According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the accommodation and food services sector grew by roughly 2.6 million jobs between 2010 and 2018. Talented individuals are needed to meet the demands of operating restaurants, hotels, and related businesses. Travel, tourism, and hospitality services alone employs one out of every eighteen Americans.

In addition to a promising employment outlook, hospitality attracts college students for the enormous variety in careers and work environments, flexibility in scheduling, and opportunities for travel all around the world. An online associate degree in hotel and restaurant management can launch careers in this exciting and growing sector of the economy.

What are the best hotel and restaurant management programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 East Mississippi Community College Scooba, MS
2 Middlesex Community College Bedford, MA
3 Nassau Community College Garden City, NY
4 University of Northwestern Ohio Lima, OH
5 Joliet Junior College Joliet, IL

2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Hotel and Restaurant Management Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

East Mississippi Community College

Scooba, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

EMCC's associate in hotel and restaurant management program confers an AAS and meets all requirements for a ServSafeSanitation certificate. The two-year curriculum features coursework in culinary principles, culinary math, and hospitality supervision. Additional graduation requirements include three practicum experiences. Students can complete many of their courses online.

Academic support, such as a virtual writing center and tutoring services, helps distance learners hone skills vital to college and career success. The college's library also offers enhanced online resources, including digital collections and exam preparation guides.

In addition to high school transcripts or GED scores, EMCC requires ACT scores from all applicants ages 20 and younger. Older degree-seekers must take the ACCUPLACER assessment. Students can apply for institutional aid opportunities twice a year, with deadlines on August 1 and January 2.

2

Middlesex Community College

Bedford, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 21%

Based in Bedford, Massachusetts, MCC offers an online associate degree in hospitality management. This program emphasizes business administration and hospitality management fundamentals, and students learn about computer applications, food and beverage management, and financial accounting. Degree-seekers select multiple electives in their third and fourth semesters.

Students can apply for micro-internships through the school's career center; these short internship experiences pay participants and enhance their resumes. Learners can also access the online job board Career Shift.

The hospitality management program does not have special admission requirements beyond a high school diploma or GED certificate. Massachusetts and other New England residents pay the most affordable tuition rates. Most institutional scholarships award $500-$1,000 and require a separate application.

3

Nassau Community College

Garden City, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 24%

NCC's hybrid associate in food service administration and restaurant management program features a 68-credit curriculum. Learners take 50% of their courses on the college's campus in Garden City, New York. All online coursework uses asynchronous delivery. Graduates of this program go on to work as hotel front desk representatives, housekeeping managers, and restaurant managers.

The school's Career Resource Network allows degree-seekers to talk to alumni and faculty about different career paths, job outlooks, and starting salaries. Additionally, students can access a career guide to learn more about effective job search skills and resume writing.

NCC features a simple application process that does not involve standardized test scores or recommendation letters. The college's Excelsior Scholarship allows full-time students with financial need to graduate without debt.

4

University of Northwestern Ohio

Lima, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

Aspiring front office managers and travel agents may be interested in UNOH's online associate degree in travel and hotel management. Coursework covers topics like event planning, introduction to the gaming industry, and resort management. Students also complete a robust general education curriculum.

Over 90% of travel and hotel management alumni start a career or join a bachelor's degree completion program soon after graduation. Career services advisors assist students with their job search by hosting career seminars that cover business etiquette, interviewing skills, and networking.

Applicants must take a placement test or submit standardized test scores. UNOH does not charge out-of-state tuition. Additionally, the university awards multiple merit-based scholarships that renew automatically as long as recipients maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.

5

Joliet Junior College

Joliet, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 17%

JJC's associate in culinary management features a 61-credit curriculum and includes classes in culinary supervision, nutrition, and baking and pastry. Learners also take 15 credits of general elective courses. Students in this program can take advantage of distance education courses. Graduates qualify to pursue culinary and foodservice management positions in a variety of industries.

Degree-seekers who visit the school's career services website can schedule advising appointments and career assessments. Students can also access Career Coach software to learn about building an effective resume.

Adults who possess a high school diploma or GED certificate may apply, and incoming students take a placement test. In-district degree-seekers pay the lowest tuition rates.

What Else Can I Expect From an Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management Program?

Among the many different online options available, it is important to choose one best suited to your career goals. Each program prioritizes a unique set of learning outcomes to prepare students for success.

Curriculum for an Online Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management

Hotel and restaurant management degree online curricula typically consist of general education courses alongside subjects specific to the major. Coursework offerings differ depending on your chosen school, but common courses are listed below.

  • Event Planning: Suited to aspiring event planners, this course introduces the logistics of planning meetings, conferences, special occasions, and trade shows. Students learn how to secure venues, develop agendas and marketing materials, facilitate events, and work with varying timelines and budgets.
  • Food and Beverage Management: This course explores management of a food and beverage establishment, including business plans and financing, legal considerations, kitchen operations, and customer service.
  • Hospitality Law: This course explains civil law, contract law, hospitality enterprise structure, duties to employees and guests, crisis management, and federal agencies that oversee the industry. This broad subject area is useful for all hospitality careers, preparing students to manage establishments with compliance, ethics, and security in mind.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management?

To complete an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management, students typically complete 60 credits over two years, though the number of credits can vary depending on the program.

Some programs offer students accelerated tracks or the opportunity to work at an individual pace. Students can also choose from programs with asynchronous or synchronous coursework. Synchronous courses, also known as a cohort model, use set schedules for courses. While cohorts benefit from positive relationship building, you may prefer individualized learning and the ability to complete coursework at a faster pace.

Other factors that shorten the path to your degree include full-time or part-time enrollment and transfer credits.

Accreditation for Online Associate in Hotel and Restaurant Management Degrees

When exploring online schools, be sure to look out for regional, national, and program-specific accreditation. Accreditation ensures a program's quality, allows you to transfer credits between institutions, apply for federal funding or employee reimbursement, and sit for certification exams. Ultimately, accreditation indicates to future employers and four-year institutions you are a qualified candidate.

Regionally accredited schools are often degree-granting, nonprofit, and/or public institutions, and follow more stringent academic standards. They are widely considered more prestigious. Nationally accredited schools tend to offer vocational or technical programs with less standardized, more specialized, and nonacademic emphases.

Program-specific accreditation applies to one degree or program, but not to the university as a whole. The Commission for Accreditation of Hospitality Management Programs accredits hotel and restaurant management programs at the associate level.

Across all programs, the Department of Education (ED) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) help regulate accrediting organizations. The ED maintains a public database of nationally recognized accrediting agencies. CHEA specifically recognizes regional, faith-related, career-related, and program-specific accrediting bodies and reports to the ED on emerging issues in quality assurance.

You can find lists of all accredited schools in the U.S. on the ED and CHEA websites.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management Degree?

Career Paths

After earning an associate in hotel and restaurant management degree online, you will be equipped with business acumen, communication and critical thinking skills, and competencies in financial analysis and loss prevention. Below are a few prospective careers you can pursue following graduation.

Food Service Manager

Responsible for the smooth operation of food and beverage establishments, food service managers oversee business operations, employee performance, and customer satisfaction. They may also inspect supplies, manage budgets and payroll, and address complaints regarding food quality.

Median Annual Salary: $50,820
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Lodging Manager

Lodging managers ensure efficiency and profitability in running hotels and other accommodations. They focus primarily on meeting guest needs. Larger hotel chains may offer opportunities for advancement to regional management.

Median Annual Salary: $51,840
Projected Growth Rate: 4%

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner

These professionals organize all aspects of meetings and events, including weddings, conferences, and conventions. They may solicit bids from venues, monitor event activities, and plan the overall scope of events from start to finish.

Median Annual Salary: $47,350
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Educational Paths

For those who do wish to continue their education, transferring to a bachelor's program is a popular stepping stone. Earning a higher degree in this field not only offers greater career diversity but also higher pay.

According to the BLS, food service and lodging managers typically need bachelor's degrees. Hands-on experience can also help qualify you for senior management positions.

Below are three undergraduate degrees you can pursue after earning your associate degree in hospitality and restaurant management:

  • Hospitality Business Management: Available as a standalone degree or as a concentration within a business major, students develop expertise in topics such as operations, sales, consulting, event planning, and service.
  • Business Management: You can also branch out into a nonspecific business management degree. A bachelor's in business management teaches skills necessary for leadership, marketing, product management, and financial careers.
  • Service Management: A bachelor's in service management prepares you for leadership in the hospitality industry through courses on business management, entrepreneurship, legal issues, customer service, and human resources. Concentrations include travel and tourism, food management, or hotel and resort management.

Employment Outlook for Hotel & Restaurant Management Graduates

Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management Salary

The following PayScale data show salaries by experience level for jobs you can pursue with a hotel and restaurant management associate degree. For careers in the food and beverage industry, salary does not vary considerably with experience. PayScale also reports a majority of late-career hospitality workers have high levels of job satisfaction.

In other fields, such as retail and event planning, years of experience affect your salary level. Certain skills may also lend themselves to higher pay; for example, as an event planner, you may earn more with relevant experience in budget management or contract negotiation.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Entry-Level Employees Mid-Career Employees Late-Career Employees
Food Service Manager $42,937 $41,650 $41,869 $46,059
Hotel Manager $46,820 $40,697 $46,387 $59,104
Event Planner $45,153 $40,691 $50,340 $56,023
Retail Store Manager $45,357 $39,509 $44,643 $52,461
Chef Manager $45,189 $42,000 $44,080 $48,187

Professional Organizations

By joining a professional organization, you can meet and network with hospitality professionals and hear about career and professional development opportunities, internships, industry news, and continuing education programs.

For opportunities most relevant to you, join an organization related to your future career. There are dozens of nationally recognized, field-specific organizations covering areas such as food and beverage, lodging, tourism, fitness and nutrition, and event planning, including the ones listed below.

Financing Your Online Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management Program

Covering the cost of your associate degree in restaurant management is easy with so many financing options at your disposal, including tuition loans, scholarships, and grants. Some students also pay for their degree by working part-time.

Loans and grants can come from private sources, like the above organizations, or the government. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) helps clarify the opportunities available to you.

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 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 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.