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Exciting careers in lodging, recreation, travel, and dining await individuals with degrees in hospitality and tourism.
Hospitality and tourism, a multi-million dollar worldwide industry, suits individuals who enjoy working with others, planning events, and exploring new locations. Traditional roles within hospitality and tourism include hotel and restaurant managers, event planners, and travel coordinators.
As the hospitality and tourism field adapts to an increasingly technical world, individuals with interests in computer and information technology can thrive in this industry. This field also includes positions in media relations, environmental management, and human resources.
The hospitality and tourism industry encompasses many different sectors. Depending on your interests and career goals, you may benefit from a general hospitality and tourism degree or a program that focuses on events, hotel and restaurant management, or tourism.
Featured Online Schools
Notable Online Hospitality and Tourism Degrees
We selected the following programs according to affordability, graduation rates, graduate placement rates, and programmatic excellence, along with accreditation, online enrollment, and availability of financial aid.
George Washington University
GW's online graduate certificate in hospitality management emphasizes hotel development and operations. Students learn the fundamentals of hospitality market analysis and marketing strategies while exploring destination marketing, tourism economics, and risk management for events and meetings. Applicants must submit two recommendations for admission to the 12-credit program.
Iowa State University
The bachelor's degree in hospitality management at ISU includes 123 credits of coursework. Students explore the fundamentals of hospitality operations, lodging and food production management, and hospitality cost control and marketing strategies. Learners can complete internships with the program's many industry partners. ISU also hosts the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom, a practical learning lab operated by hospitality management students.
Johnson & Wales University
JWU's online bachelor of science in hospitality management emphasizes the concepts, tools, and values of the hospitality industry. Students develop communication and decision-making skills to assess industry trends. Graduates can thrive in management roles in hospitality operations. Candidates who wish to enroll in this four-year degree need two years of full-time, post-high school work experience.
Kansas State University
The bachelor of science in hospitality management at K-State includes 120 credits of coursework. An enrollee can transfer 60 credits from a K-State community college partner before completing 18 credits of face-to-face classes and 32 credits of online courses. The comprehensive curriculum explores facilities management, sales and promotions, and advanced hotel operations.
Enrollees of Mercyhurst's bachelor of arts in hospitality management program can choose internships from the program's 300 worldwide industry partners. This degree introduces students to the fundamentals of technology, management, finance, and leadership, with available concentrations in food and beverage, hotel, and event management.
Additional lab and cooperative learning exercises build analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills for managerial roles across the hospitality sector.
Missouri State University
The online bachelor of applied science in hospitality leadership at MSU operates as a transfer degree. Each applicant must hold an associate degree from an accredited institution. The hospitality leadership curriculum includes core classes in financial performance in hospitality operations, advanced lodging management, and risk management and legal compliance in the hospitality industry. Each enrollee completes a paid internship that delivers 750 hours of work experience.
University of Houston
The master of science in hospitality management offered by the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at UH comprises 36 credits of coursework. Students complete the program in roughly two years, with additional accelerated and part-time options available.
Most courses are taught in person, with limited online offerings. The degree tracks at UH require thesis projects, professional paper and work practicums, and a specialization. Learners can specialize in finance, revenue management, human resources, and food and beverage management.
University of Nevada Las Vegas
UNLV offers an online graduate certificate in gaming management, along with online executive master of hospitality administration (MHA) degrees in hospitality management and gaming management. The graduate certificate includes 15 credits of coursework, along with optional electives in topics such as casino marketing, gaming technologies, and sociology of gambling.
UNLV's executive MHAs in hospitality management or gaming management take roughly two years to complete. Both degrees include 30 credits of coursework. The hospitality management degree emphasizes financial analysis, human resources, and leadership knowledge. The gaming management program focuses on gaming operations, marketing, and accounting.
Utah Valley University
Through its Woodbury School of Business, UVU offers an online bachelor's degree in hospitality management with optional business-focused specializations in operations, revenue management, and sales. Additional specializations include event planning and culinary arts.
Each bachelor's degree comprises 120 credits of coursework. The culinary arts concentration operates as a degree-completion program for students with associate of applied science degrees in the field.
Emphasis on Events
Arkansas Tech University
ATU's bachelor's degree in hospitality administration includes an event management specialization that prepares students for employment in commercial recreation, recreational sport, and event management.
Core classes build basic knowledge and skills related to the hospitality industry, while concentration coursework emphasizes event-related catering, technology, and facility management. Throughout the four-year program, each enrollee completes an internship and participates in practical learning activities.
Florida International University
The online bachelor's degree in hospitality management at FIU comprises 120 credits of coursework. Each student completes 36 credits of core classes and 12 credits of concentration courses in event management.
Event management coursework includes planning meetings and conventions, trade show management, and group business sales and services. Each enrollee participates in 500 hospitality-related work hours before starting a required internship.
George Mason University
Along with its on-campus bachelor's degree in tourism and events management, Mason offers an online minor in the discipline. This 15-credit minor includes core classes in event management and sustainable tourism. Additional elective options include wedding planning, event implementation, and global understanding through tourism and travel.
Through Mason Online, students can also earn bachelor of applied science degrees in health, wellness, and social services. Mason encourages applicants with associate degrees in hospitality management specializing in nutrition to apply.
San José State University
SJSU's bachelor of science in recreation allows learners to specialize in recreation management. The 120-credit degree integrates core coursework in recreation program planning, principles of recreation, and an internship. Concentration classes in recreation management highlight leadership skills in event planning.
Emphasis on Hotels and Restaurants
Northern Arizona University
NAU's online bachelor of science in hotel and restaurant management integrates foreign language coursework, internship requirements, and core hospitality-related content to prepare students for roles in bilingual work environments.
Hospitality administration classes in organizational behavior, cost controls for restaurants, and facility and sustainability management for hotels accompany required business courses in accounting, economics, information systems, and management.
University of New Orleans
Students at UNO complete the online executive master of science in hospitality and tourism management in 12 months. The Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration draws inspiration from its location in New Orleans, a city with substantial hospitality infrastructure.
The accelerated degree provides hospitality and tourism industry professionals with coursework designed to help them advance professionally. Classes emphasize marketing, finance and revenue management, and strategic management.
University of Nebraska Lincoln
Online undergraduate programs at UNL include a meat culinology certificate that trains students how to properly handle, process, and prepare animal products for consumers. UNL also offers an online graduate certificate in food and safety defense. The certificate trains food industry professionals in advanced topics such as food microbiology and food law and regulations.
SUNY Delhi offers an online bachelor of business administration in hotel and restaurant management. Ideal for students looking to work in leadership roles at resorts, hotels, and restaurants, the program integrates experiential learning activities into all classes.
Coursework explores hotel and resort operations, classical cuisine, and food and culture. Learners can also complete internships with the Walt Disney College Program.
University of Wisconsin Stout
UW-Stout's online bachelor of science in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management features a customized instruction tuition rate covering a textbook rental fee and resident tuition, regardless of location. Thirty credits of operations management coursework emphasize food service, lodging, and culinary aspects of hospitality, while financial and revenue management classes highlight the importance of foodservice finance and cost control.
Emphasis on Tourism
MU's online offerings include a bachelor of science and a minor in hospitality and tourism management. Hospitality and tourism management majors take 30 credits of core coursework in travel and tourism, lodging management, and hospitality architecture and interior design.
The hospitality and tourism management minor emphasizes global branding, meeting and event management, and marketing hospitality through 21 credits of coursework.
North Carolina Central University
The online bachelor of science in hospitality and tourism at NCCU includes 128 credits of coursework. Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration™ (ACPHA), the program trains students to thrive as hospitality professionals in lodging, food and beverage service, and resort management.
Each enrollee accrues the required 1,000 practical hours needed for the degree to build leadership skills and learn essential industry skills.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The bachelor's degree in retail, hospitality, and tourism management at UT Knoxville is designed for individuals looking to manage hotels, restaurants, convention centers, and comparable tourist destinations. The four-year program includes 120 credits of coursework.
Classes emphasize strategic marketing, hotel and resort operations, and tourism-related legal issues, with an additional focus on consumers in the global marketplace. Learners aspiring to enter the tourism industry benefit from elective coursework in marketing and hospitality tourism and critical sustainable tourism.
West Virginia University
Offered through the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, WVU's online bachelor of science in hospitality and tourism integrates internships and learning labs with coursework.
The curriculum blends theory and practice to prepare students for leadership roles in service industries around the world. The hospitality and tourism management major features a 90% placement rate for graduates.
Indiana University Bloomington
The online master of science in recreation with an emphasis in tourism management at IU includes 35 credits of coursework. By focusing on marketing to and managing tourists, tourist activities, and tourist destinations, students also explore tourism-related wellness design and health. Foundation courses in tourism management include philosophy of leisure and recreation, along with organizational leadership for parks, recreation, tourism, and public lands.
What Kinds of Hospitality and Tourism Degrees Are There?
Undergraduate hospitality and tourism certificates and degrees train learners for entry-level positions in the industry, while graduate programs build additional leadership and managerial skills. Hospitality and tourism programs also vary in emphasis and requirements. The ideal hospitality and tourism degree depends on your interests and professional goals.
Certificate Program in Hospitality and Tourism
Certificate programs in hospitality and tourism include one year or less of coursework. These programs, designed to introduce students to principles and practices of the hospitality and tourism industry, focus on topics like travel sales, tourist relations, and geography.
Certificate program enrollees can gain managerial skills to take on leadership roles or transfer into associate degrees in the discipline.
Associate Degree in Hospitality and Tourism
Associate degrees in hospitality and tourism span roughly two years. Many associate degrees prepare learners for careers in the hospitality and tourism industry or serve as transfer programs to bachelor's degrees.
Individuals working in hospitality and tourism positions build knowledge and skills to advance in their roles. With coursework in communication, human relations, and business, associate degrees in hospitality and tourism also include classes in hospitality law and ethics and ecotourism. Many associate degrees integrate internships and practical learning experiences.
Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality and Tourism
Current hospitality and tourism professionals looking to take on managerial roles benefit from bachelor's degrees in the field. A bachelor's degree in hospitality and tourism typically spans four years. Learners participate in experiential learning requirements while exploring the business, recreational, and creative aspects of hospitality and tourism.
Internships are an essential part of hospitality and tourism bachelor's degrees. These degrees also prepare students to pursue graduate work in the field.
Master's Degree in Hospitality and Tourism
Master's degrees in hospitality and tourism provide more advanced coursework in hotel management, food and beverage service, event planning, and travel coordination. Individuals build expertise to advance in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Most master's degrees in hospitality and tourism include two years of coursework and practical experience requirements. Online and accelerated programs may provide options to earn degrees in 12 months or less.
What's the Difference Between a Master's Degree in Hospitality and Tourism and a Master of Business Administration in Hospitality and Tourism?
A master's degree in hospitality and tourism focuses on building communication, customer service, and business skills applicable to positions at hotels, resorts, restaurants, and comparable locations. Students also complete basic coursework in finance, accounting, and marketing for work in hospitality and tourism settings.
A master of business administration (MBA) with an emphasis in hospitality and tourism focuses on business fundamentals, with additional courses relating to the hospitality and tourism industry. Both degrees take roughly two years to complete, but the hospitality master's degree often requires previous industry work experience for admission, while the MBA often does not.
Doctoral Degree in Hospitality and Tourism
Individuals interested in research-based careers, teaching roles, or positions as consultants related to hospitality and tourism benefit from doctorates in the discipline. During a hospitality and tourism doctoral degree, enrollees study theory, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and hospitality and tourism strategies.
A doctorate requires each enrollee to identify a research area, complete an extensive research project, and produce a dissertation on a hospitality or tourism-related issue.
Choosing an Online Program
When choosing the right online program, students should take accreditation status into consideration. Colleges and universities receive national or regional accreditation, a designation that attests to their educational and instructional breadth and quality. Regional accreditation generally garners more prestige.
Departments often receive additional programmatic accreditation through a body tasked with overseeing a specific industry or field. Accrediting bodies for hospitality and tourism programs include the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration.
Hospitality programs offered through business schools may also receive accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Hospitality and Tourism?
Earning a hospitality and tourism degree opens up careers in many different settings. Individuals can work at hotels, resorts, and restaurants, performing key business functions and interacting with tourists and customers. Students may find employment at convention centers, event planning companies, and marketing firms or start careers in sustainable hospitality, tourism development, and outdoor recreation.
Common Questions About Hospitality and Tourism Degrees
What Degree Do You Need for a Hospitality and Tourism Position?
With a hospitality and tourism degree at the bachelor's or master's level, individuals become well-equipped for managerial roles in the industry. The type of degree needed for a position in hospitality and tourism depends on your interests and professional goals.
What Kind of Jobs Can You Get With a Hospitality Management Degree?
Individuals with hospitality management degrees can get jobs as hotel managers, food service managers, event coordinators, and catering managers. Graduates can also find rewarding positions in guest relations, tourism, marketing, and conference organizing.
Header Image Credit: Hinterhaus Productions | Getty Images
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