Certification FAQs

Eligibility Criteria

Q. Who should I contact with questions about my eligibility?
A.  This FAQ list and the application are good places to find answers to your initial questions.  For any further questions contact RCA Headquarters.

Q.  To meet the CCS® food service criteria, do I have to take culinary arts workshops through the RCA?
A. No.  Any hands-on culinary arts courses – both for-credit and not-for-credit courses - taken through accredited institutions is acceptable.  By definition “hands-on” is approximately 25% instructor demo and lecture, and 75% student production.

Q.  I'm having trouble tracking down the contact information for a work reference.  Who exactly can be a work reference?
A.  A supervisor, co-worker or any other individual who is able to verify employer, dates of employment and job duties can be a reference. Please supply correct telephone numbers for all references.

Q.  I’m based outside of the U.S.  Can I still become certified? 
A. Yes.

CRC® and CCS® Certification Application

Q.  How much does certification cost?
A.  The application fee is $550 for RCA members and $1,000 for non-members.  This fee includes one examination. Candidates who must re-test are subject to an additional fee of $150 to cover administration costs.

Q.  If my card is charged, does that mean I'm approved to sit for the exam?
A.  Charging the application fee is one of the first steps in the application process.

Q.  How long does the certification approval process take?
A.  The approval process takes on average 8 – 12 weeks.

Q.  After I’m approved to sit for the exam is there a timeframe during which I must take and pass the exam? 
A.  Yes.  The exam should be taken within two (2) years of the application approval date.

CRC® and CCS® Candidate Status

Q. What is the CRC® and CCS® Candidate designation?
A. It is a pre-qualification step to Certified Research Chef (CRC®) and Certified Culinary Scientist (CCS®) certification.

Q. How much is the application fee?
A. The candidate application fees for members and non-members are $100 and $250, respectively, and may later be applied toward the CRC®/CCS® certification application fee.

Q. How do I become a CRC® or CCS® Candidate?
A. Submit an application confirming you meet at least one of the three eligibility criteria needed to sit for the CRC® or CCS® certification.  The RCA Certification Commission (RCACC) must then approve your application.

Q. Who is it for?
A. Any up and coming food scientist or chef who wants to let the food industry know they are increasing their food science and/or culinary competencies and gaining the skill set needed not only to be culinarily creative, but also scientifically sound.


Q.  What should I study for the exam?
A.  The answers to exam questions can be found in the most recent editions of Elementary Food Science (Ernest R. Vieira), Essentials of Food Science (Vickie A. Vaclavik and Elizabeth W. Christian), On Cooking: a Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (Sarah R. Labensky, Alan M. Hause), and Culinology: The Intersection of Culinary Art and Food Science (Research Chefs Association.) The CRC® exam tests baseline food science knowledge (90 multiple-choice questions) and culinary arts knowledge (10 multiple-choice questions). The CCS® exam tests baseline culinary arts knowledge (90 multiple-choice questions) and food science knowledge (10 multiple-choice questions).

Q.  How long do I have on the CRC®/CCS® exam?  
A.   Candidates will have two hours to answer 100 questions.

Q.  Where can I take the exam?  
A.   Once approved to sit for the exam, applicants are asked to identify a local-area college or university with an assessment center which will proctor an external pencil-and-paper exam, and to put RCA in touch with a representative.  Once we have confirmed the assessment center can maintain RCACC testing policies for the duration of the exam, then the candidate may schedule a convenient day/time to take the exam.  Exams can be taken at the RCA Annual Conference held in March/April each year.  

Q.  How soon will I find out my score?  
A.  Typically 2 – 3 weeks after taking the exam.

Q.  If I don’t pass, can I re-take the exam?  
A.  Yes.  The exam may be retaken.  There is a $150 re-take fee.  Credentialing industry data shows that the longer exam retake candidates wait to retake their exam, the better their chances of passing.  So, the Commission advises that a best practice is to wait to receive an exam report from RCA staff and then take the time to study before retaking the exam. 

Q.  How can I break down what to study into a manageable list?  
A.  The RCACC publishes a list of culinary arts and food science exam learning outcomes and names reference books in which the answers to questions may be found.  Cross-referencing the exam learning outcomes with the information in these books should be a very helpful study aid.  Also, please keep in mind that the exams test baseline knowledge.  

Q.  Are there any study guides or sample questions that I can use?
A.  Yes.  In addition to a published a list of reference books, RCA recently developed a study guide specifically designed to aid in preparing for the exam. You may download a copy of the study guide here

Q.  If culinary arts knowledge for the CRC® exam is only 10% of the score why is the list of competencies so long?  
A. That is a list of possible competencies.  Not all will be tested.

Q.  What do I do if I think none of the answers are correct?  Is there a way to comment on a question?  
A.  The RCA Certification Commission (RCACC) welcomes all feedback.  Feel free to write comments directly on the exam in the right margin next to the question.

Q.  Can I find out what questions I missed so I can study up on those? 
A.  No. But you will be provided an exam report. The report is broken down by competancy and within each competancy the report will show the percentage you achieved.

Q. How long are the exam results kept?
A. Exams are kept for five years and then purged upon certification renewal. But the assessment results will be retained indefinitely.

Q. How many CRC® and CCS® exam candidates took and passed their exam in 2014?
A. In 2014, 83% of the the CRC® exam candidates passed and 44% of the CCS® exam candidates passed.

Certification Renewal

Q.  Once certified do you have to recertify?  
A.  Yes.  The certification renewal period is five years.  At the end of five years, CRC®s and CCS®s must submit documentation of 75 contact hours of continuing education and a payment of $275 (RCA member fee).  For more detailed information click here.

Q.  If my card is charged, does that mean my application to recertify has been approved?
A.  Charging the application fee is one of the first steps in the recertification process.  

Candidate Confidentiality

Q. Does the RCA certification program have a candidate confidentiality policy?
A.  Yes. A candidate's status shall remain confidential unless otherwise stipulated.  Requests for release of related information must be made in writing by the candidate or certificant and submitted directly to RCACC.

RCACC shall maintain a list of certificants on the RCA website.