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A bachelor’s degree in hospitality management prepares students for managerial positions in restaurants, hotels, events, and tourism. It covers industry-specific knowledge, including brand management, marketing, human resources, and finance, equipping students to manage people, investments, and operations in the hospitality industry. Students graduate to become hotel managers, airline managers, event planners, restaurant managers, and small business owners.

Hospitality managers have an annual median wage of $57,716. Salaries vary greatly depending on location, position, school, and work experience. Students who have completed a degree have a greater chance of being hired for a higher-paying position than those who have not.

Typically, four years of full-time study is required to earn a degree in hospitality management. A part-time program will take longer to complete. Depending on the school, 120 to 180 credits are required for graduation. The average yearly cost for a bachelor’s degree is $16,618, with room and board adding $12,415 annually for students who live on campus.

How to Choose a Hospitality Management Program

Choose your area of study

Students should choose the type of degree program and specialization that best aligns with their educational goals and career aspirations. Hospitality management programs are offered as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Business Administration degrees — each option differs in its focus and curriculum.

A Bachelor of Arts degree focuses on general studies, including arts, communication, and humanities, while Bachelor of Science degrees concentrate on more technical topics, including sciences, technology, and math. Bachelor of Business Administration degrees focus on business-based education.

Students can choose from specialties, including tourism, food and beverage, and event planning. The specialty you choose should align with your desired career path and interests. For guidance in narrowing down your options, speak with an academic advisor at any of the institutions you’re considering. They’ll discuss your goals, interests, and experience to help determine which option is best for you.

Research schools and programs

When researching schools and programs, look for those with regional and program accreditation. Regional accreditation ensures that the institution meets a universal quality standard recognized by employers and other organizations. Students who attend an accredited institution will have a greater chance of being hired or accepted into further education. Accreditation also provides easier access to financial aid and government grants.

Look for programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). These accreditations ensure that a program meets the industry’s curriculum standards.

Visit the school in person, browse the website, attend open houses, and review its social media channels to gain insights into its culture, program formats, housing options, and extracurriculars. This will help you narrow down your decision to match your lifestyle and logistical needs.

Prepare for tests and applications

Before applying for a degree in hospitality management, familiarize yourself with the admission requirements. The application requirements will vary by institution, but most will require:

  • Recent transcripts
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • A personal essay
  • Letters of recommendation
  • An English proficiency test (if English is your second language)

As you complete the application process, speak with an admissions advisor to ensure you have all the correct documents. They’ll provide a detailed list of the requirements and discuss any application fees due at the time of submission.

Select your program

When making your final decision, review the information you’ve gathered about each school and program. Choose the program that fits your lifestyle needs and aligns with your future career goals. Consider whether the program is in-person or online, full-time or part-time, and has asynchronous or synchronous classes.

For further guidance, you can speak with an academic advisor. They’ll review your options and help you determine the best fit.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Create an estimate of your annual expenses to determine if you’ll need financial assistance. Add up your tuition, fees, and living costs, including:

  • Supplies and materials
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Living expenses

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal grants, work-study funds, loans, and scholarships. Pay attention to application deadlines and make sure you have all of the correct materials gathered.

If you currently work in hospitality, ask your employer if they offer financial assistance for industry-related schooling. Some employers will fund or contribute to the education costs of employees who are taking classes that benefit their careers.

Best 50 Accredited Hospitality Management Programs

Best Hospitality Management Degree Programs _2024 badge

University of Central Florida

Cornell Nolan

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Boston University

Virginia Tech

NYU School of Professional Studies

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Florida International University

Michigan State University

University of Houston

Florida State University

Iowa State University

Temple University

Purdue University

Washington State University

California State University, Long Beach

University of South Carolina

Texas A&M University

Pennsylvania State University

College of the Ozarks

University of Delaware

Oklahoma State University

University of Denver

California State Polytechnic University

San Diego State University

University of North Texas

Northern Arizona University

Brigham Young University-Hawaii

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Ohio State University

Appalachian State University

Auburn University

Fairleigh Dickinson University

James Madison University

San Jose State University

Culinary Institute of America

Drexel University

University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

We found that the majority of hospitality management programs offer Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees, with some degree programs housed within the business department of a college or university. During our review of top schools, we also found that the curriculum may be delivered online, in-person, or in a hybrid format.

All of the schools featured in this guide are regionally accredited institutions. Many of these options also have programmatic accreditation from industry groups like the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). These organizations evaluate hospitality management programs to ensure they provide students with a high-quality educational experience.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Hospitality Management Program?

A hospitality management degree provides students with a thorough understanding of business practices relating to the hospitality industry. Students learn the procedures, practices, and operations to succeed in a managerial role in organizations such as hotels, property groups, cruise ships, restaurants, and clubs.

While the curriculum varies by institution, most hospitality management degrees cover business practices, financial operations, marketing, human resources, entrepreneurship, and ethics. Most programs require four years of full-time study and use a variety of learning methods, including lectures, group discussions, presentations, essays, projects, and exams.

Potential courses you’ll take in a hospitality management program

  • Essentials of Hospitality Leadership. Students study the processes, concepts, and tools used in hospitality leadership. They’ll cover problem-solving, communication, motivation, and decision-making in the hospitality industry.
  • Managing Hospitality Finances. This course introduces the basics of accounting as it relates to the hospitality industry. Students learn the accounting procedures and concepts that contribute to the success of a hospitality business.
  • Introduction to Lodging Management. Students learn the fundamentals of managing a lodging operation, including reservations, occupancy, registration, checkout procedures, and staff management.
  • Hospitality Human Resource Development. This course is a study of human resource operations in the hospitality industry. Topics include leadership styles, communication, training and recruitment, staff retention, and conflict resolution.

Hospitality Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a hospitality management degree program?

The first step in applying for a hospitality management degree is to review the school’s admissions website and make note of the application deadline. The website will outline the required materials and the date by which they need to be submitted. You’ll likely need to submit your transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, an essay, and letters of recommendation. Speak with an admissions counselor to ensure you have the correct documentation and meet the requirements for the degree.

How much does a hospitality management degree cost?

The average annual cost of tuition and fees for a hospitality management degree is $16,618. Students who choose to live on campus can expect their yearly costs to increase by an average of $12,415. The total cost of the degree will depend on the program, housing, lifestyle, and schedule you choose.

How long does it take to earn a hospitality management degree?

Most hospitality management degrees require 120 to 180 credits to graduate. This will typically take students four years of full-time study, whether they attend classes online or in person. Some programs offer flexible schedules that allow students to complete asynchronous classes at their own pace, resulting in a longer completion time.