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This information applies to the US only. I don't know anything about how other countries's higher education systems work.

AOS stands for Associate of Occupational Science. It is basically a degree that includes some college-level credit. A certificate or a diploma indicate completion of a course of study, but no college credit value. Degrees are granted under the authority of an accreditation -- an outside agency, such as a state board, that examines the program content and determines that it is worthy of receiving college credit.

Certificates and diplomas are useful in that they show that you made it all the way through a course of study successfully. However, if you want to go further with higher education, such as getting a bachelor's degree, master's, or doctorate, and want to have a head start with some credits, a degree (AAS or AOS) is the way to go.

As for how useful any of these is in getting hired -- it's pretty much up to the people doing the hiring. My guess is when they require a "culinary degree " sometimes they really mean degree, sometimes just proof of completion of a training program.
 

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Dear Nick.shu --

Here in the States, some private technical and vocational schools can grant an "Associate" degree. So can Community Colleges , which are 2-year programs, and part of the public (state or local) university system. The credits you earn at a community college can often be transferred to a 4-year program, to receive a Bachelor's degree. (Although not all course work translates credit-for-credit.)

So, for example: New York City Technical College, which is part of the City University (itself part of the public university system of the State of New York) grants an Associate degree. People who receive this degree could go on to a Bachelor's somewhere else, probably having to pick up credits in academic subjects.

Another example: Johnson and Wales University (private) grants 4-year (Bachelor's) and 2-year (Associates), and probably some other degrees as well. CIA -- that is Culinary Institute of America, not the spies -- does the same, as well as running "continuing education" courses for people who already have some type of degree but are not working on a higher one.

HOWEVER: if you complete a course at Peter Kump's (oops, sorry, now it's the "Institute of Culinary Education"), you receive a certificate, but NO college credit. If you want a degree, you have to go to an accredited school that has been authorized to grant them.

As you see, the name of the school does not necessarily indicate much. I hope this isn't even more confusing!
 
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