Students should research the award level and hands-on training requirements of the different available online degree programs in restaurant management. Here we discuss these considerations in-depth and take a look at some of the degree programs and schools available.
How to Select an Online Restaurant Management Program
Online degree programs in restaurant management are available at nearly every level, from associate's degrees to master's degrees. Programs are offered by private online schools and a few community colleges. Students should then weigh the award level with the hands-on requirements.
Though they are available, online master's degree programs in this field are not common, and degrees at this level are not always necessary for employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers in restaurants usually need a high school diploma. For management-level employment in the food service and hospitality industries, employers may seek applicants with more advanced education, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Hands-on Training Requirements
Online programs may require that restaurant management students complete hands-on training through internships. Because the point of these internships is to gain firsthand, real-world experience, they cannot be completed online.
The BLS says that food service managers are often required to complete training programs within the organizations that hire them, and describes this training as a combination of hands-on work training and classes in topics like sanitation, personnel management and company-specific rules.
Overview of Online Restaurant Management Programs
Career Diplomas in Restaurant Management
Online restaurant management career diploma programs are often offered through a restaurant management or tourism and hospitality department. In these programs, students learn to present themselves professionally, manage employees and interact with customers.
Career diploma program curricula are often broken into multiple instruction sets or modules that focus on specific topics, like menu planning and sanitation, legal aspects of restaurant management and customer service. Materials, like supplemental DVDs, may be shipped to students with materials for each learning module. A 2-year career diploma program prepares students for entry-level positions in food service management. Common coursework includes instruction in:
- Food service sanitation
- The hospitality industry
- Banquet services
- Marketing and sales
Associate's Degrees in Restaurant Management
An online associate's degree program in restaurant management typically requires completion of 65-75 credit hours. Course credit is often awarded for internship experience, which may be required to last for at least a quarter-semester of the program.
Materials are often available several weeks before classes begin, through school bookstores or through an electronic format. Many schools use an online content management system like Blackboard to allow students to receive and submit their assignments and communicate with professors. Required courses include:
- Hospitality management fundamentals
- Hospitality laws and ethics
- Convention and event management
- Accounting and marketing principles
Bachelor's Degrees in Restaurant Management
Students in online bachelor's degree programs in restaurant management are required to complete anywhere from 120-180 credit hours in courses related to business and food service. This may include required practical experience. Some schools require that students document completion of 800 or more hours of hands-on experience, sometimes at the school's hospitality department during a set number of campus visits.
These bachelor's degree programs also typically include courses that satisfy general education requirements, like English and mathematics. Course credits from these bachelor's degree programs may be transferable to a graduate degree in hospitality and tourism (not commonly available online). Common courses in restaurant management bachelor's degree programs include:
- Customer relations
- Payroll and fixed assets
- Marketing strategy
- Contracted services
Schools With Online Programs in Restaurant Management
Stratford University has an Associate of Applied Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management that can be completed online, on-campus or in a hybrid format. The program requires 90 credits and can be completed in about two years. Classes are usually 5 to 10 weeks in length and cover topics in budgeting, leadership, scheduling and more.
Sullivan University also offers an online associate's program in hotel and restaurant management that is 90 credits and can be completed in 18 months. Classes are 11 weeks in length and students are able to gain hands-on experience at various establishments. Students will study various management skills, cost control techniques and legal issues in the industry.
Florida International University has an online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management program that offers six concentrations, including one in restaurant/food service management. This program is highly ranked and pairs online students with a success coach. The program totals 120 credits, which includes 21 credits from a student's chosen concentration and a senior seminar.
Online diploma, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in restaurant management are available from several different institutions. When making a decision about which program to attend, students should consider how the award level aligns with their career goals, as well as what hands-on experience a program requires.