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Journey into the World of Food
Academic Programs

Journey into the World of Food
Academic Programs

Academic Programs

Brightwater approaches food as art, food as wellness and food as business to offer an entirely unique approach to the culinary arts. The school offers academic degrees in artisanal foods, culinary arts, pastry and baking, and beverage arts as well as courses that focus on culinary nutrition, food waste reduction and food security. Special classes in applied farming, seasonal cooking and the art of fermentation are among the many one-of-a-kind classes that can be found at Brightwater.

Brightwater's goal is to develop leaders who combine culinary skills with the ability to recognize and address complex food issues and provide world-class training for individuals, students and professionals at any point on their journey into the world of food.

Choose from the programs listed below to learn more. 

Plate of mushrooms

Artisanal Food

Brightwater's Artisanal Food degree path revitalizes authentic craftsmanship and the revival of lost culinary crafts, and prepares you for making an impact on the industry.

Artisanal Food

Pound cake with fruit

Baking & Pastry

Brightwater's Baking and Pastry degree path equips you with the foundation needed to build your skills and learn the science and technique behind baking and pastry arts. 

Baking & Pastry

Row of empty wine glasses

Beverage Arts

Brightwater's Beverage Arts degree path is designed to engage you in all facets of the beverage world and turn you into into an expert analyst in wine, beer and spirits.

Beverage Arts

Two people working in a kitchen

Culinary Arts

Brightwater's Culinary Arts degree path teaches you how to approach food in an exploratory fashion and gain an understanding of how flavor and food can impact human health and the environment.

Culinary Arts

Female with glasses and gray hair smiling


Brightwater’s Sous Chef Apprenticeship program provides a hands-on educational experience by combining classroom instruction and on-the-job training, allowing you to earn while you learn.


Culinary student pouring milk

Personal Enrichment

Not interested in pursuing a degree but rather brush up on your culinary skills with a course or two? Brightwater offers a variety of individual courses such as baking, butchery and culinary nutrition. Contact us to learn more.

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Program Recognition

The American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF), North America's largest professional chefs’ organization, awarded Brightwater's Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry programs with the exemplary status. 

American Culinary Federation Logo

American Culinary Federation Logo


Frequently Asked Questions

Since Brightwater is NWACC's culinary school, you will need to submit an NWACC application. During the admissions process, your point of contact will be the Enrollment Support Services. You can reach them by phone at 479-986-4000, by email at or by text at 479-309-5532. You may also schedule an appointment with an enrollment advisor.

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS degree) is Brightwater's most comprehensive program and can be earned in the areas of artisanal foods, culinary arts, pastry and baking, or beverage arts. It takes 60 credits (or two years) to complete the AAS degree, and 12 of those credits are general education credits.       

When pursuing a Technical Certificate, you'll learn the fundamentals of food studies. However, it does not go as in-depth into specific topics that you will come across in the culinary/pastry/beverage industry. The technical certificate requires 36 credits to complete, six of those are general education credits.

When pursuing a Certificate of Proficiency, you'll learn a simple baseline of fundamentals for culinary, baking and beverages. The Certificate of Proficiency requires 18 credits to be completed and does not include general education credits.

NWACC proudly offers Brightwater students an accessible and affordable higher education. Visit the college's Treasurer's office for detailed fees. Remember, financial aid is available for eligible students.

In addition to tuition costs, students will be responsible for the approximate cost of the items listed below to complete the program:

Item Approximate Cost
Uniform $150
Culinary Set    $250
Textbooks $400
Lab Fees Visit the Treasurer's office

Uniforms, textbooks and culinary sets are available through the NWACC Bookstore.

Except for rare schedule adjustments, Brightwater classes have start times of 7 am, 12:15 pm, and 5:30 pm. Kitchen classes are five hours long (7 am - 12 pm, 12:15 pm - 5:15 pm, or 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm). Lecture classes are three hours long and can be either twice a week for eight weeks or once a week for 16 weeks. Most classes run on a Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday schedule so students have back-to-back days in the kitchen.

Each semester is 16 weeks long, but Brightwater runs eight-week sessions for almost all classes.

If you are able to be a full-time student and take 15 credit hours each semester, then the projected duration of the program is four semesters. However, this can vary as it depends on your availability and course availability per semester.

Brightwater offers the following times to begin a program:

  • Fall semester: Late August and mid-October
  • Spring semester: Mid-January and mid-March