Prospective college students who want a career in hotel management can opt for one of three specialized degrees. The options are an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. The programs are usually called hotel management degrees or hospitality management degrees, but a business administration master's degree is sometimes appropriate. These degrees can be studied full-time or part-time, and schools may offer programs through distance learning programs. A degree in a related discipline or extensive experience is sometimes enough to qualify someone for a hotel manager's job.
An associate's degree — also known as a certificate or diploma, depending on the country — takes about two years to complete. This qualification can be obtained through distance learning or in a classroom lecture format. The degree by itself is probably not enough to qualify a graduate to work as a hotel manager, because it is designed to teach management skills necessary in areas such as the front office or the dining room. The degree, coupled with extensive experience, may be enough to swing a job as a hotel manager, but prospective students have a much better chance at career advancement with a bachelor's degree.
A bachelor's degree takes about four years to complete and can be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. Both the B.A. and B.S. teach business skills, marketing, finance and management. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement in some markets for an interview as a hotel manager. Bachelor's degrees can be undertaken online or in person.
A suitable bachelor's degree for prospective managers can have various designations. These are hotel management, hospitality management, hotel and tourism management, and even international hospitality management. The qualifications are generally the same, except for specialization in some programs. For example, a graduate of an international hospitality management degree has more experience in the way foreign hotels are run.
If a prospective manager has a primary bachelor's degree that is not relevant to hotel management, or if he wishes to improve his chances of promotion, he can choose to earn a master's degree. Master's degrees acceptable to the industry are those specific to hotel management and degrees relating to business administration. These degrees take from one to two years to complete, depending on a student's full-time or part-time status. A graduate school may prefer to enroll students who already have a few years of experience in the hotel industry, rather than recent bachelor's degree graduates.