic offerings dramatically over the years, including programs in business, hospitality, engineering and design, fashion merchandising, culinary arts, criminal justice and the liberal arts. According to Admissions Officer George Malavasic, Johnson and Wales is the world’s largest culinary school, with 3500 students from over 90 countries studying the culinary arts including baking and pastry.
Whereas many culinary programs are non-degree, Johnson and Wales is an accredited institution at which students can achieve an Associate’s degree after the first two years, a BS and even an MBA. The first year at Johnson and Wales is experience-based, focused on cooking and serving; sophomore year is packed with labs that combine artistic creativity with internships as well as a general curriculum with introductory courses in human resources, business, and management. According to Mr. Malavasic, the student-faculty ratio is 24:1, and the school has 49.3 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. There are currently 88 professors at the Providence campus alone.
In addition to the world-famous College of Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales has a College of Arts and Sciences with a School of Science & Liberal Arts and School of Professional Studies as well as a School of Engineering & Design, College of Health and Wellness, College of Management – School of Business and School of Hospitality, a Center for Physician Assistant Studies as well as Graduate Studies. There is also an online school. Popular majors include Foodservice Systems Administration/Management; Parks, Recreation and Leisure Facilities Management; General, Hotel/Motel Administration/Management; Business Administration and Management, General and Culinary Arts/Chef Training.
The school also offers an accelerated degree program known as the “4+1.” According to Mr. Malavasic, students who complete three years of undergraduate study with a minimum 3.0 GPA may take three complimentary graduate courses in their senior year. If they successfully complete these courses, there are nine remaining graduate classes in the MBA program that may be completed in one year of study.
There are some prerequisites that must be met, including courses in Micro and Macroeconomics and accounting, so not every undergraduate major will qualify. “I encourage students who are interested to select a business-related undergraduate major or use their elective courses to take the prerequisites,” advised Mr. Malavasic.
The Harborside campus, which is set right next to Narragansett Bay, is completely smoke-free. The Cuisinart Center is spectacular and worth a tour on its own. It houses the Coors Brewing Laboratory and the International Baking & Pastry Institute with hot and cold kitchens, bakeshops and pastry shops, dining rooms, meat-cutting and meat processing rooms, receiving and storeroom, an oenology and beverage service laboratory, and culinary purchasing offices. The labs offer state of the art technology including laser screen ovens, and there is an 18:1 student: professor cap in the kitchens.
The academic program adheres to a trimester schedule over the standard academic year which begins in September and ends in May. There are three 11-week terms within that interval with breaks between the last week of November and the first week of December, in the middle of the winter term and between the last week of February and the first week of March. Students must complete a one-semester internship: They can travel anywhere in the world, experience working with a new and exciting cuisine, and get a grade! The summer is traditionally an off-term, but some students do elect to complete the study abroad program or internship at this time and thereby accelerate their graduation date, according to Mr. Malavasic.
Many famous professionals are proud alumni eager to help the students get a start in the business by coming to speak at the campus and offering exciting internship opportunities. Job opportunities abound upon graduation from Johnson and Wales: There is a great deal of corporate sponsorship and tremendous opportunities for job placement. Over 300 companies come to campus to conduct interviews.
The Providence campus stands out with its beautiful athletic fields and an excellent state-of-the-art gym and training facility; there are lots of opportunities to cheer on Division 3 Wildcats and to participate in lots of clubs. There is also a Downcity campus which gives students a chance to experience living and especially dining in Providence, which is one of the best cities for foodies, with over 300 restaurants, according to Travel and Leisure.
Johnson and Wales is on the Common App, is test optional and offers rolling admissions.
Providence Campus: 8 Abbott Park Place, Providence, RI 02903. 800-342-5598. There are also campuses in Charlotte, North Miami and Denver. Information sessions and guided tours are recommended, and they are well worth the trip!
Next stop: College of the Holy Cross!