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Hotel Management College and University Program Overviews

Read detailed information about degree programs in hotel management. Get information about levels of study, admission requirements and topics addressed in the curricula. Find out about career options in this field as well as salary and career outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

Degree programs in hotel management are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students of associate's and bachelor's degree programs have the opportunity to study management principles and practices in areas of food preparation, facilities, purchasing, front office and marketing. Graduates of these programs are prepared for entry-level positions in hotel, motels, casinos or catering companies. Programs at the graduate level are generally intended for those with experience who are seeking advancement in the field. Both associate and master's degrees can be earned in two years; bachelor's degree programs are completed in four years.

Hotel managers oversee the day-to-day operations of hotels, motels and other lodging facilities. The responsibilities of hotel management staff may include ensuring the availability and quality of hotel amenities, setting room rates, managing housekeeping and coordinating conferences.

Associate Degree in Hotel Management

Undergraduate hotel management programs prepare students for entry-level leadership positions in hospitality settings. Local community colleges may offer a 2-year associate degree program in this field. Applicants are expected to have a high school diploma or GED.

Program Coursework

Within an associate degree program for hotel management, students learn the basics of hotel operations as they develop interpersonal skills that are essential in the hospitality field. General education units complement core courses. Common courses include:

  • Purchasing
  • Sanitation
  • Fundamentals of food preparation
  • Principles of hotel management
  • Hospitality marketing
  • Legal issues
  • Front office management

Popular Career Options

Though graduates of 2-year hotel management college programs may be qualified to become general managers in a small- or average-size hotel, they are more likely to assist managers with more experience and education. Popular career options include:

  • Dining room supervisor
  • Guest services manager
  • Management trainee
  • Assistant food and beverage manager

Bachelor's Degree in Hotel Management

Bachelor's degree programs in hotel management are comprised of general education credits and hospitality overview classes. Within large facilities, hotel management duties are often divided into many areas, so students pursuing their bachelor's degree may choose to concentrate elective classes on a specific area, such as kitchen management, events or sales. However, most 4-year bachelor's degree programs ensure that all graduates are prepared for a variety of administrative aspects in hospitality management.

Enrollment Information

Those applying to a hotel management program at the bachelor's degree level must demonstrate a sincere desire to work with and for people. A background in business may also be helpful. Additionally, prospective students should be comfortable working long hours, including nights and weekends. Bachelor degree programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some schools require ACT or SAT scores.

Program Coursework

There is a strong business component in most bachelor's degree programs for hotel management. Graduates are prepared to handle financial documents, such as inventory reports, marketing plans, consumer reports and pay schedules. Students also complete an internship. Below is a sample of course topics:

  • Accounting
  • Cost and resource control
  • Marketing
  • Facilities management
  • Hotel business law
  • Food and beverage systems
  • Sustainability and environmental concerns

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Though graduates of hospitality programs frequently work in hotels and restaurants, a bachelor's degree also qualifies them to work for catering companies, airlines, cruise lines, hotel consulting firms, theme parks and boarding facilities. Experience, advanced education and employment in an acclaimed establishment increase the employability and salary prospects for hotel managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for lodging managers in 2012 was $54,800, and the BLS predicts an 8% increase in employment from 2010-2020 (

Master's Degree in Hotel Management

Graduate programs in hospitality management prepare students for maximum accountability in customer service, entertainment or lodging setting. CEOs and CFOs of casinos, luxury hotels and resorts are required to have master's degrees as well as with years of experience in hospitality management.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants for master's degree programs in hotel management must have prior experience in the field and a strong business background. When applying, candidates must submit a narrative or personal statement. Depending on the school, other requirements may be necessary, such as the submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

Program Coursework

Master's degree work in this field builds on prior education and experience, preparing students for supervisory positions at the highest levels of the hospitality industry. Hotel management college programs at the graduate level may or may not require a student to research and present a thesis in order to graduate. The 2-year curriculum emphasizes topics such as:

  • Technology in hotels
  • Legalities
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global tourism
  • Corporate finance

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's in hotel management can achieve leadership positions in a variety of hospitality settings. Popular career options include:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • General Manager (GM)
  • College instructor
  • Director of tourism
  • Hospitality consultant
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics