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Best online hospitality management degrees 2021: Top picks

A hospitality management degree equips students for leadership and operations careers in hotels, restaurants, and travel and tourism organizations.

Hospitality management programs feature specialized business training for the lodging, food service, and tourism sectors. 

Graduates with a hospitality management degree can manage the finances, facilities, and operations for restaurants, hotels, and events and attractions. They can also apply their business training to leadership positions in other industries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the creation of 900,000 new management positions 2020-30. This promising sector includes lodging, facilities, and food service management positions. 

Here, we explore the hospitality management degree and rank the best available programs in the field.

The best online bachelor's in hospitality management degrees

To produce the rankings below, we pull and curate data from reputable publicly available sources and lean on the insight from field experts. ZDNet's ranking methodology also includes a proprietary algorithm that weighs multiple factors when listing schools and programs.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, College Scorecard, and each program's website.

1. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

About the program: FIU's online hospitality management program features courses in restaurant management, lodging operations control, and facilities management. The training also includes a 300- to 500-hour internship.

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Avg. annual net price: $7,296
  • Time to completion: Three to four (part-time and accelerated schedules may be available)
  • SAT range: 540-650
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, Florida

About the program: FAU's 120-credit hospitality and tourism management program includes courses in hospitality law, hotel and resort management, and hotel and resort management. For the hospitality management degree, students also complete at least 1,000 work experience hours.

  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,186
  • Time to completion: Three to four years
  • SAT range: 530-630
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5 in pre-business courses
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Florida Atlantic University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

About the program: ECU's online hospitality management program features concentrations in conventions and special events, food and beverage, and lodging management. 

  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 66%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,844
  • Time to completion: Three to four years
  • SAT range: 520-600
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous 

Accreditation: East Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, Arizona

About the program: NAU's 120-credit hotel and restaurant management program provides training in restaurant operations and management, hospitality marketing, and kitchen operations.

  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 59%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,915
  • Time to completion: Four years
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Northern Arizona University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. SUNY Delhi

Delhi, New York

About the program: SUNY Delhi's 121-credit online hotel and restaurant management program offers training in hospitality strategic marketing, meetings and convention management, and hotel maintenance and engineering.

  • Acceptance rate: 72%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,867
  • Time to completion: Four years (part-time and accelerated schedules are available)
  • SAT range: 460-570
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: SUNY Delhi is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

6. University of Wisconsin Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin

About the program: UW-Stout's online hotel, restaurant, and tourism management program features 120-121 credits in courses like lodging systems, hospitality sales, and food service operations. 

  • Acceptance rate: 91%
  • Graduation rate: 58%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,839
  • Time to completion: Three to four years (part-time and accelerated schedules may be available)
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available 
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous 

Accreditation: The University of Wisconsin Stout is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. Missouri State University

Springfield, Missouri

About the program: Missouri State's 120-credit online hospitality leadership program features 52-53 major credits. Courses include safety and sanitation, managing hospitality finances, and food preparation.

  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,725
  • Time to completion: Three to four years
  • SAT range: 520-620
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three to six
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Missouri State University-Springfield is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. Fort Hays State University

Hays, Kansas

About the program: FHSU's 120-credit online tourism and hospitality management program includes courses in tourism and hospitality marketing, international hospitality, and sustainable tourism.

  • Acceptance rate: 91%
  • Graduation rate: 58%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,053
  • Time to completion: Four years (part-time and accelerated schedules may be available)
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.25
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Utah Valley University

Orem, Utah

About the program: UVU's 120-credit online hospitality management program offers business-focused concentrations, such as operations, revenue management, and sales. Students can also specialize in event planning and culinary arts. 

  • Acceptance rate: Not publicly available
  • Graduation rate: 35%
  • Avg. annual net price: $9,159
  • Time to completion: Four years
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous 

Accreditation: Utah Valley University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

10. North Carolina Central University

Durham, North Carolina

About the program: NCCU's 128-credit online hospitality and tourism administration program features courses in event planning and management, hospitality laws and ethics, and applied sanitation and safety. 

  • Acceptance rate: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 46%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,732
  • Time to completion: Four years
  • SAT range: 440-530
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: North Carolina Central University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

11. Madonna University

Livonia, Michigan

About the program: MU's online hospitality and tourism management program features 30 semester hours for the major. Courses at the faith-based institution include meeting and event management, hospitality architecture and interior design, and club management.

  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $17,574
  • Time to completion: Four years (part-time and accelerated schedules may be available)
  • SAT range: 460-580
  • Minimum GPA: 2.8
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Madonna University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

12. Everglades University

Boca Raton, Florida

About the program: Everglades University's 123-credit online hospitality management program provides training in facilities planning and management, food and beverage management, and convention and exhibition management.

  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 52%
  • Avg. annual net price: $30,841
  • Time to completion: 41 months
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online, synchronous and asynchronous

Accreditation: Everglades University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

13. Charleston Southern University

Charleston, South Carolina

About the program: CSU's 124-credit online hospitality and tourism management program features courses in economics of tourism and organizational behavior of the hospitality industry. The faith-based institution also offers accelerated completion pathways.

  • Acceptance rate: 50%
  • Graduation rate: 39%
  • Avg. annual net price: $17,804
  • Time to completion: 17-24 months
  • SAT range: 500-620
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three+
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Charleston Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

14. Lakeland University

Plymouth, Wisconsin

About the program: Lakeland's online hospitality management program includes courses in hospitality industry law, convention planning and service, and hospitality leadership and service. Students at the faith-based school can also choose among 16 emphases, including sustainability, nonprofit management, and digital marketing.

  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Graduation rate: 53%
  • Avg. annual net price: $20,687
  • Time to completion: Four years
  • SAT range: 445-530
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Lakeland University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

15. Johnson & Wales University

Providence, Rhode Island

About the program: JWU's online hospitality management program offers training in menu planning and cost control, leading service excellence, and sustainability. 

  • Acceptance rate: 41%
  • Graduation rate: 36%
  • Avg. annual net price: $18,499
  • Time to completion: Four years
  • SAT range: Not publicly available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Johnson & Wales University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

What to expect in an online bachelor's in hospitality management degree program

Most hospitality management degrees require students to complete approximately 120 credits and four years of training. The programs often combine general education with core business and hospitality-focused courses. 

Learners develop core skills in communication, problem-solving, and leadership, plus specialized skills in finance, marketing, customer service, and health and safety. 

Like business tracks, hospitality management programs feature substantial practical training. Students demonstrate their capabilities via group assignments, presentations, internships, and capstone projects.

In some hospitality and management programs, students can specialize in an industry of their choice, such as lodging, food service, and event management. 

Bachelor's in hospitality management courses

Hospitality management programs prepare learners to lead within the service industry. In addition to picking up widely applicable business skills, students learn to manage the communications, operations, and finances of tourism and hospitality organizations.

Many programs provide key management courses for hospitality sectors including food preparation, lodging, and event and tourism services. Some programs aim to develop well-rounded hospitality professionals, whereas others allow learners to specialize. 

The following are common courses in these programs.

Food safety and sanitation

This course teaches students restaurant and food service industry hygiene standards. Students learn about food-borne illnesses, food handling techniques, and rules and regulations. 

Tourism information management 

In this course, students learn about and practice using technology systems used in the tourism industry.

Hotel operations

This course teaches students how to oversee hotels, including the front desk, food and beverage departments, housekeeping, and human resources.

Service management systems

Students in this course learn to manage customer relationships, file complaints, evaluate customer satisfaction, and implement improvement measures from within the service industry. 

Hospitality management degree levels

The hospitality management field welcomes learners from various degree levels. In general, undergraduate programs help learners pursue entry-level careers, while graduate degrees lead to more advanced business administration and academic positions.

Prospective students should choose the degree and career that best aligns with their interests.

Certificate in hospitality management

Length: 2-12 months

Cost: $100-$10,000

Post-grad careers: Customer service representative, chef or cook, and waiter or waitress

A certificate in hospitality management can provide specialized, non-degree training. Aspiring professionals can develop entry-level skills and experienced professionals can update or add to their existing skill sets. 

These programs usually feature condensed, practical training. They may provide introductory courses, specialized material, or graduate-level training. Certificates may complement or replace a degree.

Associate in hospitality management

Length: One to two years

Cost: $11,389/year in 2018-19

Post-grad careers: Food service manager, lodging manager, and gambling services worker

An associate hospitality management degree prepares learners for entry-level careers in the service and hospitality industry. These programs provide students with business fundamentals in a hospitality industry context. 

Students typically receive a combination of theoretical and practical training. While they cannot usually specialize, they may create an informal concentration with their electives. Learners develop communication and service skills, along with a knowledge of hospitality standards and practices.

Bachelor's in hospitality management

Length: Three to four years

Cost: $28,123/year in 2018-19

Post-grad careers: Facilities manager, event planner, and travel agent

A bachelor's in hospitality management comprises comprehensive training in business and the hospitality industry. Students master lodging, food service, events, and travel management. 

Learners typically complete an internship and may, in many cases, specialize in a field of their choice. Graduates can qualify for many business and hospitality professions, including entry-level, administrator, and management careers.

Master's in hospitality management

Length: One to two years

Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20

Post-grad careers: Marketing manager, human resources manager, and financial manager

A hospitality management master's program expands on the training from undergraduate degrees. Master's-level programs blend theoretical and practical training, and students often complete internships and hands-on assignments during their studies. 

Students develop advanced research and leadership skills, qualifying them for management positions in both business and hospitality industries. They learn to oversee operations, improve performances, and manage the day-to-day activities for various organizations.

Doctorate in hospitality management

Length: Three to six years

Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20

Post-grad careers: Postsecondary teacher, top executive, and operations research analyst

A doctorate in hospitality management prepares graduates for postsecondary teaching and research roles. They can also pursue positions that impact travel and tourism policy and regulations, along with management positions in most hospitality-related organizations.

Students develop a specialization through their research, such as sustainability, global tourism, and food safety. They also learn to optimize and analyze hospitality policies, practices, and operations. 

In conclusion

For aspiring hospitality management professionals, the degrees listed above provide some of the best training and employment prospects available. 

Degree-seekers looking to enter this rewarding sector through one of these top-ranked hospitality management degrees can get more information by contacting schools and program departments. 

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