A bachelor’s degree in hospitality management could put you directly on the path to leadership roles in the tourism industry. Before they enroll, students who aspire to become managers of hotels, restaurants and other companies in the tourism space should know what to expect from their degree program. Most hospitality management programs include introductory courses in the hospitality industry, classes in kitchen sanitation and food preparation, business courses and a sequence of courses or free electives that allow students to focus their studies on a field of interest.
Introductory and Foundational Coursework in Hospitality Management
Hospitality management programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) often begin their curricula with an overview of the hospitality industry and the professions involved in it. A course like Introduction to Hospitality Management will usually cover the history and development of the industry, up to and including modern trends in hospitality. You should have the opportunity to learn about the different leadership roles in lodging management, food service management and other areas of hospitality and tourism. Some schools incorporate students’ first academic exposure to hospitality industry management practices into this introductory course, while others wait to introduce these concepts in separate courses, like Professional Practice in Hospitality Management.
Through one or a combination of foundational hospitality management courses, you should gain an understanding of the most important components of each area of the hospitality industry and become familiar with industry growth trends and challenges.
Kitchen and Culinary Coursework
You don’t need to be a fully qualified chef to work in hospitality management, but you do need enough knowledge of food preparation and safety practices to understand the full logistics of managing a full-service restaurant, a hotel kitchen, a banquet hall or a catering company. You might take lecture courses in food sanitation practices and lab or combination lecture-lab courses in the techniques of food production. These courses might be offered as part of a culinary arts program, focusing on the taste and presentation of the dish itself, or as an interdisciplinary course specific to hospitality management that also covers menu pricing, recipe standardization, work planning and equipment use. You also learn the specifics of managing a kitchen through courses like restaurant operations, layout and design of food service operations, menu planning and catering and banquet management.
Some hospitality programs give students an overview of many types of dishes combined into one hands-on food preparation course. In others, students gain more extensive food preparation skills in courses such as international cuisine and baking fundamentals.
Business and Management Classes
Although the best hospitality managers are well-versed in the different areas within the hospitality and tourism industry, it’s ultimately their management skills that make or break their success. A gourmet chef or a hotel customer service representative who consistently bends over backward to please guests may still run a less-than-profitable restaurant or hotel unless their business skills are up to snuff. Bachelor’s degree programs in hospitality management incorporate both general business and specialized business coursework into the curricula. You may, for example, take classes in financial accounting, management principles and human resources management alongside business administration majors. However, your curriculum might also include classes like hospitality marketing, hospitality purchasing, hospitality cost control and analysis and hospitality human resource management.
Hospitality management programs may be operated out of a college’s business school, a culinary arts program or standalone schools within an institution. Business school hospitality programs may emphasize general business classes more strongly.
Electives and Concentrations
There’s a lot you can do with a hospitality degree. That versatility is valuable, but it can also be useful to narrow down your focus within the broad field. To allow students to develop the specialized skills they need for different areas within the hospitality industry, a program may offer concentrations that consist of a prescribed sequence of courses or allow a generous amount of credits to be put toward electives within the major.
Specialized concentrations in hospitality management may include restaurant or food and beverage management, lodging real estate, conference services management, revenue management and analytics, hotel and resort management, theme park management, advanced culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. Depending on your career plans, you might also choose to take elective courses in casino management and gaming operations, club management, tourism development, entrepreneurship in the hospitality industry and many other topics.
Another way to build specialized skills into your hospitality management education is to look for unique internships in your desired field. Opportunities are as varied as cruise ship, theme park costuming and enterprise management for professional sports teams.