25 Best Online Associates Degrees in Hospitality Management [2020 Guide]

Home » 25 Best Online Associates Degrees in Hospitality Management [2020 Guide]

If you’re thinking about a career in the service industry, consider an online associates degree in hospitality management.

Associates Degrees in Hospitality Management

It’s an important qualification for many entry-level jobs, and it can also be used as a stepping stone for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the future. Additionally, since it’s earned online, you can study at your own pace from the comfort of your own home.

Best Online Associates Degrees in Hospitality Management

Food Service Manager checking the food in the kitchen

A degree in hospitality management can prepare you for work in hotels, restaurants, resorts and other places of customer service. It’s frequently but not always combined with studies of tourism and commerce.

You’ll need certain skills to succeed in this field. Here’s a small sample of what employers might look for in job candidates:

  • Intelligent
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good communication
  • Problem solver
  • High level of interpersonal skills

Since it’s a management degree, employers might also look for leadership qualities. You might be expected to prove that you can work independently or take charge of teams or shift responsibilities.

restaurant manager giving instructions to the waitress

The value of a hospitality management degree can vary. In some cases, it can qualify you for real positions of authority in a hotel or restaurant. In other cases, it’ll just get your foot in the door as an entry-level professional, and you’ll need to work your way up the ladder for a more lucrative position.

There are several ways to earn an associate degree in hospitality management, including an Associate of Arts (AA), an Associate of Science (AS) and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS).

You can also earn a related degree like an Associate of Business Administration (ABA) with an emphasis in hospitality management. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself which hospitality degree is best suited for your particular career goals.

Hospitality Management Careers & Salaries

Hospitality Management Careers & Salaries

What can you do with a degree in hospitality management? It depends on what you’re interested in, what you choose to specialize in and where you’d like to work after graduation. Depending on your credentials, your career options could be quite varied.

If you’re good at customer service, for example, you might like a front-facing job where you interact with the public, or you might enjoy working as an agent or liaison between companies, customers and vendors. You could also start your own business as an event planner or travel consultant if you’re the independent type.

If you prefer to manage things behind the scenes, you could also find a job as an administrator, bookkeeper, finance manager or marketing director.

Another possibility is specializing in a particular area of focus. If you love to cook, for example, you might combine a hospitality management degree with your passion for the culinary arts. If you want to work for a hotel chain, you could become a manager in everything from bookkeeping to housekeeping.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can make $40,000 or more with a degree in hospitality management.

For a more individualized look at wages, here are some careers that may be of interest to you:

Careers Annual Mean Salary
Marketing Managers $149,200
Sales Representatives, Services, All Other $64,860
Food Service Managers $55,320
Lodging Managers $54,430
Chefs and Head Cooks $51,530
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners $50,600
First-Line Supervisors of Housekeeping and Janitorial Workers $42,380
Travel Agents $40,660

Just remember that these are averages and not specific salaries. Your exact wages will depend on things like age, experience, demand, job title, degree level, industry growth, and geographic location.

Hospitality Management Specializations & Concentrations

Director of Sales and Marketing meeting with his team

Some degree programs allow you to concentrate your studies on a particular area of interest. These concentrations are optional, but they’ll look good on a resume, and they can prepare you to take on specialized roles within the industry once you enter the workforce.

With hospitality management, you can specialize in the following:

  • Brand Management and Guest Services: With an emphasis on sales and marketing, this concentration is for future business professionals who are good at public relations.
  • Event & Meeting Planning: Event planning requires many moving parts to come together, and these classes can teach you the basics of budgeting, scheduling, supplying and organizing.
  • Hotel and Lodging Management: “Lodging” is often used as a catch-all term in the hospitality business for any kind of accommodation. Their operations are at the forefront of these degree programs.
  • Restaurant Management: Restaurant management can draw on many different disciplines, including food, finance, retail, business administration and more. Their programs are as varied as the restaurants that you see outside.
  • Travel & Tourism Management: Another wide-ranging field, tourism is often divided into sub-specialties that include areas of interest such as global business, travel operations and customer service management.

Different schools have different specialties, so don’t be afraid to shop around. One of the benefits of online degree programs is that you aren’t limited to whatever is offered by nearby colleges. If you need to enroll in a long-distance university to get that associate’s degree in hospitality travel and tourism, that will be an option for you.

Choosing an Online Associates in Hospitality Management Degree

Associates in Hospitality Management Degree student studying online

With so many options for a hospitality management degree, how are you supposed to know which one is right for you?

Here are just a few things that you can put on your checklist:

  • Accreditation. This is essential for things like transferring credits and receiving financial aid. It can also influence the worth of your degree in the eyes of future employers.
  • Degrees, concentrations, certificates and licenses. What are you looking for in a hospitality program? What classes do you need? What specializations are you considering?
  • Online accessibility. If you’re keen to take classes online, make sure that the school has a robust “e-campus” with plenty of resources for distance learners.
  • Admissions. Some schools are more selective than others. Some might also offer things like rolling admissions to make it easier for busy adults to get back in school.
  • Transfer programs. If you think that you might be interested in getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree some day, look for a school with transfer programs to affiliated four-year universities.

Everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes a “good” college degree. At the end of the day, however, you’re the only person who will know what feels right to you.

Hospitality Management Curriculum & Courses

Hospitality Management student studying on her laptop at a restaurant

While every university is different, hospitality degrees usually teach the same general range of skills. Classes might include any or all of the following:

  • Interpersonal Communication: Communication is a vital skill in the hospitality industry, so classes can range from public speaking courses to conflict resolution seminars.
  • Principles of Microeconomics/Macroeconomics: Depending on your field of interest, you might need these basic, entry-level courses in economics.
  • Human Resource Management: HR classes cover employment-related topics such as benefits, compensation, staffing, recruiting and workplace safety.
  • Leadership: As a future manager, you might be interested in leadership courses that cover topics like organizational behavior and strategic decision making.
  • Hotel/Lodging Management and Operations: These classes will teach you the ins and outs of day-to-day operations at lodging facilities.
  • Finance: Finance classes come in many forms and can teach you many skills, including budgeting, bookkeeping, auditing, invoicing and more.
  • Hospitality Sales and Promotion: Usually offered in conjunction with marketing courses, these subjects can prepare you for the promotional challenges of the hospitality industry.
  • Law and Liability: There can be a lot of liability involved with travel and tourism, and these classes will teach you how to recognize, address and resolve it.
  • Fundamentals of Food Preparation: An essential class for many parts of the hospitality industry, “Food Prep 101” will introduce you to the general framework of the eating business.
  • Internship: Some hospitality degree programs will offer you the chance to get real-world experience through an internship. It’s usually offered during your final year of school.

If you choose to specialize, you might also need to take core classes or electives in subjects related to your area of study.

Admissions Requirements

Hospitality Management students studying together for an exam

Many associate degree programs are offered by community and technical colleges. They tend to be less selective than other schools, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’re free-for-alls. You’ll still need to meet certain admission criteria to get in:

  • High school diploma or GED. Most colleges will require a high school diploma or its equivalent as a basic part of the admissions process.
  • Test scores. Some schools will ask for SAT/ACT scores. Others might waive this requirement if you’re an older student or if you already have professional experience in the field.
  • Placement tests. It’s very common for colleges to require placement tests in basic subjects such as math, science and English. It helps them determine if you’re ready for college-level coursework.

If you’re missing something from this list, get in touch with your local community college. They might have pre-enrollment programs for students who need to take prep or remedial classes before they can join their peers in actual degree programs.

Accreditation

Online Associates Degrees in Hospitality Management Accreditation

Accreditation is a way for colleges to prove that they meet the standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s a voluntary process, but it’s a requirement for things like federal financial aid, and it can impact how your credits are transferred if you ever need to change schools.

It’s also regarded as a sign of legitimacy. If you attend an unaccredited school, some employers might not recognize your degree.

There are three main types of accreditation:

  • Regional accreditation
  • National accreditation
  • Programmatic accreditation

The first two types are also known as “institutional accreditation” since they’re awarded to entire colleges or institutions. The third type is awarded to specific degree programs within schools.

Hospitality Management Program Accreditation

Hospitality Management student studying online at home

When it comes to programmatic accreditation for hospitality management degrees, there are a few names that you’ll see everywhere:

There are other accrediting boards for hospitality degrees as well. It’s a big industry. You might want to look around and see what else is out there before you make any educational decisions.

Hospitality Management Professional Organizations

hotel managers meeting at a seminar

There are many organizations for students and professionals in the hospitality industry, including:

As you can see, professional organizations can range from big, well-known networks to small groups serving niche markets. It’ll be up to you to decide which is best for your particular needs as a hospitality student.

Hospitality Management Licensing and Certification

Sales Associate working on his laptop

In today’s competitive job market, it isn’t always enough to have a degree. You might need the extra edge offered by a certification.

Here are just a few options for hospitality management students:

You might also want to reach out to community colleges and trade schools about your certification options. Some have special programs to prepare students for certification.

Financial Aid

financial aid for hotel management degree students

The first step to receiving financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Like its name suggests, it’s completely free to submit, and it will determine if you’re eligible for various types of assistance:

  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Work-study programs

If these don’t cover enough of your tuition costs, you can also look into private forms of assistance such as bank loans. Your employer might even offer tuition reimbursement.

Hospitality Management Scholarships

Hospitality Management degree student receiving her letter of scholarship

Scholarships are another form of financial assistance for college students. While it’s true that some are restricted to upper-level bachelor’s and master’s students, you’ll find plenty that are open to associate degree seekers as well.

There are many other scholarships out there for hospitality majors, so make sure to explore all of your options.

For example, if you’re seeking a hotel and restaurant management associate’s degree, you could look specifically into hotel- and restaurant-related scholarships. Even if they aren’t advertised towards associate-level students, you could still be eligible for them.

What Can You Do With an Associate’s Degree in Hospitality Management?

Hotel Manager entertaining a guest

There are many ways to apply a hospitality degree to the real world. The most obvious career path is becoming a manager of some kind. There’s always a need for competent leadership in hotels, casinos, restaurants, country clubs and other travel- and tourism-related businesses.

You could also become something like an event planner, travel consultant or activity director. The skills that you learn in a hospitality program can be a great help in careers that deal with the public.

You could even find work outside of the hospitality industry thanks to the diverse range of subjects that you’ll learn. For example, since many hospitality programs will teach you about sales and profits, you could channel this knowledge into a retail career rather than a travel one.

Can I Get My Associate’s Degree Online?

Associate's Degree in Hospitality Management student studying at home

There are many online programs for hospitality management. They’ll teach you subjects like economics, communication, customer service, business administration and human resources, and some will even offer degree concentrations in things like brand management or marketing.

Additionally, most hospitality degree programs can be completed 100 percent online without any face-to-face requirements. This makes them a convenient option for busy students who don’t want to be tied down to traditional college campuses.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate’s in Hospitality Management Online?

Associate’s in Hospitality Management students studying together in a library

It usually takes two years to get an associate degree in hospitality management. This is assuming that you’re going to school full time. The calculation looks like this:

  • 15 credits per semester x 2 semesters per year x two years of schooling = 60 credits

It takes 60 credits to earn an associate degree, so if you drop below 15 credits per semester or take any semesters off, you’ll lengthen your time until graduation. On the flip side, you can accelerate your graduation by increasing your course load, enrolling in summer semesters or earning special credits through programs like CLEP.

What Do Hospitality Managers Do?

Hotel manager talking to head chef

“Hospitality manager” is a broad term that can refer to everything from hoteliers to restaurant supervisors. They usually watch over the day-to-day operations of their business, and depending on their industry, this could involve any or all of the following:

  • Approving expenditures
  • Making or managing appointments
  • Resolving customer conflicts
  • Overseeing security
  • Directing management teams or promotional efforts
  • Authorizing plans and programs

They might also have specialties involving food, laundry, sanitation, groundskeeping or other important areas of interest for a hospitality business.

How Much Money Can I Make With a Degree in Hospitality Management?

Hotel Manager working at hotel lobby

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary ranges vary widely, with travel agents making $40,660 on the low end and marketing managers making $149,200 on the high end.

It all depends on where you work, what you do and which type of degree that you have.

Are There Affordable Online Degrees in Hospitality Management?

Hospitality Management Student studying online

There are many affordable degrees for hospitality management, especially when you’re studying online.

It’s common for online programs to have lower costs than their campus-based counterparts since they don’t require students to pay for things like housing, dining and parking. You can also avoid many campus-based activity and technology fees when you’re enrolled online.

Some schools will even go the extra mile and charge the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state distance learners. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, but it’s something to look into if costs are a primary decision factor for you. Make sure to double-check that your financial aid is applicable to online degree programs.

Universities Offering Online Associate’s Degree in Hospitality Management

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer hospitality management associate’s degree online.

#1  Albany Technical College

Albany Technical College

  • AAS in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

Albany Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#2  American Public University

American Public University

  • AA in Hospitality

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#3  Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College

  • AAS in Hospitality Management

Bryant and Stratton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#4  Casper College

Casper College

  • AAS in Hospitality and Tourism

Casper College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#5  Central Texas College

Central Texas College

  • AAS in Hospitality Management – Food and Beverage Management
  • AAS in Hospitality Management – Hotel Management

Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#6  Chemeketa Community College

Chemeketa Community College

  • AAS in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Chemeketa Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#7  Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

  • AAB in Hospitality Management

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Cowley College

Cowley College

  • AA in Hotel and Restaurant Management

Cowley College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#9  Delgado Community College

Delgado Community College

  • AAS in Hospitality Management

Delgado Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#10  Fayetteville Technical Community College

Fayetteville Technical Community College

  • Associate’s in Hospitality Management

Fayetteville Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College.

#11  Genesee Community College

Genesee Community College

  • AAS in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management

Genesee Community College accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#12  Herkimer State University of New York

Herkimer State University of New York

  • AAS in Ecotourism and Adventure Travel

Herkimer College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#13  Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College

  • ABA in Hospitality Management

Macomb Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#14  Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College

  • Associate’s in Hospitality Management

Madison College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#15  Massachusetts Bay Community College

Massachusetts Bay Community College

  • AS in General Business – Hospitality Management

MassBay Community College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#16  Monroe College

Monroe College

  • AAS in Hospitality Management

Monroe College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#17  New Hampshire Technical Institute – Concord’s Community College

New Hampshire Technical Institute - Concord's Community College

  • AS in Hospitality and Tourism Management

NHTI is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#18  North Central Michigan College

North Central Michigan College

  • AAS in Hospitality and Casino Management

North Central Michigan College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#19  Peninsula College

Peninsula College

  • AAS in Hospitality and Tourism

Peninsula College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#20  Purdue University

Purdue University

  • AAS in Business Administration – Hospitality Management

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#21  Sullivan University

Sullivan University

  • AS in Hotel and Restaurant Management

Sullivan University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#22  Tompkins Cortland Community College

Tompkins Cortland Community College

  • AAS in Hotel and Restaurant

Tompkins Cortland Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#23  University of Northwestern Ohio

University of Northwestern Ohio

  • Associate’s of Travel and Hotel Management

UNOH is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#24  Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College

  • AAS in Hospitality Management (Hybrid)

Wake Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#25  Western Technical College

Western Technical College

  • AAS in Hospitality Management

Western Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Associates in Hospitality Management Online

Associates in Hospitality Management student studying at home

If you’re ready to enter the exciting, fast-paced world of hospitality management, an associate degree can be just what you need to get started.

Not only does it offer a wide variety of working environments such as hotels, restaurants, resorts, cruise ships and amusement parks, but it also has competitive salaries and high occupational growth rates within the industry.

It’s a great time to get an associate degree in hospitality management. Just reach out to some colleges of interest to get the ball rolling with your admission.

James Chen
WRITTEN BY
James Chen