Hospitality Management Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Oct 20, 2019

Hospitality management education is offered through certificate and undergraduate programs. Programs range from offering introductory coursework in the hospitality industry to more advanced lessons in management that include field training.

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Essential Information

Certificate programs in hospitality management are generally aimed at high school graduates, and many programs encourage students to work in the field while attending classes. These programs may offer general management training or be aimed at a specific area, such as restaurant management or hotel leadership.

Students in a 2-year associate degree program get generalized training in business topics like human resources, accounting and advertising, along with courses in food and beverage ordering or hospitality management ethics.

Bachelor's degree programs build on these studies with courses in topics such as international hospitality management, tourism and hospitality law. Students in bachelor's programs must complete up to 1,300 hours of hands-on training in the field. Typically, a high school diploma is all that's needed to enter an undergraduate hospitality management program.

Master's degrees in hospitality management are also available to those looking to further specialize their education.

Hospitality Management Certificate

Certificate programs are either made up of standard management education courses or are tailored to meet specific educational goals of each student. Tailored programs usually allow students to choose from restaurant management, institutional leadership or hotel administration courses, which may be combined to achieve a well-rounded educational foundation. Certificate programs prepare students to assume leadership positions in hospitality environments through management principles, human resource duties, food sanitation regulations and communications training. Certificate programs vary in content by school, though a typical core program usually involves hospitality management functions, marketing skills, human relations and facilities management. Courses may include studies on:

  • Hospitality management principles
  • Human resources in the hospitality field
  • Cost control and buying
  • Accounting methods
  • Hospitality marketing tools

Associate Degree in Hospitality Management

An associate degree program in hospitality management usually involves a variety of specialty training courses that include restaurant, hotel and institutional leadership. An associate degree program encompasses administrative responsibilities, employee relations, food ordering, bookkeeping, advertising and food service knowledge to prepare students for careers in multiple hospitality settings. The education provided in an associate degree program in hospitality management trains students in the tenets of administrative work in the field, along with basic culinary concepts. Students learn about the following:

  • Wine and beverage control
  • Food and beverage ordering
  • Hotel operations and responsibilities
  • Hospitality management ethics

Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management

A bachelor's degree program in hospitality management builds upon the coursework of an associate's degree by addressing such topics as tourism, employee development, international hospitality management and basic hospitality law. Hospitality management bachelor's degree programs often require up to 1,300 hours of hands-on practical training outside of classroom coursework. Training may involve:

  • Food service operations
  • Utilizing information technology
  • Property management
  • Global hospitality management
  • Wine history and culture
  • Merchandising and marketing

Popular Careers

Certificate programs in hospitality management qualify students to apply for entry-level management or supervisory roles in the industry. The training provided in an associate or bachelor's degree program allows students to choose the type of management role they're most interested in while being able to work in multiple environments. Positions may include:

  • Front desk supervisor
  • Reservations manager
  • Housekeeping supervisor
  • Food service manager
  • Assistant hotel manager
  • Resort sales manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that those with 4-year degrees have the best chances of securing management positions in the industry ( The BLS reported that employment for lodging managers is projected to have 1% growth from 2018-2028. As of 2018, lodging managers made a mean yearly wage of $62,270.

Continuing Education

A master's degree in hospitality management takes undergraduate education a step further by covering subjects related to building new properties, organizational behavior, event coordination and professional development. Some graduate programs offer specialty courses allowing students to learn more about tourism studies, international issues in hospitality, casino and gaming management or hospitality education. A graduate program in hospitality management may further a student's professional career to executive-level management positions, or it can qualify them for community college teaching positions.

Depending on what area of hospitality an individual is interested in, there are a number of degree and certificate programs available.

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