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A Guide to Bachelor's Degrees in Hospitality Management
A bachelor's degree in hospitality management is a comprehensive education for careers in leadership positions as hotel managers, restaurant managers, event managers, and more. From learning how to best engage with customers to understanding how to create and read a budget, these programs prepare you for the challenges that you'll face on the job.
Why Earn a Bachelor's in Hospitality Management?
A bachelor's degree can prepare you for a wide range of hospitality management positions. Hospitality is a broad field, but you'll leave school with the basic skills you'll need to succeed in roles such as:
What's more, you can often tailor a degree to your interests, taking additional coursework that's specific to the field you want to pursue.
Associate Degrees also Available
There are also associate degrees in hospitality management. These two-year programs prepare you for entry-level jobs in the industry, such as coordinator for an event planning company, assistant manager of a retail store, and travel agent.
But you'll likely need a bachelor's degree to move into management. Both associate and bachelor's degrees cover various fields within the hospitality industry, plus finances and technology. But a four-year degree will give you the knowledge and leadership skills you'll need to manage people and oversee operations.
If you want to start your career sooner than a bachelor's degree allows, you can earn an associate degree first and reach your professional goal of becoming a manager by pursuing a bachelor's degree while you work.
Bachelor's in Hospitality Management
There are many types of hospitality degrees that you can choose from, and they can vary by school and program. Some of the most common include:
- Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality
- Bachelor of Science in Restaurant and Foodservice Management
- Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Event Management
You'll find that some programs offer concentrations in certain fields such as event management or food service. Deciding which program is right for you will depend on your career goals.
If you already know that you want to work in a specific hospitality industry, choosing a program with a concentration in that field could be a smart move.
If you're undecided about a career, choosing a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality could be the best option. These programs typically provide an education that applies to roles across the hospitality industry, so once you have your degree, you could go on to work in a restaurant, a hotel, a casino, or another setting.
"If you pursue a generic hospitality management degree, then you'll learn everything," says May Silvers, who worked as a director of catering and event planning at several luxury hotels before starting her own company, M2 Hospitality, in 2012. "That includes how to manage sleeping rooms, how to manage a restaurant, how to do events, and more, but the information is not as in-depth or as focused as a degree in a specific field, like event management."
If you already know that you want to work in a specific field, choosing a program with a concentration in that area could be a smart move. You'll gain more in-depth knowledge and skills in your specialty and be better prepared for your career, as a result.
"If you're taking a restaurant management degree program, you'll learn 100% about food and beverage, staffing, and food and beverage regulations," says Silvers. "If you go into event planning, that degree is very focused on the specifics of the event field."
Professional certifications can demonstrate your competence and knowledge in a field or a specialty within a field. This can help make you a more competitive job candidate or open the door to new roles or a higher salary.
If a certification requires professional experience, you can pursue one with a foundation of knowledge and skills in your field. Here's a sampling of the many hospitality certifications a manager can pursue.
Certified Meeting Planner (CMP)
Granting Organization: Events Industry Council (EIC)
Who It's For: Meeting management professionals all over the world, including those who work for corporations, government, and institutional organizations
Requirements: 36 months of full-time work in the meeting industry, 25 hours of continuing education, passing an exam
Exam Format: Computer-based test that consists of 165 multiple-choice questions
Exam Prep: EIC manual and glossary and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) manual. All three can be purchased from the EIC.
Certified Hospitality Sales Professional (CHSP)
Granting Organization: American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)
Who It's For: Directors of sales and banquet, catering, and sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time focused on the sales of sleeping rooms or meeting spaces
Requirements: At least six months in their sales role.
Exam Format: Computer-based test with 100 questions
Exam Prep: Students receive resource materials after purchasing the CHSP application package
Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM)
Granting Organization: Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
Who It's For: Hospitality professionals looking to demonstrate their marketing expertise
Requirements: Complete the application and pass the exam
Exam Format: Students can opt to take the exam immediately after an optional CHDM Review Course "cram session"
Exam Prep: A study guide, "Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today's Digital Landscape," is included with the exam's purchase
Written and reported by:
With professional insight from:
Owner, M2 Hospitality