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Best Online Hospitality Management Bachelor's Degree Programs

Discover the best online bachelor's programs for hospitality management. Learn about practical requirements, common courses, financial aid, and possible careers, among other things.

Best Online Schools for Hospitality Management

The schools on this list have been selected for their flexibility, financial aid, and academic success.

1. East Carolina University

Location In-state Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid
Greeneville, NC $7,188 81%

East Carolina University offers a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management that can be completed entirely online; students can choose between three concentrations, including convention and special events management, food and beverage management, and lodging management. Regardless of their chosen concentration, all hospitality management students must complete an externship after their sophomore year and an internship before their senior year. The program provides a list of approved internship programs, but students may also choose their own as long as they are granted approval.

2. University of Wisconsin-Stout

Location In-state Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid
Menomonie, WI $9,457 84%

The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management. Online courses are consistently delivered in the fall, spring, and summer terms for flexibility, and students can speak with an online services coordinator and faculty advisor. Offering one of the first established hospitality programs in the country, the school partners with over 100 hospitality businesses to provide students with internships and networking opportunities so they can gain industry experience.

3. Missouri State University-Springfield

Location In-state Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid
Springfield, MO $7,376 91%

Missouri State University-Springfield offers two online degrees in hospitality management: a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Leadership and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Hospitality Leadership. The bachelor of applied science is an option for students who have completed an associate's degree in hospitality leadership and would like to continue their education. Students learn from faculty who have experience in the field, and have access to internships and jobs across the industry, from hotels and restaurants to sports stadiums and cruise lines. The school's hospitality leadership students are annually awarded over $35,000 in financial aid.

4. Fort Hays State University

Location In-state Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid
Hays, KS $5,130 98%

Fort Hays State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Hospitality Management. With a foundational curriculum in business, students in the program can gain knowledge in areas such as business communications, accounting, marketing, and management in addition to taking courses specific to the tourism and hospitality industry.

5. Northeastern State University

Location In-state Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid
Tahlequah, OK $6,650 94%

Northeastern State University offers an online Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and this program was one of the first hospitality programs to be approved by the Professional Convention Management Association. Students gain a comprehensive education in one of 3 specializations: meeting and convention management, gaming operations and procedures, and tourist destination development.

Rank School Name Location In-state Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid
6 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA $15,887 91%
7 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ $11,564 94%
8 Robert Morris University Moon, PA $30,300 98%
9 Madonna University Livonia, MI $21,900 99%
10 Rutgers University-Camden Camden, NJ $14,835 94%
11 California State University-East Bay Hayward, CA $6,983 83%
12 Florida International University Miami, FL $6,546 89%
13 Everglades University Boca Raton, FL $17,600 77%
14 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL $4,831 81%
15 SUNY College of Technology at Delhi Delhi, NY $8,360 91%
16 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale, IL $14,704 93%
17 Saint Leo University St. Leo, FL $23,020 100%
18 New England College Henniker, NH $37,914 95%
19 Lynn University Boca Raton, FL $38,210 94%
20 North Carolina Central University Durham, NC $6,464 97%
21 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI $27,124 100%
22 Roosevelt University Chicago, IL $29,832 98%
23 Newbury College Brookline, MA $35,540 100%
24 Lakeland University Plymouth, WI $28,870 100%
25 Charleston Southern University Charleston, SC $25,540 100%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2019-2020 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Online Hospitality Management Bachelor's Degree Overview

When it comes to coursework, it is possible to complete a bachelor's degree in hospitality management online. However, many schools require hospitality and tourism students to complete a relevant internship in order to gain hands-on industry experience.

Completing a Hospitality Internship as an Online Student

Online hospitality students can select an internship, co-op, or work experience in their area to fulfill their program's requirements. A school may provide a list of approved internships to choose from, and could have the following requirements:

  • Be an undergraduate senior or have completed a minimum number of credit hours
  • Work a minimum number of hours at the internship and provide documentation of hours
  • Select a staff member at the internship who has experience in your discipline to act as a mentor/supervisor
  • Provide a written job description of the position

Some schools may also require students to work in multiple disciplines during their internship in order to gain a well-rounded experience. For example, if a student chooses to work in a restaurant, they may be required to spend time serving, doing inventory, and working in the kitchen, instead of just working in one area of the restaurant. Students may also be required to participate in an internship class. This class may include assignments such as periodic self-evaluations on the student's work performance, written assignments, class discussions, documentation of work hours, and evaluation done by a supervisor.

The number of hours required for an internship to count towards overall graduation requirements varies by school, but they can range from 400-750 hours. Students may often obtain these hours from more than one internship.

Possible Hospitality Management Concentrations

While many schools offer a broad education in the field of tourism and hospitality, some schools offer different concentrations in the program for students to choose from. There may be more focused concentrations, such as club management, tourism, or senior living management, but general areas such as lodging, food and beverage, and convention and special events are typical.

Lodging

A lodging concentration focuses on work in hotels and other lodging facilities, such as inns and bed and breakfasts. Students can learn about several operations in this field, such as housekeeping, front desk service, managing staff, maintaining industry standards and protocol, and sales.

Food and Beverage

A food and beverage concentration focuses on work in restaurants and food services of all kinds, from fine dining to catering and fast food. Students can learn about all operations in a restaurant, as well as how to navigate industry regulations and standards and lead staff.

Convention and Special Events

A convention and special events concentration focuses on work relating to meetings, special events, conventions, and trade shows. Students can learn how to plan and execute these types of meetings and events, from budgeting to logistics.

Common Courses in a Hospitality Management Program

Even if a student is able to choose a specialty, they will still need to take core courses in order to gain foundational knowledge. Core courses in a hospitality management bachelor's program are typically broken up into 3 sections, including:

  • General Education: courses such as composition, algebra, and humanities
  • Business: courses such as financial accounting, economics, communications, and business law
  • Hospitality: courses such as food service operations, hospitality management, and hotel operations

Below are some specific course topics in hospitality.

Principles of Tourism

Principles of tourism classes act as an introduction for students to explore the different components of the tourism and travel industry. Students can learn how the industry is structured, how it functions, and its scope on a national and international spectrum. Students may also review tourism career opportunities and study the financial side of tourism and its economic impact.

Hotel Operations

Hotel or lodging operations courses are set up to show students the functions of a hotel. This can include the roles of staff members and hotel policies. Some courses may include the functions of hotel catering services as well.

Tourism Marketing

In tourism marketing courses, students learn the strategies and functions of effective marketing of hospitality and tourism destinations, from conventions and meetings to trade shows and tourism-related businesses. Students can analyze sales techniques, marketing strategies, and promotional tools, as well as learn practical applications for these techniques.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting courses are commonly part of a school's core business curriculum that can be required for hospitality students. These courses include the basics of accounting, such as how to prepare and analyze financial statements and spreadsheets, determine assets and liabilities, and use financial data to make ethical decisions for a business.

Business Law

Business law courses are also commonly part of a school's core business curriculum. These courses explore the legal and ethical side of starting and operating a business in the tourism industry. Students can learn about laws and regulations surrounding the tourism and hospitality business, how to read and understand legal contracts, and what court proceedings can look like.

How Long to Earn an Online Hospitality Management Degree?

Traditional bachelor's degree programs usually last 4 years or around 120 credit hours. Courses may be completed over the summer to graduate faster, but availability depends on the school.

A program's credit hours may be broken down like this:

  • General education: 55 credit hours
  • Business core: 24 credit hours
  • Major core: 23 credit hours
  • Required electives (or concentration): 12 credit hours
  • Electives: 6 credit hours

Students must also factor in the time to complete internship hours.

Accreditation for Online Hospitality Programs

When searching for schools, it is always important to check accreditation status. Accreditation is a way to ensure that a school is meeting standards of excellence set by a reputable association. A school also needs to be accredited in order for attending students to obtain federal financial aid through FAFSA.

Types of Accreditation for Hospitality Programs

There are many accreditation associations, all serving different purposes. Some associations will grant accreditation to an institution as a whole, while others may grant it per academic department or program. A few examples of accrediting associations include:

  • Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration: grants accreditation to hospitality programs
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business: grants accreditation to business schools, which have hospitality programs
  • Higher Learning Commission: grants accreditation to institutions as a whole

Always be sure to do research on the accrediting associations for any school you're applying to. The association should have a website, information on its background and purpose, and information on the schools/programs that have received accreditation.

Financial Aid for Online Hospitality Students

The first step to getting financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application can tell you what you're eligible for, as far as loans, work-studies, and grants. There are additional resources though. Schools usually have scholarships students can apply for, and independent organizations offer scholarships as well.

Scholarships for Online Hospitality Students

There are many scholarships out there to choose from, and they all have different eligibility criteria. Below are a few hospitality-centered scholarships that online students can apply for.

Allied Buying Corporation /Norbert F. Sherman Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is offered to any undergraduate junior or senior working towards a hospitality, restaurant, or food service major. Applicants must have an interest in restaurant and facilities design. The amount awarded is $2,500.

Scott Vandenberg Scholarship

The Scott Vandenberg scholarship is offered to a student in the restaurant, hospitality, or food service major. The amount awarded is $2,500.

Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students

This scholarship is awarded to minority students who are pursuing a hospitality management major. Applicants must be at least juniors in the upcoming fall semester and be enrolled in at least 12 credits of classes for that semester. The amount awarded is $3,000.

Possible Careers for Hospitality Management Graduates

There are a number of job options for hospitality graduates to choose from. A hospitality management degree may not be strictly required for all positions, but the skills learned in a hospitality management program can be useful for these positions.

Job Title Median Pay (2020)* Job Outlook (2018-2028)**
Hotel General Managers $109,300 (for hotel general managers) 1% (for all lodging managers)
Food Service Managers $71,951 11%
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners $64,844 (for meeting/event planners) 7%

Sources: *Salary.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hotel General Managers

A hotel general manager is a type of lodging manager. It is their responsibility to oversee all of the operations at a lodging facility. General managers can work in lodging facilities of any size, from small bed and breakfasts to large corporate hotels. Depending on the size of the facility, a general manager may work with several assistant managers to oversee several departments, such as housekeeping, marketing and sales, human resources, and maintenance, among others. The overall goal of a hotel general manager is to ensure operations are running smoothly so the hotel guests can have a positive experience.

Hotel general managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in hospitality or hotel management. Professional certification is available through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.

Food Service Managers

A food service manager is in charge of overseeing the operations of restaurants and other businesses that serve food and beverages, such as catering companies. Their duties range greatly; they oversee the restaurant staff, from hiring, training, assigning duties, and firing to creating work schedules. They can also be in charge of financial records, such as payroll and budgeting. Food preparation is also a key part of a food service manager's job; they are in charge of ordering food and necessary supplies, deciding portion sizes, and overseeing the presentation of their establishment's food so that it looks appealing to customers. In addition to ensuring a positive customer experience, a food service manager must make sure it is a healthy one by adhering to health and safety standards and enforcing those standards on their employees.

Food service managers can qualify for the job with a high school diploma and related work experience, but many employers, especially upscale restaurants, prefer managers to have a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or food service, or they may recruit these students as trainees.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Meeting, convention, and event planners organize various events for people to come together. Depending on what they specialize in, this could be weddings, large organization meetings, conventions, and conferences, among other events. They plan every aspect of the event, from the logistical side to the financial side. This can include tasks such as ensuring a space has the capacity to host the event's guests, ensuring guests are satisfied, coordinating food service, rooms, and transportation, and overseeing the event's bills and ensuring payments are made.

Meeting, convention, and event planners typically need a bachelor's degree in business management or a related field, however employees with a hospitality management degree can start the job with greater responsibilities. Additionally, hospitality industry experience, particularly with event planning, is considered valuable for these types of positions.

Professional Organizations for Hospitality Management

There are several organizations designed to help hospitality management students and professionals with networking, career advancement, and other things.

American Hotel and Lodging Association

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) is an association dedicated to supporting hospitality professionals, upholding standards, and advocating for the hospitality industry as a whole. Members can receive discounts on products and services, take part in advocacy for the hospitality industry, network with colleagues and industry leaders, and gain opportunities to serve on an AHLA council, among other things.

National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association is an association committed to upholding and improving quality standards for restaurants and food services across America to maintain satisfaction, safety, and success. They additionally protect the vitality of food service businesses and offer many scholarships to students interested in a career in food service.

World Tourism Organization

The World Tourism Organization is a United Nations agency dedicated to promoting tourism that is sustainable, responsible, and accessible across the globe. With membership in 159 countries, the WTO advocates for global ethical tourism to help reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development.

The organization offers a program called the Students' League, a component of their UNWTO Academy. The program seeks to motivate travel and tourism students by creating a 5-month long global competition where students work in teams to come up with the best solutions to challenges set by the UNWTO. Any student who takes part in the program is granted access to the UNWTO Students' Network.