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 Online Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management Programs?
Nassau Community College
|Garden, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Nassau Community College (NCC) is part of the State University of New York system and offers certificate programs and associate degrees, including an online associate of applied science in food service administration, restaurant management degree. Graduates are prepared for professional and middle management careers in the industry. Potential jobs include food and beverage managers, food service directors, and banquet and catering managers.
The program uses a hybrid instruction format, with 50% consisting of flexible online courses that students can complete around work and family commitments. Students must complete the other 50% on campus. Classes and seminars focus on food and beverage operations and merchandising, business math and food-cost analysis, human resources, and event planning. Electives include international wines and beverages, social and cultural aspects of food, and introduction to tourism. Students prepare and serve meals in the fully-equipped culinary laboratory. The 64-credit program spans four semesters, plus a mandatory summer internship. Many students opt to intern at Walt Disney World and can earn six credits through the Disney College Program.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, home-schooled student requirements, or New York State 24 College Credit TASC Program (formerly GED). Applicants may also need to take placement tests in English, reading, or math. SAT and ACT scores are not required, but their submission may act as a waiver of some or all of the placement tests.
Located in Garden City on New York's Long Island, Nassau Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Central Texas College
|Killeen, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Central Texas College's (CTC) hospitality management department offers a 100% online associate of applied science with hotel management specialization. Students can complete the 60-credit, asynchronous degree in two years, gaining valuable skills in areas such as hospitality financial and facilities management, supervision, and operations. To graduate, students must complete an internship and final project.
CTC's Prospective Distant Learners webpage offers information and quizzes to help students determine if online instruction is right for them. After applying online, prospective students should contact an admission specialist to learn about residency documentation and meet with an academic adviser. Students should also contact the college's TSI coordinator to discuss whether they must take the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Entrance Examination. Those holding an associate or bachelor's degree or individuals who earned a C or higher in college-level courses in reading, writing, or math at an accredited school may be exempt from taking the TSI exam. Those with high enough test scores on the SAT, ACT, TAKS, or STAAR may also be exempt.
CTC is a public, open-admission community college offering degree and certificate programs geared toward student employability. The central campus sits in Killeen, Texas, but the college offers online learning opportunities to students worldwide. Central Texas College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
Joliet Junior College
|Joliet, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Students pursuing an online associate in applied science in culinary management degree at Joliet Junior College gain hands-on experience in culinary management within a foodservice operation. Students can complete the 61-semester-hour program online or as a hybrid online and on-campus program. Students rotate through the different managerial positions in a fully operational restaurant and also design, develop, and execute their own pop-up restaurant.
Graduates gain skills in inventory and resources management, menu management and design, concept engineering, production management, staff management, food-service computer applications, accounting, and entrepreneurial leadership. Required core classes cover foodservice sanitation, baking and pastry, flavor pairings, and a la carte cooking.
Applicants must be one of the following: 18 years old, a high school graduate, or possess a GED. Admitted students must take an in-person placement test at one of the Joliet, Illinois, campuses or the Romeoville, Illinois, campus. Transfer credits or ACT/SAT test scores may be accepted and waive all or some of the exam. Learners complete new student orientation online.
Online courses offer some flexibility, but students cannot complete all classes at their own pace. Some classes require on-campus attendance for exams. Online students pay the same tuition as in-district students, regardless of where they live. Hybrid courses provide a mix of online (74%) and classroom (26%) instruction. Hybrid students pay the same rates as on-campus students.
Joliet Junior College's culinary program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, Inc. Accrediting Commission.
Tompkins Cortland Community College
|Dryden, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) offers a 62-credit online associate of applied science in hotel and restaurant management degree program. Graduates are prepared for supervisory positions in the hospitality industry, including managers, chefs and head cooks, gaming services professionals, customer service representatives, and meeting, convention, and event planners. Alumni have obtained management positions at The Waldorf-Astoria, Hyatt Hotels, and Darden Restaurants. TC3's Career Coach website provides information on potential careers with median salary listings and job postings.
Notable classes include safe alcohol handling, hospitality law, and job search. Students can complete course requirements online. The program includes an internship at a hotel, convention and visitors bureau, restaurant, winery, or institutional dining facility. Also included is a proctored exam for National Restaurant Association certification in Food Safety and Alcohol Service (SERVSAFE). The college operates its own organic farm that provides produce to its Ithaca restaurant and culinary center.
Students earn their degrees in two years. Some classes require a minimum GPA in order to graduate. TC3 maintains a rolling admissions policy. The school requires an online application, transcripts from previously attended high schools and colleges, and an in-person placement test for those without college credit in English or math. Online students can attend an in-person new student orientation with activities geared for them.
Tompkins Cortland Community College is located in Dryden, New York, and is part of the State University of New York system. All online courses are billed at in-state/in sponsorship area rates.
University of Northwestern Ohio
|Lima, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
The online associate of applied business in travel and hotel management degree program at the University of Northwestern Ohio prepares students to work as event planners, cruise line staff, and hotel, resort, and restaurant managers in the global hospitality and tourism industries. Online students may be especially interested in careers as web-based agents working from home, specializing in travel and hotel management.
Offered through the College of Occupational Professions, the curriculum includes online instruction and observation at the university's travel agency and event center. Students also participate in a travel capstone experience, such as a cruise. Required courses explore international destinations, casinos and gaming, and international business. Students can complete the program within 18 months via online or hybrid delivery.
Online learning requires an in-person proctor for testing or the purchase of Remote Proctor software from the university bookstore. Prospective students must possess a high school diploma or GED. Once admitted, students take a placement test to determine their abilities in English and math, unless they have scored 18 or higher on the ACT English or math test or have SAT scores of 26 or higher in writing and language or 24.5 or higher in math. The school may accept applicable transfer credits.
Tuition includes access to the Virtual College Support Department website, which provides services, tools, and support for online students. These include free email and one-on-one instruction.
University of Northwestern Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school is an entrepreneurial, private, nonprofit institution located in Lima, Ohio.
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.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Hotel & Restaurant Management Degree?
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%
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.
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|
|Retail Store Manager||$45,357||$39,509||$44,643||$52,461|
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.