Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Hotel and Restaurant Management: Online Programs for 2022

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Hotel and Restaurant Management: Online Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Hotel and restaurant management is a multifaceted career that brings fun and rewarding experiences. Practitioners in this field have to ensure that guests are provided with the best experience. The online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management offers a wide range of career options in the field of tourism, accommodations, travel, and dining.

Jobs in this sector pay well with hotel managers and food service managers earning on average $56,670 and $56,590, respectively (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). This program also opens doors for related careers such as being a hotel manager, a chef, a sales manager, or as a resort lodging manager, which is closely related to the career path of hospitality and tourism degree graduates.

This guide discusses the factors that make up the best online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management. With this, students will know the costs, requirements, and included courses in taking up a degree. They will also recognize the differences between online and on-campus classes.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online Vs. traditional bachelor’s degree
  5. How much does an online bachelor’s degree cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree?
  7. Courses in an online bachelor’s degree in hotel & restaurant management
  8. Things to look for in an online bachelor’s degree

Can You Get a Degree Completely Online?

Bachelor’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management are available fully online, and there are also hybrid programs that have a combination of online and face-to-face classes. Some online degrees deliver all courses online but may also require on-site internships while others allow students to take additional courses in place of the internship so that the learning experience is entirely digital.

Because hotel and restaurant management covers a broad range of disciplines, there are schools offering similar but more streamlined programs. For instance, they may have separate programs for hotel management and restaurant management. In some cases, postsecondary institutions offer the degree under a different name, such as hospitality management and restaurant, hotel, and institutional management. So, if students do not immediately find the program in a given school, they can check if there are alternatives or a different title for hotel and restaurant management.

Upon completing the degree, graduates face the prospect of a promising career. After all, the average annual salary of professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management is $62,404 (Payscale, 2021). And this is bound to increase when one is hired as a manager or promoted to a managerial role.

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the global education landscape and paved the way for today’s ubiquity of online education. This extends to online bachelor’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management. Back in 2018, 71% of HR professionals admitted to hiring applicants with fully online degrees (Fain, 2018). Now, given the prevalence of distance learning and work-from-home arrangements, this percentage has surely increased.

As for the type of degree current professionals hold, half of the hospitality managers in the U.S. have bachelor’s degrees (Zippia, 2021). So, taking up a degree program is certainly a wise decision for learners looking to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.

Source: Zippia 2021

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

While the global hospitality industry is still on the mend due to the outbreak, the path to recovery has been paved.  As conditions are gradually normalizing all across the globe, more jobs in the hospitality industry have started to open up. With the prominence of online degrees in today’s education landscape, many of those slots will likely be filled by graduates who have online bachelor’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management. As such, online degrees are recognized globally.

In the United States alone, the hotel occupancy rate is expected to rise from a mere 44% in 2020 to 52% in 2021 and 61% in 2022 (AHLA, 2021). The same trend follows for other countries that have successfully rolled out COVID-19 vaccines—and with greater occupancy rates comes the need for more staff.

Source: AHLA 2021

Online Vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management 

An online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management is often a derivative of its on-campus counterpart. As such, emphasis is placed on learning theories and practices in hospitality operations, customer service, people management, and leadership (Hotel Tech Report, 2021). In the absence of hands-on lessons comes a greater focus on processes, particularly for courses like food preparation and dining room service.

Online and on-site hotel and restaurant management degrees have a plethora of differences, including:

  • Format: Face-to-face classes are the norm for traditional degrees, so students are required to travel to school every class day. Since out-of-state students live far from campus, they will most likely need to find lodging near the school. Meanwhile, online students can complete the course in any location that has a stable internet connection. Some programs also offer asynchronous learning, allowing learners to take lessons and courses at their own pace.
  • Schedule: On-campus degrees carry a fixed schedule for students to follow, which allows them to complete the program in four years. The same applies to a lot of online degree courses and programs, but those that provide asynchronous classes grant students the benefit of finishing course requirements at their own pace.
  • Duration: Traditional and online degrees typically last for four years. Meanwhile, online programs that conduct asynchronous classes could bear a different duration of completion, depending on a learner’s chosen schedule and learning pace.
  • Learning Experience: Traditional degree programs apply a more hands-on approach to education since the physical presence of students allows them to learn not just in the classroom but also in other settings like hotels, kitchens, and relevant workplaces. The same goes for the practical courses of some hybrid programs. Meanwhile, online degree programs are confined to the bounds of computer screens, so a learner’s understanding of processes, practices, and theories is heavily underscored.
  • Cost: The four-year cost of traditional hotel and restaurant management bachelor’s degrees could reach around $206,000, inclusive of food, accommodation, and school fees (Hotel Tech Report, 2021). Online degree programs cost less as they require fewer resources from the school and students do not have to pay for rent and raised costs on transport and food.
  • Internships: Most hotel and restaurant degree programs, be they traditional or online, require students to work as interns for 300 to 500 hours in a hospitality-related firm. However, some online programs grant students the option to forego the internship and take additional courses equal to it in credits.

Is an online degree cheaper?

In most cases, online bachelor’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management are cheaper than traditional ones. The reason for this is online learners can opt to stay put in their homes for the duration of the program. They do not need to deal with living costs, transportation expenses, extra food costs, fees for using school resources like labs and other learning environments, and the like. However, if a student lacks the equipment for distance learning, they can expect the technology costs to rise along with utility charges like electricity and the use of the internet.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

While traditional degrees have the advantage in regard to learning modalities, the outcomes of traditional and online degree programs are the same. What an online degree lacks in hands-on training is made up for by its concentration on theories, practices, and processes in hospitality management, business, food service, and hospitality sales. Furthermore, internships require online students to be present for their on-the-job training, which holds weight in the professional realm and can even lead to direct hires.

Plus, with many job opportunities in the hospitality sector, graduates of both program formats are sure to find the right career path. In fact, the number of job openings has risen by 50% since December 2020, and the prevalence of online degrees will positively affect the job outlook of graduates.

How much does an online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management cost?

The cost of online bachelor’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management tends to vary because the programs have different curricula and formats. For instance, hybrid programs entail on-campus classes, the number of which is relative per curriculum. Room and board fees for a four-year traditional degree cost around $10,800 with a public college and $12,210 with a private one (Song, 2021).

To put in an exact figure, a traditional bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management costs around $206,000 over a four-year period, or $51,500 per year, including rent and transportation expenses (Hotel Tech Report, 2021). Online degree programs should cost lower than that since they require fewer physical resources from the school even though the technology leveraged has its set of distinct costs like technical support, maintenance, and utilities.

Sometimes, even if the tuition fee of an online degree is greater than that of an on-campus program, the total costs could still be lower as online students will not need to spend on accommodations, travel, and cafeteria or restaurant food, among others. If the costs are too high for learners, they can apply for student loans or the school’s financial aid program, and this extends to online students.

As a whole, inclusive of associate and certificate programs, the average tuition fees of undergraduate hotel and restaurant management programs are $3,799 for in-state learners and $10,335 for those living out of state (College Tuition Compare, 2021). Graduate programs, on the other hand, cost $8,122 in-state and $15,526 out-of-state.

Is an online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management worth it?

It sure is. An online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management ascertains the proficiency of learners in entering the professional realm and is recognized in the same way as traditional degrees. Graduates face a vast landscape of potential jobs, from being a chef to a hotel manager or supervisor to an event planner, all the way to becoming a restaurateur. And the salary progressively increases as the graduates move up the ranks in their chosen industry.

While it is true that the hospitality industry is still recovering from the impact of COVID-19, the unemployment rate has gone down significantly. From a high of 39.3% in April 2020, it has decreased to 10.9% as of June 2021 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021), and this downward trend will continue as more people get vaccinated. By the time incoming students graduate, the industry will have been restored to what it once was prior to the pandemic. After all, the hotel and food and beverage industries are expected to make a full recovery by 2024 (Kwok, 2021).

Additionally, this projection might be conservative as gadgets for no-touch service delivery in hotels have been developed. According to a 2021 study “Hospitality services in the post COVID-19 era: Are we ready for high-tech and no-touch service delivery in smart hotels?” published in the Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, there is “indicative evidence that (1) sense experience (SE), feel experience (FE), and related experience (RE) have all positively impacted information sharing (IS); (2) Sense experience (SE) and feel experience (FE) positively affected customer satisfaction (CS) (Chen, Tzeng, Tham, & Chu, 2021).”

In addition, the aforementioned technology minimizes physical contact, thus bolstering the physical distancing measures enforced by hotels and other modes of lodging.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021

What are the requirements of an online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management?

Before taking up an online bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management, students must submit several documents and proof of certain skills to the schools they are applying for. They must also have the necessary equipment to run the online programs that schools offer.

Admission Requirements

  • GPA of at least 2.0 to 2.5: Postsecondary institutions expect their students to not have problems grasping the lessons. As such, they require applicants to have a GPA of at least 2.0 to 2.5. The same applies to transfer students. They should have a GPA of at least 2.0 in their previous college experience.
  • High SAT or ACT Scores: Students are required to submit the scores on standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT. Grade requirements vary but all institutions expect students to do well in them. The scores are also used to evaluate the capabilities of each applicant.
  • High School Diploma: Applicants need to show proof that they graduated from high school before entering college. This is why a high school diploma is one of the foremost requirements. Students can also present proof of GED completion,
  • Transcript: Applicants need to submit their transcript of grades. Schools use it to evaluate their performance and determine if they have the intellectual tools to earn a degree.
  • Cover Letter/Essay: To strengthen their application, students can submit a cover letter that details their scholastic goals and how they will leverage their education in the future. This lets schools know if an applicant is serious with their studies.
  • Recommendation Letters: Applicants are sometimes required to submit letters of recommendation from previous instructors or supervisors, vouching for their dedication and proficiency as students. In most cases, letters from immediate family members are discouraged as they are inherently biased.

General Requirements

  • Language and Communication: Communication is a big deal in the hospitality industry as professionals constantly communicate with their team, guests, and suppliers. For this reason, English classes are a constant in hotel and restaurant management curricula. Some institutions also compel their students to take foreign language courses as part of the curriculum. In this way, graduates can communicate with more people, especially if the establishment they are applying to receives a lot of international guests.
  • Customer Service Skills: One of the foremost outcomes of the degree program is competency in customer service. Graduates are bound to enter the business of attracting and satisfying guests, and excellent customer service helps them meet or exceed their expectations. They should be positive and proactive (Phillpott, 2021).
  • Management and Leadership: Graduates are expected to be proficient in managing people, which is critical when working in a vast environment like a hotel or a large restaurant. They must put systems in place to make work more efficient. As a result, hotel rooms are readied faster, food is always served on time, and the requests of guests are duly delivered.
  • Revenue Management: The business side of hotels and restaurants has three key components, namely marketing, sales, and revenue management. Graduates are expected to know how to increase profits and maximize available resources to drive more revenue (Hotel Tech Report, 2021).

What are the technological requirements of students for 0nline learning?

  • Computer: A desktop or laptop is a student’s primary tool for taking online degree courses. As postsecondary institutions use different learning management systems, the requirements tend to vary. To be on the safe side, applicants should have a computer with good specifications, taking into consideration its processor, storage capacity, as well as RAM.
  • Updated Browser: As institutions leverage some of the best LMS for schools, these platforms receive updates regularly and will likely support newer browsers. Students should update their computer’s internet browser to the latest version to avoid compatibility issues.
  • High-Speed Internet: A fast and stable internet connection is necessary to access the educational programs and materials provided by schools. A cable or DSL connection would suffice.
  • Webcam, Speakers, and a Headset: There will be instances where students must directly communicate with their instructor and classmates. As such, they will need a webcam, speakers, a headset. Downloading applications for video conferencing and recording might also be needed.

An additional consideration is the student’s location even though classes take place online. Some cities offer larger compensation for hospitality managers than others. Based on the latest figures, New York City pays the highest with an average of $86,000 annually, followed by Hagerstown ($77,000) and Benicia ($73,000) (Zippia, 2020).

Courses to Expect in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management

Hotel and Restaurant Management programs impart skills and knowledge in a multitude of areas, which explains the wide spectrum of jobs that graduates can enter. There are online degree courses that center on hotel management while others focus on foodservice and preparation. Moreover, students get to learn the business side of food and lodging establishments, so they can become entrepreneurs in the future.

  • Hotel, Restaurant, and Hospitality Management: Courses that tackle this topic center on the different jobs in the hospitality industry, their primary functions, and how those functions are performed. Lessons are also devoted to analyzing market trends.
  • Food and Beverage Operations: From food service to food preparation, online degree courses under this topic feature the finer points of how food is prepared, served, and handled. Moreover, students will learn food presentation, restaurant design, and the reservation systems in food establishments.
  • Business Management and Accounting: This course underscores the business side of living spaces, restaurants, and event planning companies. Students will learn what draws guests to establishments, setting margins and designing packages, bookkeeping, and how to increase revenues.
  • Hospitality Law: Knowledge of the law assures hotels and restaurants that they are operating within legal bounds. As such, this course informs students about the laws that govern the hospitality industry and how to make the legal system work for them.
  • Hospitality Marketing: It is one thing to know the operations of hotels and restaurants, and it is certainly another to attract guests to establishments. This course teaches students what makes hotels and restaurants enticing to prospective guests, the ideal strategies to attract target markets, and how to identify and market selling points.
  • Guest Relations: Complementary to business and marketing is guest relations. This course focuses on serving guests and how to make them feel at home in a hotel and restaurant. Students will be trained on the best practices at the concierge and other areas of a hotel as well as policies that promote safety and influence the satisfaction of guests.
  • Revenue Management and Financial Planning: This course teaches students how to properly leverage revenues and minimize expenditures and apply methods that help hospitality establishments turn a profit. Furthermore, students will learn how to properly set margins, analyze the costs of each operational process, and hasten the return on investment.
  • Event and Tourism Management: Some degrees touch on events and/or tourism, thus management courses for them are offered to students. The management subjects teach learners how to stage successful events and leverage history and nature’s attractions to thoroughly satisfy guests.

Besides the courses mentioned, subjects on general knowledge, like language and mathematics, and a number of electives are included in the curriculum. Internships are compulsory for some institutions while others afford students the option to take extra courses in place of an internship. Students who finish their studies in 2021 could take advantage of the 200,000 jobs U.S. hotels are projected to add (AHLA, 2021). This figure is bound to significantly increase in the coming years as more people get vaccinated.

Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management

The curricula of online hotel and restaurant management bachelor’s degrees may bear a lot of similarities, but they are not always identical. Given that the subject matter is broad, some programs may favor certain areas of hospitality management that differ from others. To find the ideal program, a learner must consider several factors:

  • Availability and Accessibility: Online degree programs have a global reach thanks to the internet. With this, students from any part of the globe can usually apply. It is important to note, however, that the fees might differ for in-state, out-of-state, and international students since schools typically support their local communities.
  • Teaching Methods: Many online programs are fully conducted over the internet but there are also degree programs that have a combination of on-campus and online courses. This goes in line with the interests of students and faculty post-pandemic. 73% of students prefer online programs to on-campus ones and 53% of faculty echo that sentiment (Kelly, 2021).
  • Reputation: Some post-secondary institutions are recognized by the hospitality industry as reliable producers of young professionals. As such. earning a degree from a reputable school increases the likelihood of landing a coveted position at a big company, and this extends to hospitality establishments in other countries.
  • Accreditation: An accredited online degree is recognized as a program that has been vetted through high educational standards by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA). Entering an accredited program assures students that the education they will receive grants them ample skills and knowledge to reap success in the professional realm. With this, learners can check if the online degree they are interested in is listed on ACPHA’s list of accredited programs.
  • Hidden Costs: Online degree programs might not come with the host of expenditures traditional programs carry, but they also have their share of price factors. Inclusive of the tuition fee are charges for technical support, digital coursework, instructor salary, and technology-related costs. Furthermore, some learners might need to purchase equipment, such as a computer and internet, to accommodate the online program.
  • Support Services: Support services are a constant with reputable post-secondary institutions. Through them, the learning management systems used for online degree programs are maintained and updated round the clock. This ensures that the courses will run smoothly and free from bugs. Furthermore, problems encountered by students that are on the school’s end can be addressed in a timely manner.
  • Other Considerations: The internship of some fully online programs requires the physical presence of students in companies while others afford learners the choice to forego their internship for more online degree courses. Pursuing an internship is ideal as students will imbibe the real-world applications of everything they learned in school. Furthermore, should they impress the company during their internship, they can be hired as employees after graduating. However, if the pandemic persists toward the end of the program, learners might be better off taking extra courses instead of the internship for safety.

Source: Campus Technology 2021

Outlook of Hotel and Restaurant Management Degree Holders

An online bachelor’s degree might entail a lot of work for students given the breadth of competencies taken up, but the experience will be fun-filled, informative, and can lead to a wide selection of profitable careers. Not only will students know how to manage hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality-related establishments, they also get to learn how to prepare tasty feasts from different corners of the globe. Furthermore, some online degree programs can be completed without students having to leave the comfort of their homes and possibly for the fraction of the price of a traditional degree.

Although the hospitality industry is still in the process of recovering from COVID-19, there has been a steady increase in employment (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021) and a sharp decrease in the unemployment rate. It has been reported that the industry will recover by 2024 (Kwok, 2021), which means students who enroll now will likely experience a bustling hotel and food scene when they graduate. An exciting future is ahead.

For learners who prefer to focus only on the culinary side of hotel and restaurant management, they should apply for a program that is more suitable to their goals and preferences. Read this comprehensive guide on culinary arts degrees to learn more.



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