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Chipotle expands debt-free degree program to new majors, universities

hands holding diplomas

Chipotle Mexican Grill has given a major upgrade to the debt-free degree program that it offers employees.  

The fast-casual chain  said it will now offer debt-free degrees in agriculture, culinary  and hospitality to all eligible employees in partnership with education and upskilling company Guild Education.  Chipotle originally rolled out the education benefit in 2019 when it said it would pick up the cost of tuition for 75 different types of business and technology degrees (also via a partnership with Guild). The chain also offers a tuition reimbursement program where employees can be reimbursed up to $5,250 a year at the school of their choice.

In the extension of the degree program, after 120 days of employment, employees will be eligible to pursue degrees from leading nonprofit, accredited universities, including The University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Paul Quinn College, Southern New Hampshire University,  Wilmington University and the University of Denver. Johnson & Wales University, and Oregon State University will join the roster soon, the company said.

"Diversifying our debt-free degree program with new majors and partner universities makes our educational benefits even more inclusive," said Marissa Andrada, chief diversity, inclusion and people officer at Chipotle. "Through our partnership with Guild, we are committed to accelerating our employees' professional growth and helping them achieve personal success by offering opportunities to pursue career paths in their particular area of interest."

Here are specifics on the new degrees.

Starting on April 13, eligible Chipotle employees will be able to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences or Rangeland Sciences online from Oregon State University. The chain noted that it has committed  $5 million over five years to help remove barriers and enable the next generation of farmers and ranchers to succeed.  

Culinary and Hospitality 
Chipotle will be the first of Guild's employer partners to offer debt-free culinary education through renowned culinary institution Johnson & Wales University later this year. The brand will work collaboratively with JWU and Guild to bring associate and bachelors' culinary arts degrees online, as well as an additional Bachelor of Science degree in Food Industry Compliance Management.

The associate degree in Culinary Arts will include an experiential education component to give students hands-on opportunities to build their culinary skills. In addition, Chipotle employees will have the opportunity to pursue a selection of bachelor's degree programs in hospitality from Bellevue University, JWU or Oregon State University. 

Supply Chain
Later this year, Chipotle will also offer an expanded selection of supply chain programs from Oregon State University and the University of Denver. The company currently offers supply chain degrees from Bellevue University, Brandman University, and Southern New Hampshire University.  

The debt-free degree program is a key component of Chipotle's “Cultivate Education” program, which also includes the existing tuition reimbursement benefit. To date, crew members using the benefit are 7.5 times more likely to move into a management role within the company, Chipotle said.

Chipotle had over 2,750 restaurants as of December 31, 2020, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. It is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants.  


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