Earning a hospitality management degree online can help you land a rewarding career in sectors like food service, event planning, and hotel or resort management. Quality programs not only build desirable skills in business management, they also give you the flexibility you need to finish school on your own terms.
Whether you’re already a working professional in the industry or a new student interested in hospitality and tourism, this guide can help you get started on earning your hospitality management degree. It spotlights several top-ranked programs, explores what you can expect to learn, and surveys the current job outlook. Keep reading to learn more and stay tuned for our full rankings coming later this year.
Florida International University
FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management offers a top-ranked online Bachelor of Science in hospitality management with international recognition. The 120-credit course of study extends fully online programming designed for busy learners and working professionals interested in advancing their careers in tourism, food-service, and hotel management. Each student receives an individual success coach assigned at the beginning of the program, and transfer students can bring in up to 60 credits, potentially reducing their time to completion by half.
The school maintains several high-profile partnerships with key industry players. Near the end of their studies, students complete an internship that provides hands-on experience in lodging management, hospitality marketing, and catering operations. For those interested in stepping into more advanced roles with greater responsibility, FIU offers an option for earning a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree on an accelerated timeline. The program provides onboarding for new students during the spring, fall, and summer semesters.
- Online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
- Credits: 120
- Length: 2-4 years
- Cost: $229 per credit in-state | $346 per credit out-of-state
- Mode: Fully Online
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (Institutional)
Charleston Southern University
At Charleston Southern University, students can complete their hospitality management degree online in as few as 17-24 months. The program offers flat-rate tuition for all students regardless of location and uses mostly asynchronous formats so students can access material at any time, moving through courses at their own pace. Most classes come in accelerated, seven-week sessions with select hybrid and extended experiences available. Graduates of the program often go on to find work as event planners, restaurant and hotel managers, tour guides, and bed and breakfast owners.
Charleston Southern’s bachelor’s in hospitality and tourism curriculum builds knowledge foundations in accounting, macroeconomics and microeconomics, business management, and policy. Key electives and more advanced classes focus on additional subjects like tourism development, advanced marketing, and organizational behavior in the hospitality industry. Capstone experiences for the program include the assessment of contemporary case studies in hospitality and tourism in conversation with renowned faculty and experienced industry professionals.
- Online BS in Hospitality and Tourism
- Credits: 125
- Length: 1-2 years
- Cost: $515 per credit in-state | $515 per credit out-of-state
- Mode: Fully Online
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (Institutional)
Johnson and Wales University
Johnson and Wales University’s online program in hospitality management boasts a career placement rate over 95%, making it a top choice for students seeking careers in resort management, event planning, tourism, and restaurant management. Prospective students need at least two years of relevant, full-time work experience and enjoy a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio for an optimal hands-on experience once they are admitted. Johnson and Wales delivers the program entirely online using a combination of eight- and 16-week course formats. Students interested in administrative roles in hospitality and tourism can also minor in human resource management to build key skills in cognate areas like staffing and personnel management.
Curricula for the Johnson and Wales University hospitality management degree online program rely on experiential learning components and exposure to the real-world challenges hospitality and tourism professionals face on the job each day. Prospective students can expect to receive top-notch instruction in areas like cost control and menu planning, media literacy, hospitality strategy design, and tourism and sustainability.
- Online BS – Hospitality Management
- Credits: 120
- Length: 4 years
- Cost: $495 per credit in-state | $495 per credit out-of-state
- Mode: Fully Online
- Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (Institutional)
What You’ll Learn in Your Online Hospitality Management Degree Program
Hospitality management degree online programs can provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the hospitality and tourism industries – from roles in leadership, management, and finance to front office operations and human resources, food service and catering, and marketing or sales.
Most students will complete a cluster of general education courses at the beginning of their online hospitality management degree pursuit and then pivot to more specialized study. Requirements include instruction in business management principles, public relations, and lodging operations. Along the way you’ll explore additional topics like the ones listed below, readying you for employment, licensure, or additional study.
Main Topics You’ll Cover
- Fundamentals of hospitality management
- Law and ethics in tourism and hospitality management
- Sales and marketing
- Finance and accounting for hospitality professionals
- Procurement and supply chain management
- Event planning and logistics coordination
Lower Division Curriculum (Years 1 and 2)
The initial phases of your hospitality management degree online will provide knowledge foundations for the more specialized study you will undertake later. These courses introduce prospective students to the hospitality and tourism industries and typically focus on subjects like regulations and legal issues, marketing strategy, front-desk service, operations management, and food and beverage services. Instruction involves a combination of lecture, discussion, and analysis of case studies and real-world problems future graduates may face on the job.
- Introduction to Hospitality Management: As the first core class many students will take, this course provides a working overview of tourism and hospitality management. It focuses on the history and development of the industries, their contemporary functions, and organizational behavior.
- Legal Issues in Hospitality and Tourism: Students in this course receive an overview of the legal and regulatory issues that impact the industry and dictate operations. Topics include health and safety standards, tax and liability laws, insurance coverage, and franchise regulations.
- Front Office Administration: This class explores the forward-facing aspects of hospitality management and additional skills in customer service and guest relations. Learners look at reception best practices along with procedures for crisis management, emergency response, and other difficult situations.
- Hospitality Marketing: This course provides students with working knowledge of the main marketing techniques and advertising strategies used to promote hospitality and tourism efforts. It includes analysis of recent micro- and macro-level trends in the industry along with exploration of key market segments.
- Food and Beverage Operations: Degree seekers in this class gain comprehensive understanding of the management processes that underlie food and beverage services. It involves instruction and hands-on work in menu creation, cost and pricing, production and procurement of goods, and relevant safety measures.
Upper Division Curriculum (Years 3 and 4)
The hospitality management degree online upper division courses add more complexity to lower division knowledge foundations, giving you a chance to explore potential areas of expertise you may want to pursue. In most cases, available classes focus on preparation for more advanced roles hospitality management, including positions that call for additional proficiency in finance and accounting, human resource management, technology, logistics, and guest interfacing. Student gain a deeper understanding of the industry and the diverse forms it takes in different cultures, settings, and contexts.
- Finance for Hospitality Professionals: This class delves into the principles, systems, and analytical tools used by finance and accounting professionals in hospitality businesses. Students learn to develop budgets, assess cost/risk analyses, and make sound investment and sales recommendations to key stakeholders.
- Lodging Management: Learners in this course apply principles of business administration in contexts focused on lodging and accommodations. Topics include operational management for hotels and resorts, housekeeping coordination, and maintenance of reservation systems.
- Event Planning: This course surveys the key skills, procedures, and best practices required to successfully coordinate large-scale events. Students explore tools in project management and coordination and develop proficiency in additional areas like public relations and event promotion.
- Human Resources and Hospitality Management: This class builds the knowledge needed to recruit, train, and manage staff in the hospitality and tourism industries. Assigned material looks at establishing staffing guidelines, determining equitable wages and benefits, and compliance with relevant labor laws.
- Hospitality Technology Operations: In this course, students explore how new and emerging technologies can help hospitality management professionals work more efficiently. It includes instruction on how to maintain networks and computer databases and probes key problems related to guest privacy and protection.
Admissions: Getting into a Top Online Hospitality Management Degree Program
Admissions requirements for hospitality management degree online programs are similar to other comparable courses of study. Top-ranked schools look to admit attractive and promising candidates most likely to succeed in leadership roles in the tourism and hospitality industries. For this reason, some programs may be more competitive than others, but most establish an admissions threshold based on cumulative GPA averages in the 2.0-2.5 range.
Admission officials will typically consider your admission application as a whole. It’s important to be prepared and submit quality materials that paint a clear picture of your value and show your potential for success. Criteria and requirements can always vary, but prospective student should be prepared to submit the following.
- High school diploma or GED
- Recent SAT/ACT test scores (optional or waivable in some cases)
- Payment of applicable application fees ($25-35)
Transfer students seeking admission to an online hospitality management degreeprogram may need to supply additional materials such as:
- Official transcripts for all previous study
- At least 60 accredited, transferable credits
Some schools may ask for additional items like an admissions essay discussing your fit within the program. Some could even request an interview with potential candidates or require course prerequisites that show proficiency in general education disciplines. It is also worth noting that some programs, like the one at Johnson and Wales, may require relevant hands-on work experience that reflects the rigors of the industry.
Paying for Your Online Hospitality Management Degree: Costs and Financial Aid
Prospective students applying to hospitality management degree online programs should carefully consider the full financial picture when determining the overall cost of a hospitality management degree online. Tuition will account for the bulk of your costs, but don’t discount other expenses. Technology fees and textbook costs may not seem like much individually, but they can add up quickly.
Most online hospitality management students will pay tuition rates ranging from $184 to $727 per credit. That’s a wide range, and several factors can impact incurred rates. Private schools tend to charge more per credit than public colleges, and some public colleges may charge different rates depending on where you live. For example, at a public university, in-state residents may benefit from lower rates. Some schools may avoid this distinction altogether and instead charge flat-rate tuition for online programs. See the table below for a more detailed breakdown.
|School Name||School Type||Total Credits||In-State||Out-of-State|
North Carolina Central University
|Public||120||$184 / credit||$727 / credit|
Oregon State University
|Public||180||$370 / credit||$370 / credit|
|Grand Canyon University||Private for-profit||120||$485 / credit||$485 / credit|
|Belhaven University||Private not-for-profit||124||$425 / credit||$425 / credit|
|Ohio University||Public||120||$307 / credit||$312 / credit|
Fortunately, most schools offer financial aid opportunities that can help you lower the cost of your online hospitality management degree. Some programs extend scholarships through an affiliated school of business or management, like the one at Norfolk State University. Others provide similar opportunities at the institutional level for all incoming students, including hospitality management degree-seekers. See our comprehensive guide to learn more about additional financial aid opportunities.
FAQs About Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management Online
Are online hospitality management degree programs offered 100% online?
Yes, most of these programs extend 100% online pathways with no residency requirements for added convenience. In many cases you won’t need to travel to campus unless you want to. Some online hospitality management programs offer flexible options for students seeking hybrid learning experiences. Others may require in-person orientation sessions at the very beginning of the program followed by a pivot to virtual learning environments.
What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management?
There’s a lot of variety in the hospitality and leisure industry. This allows you to harness your own interests and unique skill set. Some degree holders choose to assume more forward-facing roles that involve direct contact with guests or customers. Others may opt to work behind the scenes by managing staff or leading sales and marketing efforts. Here are a few job titles you may come across in your career search.
- Restaurant general manager
- Housekeeping director
- Catering operations manager
- Tour guide
- Corporate event planner
Is earning a hospitality management degree worth it?
In most cases yes, especially considering the latest earnings reports and employment projections provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to those numbers, the leisure and hospitality industries will continue to see positive trends that outpace most other occupations. This may be especially true for higher-level roles available to those who’ve earned a hospitality management degree online. Management positions in both lodging and food service see comparable earnings, and both careers enjoy a job outlook more than double the national average.
What accreditation should I look for in a hospitality management degree program?
Proper accreditation is vital. Quality, reputable programs will hold institutional accreditation from an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (or both). Accreditation at this level helps ensure the transferability and staying power of your degree. Some online hospital management programs may also enjoy programmatic recognition from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Management. This credential is no substitute for institutional accreditation, but it can provide extra backing and value.
How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management?
You should be able to finish your studies in two to four years or possibly less depending on the circumstances. There are several key factors that can impact your path to completion. Enrollment status and programing pacing are the most significant. Full-time students can move through requirements more quickly than part-time learners, and programs with accelerated options allow you to expedite your timeline. Further, transfer students can potentially reduce standard program length by half using acceptable credits earned elsewhere.
Employment Outlook with a Hospitality Management Degree
As you consider data contained in the table below, it’s important to keep two factors in mind: the national job growth rate (currently just 5%) and the median annual wage for all occupations nationwide (just over $45,000). This helps contextualize the overall outlook for job seekers with an online tourism and hospitality management degree in hand, and the trends look promising.
According to the BLS, each of these careers will continue to record earnings and growth rate numbers well above national averages. Some upper-level roles could see more than double baseline projections for most other occupations.
|Career||Median Annual Earnings (2021)||Job Growth (2020-2030)|
|Food Service Managers||$59,440||10%|
|Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners||$49,470||18%|
|Human Resources Managers||$126,230||7%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics