Most of us have eaten at restaurants, stayed in hotels and used other outposts of the hospitality industry, but how many of us know just how much skill and coordinated effort it takes to keep them running? Studying hospitality and hospitality management can prepare you to excel at the challenging behind-the-scenes work that makes the industry tick.
Hospitality degree programs are designed to give students a strong foundation of the ethical and legal standards of the industry so they can assist in identifying, analyzing and solving real-world problems in the field. Often, programs permit you to specialize in a sub-discipline of hospitality, such as food and beverages or lodging.
Online degrees for hospitality students can also be found, if you're too busy with work or other responsibilities to commit to a traditional full-time college schedule. Hybrid plans may be available as well, if you want to dip your toe in the water of online hospitality degrees before jumping all the way in.
Best Colleges for Hospitality Degree Programs
We scored hundreds of institutions across the nation in eight separate statistical categories to find out which ones were the best schools for hospitality degrees overall. Click the button to find out how we used National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data to come up with the rankings, and read on for our list of the ten best colleges for hospitality degree programs.
A small, private school in Vermont tops the list of best colleges for English degree programs. Marlboro College enrolls less than 500 students at both the undergraduate and graduate level and emphasizes interdisciplinary studies that are student designed.
Las Vegas is one of the world's top hospitality industry cities, so it's little wonder that the No. 1 hospitality school can be found there. The 2015 graduating class at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas posted highest percentage of hospitality degrees of any school on our list, so hospitality students here can expect a solid group of study partners to choose from.
The William F. Harrah College of Hospitality features four concentrations in its hospitality management degree: gaming management, meetings and events, restaurant management and PGA golf management. What's more, aspiring hospitality scholars at UNLV can transition into an executive master's degree and even Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in hospitality administration.
This tiny institution in Miramar, Florida, can lay claim to a rare distinction. According to NCES numbers, Unilatina International College had a 100 percent graduation rate in 2015, landing it at the No. 1 spot nationwide in that category of our analysis. The school also has an open enrollment policy, meaning that any student who applies is automatically eligible for admission.
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in travel and tourism management at UIC aims to provide future leaders in the hospitality industry with the combination of theoretical background and emotional intelligence necessary to manage balance sheets and personnel with equal skill. Planning, organization, effective communication and entrepreneurship are all involved in the UIC degree plan.
The Providence, Rhode Island, campus of Johnson & Wales University features a range of degree programs in the hospitality field. Students at JWU can choose among B.S. study plans in general hospitality management; hotel and lodging management; sports, entertainment and event management; restaurant, food and beverage management; and tourism and hospitality management, just to name a few.
If you're passionate about food and want to earn an upwardly mobile hospitality education, JWU may have the perfect program for you. The Providence school offers food service management degrees that also teach the fundamentals of either culinary arts or baking and pastry arts, setting you up to succeed on either side of the business.
The largest institution on our list comes in at No. 4, thanks in part to a graduation rate that placed second among our best schools for hospitality degrees and a more affordable average cost of tuition and fees than all other schools on our list but one. The University of Central Florida graduated 894 hospitality students in 2015 -- the highest overall number among our top ten schools.
Bachelor's degrees in hospitality at UCF include event management and entertainment management, as well as a general hospitality management B.S. with four specialization tracks to choose from. UCF may not offer any full-fledged online degrees for hospitality undergraduates, but online students can pursue certificates in event management and destination marketing or opt into an 18-credit minor in hospitality management.
The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers three undergraduate degrees for hospitality students -- in golf enterprise management, real estate property management and hotel, restaurant and tourism management -- and incorporates site-based learning at regional and national hospitality companies. Students in other business disciplines can choose to minor in lodging management, property management or tourism.
When you enroll at UW-Stout, you open up opportunities to become a student member of one or more professional organizations in the hospitality industry. The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association, Club Managers Association of America and International Professional Convention Management Association each have student chapters on the Stout campus.
The student-faculty ratio at Niagara University was 13:1 in 2015 -- about 19 percent lower than the national average of 16:1 calculated by U.S. News and World Report. Lower ratios of students to faculty suggest more opportunities for personalized instruction from professors and hands-on guidance from advisors and other staff.
The portfolio of undergraduate programs in hospitality at Niagara University includes three management degrees: hotel and restaurant management, tourism and event management and sport and recreation management. Each degree has multiple specializations within it, such as luxury hospitality operations within the hotel and restaurant degree and tourism destination management within the tourism and event degree.
The lowest average cost of tuition and fees among our top ten schools for hospitality can be found at South Seattle College, where students paid an average of just $3,824 during the academic year. The Washington school also provides flexibility measures for students who need them, including classes that meet on weekends and in evenings and certain general education courses that can be taken partially or fully online.
SSC's Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in hospitality management is geared toward students who have already earned a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in accounting, culinary, business information technology or another related field. Hospitality industry workers without an associate degree can still enroll, however, to train for opportunities in management.
The hospitality management degree at the State University of New York's College of Technology at Delhi is packaged as a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) degree and features four available concentrations. If you're looking for online hospitality degrees, don't overlook SUNY Delhi -- its hospitality management B.B.A. is available entirely online.
Coursework for the hospitality degree at this central New York school includes managerial accounting, organizational communications, hospitality law and public policy, as well as targeted instruction in human resources, financial management and strategic marketing for the hospitality industry. The curriculum also includes an opportunity to enter the Walt Disney College Program, which offers college credit for six months of work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
This Miami school boasts the second-largest student body of any school on our list, having awarded more than 12,800 total degrees in 2015. Its average cost of tuition and fees also ranked No. 3 for affordability out of our top ten schools for hospitality degrees, and it reported the highest percentage of distance education enrollment of any school in our top ten.
Students looking for online hospitality degrees have a lot to choose from at FIU. Not only is the general hospitality management degree available in a fully online format, but four of the program's seven concentrations can also be completed without ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar classroom.
The degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management at our No. 10 school takes a broad-based approach to the discipline, covering the basics of food and beverage, travel and tourism, lodging and restaurant management among its core courses. The degree can also be narrowed in focus if you choose to concentrate on just one of its components.
East Stroudsburg University students looking to take a slightly different path to a hospitality career can try the recreation services management degree. Along with giving you the organizational skills necessary to plan events and direct group activities, the recreation services management curriculum teaches you how to incorporate nature areas, theme parks and adventure sports into the experience of your clients and guests.
Degrees and common career paths in hospitality
You may not need a degree in hospitality to get started on an entry-level career in the field, but formal education can be a great help in moving up the career ladder. Here's some info on the common degrees earned by hospitality students and a few of the positions where they often find work after graduation.
Career outlook for hospitality
Some hospitality careers are hotter than others in the most recent set of employment projections, and knowing where the jobs are likely to be can help you line yourself up for a painless career search once you finish your degree. Here's a quick breakdown of current career outlooks in the hospitality industry.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Chefs and Head Cooks||$56,310||128,190||11.1%|
Financial aid and scholarships for hospitality
A wide range of grants, scholarships and other financial aid programs are available for hospitality students, whether on the national level like the American Bus Association's Academic Merit Scholarship or regional like the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Scholarship Program. Take a look at this short list of financial aid options and find out if you qualify.
Reapplication required for renewal.