Associate degree programs in hospitality management help to teach students a combination of management and communications skills, which can be useful in the hospitality industry. Depending on the program, students can also gain skill sets for working in specific hospitality environments, such as hotels, tourist destinations, and food and beverage establishments. Full-time students in hospitality management programs could take two years to complete the required combination of degree-specific and general education courses. During that time, they may work toward an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Applied Science in hospitality management or hospitality and tourism.
Online Associate Degree in Hospitality Management: Coursework and Overview
Required coursework varies by school and program. For example, some programs may offer more coursework in travel and tourism, while others may focus more on management techniques. There are, however, several courses that students in hospitality degree programs typically take. Examples of some courses are discussed below:
Hospitality Management Courses
- Introduction to Hospitality: Introductory hospitality courses are designed to provide an overview of the different aspects of the hospitality industry -- primarily food service, lodging, and tourism. Such courses may also cover career opportunities in hospitality.
- Travel and Tourism: Individuals in travel and tourism courses study terminology and trends in the industry as well as the impact of travel and tourism on popular travel destinations.
- Financial Accounting: Students generally learn how to calculate important accounting figures, such as accounts payable and receivable, and also learn how to draft and analyze important financial statements and terms, such as balance sheets and income statements.
- Hotel Management: Students in hotel management courses gain an overview of the responsibilities of being a hotel manager, including staffing, managing staff, overseeing front office operations, and providing guests with a positive experience.
- Food and Beverage Management: Students explore the many aspects of a career in managing restaurant and food service establishments, including operations, customer service, and purchasing.
General Education and Other Non-Hospitality Courses
- Public Speaking: Having strong public speaking skills can be an asset for hospitality management professionals, as they spend much of their time communicating with guests and clients. Public speaking courses, which may be required for hospitality programs, examine effective techniques in speech preparation and delivery.
- Business Communications: In business communications courses, students develop and improve their oral communication skills through presentations and their written communications skills through drafts of business documents, such as cover letters and memos. Students can also gain experience working in teams and learn about business etiquette.
- Organizational Behavior: In organizational behavior courses, students study effective management techniques and apply concepts covered in class when creating solutions to common organizational issues. Examples of topics studied include leadership, motivation in the workplace, and teamwork.
Potential Career Opportunities for Individuals with an Associate Degree in Hospitality Management
Associate degree programs in hospitality management help prepare students for careers in a variety of environments; hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies are only a few. Below are some possible careers and work environments for students with an educational background in hospitality:
- Lodging managers strive to give guests an optimal stay and make sure that their establishment's operations run smoothly. These managers may work in hotels, bed and breakfasts, or motels. Specific responsibilities include setting room rates and budgets and observing staff performance. Aspiring lodging managers can take hotel management courses to study staff management techniques and gain ideas on providing a positive experience for guests. Some employers may require prior experience in hospitality, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov).
- Food service managers handle day-to-day operations of food and beverage establishments, including overseeing inventory, ordering supplies and equipment, maintaining budgets and payroll records, and checking that their establishment complies with health and food safety standards. Students interested in this career may better prepare themselves for the diverse responsibilities of the job by taking a financial accounting course in addition to specialized courses in food and beverage management. According to bls.gov, food service managers may also need previous training or experience in the industry.
- Convention service managers assist in organizing events at hotels and convention centers and serve as a link between clients and representatives of the meeting facility. Convention service managers must effectively communicate preferences of both parties they represent, so having strong communication skills can be an asset. Students looking into this career have an opportunity to refine those skills through public speaking and business communications classes.
- Travel agents make travel accommodations for business trips and vacations according to customers' preferences. Agents discuss trip details with clients as well as book trips and tour packages that are in line with potential scheduling and cost restrictions. Students can seek specialized knowledge of the travel industry by concentrating their curriculum in travel and tourism. Communications courses can also provide them with skills in understanding and conveying customers' travel preferences.
The above careers are common avenues for individuals with an associate degree in hospitality management, although some positions may require additional training or experience. Students may alternatively choose to continue their education and work toward a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related subject. Before applying to specific programs, however, students should contact an admissions counselor to find out if their credits are transferable.
"Food Service Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/food-service-managers.htm
"Lodging Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/lodging-managers.htm
"Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm
"Travel Agents," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm