Best Online Hospitality Management Programs

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Behind every memorable vacation and enjoyable overnight accommodation is a hard-working team of hospitality professionals. This exciting industry encompasses a wide range of careers, from tour guides, concierges, and chefs to the managers that oversee hotels, casinos and resorts.

Online degree programs in hospitality management focus on the fundamentals of business finance and guest services. Working in hospitality can also be hectic at times, so students in this field are encouraged to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills essential for those high-pressure moments. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management will be eligible for supervisory roles in the industry, as well as specialized occupations like event planning, guest assistance, catering, caretaking and food/drink preparation. Dietician is another popular career path among these graduates; the requirements for dietitians vary by state, but students can easily pursue a certification program once they have earned their bachelor’s degree.

Below, you’ll find our list of the country’s best online degree programs in the field of hospitality management. Each of these programs provides students with the skills they’ll need to keep guests content while managing hundreds of employees in a high-stress, fast-paced work environment. These programs have been ranked on the merit of their academic strengths, positive learning outcomes, course offerings and virtual classroom experience for online students. If you’re considering an online degree in hospitality management, this list will serve as a useful starting point in your search for the right program.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

East Carolina University

 2/558.63%Greenville, NC

campus_East_Carolina_University

Geared towards students concerned about balancing an academic workload with full time work or family obligations, the hospitality management degree online is offered via distance education as a completion option allowing students with college credit to complete the last half of their Bachelor of Science degree online. Three concentrations within the BS in hospitality management are offered, including food and beverage management, lodging management and conventions and special events management. The online courses are typically delivered using discussion forums and real-time chat sessions; flexible and convenient formats that were selected due to their ease of use for both student and instructor. The same faculty that teach the on-campus courses teach the online versions as well. Detailed, year to year and semester to semester breakdowns for each concentration can be found here.

Dr. Robert O’Halloran, chair of the School of Hospitality Leadership received his Ph.D from Michigan State University and maintains research interests in the areas of tourism and property development, food and beverage and lodging management, and teaching and learning methods.

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2

Florida International University

 2/554.19%Miami, FL

campus-Florida-International-University

FIU’s BS in Hospitality Management is offered fully online, blending academic instruction with hands-on experience, some of which takes place at the prestigious South Beach Wine and Food Festival. In addition to the undergraduate online hospitality management degree, FIU also offers two graduate degrees, one an M.S. and the other an "Executive M.S." designed for people who have at least five years of professional hospitality experience.

Programs are designed to provide access to interactive technology 24/7, real-time feedback from faculty and also pairs every online student with a dedicated success coach. FIU is ranked "Best Value" in higher education, listing its students among the least indebted college students in the nation according to the U.S. News & World Report.

With over twenty years of direct experience in the hospitality industry, Mike Hampton was appointed Dean of the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management in January of 2011 and continues to hold the position. In 1986 he founded HSA International, a globally recognized training and education management organization and he has also served as a professional speaker, educator and trainer. Dean Hampton is especially recognized for his expertise in human resources development, strategic planning and sales development.

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3

Washington State University

 3/567.24%Pullman, WA

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WSU’s online hospitality management degree prepares students to manage establishments across a variety of industries, from restaurants to convention centers to tourist destinations. The program is offered through WSU’s business school. In order to certify as a business major, students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

In addition to hospitality business management courses, students must complete the University Common Requirements (UCORE); students with previous college experience may transfer credits to satisfy that requirement. Hospitality management courses are delivered in an accelerated seven-week structure. In addition to coursework, the program emphasizes real-world skill development and requires students to work 1,000 paid hours in the hospitality industry prior to graduation. Students must also meet a six-credit global learning requirement, which can include international internships, studying-approved, or a faculty-approved assignment of your own choice.

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4

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

 3/575.09%Amherst, MA

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This online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management integrates courses in business, hospitality and tourism, the humanities, and social and physical sciences. A complete checklist of all courses can be found here.

Student Amy Larson says, "It’s convenient and easy to access the materials and get in contact with professors. I’d recommend Isenberg Online to anyone who needs to earn a few more credits during the summer or winter."

Lecturer Laurie Salame says, "I get to know my online students really well. Through the use of frequent discussion posts, we create an environment of mutual learning and sharing where all students participate -- that is hard to replicate in the classroom setting, where students are sometimes shy to share their thoughts and experiences."

Mark A. Fuller, current Dean of the Isenberg School of Management and Thomas O'Brien Endowed Chair holder, is interested in the research of technology supported learning and online education, as well as trust and efficacy in technology-mediated environments and technology teamwork. In terms of his goals, he says, "As Dean, my goal is simple... to help build Isenberg's brand by delivering a transformative educational experience. Let us help you reinvent yourself."

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5

Robert Morris University

 4/562.17%Moon Township, PA

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Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Hospitality & Tourism Management program via Online@RMU enjoy a 92% placement rate. Online students have the same access to campus amenities as traditional students, including access to facilities like the library, gym and cafeteria. These students also have the benefit of learning with the same experienced, quality professors who teach the traditional on-campus courses. A complete course checklist can be found here.

Recent graduate Jeff Malik says, "I chose RMU because of their willingness to work with me and the flexibility they provided to adult continuing education students like myself. The online degree programs and the courses, the life credits that were given to me for experiences and an apprenticeship I completed years ago, along with their willingness to accept a lot more of my previous college credits than any other college or university that I researched, made my decision easy."

Robert Morris University has one of the top-ranked hospitality and tourism management programs among private schools in the U.S., as well as one of the top 12 programs among all U.S. schools. Denis Rudd, university professor and director of hospitality and tourism, began his career in a family hotel in Windham, N.Y. As a fifth generation hotelier, he has garnered experience as a club and slot officer in Germany, as a consultant to the SUMA Corp. and as the chef and owner of the Equinox Skyline Resort in Manchester, V.T.

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6

Northern Arizona University

 2/551.57%Flagstaff, AZ

NAU’s W.A. Frankie College of Business offers a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management entirely online. Prerequisites to the program include completing two semesters of a modern language and logging 1,200 hours working in a hospitality establishment (some supervised external internships are also available however). Over 70% of students from School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (SHRM) graduate with an entry-level management job offer.

Dr. Wanda M. Costen, Executive Director of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, came to NAU from the University of Tennessee Knoxville where she was an associate professor. After she spent nine months as a Fulbright Scholar conducting a study on gender and equality within tourism at the University of West Indies Mona in Kingston, Jamaica, she started making changes to SHRM fall 2014. "I want us to be a beacon on the hill," she says in an informational video on the program’s site. "I want people to say, ‘SHRM at [Northern Arizona University (NAU)], man, they’re doing some awesome stuff up there.’" She has a master’s degree in business administration, a doctorate in sociology, and is committed to the student experience at SHRM.

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7

Fort Hays State University

 1/543.01%Hays, KS

Fort Hays State University's Virtual College offers a Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Hospitality Management online, which was ranked "Best Online" by the U.S. News & World Report in 2014. The program is 120 credit hours total and covers a core curriculum of entrepreneurship courses, hospitality courses and then a split of hospitality-specific electives and free electives from any other Fort Hays department.

The online degree programs in hospitality management use Blackboard as a virtual classroom that lets students study all core courses required. Students keep in touch with their academic advisor and professors via email, phone, Skype and fax.

Dr. Stacey Smith, Director of the Tourism & Hospitality Management (THM) Program and Associate Professor of Tourism & Hospitality Management, earned her Ph.D in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University. Her experience in the lodging and event planning industry, as well as her exposure to food service operations and meeting planning activities, has led her to research the areas of lodging, meetings and training, with her primary research interest being in the area of crisis preparedness for the tourism industry. The THM program is housed in the Department of Applied Business Studies in the College of Business & Entrepreneurship at FHSU.

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8

California State University – East Bay

 2/538.13%Hayward, CA

Primarily using Blackboard, CSUEB’s Online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism does not require any visits to campus. Each online hour typically requires two hours of offline study per week, and since CSUEB is a quarter system school, courses move rather quickly. The program is not self-paced, however interactive learning activities and discussions are asynchronous, with students completing weekly assignments online. The department also runs a BS and an MS in recreation and tourism. The department also features minors in recreation and hospitality.

Dr. Melany Spielman is the Department Chair of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism. Her area of expertise specializes in recreation therapy, stemming from her more than 20 years experience re-socializing mentally ill clients released from state mental illness hospitals closed by Governor Reagan. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Oregon in Leisure Management with an emphasis in Health Care Management, she became the Coordinator of Recreation Therapy in the Department of Recreation and Community Services at California State University, Hayward, a position she has held since 1991. She is also the Chair of the Department of Leadership in Hospitality and Leisure Services at CSUEB.

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9

North Carolina Central University

 2/546.78%Durham, NC

NCCU’s Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Administration is a 128-hour professional management program in which students earn 23 semester hours in the business curriculum as well. With a faculty to student ratio of 1:24, the program is available online, however some face-to-face courses may be required. Internet, evening and Saturday classes are organized and planned through NCCU’s Evening/Weekend Study Program and each student benefits from three paid summer internships totaling 1,000 hours that provide valuable work experience prior to graduation. Every academic year, job placement rates for graduates fluctuate between 97% and 100%.

According to Dr. Beverly A. Bryant, the Professor and Director of Hospitality and Tourism, "The program focuses on preparing students for entry-level management positions."

Dean of the School of Business at NCCU, D. Keith Pigues, came to the school from PlyGem Industries where he acquired executive business experience as senior vice president, chief marketing officer and as a member of the company’s executive committee. He has also taught at Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC–Chapel Hill as an adjunct professor and is the author of Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B (Wiley & Sons, 2010).

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10

University of the Southwest

 3/517.24%Hobbs, NM

USW Online courses are delivered using Blackboard and CAMS-Enterprise course management, e/pop web conferencing and MediaCAST. Unlike many other online degree programs, there are no charges for out-of-state tuition and no distance education or technology fees. The Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management is available fully online and prepares students for careers as hotel managers and administrators, as agents for tourism companies, trade-show and convention hosting, food and hospitality service organizations.

While there is no dean of the hospitality program, Dr. Ryan Tipton, formerly Dean of the School of Business and now Vice President for Distance Learning & Technology in effect serves as one of the heads of the Business Administration department. Dr. Tipton started serving USW when he joined in 2010 as an adjunct professor, later becoming a full-time professor. He holds a Ph.D in business administration and has personal experience as an entrepreneur and business owner. His responsibilities as VP of Distance Learning involve developing, implementing and maintaining a university-wide instructional design and structure for all online courses

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Graduates from online hospitality management programs will enter the workforce with plenty of options. Additionally, many students jump start the job-searching process while still in school; since many hospitality chains strive to promote from within, students who work part-time in low-level positions (such as a front desk agent or a housekeeper) will graduate with valuable industry experience. Other potential career paths for those with a degree in hospitality management include the following:

Chefs: Hotel restaurants are a great example of two industries overlapping, and head chefs remain at the crossroads of the food and hospitality industries. Not only must they design menus and oversee all cooking operations, but they must also manage sous chefs, track inventory and interact with diners in a positive way. An online degree in hospitality management might not help with cooking skills, but it can prepare a future chef for everything else that the job entails.

Lodging Managers: These managers oversee guest services at hotels, resorts and other overnight accommodations. Their primary concern at all times is keeping guests happy, from providing a clean room with fresh towels to pointing them toward dining establishments and fun tourist activities. Lodging managers also handle employee concerns, such as delegation, scheduling and pay, as well as general bookkeeping and facility operations.

Food Service Managers: Food service managers oversee day-to-day operations at restaurants, bars and other establishments where food and drink are served. Maintaining a clean preparation environment and adhering to health regulations are two of this position’s most crucial responsibilities. Other duties include inventory management, bookkeeping and customer service.

Dieticians: Dieticians work directly with clients to promote a healthy lifestyle while preventing and treating different diseases. Most states require dieticians and nutritionists to have a license before they can open a practice. Hospitality management is relevant for people who want to pursue a career as a dietician; customer service training benefits dieticians who work with clients on a one-on-one basis, while those who work for a hospital or other large facility will need experience tending to the needs of a larger population.

The following table shows the median annual salaries for each of the four positions listed above, as well as projected growth rates for that career path over the next 10 years.

PositionMedian Annual SalaryProjected Growth Rate
Chef$41,6109%
Lodging Manager$47,6808%
Food Service Manager$48,5605%
Dietician$56,95016%

Hospitality Management Organizations

  • American Hotel and Lodging Association is the only national association that represents all sectors of the lodging industry, accounting for 1.9 million employees, 53,000 properties and 5 million guestrooms.
  • National Restaurant Association is the largest global foodservice trade association, supporting more than half a million businesses. The NRA partners with state associations to empower restaurant owners and operators.
  • World Travel & Tourism Council is the leading forum for business leaders in the tourism industry. WTTC advocates for one of the largest industries in the world by supporting 277 million jobs.
  • Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition promotes and protects the public’s health by ensuring the country’s food supply is sanitary, safe and labeled correctly.
  • International Association of Conference Centers is the sole global organization that represents small to medium venues for meetings, conferences and training courses. All members of the IACC must conform to a comprehensive set of standards.

Pursuing an online degree in hospitality management is a great way to manage time efficiently while starting your career. By completing assignments on your home computer instead of attending classes at a brick-and-mortar campus, you can invest time in a part-time job at a hospitality-driven facility. This level of experience coupled with an accredited online degree will make you a standout candidate as you pursue a career within the hospitality industry.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, the need for financial aid is still a reality for most students. But rest assured, loans aren’t your only option. Explore our collection of financial aid resources or dig into one of the following guides to read more about financing your education.

Understanding the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most crucial step for any student seeking financial aid. Follow our step-by-step guide for answers to frequently asked questions.

Financial Aid for Online College Students

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place and funding opportunities for online students.

Scholarships for Women

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for single parents looking for a more secure financial future for their children. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships for these hard-working parents.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

Millions in education benefits are available for veterans and active members of the military. Unfortunately, much of this goes unused. Find out if you’re entitled to help with college and start planning for your future.

Best Online Hospitality Management Programs of 2015
  Name Location
1 Florida International University Miami, FL
2 University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst, MA
3 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
4 Robert Morris University Moon Township, PA
5 University of the Southwest Hobbs, NM
6 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
7 California State University - East Bay Hayward, CA
8 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
9 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
10 National University La Jolla, CA