Hospitality managers create memorable experiences at hotels, restaurants, and other establishments that host guests. They work in a variety of settings, including ski lodges, beach-side hotels, exclusive country clubs, and upscale restaurants.

As tourism expands in the U.S. and more people visit restaurants, jobs in hospitality will continue to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4% increase in positions for lodging managers and an 11% increase in jobs for meeting, convention, and event planners between 2016 and 2026. By pursuing a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management, you can cultivate the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience for a career in the food and tourism industry.

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

Rank School Location
1 Florida International University Miami, FL
2 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
3 Johnson & Wales University Providence, RI
4 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
5 University of Missouri Columbia, MO

Choosing a Program

Students in a hotel management bachelor's program build interpersonal communication skills and business knowledge that allow them to serve the needs of customers and clients. Common course topics include financial accounting, strategic management, human resources, marketing principles, and hospitality services operations. After completing coursework in fundamental theories and best practices, students can take advanced classes, usually in an area of concentration. Online bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management programs often offer subfields in marketing, office management, and special event planning.

Hospitality businesses become successful by making individual people happy. Since these customer service skills are vital, practical work experience stands as a crucial part of the best online bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management programs. You should expect a capstone requirement, usually in the form of an internship. Depending on the program, you may be able to complete an internship where you live or at your current place of employment. Some schools offer summer placement options with their business partners.

What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

FIU serves about 58,000 students each year through various programs, including an online bachelor of science in hospitality management. Students can complete all of the program's coursework online through the Canvas platform or take some courses at FIU's Miami campus.

The program's 120-credit curriculum covers topics like commercial food production, lodging operations control, and hospitality analytics and revenue management. Learners can pursue a complementary minor such as hotel management or restaurant/food service management. Students round out the program by completing at least 500 hours of practical industry training.

Applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores. FIU also offers a dual-degree track that enables learners to obtain a bachelor's and master's in five years.


The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

UA powers distance education through its Bama By Distance program, which uses the Blackboard Learn platform. Undergraduate students can enroll in UA's fully online bachelor of science in hospitality management program. Throughout the program's 120-credit curriculum, students gain the skills needed to pursue careers in convention sales and marketing, food service management, and the hotel and resort industry.

Program coursework includes principles of food preparation, catering management and quantity food, and employee recruitment and supervision. Students also delve into managerial accounting and computer information systems. Participants also complete a 500-hour internship.

Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Individuals who graduated from high school at least four years before applying do not need to submit ACT/SAT scores. UA provides a variety of financial aid, including scholarships specifically for distance learners.


Johnson & Wales University

Providence, RI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, JWU serves over 7,300 students, many of whom study online. JWU's undergraduate offerings include an online bachelor's degree in hospitality management. Distance learners in this program use the Blackboard platform to access 11-week, asynchronous classes. Participants may graduate in under four years.

Major courses include strategic marketing, operations analysis, and dynamics of tourism and sustainability. Students also learn to manage the hotel guest experience, focusing on industry standards and quality control. Learners gain hands-on skills by completing an internship, and they can also expand their education by pursuing a human resource management minor.

JWU offers four yearly start dates. Program applicants need at least two years of full-time work experience after graduating from high school.


Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

TTU is a public research institution that delivers over 300 academic programs. Undergraduate students can earn an online bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management. This degree completion program targets students who already hold an associate of applied sciences degree, and participants can graduate in two years.

Online courses cover topics like personnel management, marketing and sales, and strategic purchasing practices. Students complete 1,200 hours of hands-on work experience through labs and internships. They personalize their curriculum with 36 elective credits, choosing from advanced courses like wine tourism and lodging operations. The program delivers coursework asynchronously through the Blackboard platform.

TTU's bachelor's in hotel and restaurant management program is accredited by the Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration.


University of Missouri

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Mizzou serves about 30,000 students through more than 300 academic programs, including a fully online bachelor of science in hospitality management that emphasizes hands-on business skill development. Requiring 120 credits, the curriculum consists of classes like hospitality law and strategic management.

Students take advanced courses in their chosen specialty area, selecting from options like food and beverage management, conference and events management, and lodging management. Learners can also pursue a sport venue management track, learning to coordinate facilities maintenance and oversee live entertainment events. Students in all tracks must complete an internship.

Mizzou offers spring, fall, and summer start dates. First-year applicants must meet minimum ACT or SAT score requirements that scale based on their high school GPA and class rank. Transfer applicants must have a 2.5 GPA or higher.

What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management Program?

Each online bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management varies slightly based on specific coursework and the school's teaching philosophy. For example, you might find more electives in a program grounded in the liberal arts, or an intensive capstone requirement at a career-oriented school. Even in a two-year program, students can customize their education through electives and concentration options.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in restaurant management usually take the same foundational business courses regardless of the school they attend. However, programs vary based on departmental focus and faculty expertise. Do your research carefully. Don't be shy when talking to the admission counselors at your prospective colleges or universities to ensure that the program you enroll in fits all of your academic and professional needs. Below are some common courses available in most bachelor's degrees in hotel and restaurant management.

  • Food and Beverage Operations: This class provides an overview of how to run food and beverage venues, including bars, restaurants, hotels, and catering services. Topics include sanitation, purchasing, menu creation, staff training, and liability concerns. Coursework often involves case studies and group work in the form of a project or presentation.
  • Strategic Management: Another course which emphasizes collaborative learning, this class teaches students how to design, actualize, and analyze business initiatives. Students learn how to create strategies that promote efficiency and growth within an organization. The class usually culminates in original research or a project. Students also examine real-world scenarios using such tools as SWOT analysis.
  • Conference, Meeting, and Event Planning: This course prepares students for careers as event planners, conference coordinators, and office managers. Topics include destination selection, venue management, travel arrangements, lodging, safety, and food service preparation. Depending on the nature of the program, the course may also cover seminar design and activities planning.
  • Management Accounting Principles: Many of a hospitality manager's duties involve careful fiscal planning. This class teaches students to manage money in a way that promotes growth while minimizing costs.
  • Organizational Behavior for Hotels and Restaurants: Human resources is a fundamental part of earning a restaurant and hotel management bachelor's degree online. This class trains students in the methodologies and techniques of team recruiting, training, organization, and reward. Workplace diversity is another common topic in the course and helps students cultivate a collaborative, innovative, and safe environment.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management?

Similar to other baccalaureate programs, bachelor's degrees in hotel and restaurant management usually require students to complete 120 credits over the course of four years. More comprehensive programs, such as dual degree pathways, may take five or six years. Students who want to graduate quickly should examine schools that offer accelerated courses and summer sessions, which provide scheduling flexibility and enable you to take more courses each year. Additionally, an internship or practicum requirement may affect the length of a program, particularly if you need to travel to a specific location to complete it.

The structure of your online restaurant and hotel management bachelor's degree also influences your graduation date. Most remote courses are taught asynchronously. However, a school may require you to take classes in a cohort, where you and a small group of peers progress through the program together, usually by taking one class at a time. While this is advantageous in some circumstances, it doesn't allow for the same level of flexibility as individually paced learning.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management Degrees

For colleges and universities to confer degrees recognized by employers, the government, and professional organizations, they must be accredited at the national or regional level. National accreditation means that schools have received recognition from an accrediting agency under the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). National accreditation ensures that schools meet certain academic and professional standards.

Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious and difficult to obtain than national accreditation. Schools receive regional accreditation from one of six organizations, depending on where they're located. You should also consider program-specific forms of accreditation granted by organizations such as the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration or the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business.

As a government organization, the ED takes charge of a school's federal funding, including many loans and awards like the Pell Grant. The ED also ensures that the college or university follows national education mandates. Established in 1996, CHEA is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the academic integrity of the more than 3,000 colleges and universities under its umbrella. CHEA also provides funding for research and advocates for the rights of its members. For more information on nationally accredited schools, go to the ED and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management

Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management Salary

The table below aggregates salary information for careers in hotel and restaurant management. In all positions, salaries grow over time as employees gain more experience. Hospitality managers cultivate expertise primarily by working with their teams and interacting with customers, so it's not surprising that more seasoned professionals enjoy a bigger paycheck. As with other industries, place of employment affects pay. A general manager of a hotel chain can earn more than one who manages a small bed-and-breakfast. Your level of education will also affect your salary.

Top Paying Positions in Hotel and Restaurant Management
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Hotel Manager $46,972 $40,591 $46,880 $58,870
Restaurant Manager $43,602 $40,508 $43,987 $48,201
Marketing Manager $62,759 $54,567 $66,033 $77,383
Director of Events $64,741 $49,188 $64,575 $78,556
Director of Sales $87,372 $56,269 $79,060 $110,892

Source: PayScale

Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management Careers

Hospitality managers personify business, leadership, and customer service expertise. They are people pleasers who understand the inner workings of financial planning, social media, and other marketing strategies. Hospitality managers also know how to motivate and coordinate their employees. These core qualities and skills enable marketing professionals to work in a variety organizations, including hotels, restaurants, and businesses such as resorts and cruise companies. Below are five of the most popular careers in the field along with their duties and requirements.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner

These professionals organize special events, including weddings, school reunions, industry conventions, and academic conferences. They inspect locations, plan for lodging, organize staff, design food and beverage menus, and perform other duties that ensure guests have a safe and enjoyable experience. Most hold at least a bachelor's degree.

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

Lodging Manager

Working for hotels, resorts, and similar companies, lodging managers make sure customer experience meets organizational standards. They oversee diverse tasks such as room inspection, guest services coordination, and financial and strategic planning. As with most other managerial positions, these professionals usually hold a bachelor's degree.

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

Food Service Manager

These managers lead the daily operations of restaurants and other businesses that serve food and beverages. They train and organize staff, order supplies, ensure the business meets sanitation and customer service standards, and handle guest needs directly. While experience stands as a key component for career advancement, food service managers must hold professional credentials, including industry certification. Many also hold an academic degree at the associate or bachelor's level.

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

Marketing Manager

These skilled professionals design, implement, and direct advertising campaigns and other promotional initiatives. Their job is to generate interest in a business or organization, thereby driving growth. Marketing managers hold at least a bachelor's degree, but most pursue a graduate degree to gain additional business and leadership skills.

Median Annual Salary: $127,560
Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Sales Manager

As a main driving force behind business operations, sales managers organize teams, analyze and project statistics, and implement campaigns and strategies. Their job is to boost profitability and expand the client base. These highly skilled professionals possess at least a bachelor's degree. However, a master's degree is common for this career because it provides the advanced business and financial skills necessary for success at higher levels.

Median Annual Salary: $117,960
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Professional Organizations

Hotel and restaurant managers, especially those early in their careers, can benefit from membership in professional organizations. Many of these organizations provide additional training and certification programs that can give you an edge during job applications. Professional organizations also support their members through conferencing and networking events, as well as funding opportunities such as academic scholarships. Hospitality management organizations often administer job boards, digital libraries, webinars, and discussion forums.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management Program

Like any program, a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management often requires significant financial investment. You should prioritize minimizing overall costs, ideally to the point of zero student loan debt. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) enables you to sign up for multiple scholarships and grants simultaneously. You should also perform extensive searches for funding opportunities offered by national organizations such as Tourism Cares or the James Beard Foundation, as well as regional bodies like the Colorado Restaurant Association.


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