In July 2012 I visited the Denver campus of Johnson & Wales University.  The Denver campus opened in 2000 and is smaller (1700 students) than the original Rhode Island campus (11,000 students.)  All four locations (including Miami and Charlotte, NC) offer the same curriculum, so a student’s decision to select one over another is based on location, climate, and overall feel.

Johnson & Wales is located in a residential neighborhood about 15 minutes from downtown Denver and the professional sports locations.  It is on the campus of the old Colorado Women’s College and University of Denver Law School.  With 26 acres, historic buildings intermingled with contemporary facilities, and five residence halls, the campus has a traditional and inviting feel.


Popular Major(s):

I wanted to visit JWU because it is consistently recognized as one of the top universities for hospitality, business, and culinary programs.  Because of its specialized focus, JWU offered a limited number of majors.  Students can major in one of the following programs:

College of Business

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Fashion Merchandizing & Retail Marketing

Hospitality College

  • Hotel & Lodging Management
  • Restaurant, Food & Beverage Management
  • Sports/Entertainment/Event Management

College of Culinary Arts

  • Baking & Pastry Arts
  • Culinary Arts
  • Food Service Management
  • Culinary Nutrition

College of Arts & Sciences  (no majors in this college, just a general degree)


Upside Down Curriculum:

Unlike most universities where students spend the first year or two completing core requirements, JWU freshman take 2/3 of their courses in their majors.  The school year is divided into three 11-week terms and classes are held Monday through Thursday. Because many students like to work part-time during the year, JWU’s four-day school week opens opportunities for students to learn while doing

Johnson & Wales prides itself on hands on learning and all faculty must have a minimum of five years experience in their field. Additionally, all students are required to complete at least one internship where they spend a term working full-time at an approved business anywhere in the world.  With all the jobs and hands-on opportunities, many JWU graduates have jobs lined up prior to graduation.


An Accredited University:

During my visit, the admissions representative stressed the value of attending an accredited university as opposed to obtaining a culinary degree from one of the many technical or arts schools you hear advertised.  Johnson & Wales is regionally accredited by the same organization that accredits universities such as Harvard or Yale.  Attending an accredited institution is one indicator of quality, but is also an assurance that your course work and degree will be recognized by other universities, employers, and professional organizations.

If a student takes a year of course work at JWU and decides he no longer wants to continue in the program, he will be able to transfer his courses to another university.  A student who decides to go back and earn a graduate degree will find other universities recognize her degree from JWU.  Too many of the technical schools and art/culinary institutes you see advertised are not recognized by accredited schools. Credits from these institutions won’t transfer and employers or universities may not recognize unaccredited degrees.

chocolate projects from baking & pastry

chocolate projects from baking & pastry


The application for admission to Johnson & Wales is free and admission is done on a rolling basis which means applications are reviewed as they arrive. Once a program or campus is full, no more students will be admitted.  If you are interested in JWU, I’d encourage you to submit your application early, definitely before Thanksgiving.  JWU does NOT use test scores for admission, but scores are required for the honors program.

My favorite- chocolate Mr. Potato Head

Who Would Fit?:

As I walked around campus and looked into the classrooms, most which look like kitchens, dining rooms, stock rooms, and bakeries, it is clear that JWU is meant for students who like hands-on real-world experience.  Most students come in with a focus on one or more of the specialized programs at Johnson & Wales and are seeking a four-year degree.  I think the Denver campus gives students a traditional college atmosphere combined with the curriculum and experience JWU is known for.

Interested?  Give JWU A Try.

Summer programs are available for students entering their junior or senior year.  More information is available on the Johnson & Wales website.