Culinary Sense

Adventures with Food and Life

Graduation with Distinction Packet

Graduation with Distinction Packet


Graduation with Distinction was created to recognize students who have chosen to challenge themselves beyond the requirements of an already rigorous program. Students who qualify will enhance their own education, and will contribute to the NECI community and the professional community by organizing and participating in a variety of activities and events.  This award is designed to recognize exceptional performance in the production lab and dining room as well as in the classroom.

While New England Culinary Institute is committed to maintaining a cooperative learning environment, each student is responsible for his or her personal achievement and the standards for successful completion of the Graduation with Distinction program are intended to be very high. The Institute also wants to encourage and recognize exceptional student effort and demonstrated leadership capability.

Students who earn Graduation with Distinction will receive recognition at the graduation ceremonies, a special distinction emblem on his/her diploma, and a notation on his/her transcript.

This Graduation with Distinction Packet contains instructions on minimum requirements and outlines procedures to follow in order to receive the Graduation with Distinction honor.

It is the student’s responsibility to request a Graduation with Distinction packet following a discussion of the program during orientation and to follow the guidelines and requirements discussed within the Packet.  Students are encouraged to discuss their involvement in the Graduation with Distinction program with instructors and program administrators, and to seek ongoing guidance on their projects from the Dean of Students, Dean of Culinary Affairs, and/or the Department Chair of their program.


In order to qualify for Graduation with Distinction, a student must meet the following minimum requirements over the course of the program:

  • Meet Standard or Exceed Standard in the area of Professional Behavior evaluations
  • Achieve “Exceeds Standards” for a minimum of 30% of all standards associated with the program
  • Internship(s) must be pre-approved by the Placement Committee for their appropriateness to a Grad with Distinction.  Evaluation by internship supervisor(s) must indicate a high level of performance on the job.
  • Student may receive one course Incomplete, but the course must be Complete by the end of the term in which it is received (or student must have a plan in place to complete)
  • Receive no demerits
  • Have no unexcused absences

The applicant must demonstrate and document ONE of the following extra educational efforts:

Research Paper: (may be completed during internship) Conduct a significant research and writing effort, which investigates some aspect of food and the industry.  Rough draft must be submitted to Dean of Students, Dean of Culinary Affairs, and or Dept. Chair in Mod/Term 3; final paper must be presented to faculty or faculty/student panel by end of 2nd residency. Minimum 10 pages. This may be the same effort used for the Academic Research Scholarship.

    1. Menu Project: (completion during residency is required) Create an entire menu with 6 apps, 8 entrees, and 6 desserts.  Menu layout, nutritional analysis, mise en place lists, and costing required. You must work with a Faculty Mentor to arrange the menu project and presentation.  The menu project must be submitted to the Dean of Students, Dean of Culinary Affairs, and Faculty and approved prior to presentation.  Conduct a professional presentation of the menu project to a faculty or faculty/student panel, and prepare 4 items (chosen by Dean of Students & Faculty) for the panel.
    2. Baking and Pastry Menu Project: Create a Dessert menu with 2 artisan breads, 1 show cake, 1 plated dessert, and 2 different Petits Fours. Menu layout, nutritional analysis, mise en place lists, and costing required. You must work with a Faculty Mentor to arrange the menu project and presentation.  The menu project must be submitted to the Dean of Students, Dean of Culinary Affairs, and Department Chair, and approved prior to presentation.  Conduct a professional presentation of the menu project to a panel consisting of faculty, students, Dean of Students, and Department Chair.
    3. Portfolio of work: (must be completed during residency). Create a comprehensive, professional documentation of your learning and achievements throughout the program; portfolio must demonstrate a high level of commitment to self-reflection and improvement. Must include: overview of class work and evaluations; goal-setting, job-search and internship plan; internship assessment and renewed goal setting; extra-curricular activities, and updated resume. Minimum 30 pages.
    4. Research Project: (completion during residency is required). Plan and conduct a research project involving the following steps. Look critically at an issue (genetically engineered food, Slow Food, organic menus, service/guest management trends, etc.) and research this topic. Choose an existing outlet/restaurant and seek ways to improve and develop that site by using your findings. Work closely with restaurant managers, members of the administration, and instructors to negotiate the issues inherent in your project. For example, you might decide to take a business proposal for change and enlarge upon it, putting your ideas to work in one of the outlets for a short while and then evaluating the project’s success. The final project must be submitted to the Dean of Students & Dean of Culinary Affairs & Faculty/Dept. Chair and must include a brief summary of written work and any additional, relevant aspects of the study.  Attach additional sheet(s) to report on the other research efforts. The Dean of Students and Dean of Culinary Affairs, Dept. Chair will select an appropriate instructor to approve, read, and critique the research effort.

The applicant must complete and document EACH of the following community activities:

  • Organize an educational event. Minimum ONE event. The event must be hospitality-industry related and must involve a minimum of 8 students. This may be either an educational event for students or a food & beverage-related, group community service project. (Survival Meals or Recreational Student Activities do not qualify for this requirement.)
  • Service to NECI: Minimum of EIGHT activities. Student exhibits a willingness to “step to the plate” within NECI’s own community. Sample activities: peer tutor, ad hoc committees, instructor try-outs, student work pool for kitchen/dining room support, assist with Alumni or Admissions events, special projects to assist NECI chefs, recreational student activity planning, survival meal execution, etc. Paid work shifts may be counted for up to 25% of this requirement; students may not ‘volunteer’ or work unpaid for any NECI work shifts beyond this 25%.
  • Participate in a professional organization through volunteer activities. Minimum ONE event.

Submitting the Graduation with Distinction Packet:

The student must submit a completed Graduation with Distinction Packet for review by a Faculty Committee one-month prior to leaving on internship (in programs with two internships, please submit 1 month prior to each internship). The Packet must include appropriate staff members’ signatures. The Packet will be reviewed again one month prior to graduation and must contain an internship performance update.

If necessary, a student must submit a Waiver Request to Dean of Students asking that a certain prerequisite be waived due to extenuating circumstances.

Accelerated and Advanced Placement students may participate in the Graduation with Distinction Program. Interested students may speak with the Department Chair, Dean of Culinary Affairs, or Dean of Students and Faculty.

Expectations for the Graduation with Distinction Packet:

The student is expected to consistently maintain this packet throughout the enrollment period and in each residency. It is recommended that the student keep individual copies of relevant materials that have been submitted. Relevant activities from internships may be included to supplement (but not replace) resident term activities (attach additional sheet). It is also expected that the Packet, when turned in, will be neatly presented and well organized.


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