Best Online Hospitality Management Programs

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Hospitality management is an academic field that explores operational and administrative strategies for hotels, lodges, restaurants, country clubs, amusement parks, and other tourist-friendly establishments. Like other areas of management, hospitality managers work to reduce costs, maximize profits, and create sustainable business plans. Students who major in hospitality management also learn how to accommodate a range of clients and create a positive experience for guests. Potential concentration areas include logistics, supply chain management, marketing, communications, and leadership.

Although most occupations in the hospitality industry do not require a formal education, business and management positions in the field often require a bachelor’s degree. Today, many students who are interested in hospitality management are choosing to earn their degree online, rather than in a classroom. The flexible, web-based format is particularly convenient for students who must balance their coursework with other responsibilities, such childcare or a part-time job.

Read on to learn more about what you will learn in a hospitality management program, and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to once you have your degree.

WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online programs in hospitality management cover the fundamentals of business finance and guest services. Working in hospitality can also be hectic at times, and students are taught how to solve problems quickly in high-pressure situations. Hospitality management majors can also pursue an internship, where they receive supervised training from established professionals.

WILL AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online bachelor’s in hospitality management programs offer a convenient alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education. Most programs are taught asynchronously, which allows students to access course materials, submit written assignments, and take exams on their own schedule. Current e-learning technology also allows them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or any other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. For additional convenience, most online programs allow students to arrange internships at sites near their current residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR’S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT?

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management are eligible for supervisory roles in the industry, along with specialized occupations in event planning, guest assistance, catering, and caretaking. Additionally, many students jumpstart their job-search 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) are often able to graduate with valuable industry experience.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your professional interests. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online hospitality management programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering going back to school for a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, and you value the flexibility inherent in the online format, be sure to take a look at these top colleges.

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

campus_washington_state_university

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

campus-Amherst-College

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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Timeline
4 to 5 years
Program Costs
$25,000 to $35,000 for full tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
Tourism, Business Administration, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Human Resources, Communications, Organizational Leadership
Accreditation
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.
Additional Considerations
In some cases, ‘hospitality management’ will only be available as a concentration or specialization for general business or business administration majors.

Job Placement

According to a 2014 survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), job placement rates for hospitality management degree-holders have improved in recent years. In 2009-10, the unemployment rate for hospitality management bachelor’s degree-holders with work experience was 5.7%, while inexperienced bachelor’s graduates faced a 9.1% unemployment rate. Two years later, these figures had fallen to 4.5% and 5.2%, respectively.

Using data from the CEW survey, the following table compares unemployment rates for hospitality management majors against students who earn undergraduate degrees in other business-related disciplines.

Undergraduate Degree Field Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s Degree-Holders with No Work Experience Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s Degree-Holders with Some Work Experience
Hospitality Management 5.2% 4.5%
General Business 7.7% 4.2%
Accounting 8.6% 4.6%
Business Management and Administration 7.1% 4.8%
Marketing and Marketing Research 5.6% 4.3%
Finance 6.9% 4.4%

Source: From Hard Times to Better Times’ by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW)

As the table demonstrates, the unemployment rate for experienced graduates with a bachelor’s in hospitality management is comparable to the unemployment rate for other experienced business majors. However, inexperienced hospitality management degree-holders may have a tougher time finding work than graduates from other fields.

Earning a Living

The earning potential for hospitality management degree-holders is increasing as well. According to the CEW survey, hospitality management majors with work experience earned a median annual salary of $59,000 in 2012, while inexperienced college graduates in the field earned $34,000. Four years later, the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report notes that each demographic saw modest salary increases. PayScale also reports that graduates with a bachelor’s in hospitality management outearned their associate-holding counterparts by a considerable margin. The table below compares the salaries for hospitality management graduates with bachelor’s and associate degrees at two key career benchmarks.

Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Associate Degree in Hospitality Management $32,200 $47,400
Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management $40,500 $60,200

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, entry-level professionals with a bachelor’s in hospitality management outearned associate-holders by a little more than 25% at both entry-level and mid-career stages. It’s important to note, however, that salaries in hospitality vary significantly depending on your experience, location, job title, and a number of other factors. The following table uses PayScale data to explore what professionals in the field earn throughout their career in a variety of positions.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Marketing Manager $52,282 $64,098 $73,157 $76,225
Hotel General Manager $41,613 $50,039 $59,694 $74,761
Logistics Coordinator $39,758 $45,019 $47,327 $48,632
Event Planner $39,743 $49,172 $54,290 $55,915

Source: PayScale

Of the five careers listed on the table, hotel general managers see the highest career salary growth ― nearly 80% between the entry-level and late-career stages. Marketing managers placed second with 45.8% growth after 20 years in the workforce.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management will qualify for dozens of entry and mid-level jobs, as well as managerial positions typically reserved for candidates who have a college education. Below, we’ve covered four of the most common career pathways for professionals with a hospitality management degree.

Destination Marketing Managers: Like marketing managers in other industries, these professionals strive to generate a positive image for their organization ― in this case, usually tourist destinations and accommodations. They launch promotional campaigns online and through social media, and write press releases about notable upcoming events.

Lodging Managers: These managers oversee the day-to-day operations at hotels, resorts, spas, and other tourist retreats. Managing these establishments requires extensive knowledge of finance, logistics, supply chain and human resources, and customer service.

Food Service Managers: Food service managers oversee operations at restaurants, bars, and other establishments that serve food and drinks. Some may work in food delivery or catering, as well. This job requires a vast knowledge of food safety and preparation techniques, along with a background in logistics, communication, and human resources.

Meeting, Convention and Event Planners: These professionals are responsible for coordinating conferences, business retreats, corporate gatherings, wedding receptions, and other private parties. These planners oversee every logistical detail, from food and drink service to decorations and music, and they may also manage accommodations for overnight events.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Destination Marketing Managers $110,030 Data not available
Lodging Managers $49,720 8% (3,700 jobs)
Food Service Managers $48,690 5% (15,700 jobs)
Meeting, Convention and Event Planners $46,840 10% (9,900 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Many bachelor’s-holders choose to continue their education in an MBA program. For more information on this option, take a look at our Online MBA Guide.

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to hospitality management is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for hospitality professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Hotel and Lodging Association: The AHLA is the largest professional organization for professionals in the U.S. lodging industry. Currently, the association represents 1.9 million employees and 53,000 properties worth $176 billion in annual sales.
  • National Restaurant Association: Accounting for more than 500,000 businesses, the National Restaurant Association is the world’s largest food service professional organization. Member benefits include discounts on business solutions, management software platforms, menu consultation, and other valuable tools and services.
  • World Travel & Tourism Council: The WTTC was founded in 1991, and currently represents more than a quarter-million hospitality industry jobs. The council’s website features an extensive collection of economic and policy-related resources, along with a multimedia center and a blog.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several 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, as well as the different funding opportunities available to 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 college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.