How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Hospitality?

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Hospitality? Aspiring hospitality students often wonder how long it takes to get a degree in hospitality. This is not an easy question to answer because there is an array of majors in the field of hospitality from which students can choose. Here are hospitality careers and degree levels individuals can choose from as well as how long they take to complete.

A General Intro to Hospitality Work

Before pursuing a career in hospitality, it’s  important to understand what this industry is all about. Hospitality work spans many areas of individual jobs and businesses. In general, it’s defined as work having to do with catering to the needs of guests and similar kinds of customers. One of the most commonly recognized hospitality industry is the hotel industry in which guests stay at:
  • hotels
  • motels
  • inns
  • bed and breakfast resorts
  • other similar facilities.
Another common area of hospitality is that of tourism. The vast world of restaurants and eateries are also considered part of the greater hospitality industry. Due to the very nature of this line of work, anyone wishing to work in hospitality needs a very guest-oriented focus in their day-to-day responsibilities. This can pertain to the role of a hotel manager as much as it does to room service professionals, professional chefs, or even travel agents. In this industry, it’s all about serving guests and making them as happy and comfortable as possible.

Associate Degrees

Hospitality management is offered at the associate degree level. These programs typically take about two years to complete. They can be found at community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools. Two options that are often available are:
  • the Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
  • the Associate of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
Depending on the program, students will take courses like:
  • restaurant management
  • food safety and sanitation
  • hotel management
  • principles of management
  • event planning
  • travel sales
Graduates may find the following career options:
  • Dining room supervisor
  • Guest services manager
  • Management trainee
  • Assistant food and beverage manager
  • Chef
  • Banquet sales coordinator

Bachelor’s Degrees

Hospitality degrees are very common at the baccalaureate level and can be found at four-year colleges and universities. A hospitality degree at the bachelor’s degree level typically is usually either in administration or management. The administration option focuses on rooms divisions or food and beverage while the management option focuses on:
  • principles of marketing
  • managing rooms’ revenues
  • food and beverage management
The business administration option also offers students areas of specialization. Towards the end of the program, students complete internships in hospitality businesses. Many colleges offer hospitality programs through distance learning. Possible career options for graduates include:
  • Property general manager
  • Event planner and coordinator
  • Hotel management
  • Food preparation and service worker manager
  • Travel agent/tour operator
  • Restaurant manager
  • Gaming manager
  • Catering manager

Master’s Degrees

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Hospitality? Candidates who complete master’s degree in hospitality or hospitality management can expect to be in school for around six years. Graduates of these programs can also expect to work at the highest levels in the hospitality industry and earn excellent wages. This is including the four years for the bachelor’s degree. A common hospitality degree at this level is the Master of Science in Hospitality Business Management. Many colleges offer online hospitality graduate programs. These are ideal for students who are already working in the area of hospitality. The student is not only working while earning a degree but may also have the opportunity to complete an internship.
  • Hotel management
  • Entrepreneur
  • Revenue manager
  • Country club manager
  • Sales manager
  • Human resources manager
  • Academia
  • Restaurant manager

Special Degree Concentrations in Hospitality

Now, let’s take a look at some of the more specific routes of study in the wide world of hospitality education. There are numerous major concentrations in this field, and that number of concentrations is expected to continue to expand in the future. The following, however, are some of the most popular major concentrations for those seeking hospitality degrees today. Real Estate in Hospitality How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Hospitality? Whether it’s a budding newly-founded hotel or a nationwide chain of well-established restaurants, real estate is a major area of concern for many professionals in the hospitality industry. Subsequently, a major concentration in real estate in the hospitality field is a popular and valuable one to seek out. With this major study concentration, students can expect to learn the ins and outs of the real estate market relative to hospitality services and businesses in particular. How does a slow overall market affect the need for real estate in hospitality? What are some ways that hospitality businesses are learning to maximize already-owned real estate? What is the turnover rate of hospitality-related real estate, and how can this be abated? Students following this concentration of study can expect to learn the answers to these types of questions and more. Law and Ethics in Hospitality Legal and ethical parameters are arguably the most important to know across the greater field of hospitality know-how. These factors regulate practically all sides of the business. As such, anyone well-versed in all of the laws and ethical concerns that affect hospitality is going to be a very valuable prospective employee. Enter the graduate with a degree majoring in law and ethics in hospitality. Hospitality Finance Finance is yet another very significant subject that regulates much of how the hospitality world works. Because of this, any hospitality degree that focuses on learning the financial side of hospitality is always going to be quite valuable. What roles do investors and the stock markets play in many of today’s hospitality businesses? How hard is it to get a loan to start or expand a hospitality business? The answers to questions like these and many more all become clear when this type of degree concentration is the choice of major study. Human Resources in Hospitality Adequate staffing is another crucial component to the successful hospitality business today. This is especially true in a world where guest reviews can totally shift the direction of a business and the potential guests it can expect from day to day. This is where the graduate who is well-versed in hospitality human resources comes into play. The individual who can help to manage the workforce in a hospitality business is a key player among all of the possible staff members in that business. This job entails hiring and termination, but it also involves staff development and strategy in staffing practices. Those schooled in this area of hospitality are also quite often very suitable for use in other upper-management roles as well. Entrepreneurship in Hospitality Finally, entrepreneurship in hospitality is yet another excellent major concentration to pursue when looking to get into or even expand one’s own current prowess in this industry. This is because this particular area of study focuses on what it takes to get into the business and find new ways to expand hospitality business potential. This is a component to upper-level strategy in the field and a very valuable skillset to have.

Ideal Minor Concentrations

In addition to major routes of study in hospitality, there are many minor concentrations that can make ideal accompaniments for those already in or looking to get into the field. When choosing a minor,  consider the area of hospitality work you’d like to work in as well as the individual skills involved in that specific work area. The following represent some of the most relevant and promising minors for hospitality students today. Business Management Understanding the finer points of effectively managing a business is valuable in any organization. This is no less true in the hospitality sector. Choosing to minor in this subject area is thus an excellent option if you want to work in management areas of hospitality. You’ll also have the ability to branch out into other fields should the desire and/or opportunity arise. Communications Effective communication is also key in virtually all professional fields. In hospitality specifically, this skillset can improve:
  • guest interactions
  • employee interactions
  • written communique
  • marketing efforts, and more
Outside of hospitality, this is another educational mark that resounds well no matter where you want to work. Sociology Sociology is the study of human interaction and behaviors. Being educated in this area means much more keen insights into:
  • guest choices
  • preferences
  • general behaviors
This know-how, in turn, can lead directly to all manner of success in the industry.

Wage Potential

The salaries that can be earned in the hospitality industry vary by:
  • degree level
  • training
  • locations
Students who have completed internships or externships often have an advantage. Those starting off in entry-level positions may earn from $28,000 to $40,000 annually. Bachelor degree positions like gaming managers may earn $70,000 annually. Property general manager positions may pay as high as $200,000. This information came from Best Hospitality

Related Fields of Work

It can also be helpful to understand the various other types of professionals that you are likely to interact with as a hospitality worker. The following occupations are some of those that often deal with hospitality workers directly. Supply Chain Managers No matter the area of hospitality you may work in, there are physical supplies that must be kept on hand in order to keep business flowing at the today’s speed. Restaurants require food ingredients. Hotels require bedding and laundry products. Tourism businesses require maps and brochures. As such, supply chain managers and the many other professionals who work with them are always an integral part of the hospitality business. Quality Control Specialists Quality control specialists work to ensure the quality of particular services or products. Sometimes, these professionals actually work in the upper management areas of hospitality to ensure acceptable quality levels of service provided. In other cases, these pros work in areas of product supply, making sure the products sold to hospitality businesses are of acceptable quality. In any case, these workers are never far from the hospitality industry as a whole. Building Maintenance Workers Any great brick-and-mortar establishment requires ongoing building maintenance to always keep a high-quality and inviting facility. Enter the vast array  of building maintenance workers. These pros work in all types of trades work, from electrical to plumbing and everything between. They either work for hospitality companies directly or are employed externally to  do maintenance work for these businesses. Marketing Specialists How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Hospitality? Marketing specialists also work closely with hospitality businesses in many cases. These pros specialize in creating and publishing various types of media that advertise businesses. Whether it be a restaurant chain or a single locally-owned hotel, these types of professionals are often called on to communicate with the public in beneficial ways about hospitality businesses.

Professional Associations of Interest

If you’re seeking a degree or work in hospitality, there are a number of great resources  that can help with your goals. The following professional associations are highly recommended when it comes to general inquiry, networking, and further learning about hospitality work in particular. American Hotel & Lodging Association The American Hotel & Lodging Association is one of the top authoritative organizations representing and advocating for the lodging sector of the hospitality industry. This group offers a wide array of:
  • educational resources
  • points of contact
  • news pieces, and more
. In addition, the AHLA can help prospective workers to find appropriate jobs in the field. International Hotel & Restaurant Association The IHRA, or International Hotel & Restaurant Association, is another leading  group representing the interests of much of the hospitality community. Founded in 1947, this organization boasts thousands of company members from around the globe. Resources found here range from:
  • educational opportunities
  • events and conferences
  • various points of contact for personal inquiries, and much more.
Association of Hospitality Professionals Finally, the Association of Hospitality Professionals is another leading organization for the hospitality field today. This organization is based in India but represents the interests of the whole field around the world. All manner of resources can be found at the group’s website and via personal inquiry as well. Hospitality management or hospitality administration is a huge field with many areas of study, according to U.S. News & World Report. It also states there are many scholarships available out there. With so many options, you can decide how long you want to take to get a degree in hospitality and choose an appropriate training program. Related Resources: 

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris