Hospitality Degree Programs
Culinary and hospitality schools introduce students to the fundamentals of the food service, hotel and resort, and culinary arts industries. Students in this field tend to specialize in one of two main areas of study: hospitality management or culinary management. Those who specialize in the former typically study many facets of the overall hospitality industry, including culinary basics, international cuisine, and hotel and resort management.
Students who specialize in culinary management, on the other hand, mainly focus on the intricacies of food service and preparation. Common topics covered in colleges with culinary programs include everything from menu creation and food preparation to restaurant management, nutrition and food sustainability.
What does a hospitality and culinary program entail?
Students who want to earn culinary or hospitality degrees either online or on campus will need to familiarize themselves with key business-related topics such as problem solving, human resources, food and beverage operations, and inventory control. Upon enrollment, students generally explore the latest trends in food science, culinary techniques and hospitality, often while studying the industry from an international perspective. Hospitality and culinary degrees offer the hands-on experience and knowledge that can potentially help lead to a career as a chef or head cook, food preparation worker, lodging manager or food service manager, among other occupations.
Most hospitality degree jobs and restaurant careers do not require certification or a degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many of the required skills are actually learned on the job. However, many professionals do choose to complete postsecondary education and become certified in hopes of increasing their job prospects and gaining valuable experience. The American Culinary Federation offers certain certifications for professionals in the culinary industry, including:
- Certified Culinarian (CC)
- Certified Sous Chef (CSC)
- Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC)
- Certified Executive Chef (CEC)
- Certified Master Chef (CMC)
- Certified Pastry Culinarian (CPC)
- Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC)
- Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC)
- Certified Master Pastry Chef (CPMC)
In addition to these certifications, the American Culinary Federation also offers special certifications for culinary administrators and educators.
Many students seeking hospitality online schools, or on-campus options, the BLS reports, seek out a Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, which is a program for high school students created by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute that can lead to certification as Certified Hospitality and Tourism Management Professional. The program typically takes two years to complete. The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration offers a list of approved hospitality programs, both on-campus and online, on their website. That list includes the following schools, among others:
- Delaware State University
- Auburn University
- Georgia State University
- Iowa State University
- Missouri State University
- Texas Tech University
- University of North Texas
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Purdue University-Calumet
- North Dakota State University
Are there financial aid resources available to help pay for hospitality and culinary programs?
Students working toward hospitality and culinary school degrees might be eligible to receive student aid through the federal government. Students can find out more about potential sources of aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Sources of funding might include:
- Pell Grants
- Stafford Loan
- PLUS Loans for Parents
- Federal Work Study
- Perkins Loans
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
Several professional organizations within the hospitality and culinary industry also offer scholarships to students pursuing hospitality or culinary degrees online or on-campus. For example, the American Culinary Federation offers scholarships and grants to some high school and college students currently pursuing culinary studies. The Culinary Institute of America and National Restaurant Association also offers grants and scholarships to students who meet certain criteria and are pursuing culinary school degrees at an approved campus.
In many cases, culinary and hospitality schools have their own scholarships or grants available to students as well, which makes it extremely important for students to conduct a certain amount of research to determine whether they are eligible to apply.
What is the job outlook for the hospitality and culinary industries?
The BLS projects that employment in some culinary and hospitality jobs will increase much faster than others. Employment for head chefs and cooks will only increase 5 percent nationally through 2022, which is lower than the 11 percent national average for all occupations. However, jobs for supervisors of food preparation workers and servers are projected to increase 12 percent nationally during that same timeframe. Likewise, the BLS projects that employment for lodging managers will only increase 1 percent nationally through 2022, but employment for meeting, convention and event planners is expected to increase 33 percent nationally through 2022, the BLS reports.
Although the job outlook for chefs and head cooks is less than average on a national level, individual states have their own growth rates, and several are projected to have above-average career growth through 2020, according to state-by-state data aggregated by Projections Central. These states include:
• California: 20.9%
• Washington: 14.8%
• Texas: 12.9%
• Arizona: 12.6%
• Alaska: 11.8%
• New Mexico: 10.6%
• Idaho: 8.4%
• Utah: 8.4%
• Florida: 8.1%
A similar disparity has been noted in projected job growth for lodging managers across the country, with certain states predicting high-than-average increases. The following states have predicted the highest job growth for lodging managers through 2020:
• Utah: 23.8%
• California: 21.2%
• Texas: 19%
• Iowa: 18.1%
• North Dakota: 17.6%
• Arizona: 17.4%
• Wisconsin: 14.7%
• Idaho: 14.3%
• New Mexico: 13.6%
Certification Designations, American Culinary Federation,
Scholarships, American Culinary Federation,
Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute,
Chefs and Head Cooks, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
Food Service Managers, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
Lodging Managers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
Meeting, Convention and Event Planners, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
ACPHA Accredited Institutions, Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education,
CIA Scholarships and Grants, The Culinary Institute of America,
Serving up Scholarships, National Restaurant Association,
Long Term Projections for Chefs & Head Cooks and Lodging Managers, Projections Central,