Online Hospitality Management Degrees

Competition is fierce for the best jobs in the hospitality industry. That’s why earning a degree in hospitality online makes sense. In this industry, you may need both a degree and professional experience. Online programs in hospitality give you choices and flexibility so you can further your education while working in the field.


Look for online programs in hospitality approved by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA). If the program you are considering isn’t accredited, you may want to speak with potential employers to get their opinion so you can be sure your investment will pay off. Keep in mind that the ACPHA accredits bachelor’s and master’s programs. Online associate and certificate programs can be high quality and not have that stamp of approval.

If you already have a college degree and some experience, consider an online certificate in hospitality. While you can earn a general hospitality certificate online, you also have many choices of specializations, such as a certificate in spa management or food service management. If you know what kind of work you want to do, earning a specialized hospitality certificate online shows employers you are serious about the field.

Online associate degrees in hospitality offer the same level of specialization, but with more intensive academics. You’ll get a liberal arts background and a foundation in general business principles before focusing on your specialization.

Some of the most competitive jobs require hands-on experience as well as an advanced degree. While accredited online master’s degrees in hospitality are not plentiful, there are several highly regarded options.

College of Southern Nevada: You don’t have to travel to Las Vegas to learn casino management. The College of Southern Nevada’s specialized certificate in hospitality and casino management is an example of the kinds of specialized hospitality certificates that you can earn online. This program gives you expertise in understanding the special laws governing casino operation, and how to manage everything from employees to the front office to casino marketing. The 30 or so credit hours will take about a year to complete.

University of Massachusetts Amherst: UMass Amherst’s top-rated Bachelor of Science in hospitality and tourism management degree is now available online. This four-year program covers food service, event and meetings management and hotel management. You take the same courses from the same professors as with the on-campus degree, and your diploma is identical. UMass has long-standing industry relationships that may help you get internships and, upon graduation, a full-time job.

Fort Hays State University: For maximum flexibility, consider Fort Hays State University’s online Master of Business Administration in tourism and hospitality management. The entire program is online, which makes it an ideal option if you are working. There is no penalty if you need to take a break for a semester or two as you work to complete your degree. In as little as two years, you can gain a solid business education combined with a custom-built curriculum in your area of specialization.

Advice from the Experts

We recently interviewed Rob Gifford, Executive Vice President of Philanthropic Initiatives for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. In the interview, Mr. Gifford discusses how students can benefit from joining the NRA, and how the Educational Foundation is working to develop the next generation of industry leaders. We also spoke with Jim Reddekopp, Chairman and CEO of the National Tourism Association, and Joseph McInerney, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Mr. Reddekopp discusses the current job outlook for college graduates entering the tourism industry, as well as emerging issues in the field that students should be following. Mr. McInerney introduces the mission of AH&LA, how students can benefit from joining the organization, and how to best prepare for a career in the field.

Useful Resources

Hospitality Management Career Outlook

In a down economy less money is spent on travel and dining out, which can pretty heavily constrict the hospitality market. Even so, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are expected to grow by a small percentage in the next few years. Most of this growth will occur as chains expand into more suburban areas. Salaries in this field can vary wildly. Managers of small hotels can earn about $50,000, while managers of luxury resorts can earn six figures, plus perks.

Hospitality Management Trends

The travel industry is likely to follow the economy in recovery, and as it does more opportunities will open. In the current market, jobs span from tiny family-owned bed-and-breakfasts to expansive and expensive hotel wonderlands complete with casinos and entertainment complexes. Not surprisingly, the mega resorts offer the most career opportunities, but excellent, service-oriented hospitality managers are often in demand across the industry. The right education and experience can help launch you into a hospitality career.