Bachelor of Culinary Arts – Assessment of Prior Learning (APL)

Have you worked in the food industry and want your skills formally recognised?

We offer a one year, distance programme that is ideal for those with experience in the food industry.

Using our Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) process, we measure your existing knowledge against the Bachelor of Culinary Arts and give you academic credit towards this degree. This process is especially valuable for those who are currently employed as you don't have to leave your job to achieve this qualification.

Location Duration Start Fees*
Distance One year Contact us for
the next intake
Domestic fee: $7,377
International fee: $24,980

*Fees include a student levy for access to student services. Fees may vary so please contact us for more information.

Entry requirements

You need to have worked in the food sector in positions that have allowed you to contribute towards the key decision- making process.

This could take the following formats (but is not limited to):

  • a chef who develops dishes, menus and production systems in a food workplace
  • a teacher who plans training and/or teaching and learning within a food context (this could include the development of lesson plans, curriculum design and the management of budgets)
  • a manager who is responsible for everyday operational or strategic management within a food context (this includes commercial, charity, volunteer and not-for-profit organisations)
  • a food product developer including product testing, marketing and branding
  • a food media producer, including food writing, photography, food styling, website design and graphic design.

If English is not your first language, you must provide:

  • New Zealand University Entrance OR
  • Overall Academic IELTS 6.0 with no individual band score lower than 5.5 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR
  • Acceptable alternative evidence of the required IELTS (see here for NZQA proficiency table and here for list of recognised proficiency tests).

Please also submit a letter of motivation and a detailed CV.

You may support your application with some examples of evidence (see examples in How APL works section).

Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identity and proof of residency (if needed).

“The lecturers were fantastic - really interested in you as a person - and this made you really want to get into it! I could get a degree without having to put my life on hold for three years.”

Alastair Bolland

Bachelor of Culinary Arts

Running Duck, Geraldine

Alastair Bolland

Alastair Bolland

The Running Duck, Geraldine

Alastair Bolland was pretty excited when he discovered that the Otago Polytechnic's Recognition of Prior Learning meant he could complete a qualification without leaving his job.
Al, who runs The Running Duck eatery in Geraldine, found working towards his Bachelor of Culinary Arts really enjoyable.

How APL works

This process helps you to connect your professional and personal learnings with the requirements of the Bachelor of Culinary Arts. In order to do this, we help you identify and/or collect evidence from your practice and transform it into a portfolio of evidence which meets the needs of the degree. You may choose to provide a few examples of evidence with your application. However, if you don't have this evidence or your evidence is of a limited nature, the APL process will help you fill these gaps in learning.

Examples of evidence

Further down the page are examples of evidence which you can include. Please note that these are guidelines so feel free to include any other material that you may think is relevant (English translations are required if your evidence is not in English).

Professional experience

This should include a detailed curriculum vitae that outlines roles and responsibilities, as well as the key skills gained.

Community/Volunteer experience

This can include examples of work with community groups or organisations. Please note that these do not necessarily have to be food related. In particular, we are interested in situations where you have taken on, or been involved in, a leadership role.

Examples of your work

This can include the following items:

  • Dishes, menus and food costings
  • Work plans, training plans, rosters, inventory systems
  • Lesson plans and curriculum design
  • Food products, marketing material (including social media such as Facebook pages and Instagram accounts) and business plans
  • Written or visual material that you have had published (articles, photographs, recipes)

Feedback in relation to your work

This may include:

  • References from previous employers
  • Feedback from clients
  • Newspaper or magazine articles relating to your culinary work
  • Blogs, reviews, or online articles about your work
  • Awards or recognition


Please include certified copies of all qualifications and transcripts, even if they are not food related.

Professional development

This may include:

  •  evidence of attendance at short-courses, master classes, etc.
  • evidence of attendance at relevant industry events, trade shows, conferences, etc.
  • professional memberships that are relevant

If you have any questions regarding the submission of your portfolio, please do not hesitate to contact the Food Design Institute.  

Email or phone 0800 762 786.

What happens next?

  1. Assessment of evidence
    Once you have submitted your CV and letter of motivation, we will arrange an interview and work out if the APL process is suitable for you. If it is, we will send an Offer Letter and once you have signed and returned this, you will be enrolled and invoiced.
  2. Facilitation
    As part of your study on the Bachelor of Culinary Arts, you will be assigned an experienced facilitator from our team. The role of the facilitator is to work with you to help you organise your experience, knowledge and skills through a series of activities that will allow them to align with the academic requirements of the degree.
  3. Learning pathway
    All learning occurs via distance. You will be enrolled in an Independent Learner Pathway (ILP) which allows you to start your degree at various times during the year. Working closely with your facilitator, you will undertake a series of activities which allows you to reflect on your professional experiences and align them with the academic requirements of the Bachelor of Culinary Arts.
  4. Report
    You will receive detailed feedback at the end of each learning activity and a detailed report from the assessment panel after your final oral presentation.
  5. Graduation
    This is one of the rewards for your hard work! We recommend that you take part in the graduation ceremony in March the following year as a celebration of your achievement alongside our on-campus graduates. You can also receive your qualification without participating in the ceremony. This is called graduating ‘in absentia’.

Please note: if you have a particular deadline for the award of your qualification, let us know as early as possible.

Apply now

Bachelor of Culinary Arts – Assessment of Prior Learning (APL)


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative only. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.