Deciding where to go to earn that degree, though, can be tricky. There are more than 200 hospitality and hotel management degree programs across the United States, some at small community colleges and others at prestigious four-year universities. Deciding which school to attend, or even which schools to apply to, can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. To help students focus on the best schools – those that are well-ranked both for their hospitality programs and overall, those that provide a great value and are innovative – we’ve put together this list of the top 20 colleges for hospitality and hotel management.
1. Cornell University
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, is home to the School of Hotel Administration. The program was founded in 1922 and bills itself as “the first collegiate program in hospitality management.” Today, undergraduate students can earn Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration degrees, while graduate students can choose from Master of Management in
Hospitality and M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Hospitality. In addition to having a long history of educating students, Cornell University’s hotel administration program is widely recognized and respected. Cornell University is the only United States program to rank on the Top 10 International Hospitality Management Schools in the World by market research group Taylor Nelson Sofres. The School of Hotel Administration was also ranked second in the world – and first in the nation – by the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research. Notable features of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration’s curriculum include:
- Management training through the hotel leadership development program
- The annual Hotel Ezra Cornell conference
- The Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition
- The Guest Chefs Series
- Hands-on experience opportunities at the Statler Hotel and its three student-run restaurants.
Location: Ithaca, NY
Enrollment: 14,000 undergraduate students
Tuition: $31,146 (in-state); $47,286 (out-of-state)
2. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
The University of Nevada’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration ranks third in the world and second in the nation according to the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research. The school is also home to the student-run Capstone Café. The undergraduate hospitality management major includes studies in:
- Introduction to hospitality
- Organizational behavior
- Leadership, management and ethics
- Hospitality law
- Food sanitation
- Food service operations
- Cost control and accounting
- Hands-on internship and hospitality work experience
UNLV is a great choice for undergraduate students who aspire to work in a special niche within the hospitality industry, because it allows them to focus on concentrations such as gaming management, meetings and events, restaurant management and professional golf management.
Graduate students can choose from several academic paths, such as:
- Master of Hospitality Administration
- Doctor of Philosophy in Hospitality Administration
- Master of Science in Hotel Administration
- Dual Degree: Master of Science in Hotel Administration and Master of Science in Management Information Systems
- Dual Degree: Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Hotel Administration
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Enrollment: 23,099 undergraduate students
Tuition: $5,382 (in-state); $19,292 (out-of-state)
3. Pennsylvania State University, USA
Pennsylvania State University’s School of Hospitality Management is part of the institution’s College of Health and Human Development, but don’t let that fool you. The program may not be part of a business school, but that doesn’t prevent more than 100 recruiters from visiting the campus each year or its graduates from achieving a near-100 percent employment rate. Like many of the top hospitality schools, Penn State has a long history, with its Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program existing since 1937. The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranks the program fourth in the world. The school is also home to Café Laura, where students handle every task from recipe development and customer service to menu pricing and financial management.
Undergraduate students can earn a B.S. in Hospitality Management and concentrate in either Hospitality Management or Management Dietetics. Students in these programs must supplement a curriculum of management, organization, theory and technical skills with a minimum of 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. Penn State also offers Master of Science in Hospitality Management and Ph.D. in Hospitality Management degree programs for graduate students.
Location: University Park, PA
Enrollment: 40,085 undergraduate students
Tuition: $17,502 (in-state); $30,452 (out-of-state)
4. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA
At Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – better known as Virginia Tech – the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management is part of the Pamplin College of Business. Though undergraduate students must complete at least 700 hours of hands-on industry experience, much of their curriculum also revolves around cultivating a strong background in business education. Perhaps that’s why the program attracts major recruiters such as Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, and Marriott International, making it a “tier one” recruiting school. Degree programs at Virginia Tech’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management include the Bachelor of Science in Business with a Major in Hospitality and Tourism Management, the Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Doctorate of Philosophy in Hospitality and Tourism Management.
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranks the institution sixth in the world, and the school consistently ranks among the top five in the United States. Virginia Tech is one of just 60 schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration and is also accredited by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business. It’s not just the department or even the college of business that is well-respected. U.S. News & World Report ranks Virginia Tech as a whole among the top 100 colleges in the nation.
Location: Blacksburg, VA
Enrollment: 24,034 undergraduate students
Tuition: $ $12,017 (in-state); $28,048 (out-of-state)
5. Purdue University, USA
Purdue University is famous for its research, consistently ranked among the top 100 colleges in the nation, and the college’s recognition as a research leader extends to the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The school is home to major research centers and laboratories studying food service, lodging and tourism. The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranks Purdue University’s program seventh in the world. The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration accredits programs at both Purdue’s West Lafayette and Calumet locations. The school’s undergraduate program, in particular, is highly respected, with the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education ranking it first in the nation.
The Purdue University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management offers degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. During their undergraduate studies in hospitality, Purdue University students complete two internship opportunities, some through study abroad programs as far away as China. Students also gain hands-on experience in both quick service and fine dining at Purdue University’s restaurants, the Boiler Bistro and the John Purdue Room. The school’s career center assists hospitality students with career planning, coordinating 700 interviews between undergraduate students and recruiters each year.
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Enrollment: 29,440 undergraduate students
Tuition: $10,000 (in-state); $18,800 (out-of-state)
6. Oklahoma State University
For 75 years, Oklahoma State University has provided top-notch classroom- and experience-based hospitality education. The School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration is part of the College of Human Sciences and earned a ranking of eighth in the world from the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research. OSU’s program is truly global, offering undergraduate students the opportunity to gain hospitality experience in Switzerland and to simultaneously earn a second undergraduate degree from a partner school in Europe.
Oklahoma State University offers degree programs for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. Undergraduate students at OSU can expect to gain plenty of real-world experience, with an 800 hour work experience requirement and hands-on learning at the school’s West Side Café and Taylor’s Dining Room restaurants and the Atherton Hotel Experiential Laboratory.
Location: Stillwater, OK
Enrollment: 20,493undergraduate students
Tuition: $8,440 (in-state); $21,020 (out-of-state)
7. Michigan State University
Michigan State University’s hospitality program dates back to 1927, and the school bills itself as “the original hospitality business school” with nine decades of educating students. The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranks Michigan State University ninth in the world among hospitality programs. Undergraduate students at the college’s School of Hospitality Business must complete two 400-hour internship experiences in addition to their classroom studies to earn a bachelor’s degree. The school also offers four graduate degree programs: the Michael L. Minor Master of Science in Foodservice Business Management; the Master of Science degree in Hospitality Business Management; the Secondary Concentration in Hospitality Business in the Master of Business Administration Degree Program; and the Graduate Specialization in Hospitality Business.
While Michigan State University as a whole ranks among the top 100 schools in the country and its hospitality program is among the top 10 in the world, the program’s impressive academics aren’t its only claim to fame. The student hospitality association hosts three major events each year: a two-day career expo that draws nearly 80 major recruiters to the school, an annual auction fundraising event and Les Gourmets, a black-tie, seven-course formal dining event.
Location: East Lansing, MI
Enrollment: 37,988 undergraduate students
Tuition: $13,246 (in-state); $35,026 (out-of-state)
8. University of Central Florida
Located near such major tourist attractions as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios resorts, it’s no surprise that the University of Central Florida in Orlando is home to one of the world’s top hospitality programs. The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranks the school’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management 10th in the world.
The University of Central Florida offers a number of hospitality education programs at various levels of study. Students can earn the following degrees:
- Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
- Bachelor of Science in Restaurant & Foodservice Management
- Bachelor of Science in Event Management.
- Master of Science in Hospitality & Tourism Management
- Ph.D. in Hospitality Management
In addition to a traditional curriculum of courses such as financial management and food service, students at the University of Central Florida can study such specialty topics as theme park attractions and beer, wine and spirits management. Undergraduate students must complete three internships as well as completing classroom work and gaining hands-on experience in the school’s cutting-edge, 159,000-square-foot facility.
Location: Orlando, FL
Enrollment: 51,269 undergraduate students
Tuition: $6,368 (in-state); $22,466 (out-of-state)
9. Washington State University
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranked Washington State’s hospitality business management program ninth in the world in 2011. Though the program is one of the oldest hospitality degree programs in the country, it offered only a Bachelor of Arts degree until recently. WSU’s Carson College of Business now offers a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in hospitality and tourism, as well.
Washington State University’s undergraduate hospitality program emphasizes hands-on experience, requiring students to complete 1,000 hours of work experience before graduation. The school’s Marriott Foundation Hospitality Teaching Center includes a fully equipped teaching/production kitchen, a refined dining room and a wine-tasting area where students can learn and develop their skills.
Location: Pullman, WA
Enrollment: 23,070 undergraduate students
Tuition: $11,396 (in-state); $24,478 (out-of-state)
10. Texas A&M University
Overall, Texas A&M University is well-recognized and respected. U.S. News & World Report ranks it among the top 100 colleges in the nation, tied at number 68. The university’s hospitality program, in particular, has an even better reputation. The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked Texas A&M University’s program 12th in the world.
Undergraduate students at Texas A&M University can earn a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences through the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Advanced degree programs include the Master of Science in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences and the Doctor of Philosophy in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. During their tourism studies as Texas A&M University, students will cover coursework in important topics such as financing and fundraising, planning, marketing, management and the social and behavioral sciences.
Location: College Station, TX
Enrollment: 44,072 undergraduate students
Tuition: $9,179 (in-state); $26,356 (out-of-state)
11. Kansas State University
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked Kansas State University 14th in the world. Founded in 1922, the school’s Department of Hospitality Management and Dietetics has a long history of educating hospitality students. The school’s hospitality management program, now part of the College of Human Ecology, offers an undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management as well as a Master of Science degree and a combined B.S. /M.S. degree program. Undergraduate students choose to focus on one of three tracks:
- Food service and restaurant management
- Convention, meeting and event management
- Lodging management
Kansas State University’s program is also one of just 60 programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. Subjects of study include courses and research opportunities in event and meeting management, food safety, food service and lodging. Real-world experience is an important part of the hospitality management program, and students complete 1,000 hours of work during various internship experiences.
Location: Manhattan, KS
Enrollment: 20,169 undergraduate students
Tuition: $7,674 (in-state); $20,358 (out-of-state)
12. Iowa State University
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research ranked Iowa State University’s Hospitality Management program 15th in the world. The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration also accredits the degree program, making it one of just 60 in the nation to hold that distinction. The school offers an undergraduate hospitality degree, a Master of Science degree and a doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.
Students in the school’s program enjoy small class sizes that allow them to work closely with instructors as well as the benefit of working in state-of-the-art facilities and labs, including the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom. All first-year students have the opportunity to develop hands-on experience with the school’s dining facilities. During the course of their education, students can also take advantage of internship opportunities with major employers in the hospitality industry, such as Embassy Suites, Walt Disney and Marriott.
Location: Ames, IA
Enrollment: 27,659 undergraduate students
Tuition: $7,731 (in-state); $20,617 (out-of-state)
13. University of Houston
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked the University of Houston 16th worldwide for its research. The school’s Conrad N. Hilton College offers Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management, a Master of Science in Hospitality Management and a Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration degree program. Undergraduate students can choose to specialize in an area of study such as:
- Catering Management
- Country Club Management
- Event Management
- Lodging Management
- Restaurant Management
- Spa Management
- Wine & Spirits Management
By the time they graduate, University of Houston hospitality students will gain 600 hours of hands-on industry experience. Students of this program can cultivate their banquet and restaurant service, guest service and hotel operations skills at a major hotel chain without ever leaving campus, due to the presence of a Hilton hotel right on the property.
Location: Houston, TX
Enrollment: 31,587 undergraduate students
Tuition: $ 9,500 (in-state); $ 23,360 (out-of-state)
14. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 18th in the world. The school has also earned consistently high rankings from the Gourman Report.
The curriculum includes studies in managing catering, commercial and fine dining establishments as well as the opportunity to develop their skills through real-world management experience at school restaurants Spice Box and the Bevier Café. Students studying hospitality management at the University of Illinois will combine their hospitality classes with 21 semester hours of business courses, almost as many hours as students minoring in business would take. As a result, they develop a strong business background that appeals to caterers, clubs, hotels, restaurants and other employers in the food services, recreation, lodging and travel industries.
Location: Urbana, IL
Enrollment: 32,695 undergraduate students
Tuition: $12,036 (in-state); $26,662 (out-of-state)
15. Northern Arizona University
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked Northern Arizona University 22nd worldwide in terms of its research contributions to the hospitality industry. The school’s Franke College of Business offers two undergraduate hospitality programs, one in restaurant management and one in international hospitality management, as well as a Master of Business Administration in Applied Management program with a hospitality focus. The Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management degree is ideal for students who like to travel and aspire to work abroad. One semester of study abroad is required, as are four semesters of a foreign language.
In addition to their hospitality courses and 1,200 hours of hands-on experience in the hospitality industry, students will also study general business courses and ethics. For research purposes, students can work with the Arizona Hospitality Research and Resource Center.
Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Enrollment: 22,670 undergraduate students
Tuition: $8,871 (in-state); $21,226 (out-of-state)
16. Temple University
Temple University bills itself as the largest and most comprehensive hospitality program in the Philadelphia region, but the school is well-respected even outside of the area. The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked Temple University 24th in the world for its research. It helps that Temple University is home to the National Laboratory for Tourism & eCommerce.
In addition to the Bachelor in Tourism and Hospitality Management degree, Temple University offers graduate and doctoral level degrees such as Master of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Executive MBA – Hospitality Asset Management and Ph.D. in Business Administration: Concentration in Tourism and Sport. The university’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management combines classroom and hands-on learning to develop students’ skills fully. During the course of their education, undergraduate students will complete two lengthy internships. They will also choose one of three concentrations:
- Destination Management
- Event Leadership
- Hospitality Operations
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Enrollment: 28,068 undergraduate students
Tuition: $14,696 (in-state); $24,722 (out-of-state)
17. Florida International University
In addition to earning recognition by the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research as the 25th-ranked hospitality school in the world, Florida International University holds another important distinction. The school credits itself as the first and only public research university in Miami.
Hospitality students at every level of education and experience can develop their skills at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. For aspiring hospitality workers, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management degree. Hospitality professionals with an undergraduate degree and five years of industry experience can advance their career by earning Florida International University’s Executive Master of Science in Hospitality Management degree. Students can take courses on campus or online.
Location: North Miami, FL
Enrollment: 39,045 undergraduate students
Tuition: $4,720 (in-state); $16,529 (out-of-state)
18. Arizona State University
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked Arizona State University’s hospitality program 28th worldwide. For undergraduates, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Tourism Development and Management. At the graduate level, students can earn a Master of Science in Recreation and Tourism Studies.
Studying hospitality at Arizona State University blends classroom learning with hands-on skill development. In the classroom, students will learn planning and management skills that they can put to use across a range of possible careers in the tourism industry. Outside of the classroom, students put that knowledge to practical use gaining real-world experience while they fulfill the program’s internship requirement. Throughout the course of their education, students learn about meeting and convention planning, heritage tourism, resort management and sustainable tourism.
Location: Tempe, AZ
Enrollment: 38,735 undergraduate students
Tuition: $10,156 (in-state); $24,502 (out-of-state)
19. University of Massachusetts at Amherst
The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research has ranked the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s hospitality program 30th worldwide. The Gourman Report has also recognized the University of Massachusetts, ranking its hospitality program fourth in the nation. The program has accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. The Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Massachusetts is part of the college’s Isenberg School of Management, which is itself ranked 51st on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Business Schools list.
During their education, students will learn important but relatively stable aspects of the ever-changing hospitality and tourism industry, including principles, processes and theories that will help them manage, market and oversee the operations of a wide range of hospitality businesses. As an interdisciplinary field of study, hospitality and tourism management will expose students to opportunities that help them learn to identify and solve problems, make sound decisions and analyze situations. Hospitality students at the University of Massachusetts can choose from several academic concentrations, including:
- Casino Management
- Club Management
- Food and Beverage Management (Commercial and Non-Commercial)
- Lodging Management
- Tourism, Convention and Event Management
Location: Amherst, MA
Enrollment: 22,252 undergraduate students
Tuition: $13,258 (in-state); $28,813 (out-of-state)
20. Ohio State University
As a whole, Ohio State University has a good reputation, with U.S. News & World Report ranking it 54th among the top 100 colleges in the United States. The school’s hospitality management major, part of the College of Education and Human Ecology, ranks even better. The Journal for Hospitality & Tourism Research ranks Ohio State University 31st in the world in terms of the school’s research contributions to the industry.
Students majoring in hospitality management study a wide range of business, hospitality and human resources courses, including:
- Food theory and application
- Food production and management
- Menu planning
- Hotel operations
- Public relations
- Employee relations
Internship experiences are as important as classroom learning for students at Ohio State University, who must complete two internships at sites such as hotels, restaurants and resorts. While graduating classes from the hospitality management program only comprise 50 to 75 students, the school has seen three consecutive years of 100 percent of students finding jobs upon graduation.
Location: Columbus, OH
Enrollment: 56,000 undergraduate students
Tuition: $10,037 (in-state); $26,537 (out-of-state)