A degree is nothing more than a collaboration of general education courses, ie., math, algebra, history, biology, english, etc. A culinary certificate means you have studied the art of food preparation, the science behind it, sanitation, hospitality, knife skills (which improve with experience), culinary math, formulas and recipes, etc. The whole nine yards. I have been cooking for over 40 years, yet just decided to make it a profession.
You can obtain a degree in anything and adding a culinary certificate only means you studied various subjects that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the culinary arts, except a degree in business management.
I think you should obtain your certificate at an approved college and you don't have to shell out 50,000+ to obtain it. I am a veteran and the VA provided me with sustenance to get mine. I don't understand why someone would command a higher salary just for having a degree in say, "basket weaving" than someone who obtained a certificate in culinary arts and is experienced and talented.
I will be receiving my certificate in restaurant management in the Spring 2014, and one day when my mind is rested enough to absorb it, I'll resume the only class coming between me and my AA degree is ALGEBRA, ugh! Until that day, however, my skills and certificate will definitely take me where I need to be. Who knows?