Best Online Associate in Hospitality Management Programs of 2021

portrait of Meg Whitenton
by Meg Whitenton
Published on November 16, 2021
Edited by Darlene Earnest

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Hospitality managers understand the importance of excellent customer service. They combine their business sense and people skills for a career in hotel or restaurant management, tourism, or event planning.

The best online associate in hospitality management programs emphasize industry-specific technology, leadership, and financial management.

An associate in hospitality management typically exceeds the minimum education requirement for entry-level employment in lodging and food service management and travel planning.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals in these fields enjoy steady job growth, especially food service managers, with a projected 15% job increase from 2020-2030.

Many colleges offer hospitality management programs as a business concentration. An online associate in hospitality management program can offer benefits including accelerated completion times and set tuition rates.

Learn more about the best online associate in hospitality management programs.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Hospitality Management Program?

Aspiring hospitality managers tend to be naturally outgoing and people-oriented. Fields like tourism and hospitality require professionals who seek to consistently deliver an excellent customer experience. People who pursue hospitality management careers tend to be friendly, assertive, and organized.

An online associate in hospitality management program can help expand a student's natural leadership abilities. Aspiring hospitality managers can develop their problem-solving, communication, and detail-oriented skills.

Schools most commonly offer introductory hospitality management as an associate of science (AS) or an associate of applied science (AAS) degree program. Generally, AS degrees prepare students to pursue a higher degree, while an AAS better serves students primarily seeking vocational training. Common concentrations can include:

Most associate in hospitality management programs require the completion of 60-70 credits. They typically take two years to complete. Some accelerated online programs may be completed in less time. AS and AAS degrees in hospitality management stress professional development often through an internship or field experience.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Hospitality Management Program?

Introduction to Hospitality Industry

This course introduces students to the core skills needed to manage hotels, restaurants, and recreational facilities. Topics include the basic development, operations, marketing, and management of businesses based in tourism, lodging, and food service.

Computers in Hospitality

Students in this course learn to use technology specific to hospitality management. This includes database management, spreadsheets, and reservation management software.

Hospitality Management and Leadership

Coursework targets effective management and leadership concepts specific to the hospitality industry, emphasizing communication, policy, corporate incentives, and team-building initiatives.

Financial Management in Hospitality

Learners explore critical budgeting, bookkeeping, and financial management techniques for hospitality-oriented businesses. Coursework emphasizes sales records and analysis and internal controls.

Hospitality Administration/Management Internship

Internships are often featured in associate-level hospitality programs. They help students get hands-on field experience in applying practical management skills. Students typically complete the internship at a business aligned with their special interests, such as a hotel or restaurant.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Hospitality Management Program?

Schools vary in their admission requirements. Associate in hospitality management programs typically require applicants to submit high school transcripts with their college applications. Students with prior college experience should also submit college transcripts.

Generally, hospitality management programs do not require specific prerequisites. Students may need to submit placement test results. Schools may require or prefer SAT or ACT scores for admission.

Many associate programs may have applicants participate in a virtual interview. Applicants may also need to submit letters of recommendation and/or essays.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Hospitality Management Degree?

Career Outlook

An associate in hospitality management program can help prepare students to manage all aspects of running a hotel, restaurant, or recreational facility.

Graduates may be qualified to provide excellent customer service and oversee critical business functions, such as operations and financial management.

Hospitality managers with an associate degree typically exceed the minimum education requirements for entry-level positions in the food-service, lodging, and travel-planning sectors. These professionals may also gain field experience on the path toward a career in event planning or facilities management. Both of these careers usually require a bachelor's degree.

Some popular career paths in hospitality management, listed below, are projected to offer job growth higher than the national average from 2020-2030, according to the BLS.

Learn how to launch your career in business management.

Career Paths

Lodging Manager

Lodging managers specialize in providing customer service to travelers and tourists at hotels, motels, and resorts. They also manage the operations and financial affairs of the business. Employers often prefer lodging managers with at least an associate degree and excellent communication and technology skills.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $56,670

Food Service Manager

These professionals manage restaurants and other food service establishments. They provide customer service to patrons and also help to ensure the business earns money and covers expenses. Some employers prefer candidates with a degree and several years of work experience.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $56,590

Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner

Meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of small-to-large gatherings. This includes travel or transportation to the event, equipment rentals, staffing, and reservations. While many employers require a bachelor's degree, associate degree holders may pursue entry-level positions to gain industry experience.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $51,560

Administrative Services and Facilities Manager

Administrative services and facilities managers coordinate the office activities of a business. They specialize in keeping records or digital data. They may also oversee the maintenance of the buildings and grounds at a facility. While some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree, associate-educated professionals with experience qualify for many entry-level positions.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $98,890

Travel Agent

Travel agents advise clients and make recommendations for travel and lodging services. They book travel and hotel accommodations, provide itineraries, and assist with additional entertainment and recreational plans for travelers at their destination. Some employers prefer travel agents with an associate degree and field experience.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $42,350

Hospitality Management Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

An associate in hospitality management exceeds the minimum education requirement for most entry-level jobs in hotel and restaurant management. Professionals in these roles are usually not required to have a higher degree. Employers may prefer candidates with multi-year field experience for senior management roles. Many graduates of an associate program go on to earn a bachelor's degree in pursuit of a career in event planning or facilities management.

Those in hospitality management can supplement their degree with optional professional certification. Industry-specific certifications for tourism and hospitality include destination management certified professional, certified venue executive, or certified professional in catering and events.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Hospitality Management Program?

Cost

In 2018-2019, the average cost of tuition and required fees at two-year institutions was around $3,560, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Several factors can determine tuition costs. Is the school private or public? Private schools tend to be more expensive. Is the school in state or out of state? In-state schools typically cost less. However, some schools charge online students the same rates no matter where they live. Students can typically earn an associate in hospitality management more affordably online. Be sure to figure out the true cost of an online program when making your choice. This cost includes additional expenses such as books and transportation for on-site requirements.

Program Format

Flexible learning styles are among the biggest perks of an online degree. Many schools tailor their online associate in hospitality management programs to students with demanding work schedules or family obligations. Options often include a choice between full- or part-time enrollment, accelerated formats, and varied synchronous (live) or asynchronous (pre-recorded) course delivery.

Location

At first, location may not seem important if you plan to earn your degree online. While some associate in hospitality management programs are offered 100% online, others may require campus visits for orientations or workshops. If you are a distance learner, internships may be able to be completed locally. Many students prefer to take hybrid courses — classes that combine online learning with face-to-face time. Some virtual learners want access to campus facilities. So it is important to consider location when choosing a program.

Accreditation

Any school you choose should have national or regional accreditation through an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Either type of institutional accreditation may be acceptable, although most employers prefer regional accreditation due to its more rigorous attainment process. Some associate in hospitality management programs receive programmatic accreditation from an agency like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Student Support

Schools should offer online students the same support services as on-campus learners. The best online programs offer mentorships, career services, tutoring, internship placement, and alumni connections. Many online programs also require orientations to introduce distance learners to the virtual classroom and the college experience.

2021 Best Accredited Online Associate in Hospitality Management Programs

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Albany Technical College true View School Profile Albany, GA

Based in Albany, Georgia, ATC offers an online associate in hospitality management program that covers management strategies for hotels, restaurants, and tourism. Relevant courses in the 60-credit curriculum include event planning, hospitality law, hospitality marketing, and food and beverage management. All students must also complete a relevant internship in the field at an approved site near them.

Applicants must submit proof of a high school or GED diploma and ACT, SAT, or COMPASS scores.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $100/credit in-state; $200/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Casper College true View School Profile Casper, WY

Casper's online associate in hospitality and tourism management program allows students to graduate without ever visiting campus in Casper, Wyoming. During their two years in the program, learners delve into human resource hospitality management, recreation and tourism planning and development, convention sales and management, and hotel operations management.

Applicants must submit proof of a high school or GED diploma. Once accepted, incoming students must meet with an advisor and attend an orientation.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $145/credit in-state; $355/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 63-66 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Genesee Community College true View School Profile Batavia, NY

Operating out of Batavia, New York, GCC's online associate program in tourism, hospitality, and event management features an event planning course in which students plan an event for 1,500 attendees. Students can also join the college's Travel Club, participate in the Walt Disney World college internship program, and master the AAA Apollo system, which could help students pursue employment with travel agencies and car rental companies.

Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. The program maintains a transfer agreement with SUNY Buffalo State. Program graduates can also easily transfer to other four-year schools like Niagara University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and SUNY Plattsburgh.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $195/credit in-state; $220/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 64 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Western Technical College true View School Profile La Crosse, WI

Based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Western offers an online associate in hospitality management program. Hospitality is the second-largest industry in the state. The 60-credit curriculum covers topics like quality customer service, principles of hospitality management, team building and problem-solving, and hospitality cost control. All students also complete a hospitality management internship in the field.

Applicants must pay a $30 fee and submit proof of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most incoming students need to take the ACCUPLACER placement test.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $141/credit in-state; $212/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 60 credits
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 2 years
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Chemeketa Community College true View School Profile Salem, OR

Located in Salem, Oregon, Chemeketa allows online students to pay the same rate as in-state learners. The college's online associate in hospitality management program includes 72 credits of major courses, which delve into industry topics like catering and banquets, lodging operations, meetings and conventions, and customer service management. All students also complete a capstone course in strategic management in hospitality and tourism.

Prospective students must submit a high school or GED diploma, watch orientation videos, and take a placement test.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $130/credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 92 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Peninsula College View School Profile Port Angeles, WA

Based in Port Angeles, Washington, on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula near Olympic National Park, PC maintains close proximity to nature. As such, the college offers an online associate program in hospitality and ecotourism. The curriculum explores topics like technology in the hospitality industry, adventure travel leadership and guiding, and hospitality and tourism marketing. All students also complete a relevant internship in the field.

The college maintains an "open door" admissions process. Prospective students only need to fill out a free application.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $148/credit in-state; $331/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 91-95 quarter credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
NHTI-Concord's Community College View School Profile Concord, NH

Based in Concord, New Hampshire, NHTI offers an online associate in hospitality and tourism management program that requires courses in event, meeting, and conference planning; principles of sales; business law; and human resource management. During their final semester, all students complete a senior travel seminar that examines issues in the hospitality industry through case studies.

Applicants must submit official transcripts and proof of a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $215/credit in-state; $490/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 62-63 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
Atlantic Cape Community College View School Profile Mays Landing, NJ

Located in Mays Landing, New Jersey, Atlantic Cape offers an online associate in hospitality management program that includes required courses like hotel operations, restaurant operations, hospitality sales and marketing, and catering and events planning. During their last semester in the program, all learners must complete a 135-hour internship in the hospitality field.

Applicants must be 18 years or older and hold a high school or GED diploma.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $146/credit in-state; $246/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College View School Profile Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati State's online associate in hospitality management program offers two tracks: food and beverage and operations. The food and beverage track includes three culinary courses, while the operations track requires courses in rooms division management and food and beverage division management. Students can opt to earn credits through cooperative educational experiences in the field.

Applicants must submit all prior official transcripts and hold a high school or GED diploma. Although the application is free, admitted students must pay a $15 fee.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $169/credit in-state; $337/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Delgado Community College View School Profile New Orleans, LA

Operating out of Slidell, Louisiana, Delgado's online associate in hospitality management program charges all online learners the same tuition rate no matter where they live. Students in the program choose from six concentrations: beverage management, catering management, hotel and lodging management, meeting and event management, restaurant management, and tourism management.

Prospective students must submit proof of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Admitted students must complete a self-paced online orientation.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $134/credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60-63 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Hospitality Management Programs

Is an associate degree in hospitality management worth it? true

Yes. An online associate in hospitality management program can help prepare students for nearly every sector of the tourism and hospitality industry. Earning an associate degree meets or exceeds the minimum education requirements for jobs in hotel and restaurant management, travel planning, and customer relations. Graduates of an associate in hospitality management program may decide to continue their education, earn a bachelor's degree, and then pursue a career in event planning or facilities management.

How fast can I get an associate in hospitality management degree online? true

Most associate degrees take two years to complete. Many online associate in hospitality management programs offer an accelerated path to this degree. They may be able to earn their degree in less than two years while still getting a well-rounded education and experience (like an internship) in hospitality. Students also may be able to transfer credits for prior coursework, which could also reduce their time to get a degree.

Is an online associate degree in hospitality management credible? true

An online associate in hospitality management is credible as long as the degree is from an accredited institution. Before you choose a school, make sure it has national or regional accreditation. Also, amid the widespread availability of online degrees, most employers do not differentiate between the qualifications of graduates of an online or on-campus program.

How much money can I make with an associate in hospitality management?

Graduates of an online associate in hospitality management program earn a median annual wage of nearly $57,000 as restaurant or lodging managers, according to the BLS. Professionals may also accumulate industry experience and pursue a bachelor's degree to qualify for higher-paying careers such as event planner or facilities manager. Hospitality managers with an associate degree typically exceed the minimum education requirement for entry-level positions. This can qualify them for more competitive and lucrative employment opportunities.

Is an associate degree in hospitality management in demand?

Yes, especially in food service management. The projected job growth in that field from 2020-2030 is 15%, according to the BLS. Additionally, the fields of leisure and hospitality are bouncing back after operating at diminished capacity for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, employers are offering benefits — including higher wages and expanded job opportunities — to aspiring food service managers. Exceeding the field's minimum education requirement, an associate degree may help qualify professionals for senior roles in hospitality management.

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