What Are the Different Types of Hospitality Degree Programs?

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  • Written By: Maggie Worth
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Many colleges and universities offer a variety of hospitality degree programs. One key difference among programs is the concentration; students can focus on culinary, hotel, or resort management, among other options. Another is the resulting degree type as programs are available for certificates and diplomas as well as associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. In addition, programs may be taken online or in a classroom setting and may be offered by public, private, or for-profit schools.

Hospitality degree programs can lead to a variety of degrees. Bachelor-level programs usually take about four years to complete and culminate in a bachelor of arts (BA) degree. Associate programs generally take about two years and can result in an associate of arts (AA) or an associate of applied sciences (AAS). Master's level programs are rare but do exist. Other programs allow students to earn certificates or diplomas.

Most hospitality degree programs, particularly those at an associate's or bachelor's level, allow the student to choose a focus, sometimes called a track or specialty. These can include a wide range of restaurant-related focuses, including business management and front-of-house management, though such programs may alternatively be classified as culinary degrees. Other common focuses include aspects of hotel or resort management such as recreation, operations, special events, and more. Certificate programs are often very specific in nature. Examples might include managing water sports, arranging activities for children, or social media for hospitality.


In some cases, both certificate and degree programs may focus on general tourism. This prepares students to work with boards of tourism or travel agencies rather than hospitality entities such as hotels. These degrees can be alternatively classified as tourism degrees, but they fall under the hospitality umbrella at many universities.

Presentation of classes is another key difference among hospitality degree programs. Some programs are offered completely online, while others are offered only in a traditional classroom setting. Still other programs are hybrid programs, meaning that they combine classroom and online learning methods. Some programs include internship components, while others do not.

Public colleges and universities are those sponsored by a public entity such as a government. Private and for-profit colleges are often owned by independent entities such as organizations, churches, or companies. Any type of college may offer hospitality degree programs. Some colleges, however, are better known in the industry and may be accredited or certified by recognized bodies. Students interested in pursuing hospitality degree programs should research each school's reputation and accreditation before selecting a program.


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