Hospitality Major, Certificate and College Degree Program Info

Varying levels of educational programs, from certificates to master's degrees, are available to students interested in hospitality management careers. Programs combine classroom coursework and practical training through internship opportunities.

Essential Information

Students of hospitality management certificate and degree programs can expect to take courses addressing food and beverage management as well as business studies, particularly in areas of accounting, finance, communication, marketing and human resource management. Bachelor's and master's-level studies could include supervised hands-on experiences in professional settings.

Many bachelor's degree programs encourage students to complete an associate's degree in hospitality management before entering the program. Students entering a master's degree program in hospitality management must have a bachelor's degree, often with a minimum grade point average. Common prerequisite courses include guest services management, accounting, financial analysis and marketing. Some master's degree programs also require students to have hospitality industry experience as business owners, managers or related professions. Online programs and courses are available.

Hospitality Management Certificate

Hospitality management certificate programs prepare students for entry-level supervisory and management positions in the hospitality industry. Students are equipped with the skills to analyze operations and finances, apply marketing and sales principles and provide quality customer service. Topics covered include accounting, sales and marketing, human resources, guest relations and front office procedures. Students also explore the wide range of specialties within the hospitality industry, including hotel, food and beverage, casino, event, meeting, convention and spa management. Prerequisites may include a high school education with writing, math and computer courses. Common courses might include:

  • Front office management
  • Food and beverage operations
  • Business communication
  • Sanitation and safety
  • Conference and event planning
  • Menu planning

Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management

Associate degree programs in hospitality management combine fundamental business skills with analytical and critical thinking to prepare students for entry-level supervisory positions. Students entering a hospitality management associate degree program are expected to have a high school diploma or equivalent with an educational background in written communication, computers, math and reading. Some programs test students in these areas prior to admission. These two-year programs cover conference and event planning, food preparation, sanitation standards, customer service, restaurant management and merchandising. Internships are commonly offered with hotels, restaurants and tourism facilities. Students gain experience working with restaurant managers, chefs, marketing executives, food service managers, caterers and more. Many programs also include cooking and baking training. Associate degree programs offer a combination of business and hospitality courses. Common coursework includes:

  • Front office operations management
  • Food and beverage management
  • Hospitality marketing
  • Cost control
  • Menu planning
  • Financial accounting

Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in hospitality management are exposed to all facets of the hospitality industry. They gain a strong foundation in critical thinking, research and writing, as well as principles of marketing, business, public relations, law, finance and management. Common prerequisite coursework for these programs include micro- and macroeconomics and financial accounting. Skills acquired include profit improvement, strategic planning, team building and quality improvement. Many programs also require a minimum number of hours of supervised experience in the hospitality industry. Graduates of hospitality management bachelor's degree programs may work as food and beverage, conference center or front office managers. Like certificate and associate degree programs, courses in a bachelor's degree program in hospitality management emphasize development of managerial business and hospitality skills. The following courses are common in a bachelor's degree program:

  • Human resource management
  • Food production management
  • Hospitality industry law
  • Culinary arts
  • Cost control
  • Lodging management

Master of Science in Hospitality Management

Master's degree programs in hospitality management provide students with the managerial and leadership skills needed to improve the hospitality industry through research, teaching and consultation. Programs focus on quality management, the changing demographic of consumers, restaurant and lodging management legal requirements, profit maximization and human resource management. Common research areas include cost containment, consumer issues and merchandising. Hospitality management master's degree programs prepare graduates for greater career advancement in areas such as travel and tourism, country club, lodging, resort and restaurant management. Courses help students develop their leadership, managerial and analytical skills. A program may allow students to specialize through their choice of electives. Advanced courses in hospitality management might include the following:

  • Hospitality and tourism research methods
  • Accounting for hospitality managers
  • Convention center management
  • Strategic management and marketing
  • Organizational behavior within the hospitality industry
  • Hospitality operations conflict management

Popular Career Options

Hospitality management certificate and associate's degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level management employment in settings such as hotels, restaurants, casinos, catering facilities, conference centers, cruise ships, car rental agencies, resorts and travel agencies. Graduates may work in specific areas of hospitality, including food and beverage management, marketing and sales, special event planning, hotel operations, and spa management. Popular job titles might include:

  • Casino supervisor
  • Front office supervisor
  • General manager
  • Assistant food and beverage manager
  • Dining room supervisor
  • Banquet manager
  • Hotel marketing director
  • Guest services manager
  • Executive housekeeper
  • Restaurant manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

As of 2015, the median annual earnings were $48,690 for food service managers and $49,720 for lodging managers. Food services managers are expected to see a 5% growth in jobs and lodging managers are expected to see an 8% growth between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS also reported that meeting, convention and event planners, whose median earnings were $46,840 in 2015, are expected to see job growth of 10% during the same time frame.

Individuals interested in starting a career in hospitality management can learn what they need to know for entry level work in a hospitality management through a certificate or associate's degree program. Students seeking advanced employment in the field may want to consider a bachelor's degree or master's degree. Various specializations are available to align with student's interests.

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