Hotel Management College and University Program Overviews

Degree programs in hotel management are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students in 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.

Essential Information

Hotel Management degree programs ensure that all graduates are prepared for a variety of administrative aspects in hospitality management, which may include overseeing 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. Students in hotel management programs 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.

  • Program Levels in Hotel Management: Associate Degree in Hotel Management; Bachelor's Degree in Hotel Management; Master's Degree in Hotel Management
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED for associate or bachelor degree; ACT or SAT scores or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Master's degree candidates must submit a narrative or personal statement; must have prior experience in the field and a strong business background.
  • Program Length: Both associate and master's degrees can be earned in two years; bachelor's degree programs are completed in four years.
  • Some Program Specializations: Kitchen management; events; sales; front office management
  • Other Requirements: Master's program may require a thesis to graduate

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. 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
  • Front office management

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.

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

Master's Degree in Hotel Management

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. 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.

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

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 2014 was $57,230, and the BLS predicts little to no change in employment levels from 2012-2022 (

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 or assistant food and beverage manager.

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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