Resort Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in resort management? Find out degree requirements, online options and info on courses and resort management training programs.
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Studying Resort Management: Degrees at a Glance

Resort managers handle the administrative and facility management tasks required to deliver pleasurable accommodations to travelers and tourists. Specialists in the industry apply multiple business concepts, such as marketing, finance and human resources management, to the daily operation of resort establishments. The associate's and bachelor's degree programs can prepare you for entry-level opportunities in the hospitality, food service or recreation sectors of the resort industry. Studies in resort management are sometimes found as a concentration within a hospitality management program.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that a high school diploma is often the minimum education required for resort management opportunities. Despite this, luxury hotels, upscale establishments and resorts that offer a high level of customer service prefer candidates with a degree. Competition was expected to be keen, but obtaining the appropriate level of education and experience can improve your job prospects.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People who want entry-level job opportunities in a variety of hospitality settings Individuals seeking assistant management positions that ultimately lead to management-level careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Lodging manager ($47,000)*
- Food services manager ($48,000)*
- Casino room reservations manager ($49,000)**
- Travel manager ($80,000)**
Career paths for bachelor's degree holders are similar to individuals with associate's degrees, although high-level management positions are typically held by candidates with a bachelor's degree.
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 10-15 courses in resort and hotel management
- General education courses
- Internship or work experience
- Roughly 20-25 courses covering resort and business management concepts
- General education courses
- Internship or work requirement
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability A few hybrid programs may be available May be able to take some courses online, but full programs are not currently available

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com figures (as of June 2012).

Associate's Degree in Resort Management

The associate's degree program provides a foundation in communication, business, ethical and hospitality topics. Graduates of the program can find work in a range of settings, including spas, amusement parks, catering establishments and cruise ships. The program combines general education coursework with core courses in resort and hotel operations and could give you the foundation necessary to continue on to a bachelor's degree program. Upon graduation, you should have an understanding of industry terminology, hospitality laws and hospitality finance concepts. Some programs require students to spend a substantial period of time in hotels or other establishments to gain an understanding of how the resort industry operates.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • An associate's degree can give you an advantage over applicants who only have a high school diploma
  • Qualifies you for positions at smaller resorts and tourist facilities
  • Skills learned in the program are transferable to business management and business operations occupations

Cons

  • Slow job growth was expected for lodging management positions (projected 8% increase from 2010-2020)*
  • Upscale resorts may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree
  • May need a bachelor's degree for high-level management positions

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program typically begins by giving you a foundation in the humanities, social sciences and mathematics. Most associate's programs require approximately 60 credits worth of courses, with the majority of those focusing on resort management concepts. You may also be required to complete a hotel internship or summer seminar. Some schools have agreements with a variety of resorts, allowing you to gain experience in the particular environment you hope to work in after graduation. Here are some of the courses you might take:

  • Hotel law
  • Hotel finance management
  • Resort development
  • Hotel marketing
  • Housekeeping operations
  • Room management

Online Degree Options

Fully online programs in resort management are not currently available, although you may be able to find some hybrid programs. Hybrid programs combine campus-based classes with online coursework. On-campus programs in resort management are more common than hybrid programs. Be sure to verify that any hybrid program you're considering is accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Stand Out with This Degree

Joining a professional association early in your education offers additional training opportunities through workshops and conferences. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) offers a number of certification options depending on your desired career path. The organization offers certifications in specialty areas, including the Certified Front Desk Representative and the Certified Guest Service Professional designations. Requirements for each certification vary, but you'll probably need some work experience to go along with your associate's degree to meet the prerequisites for most of the EI certifications.

Although an internship is usually required in a resort management associate's program, gaining additional experience could give your job search a boost as soon as you graduate. Picking up a part-time job as a front desk worker or even a supervisor can show you the ins and outs of operating a resort. Having two years of experience when you graduate as opposed only a semester of experience could make you stand out from everyone else who just graduated with an associate's degree in resort management.

Bachelor's Degree in Resort Management

Resort management bachelor's degrees offer a more robust education experience than associate's programs and can prepare you for high-level management positions. Programs at this level may give you in-depth specialization options through elective choices and hands-on training. You could have the opportunity to participate in multiple co-op and internship experiences over the course of a bachelor's program, allowing you to apply what you learn to the workplace.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Employers at upscale locations prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor's degree
  • Bachelor's programs offer more work experience opportunities than associate's programs
  • You can apply your education to other areas of business, such as human resources management or marketing
  • May open up opportunities to advance to upper-management positions

Cons

  • You'll spend at least four years working to earn a degree that is rarely a hard requirement for entry-level resort positions
  • You may need to commit to an area of expertise early in your college education
  • You may be overqualified for opportunities at small resorts
  • Time spent in school cuts into amount of time you can spend gaining valuable resort experience

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program provides a well-rounded education that aims to develop your critical thinking skills in a hospitality environment, hospitality knowledge and ability to operate a resort. Programs require the completion of roughly 120 credits split between general education courses and focused courses in hotel and resort management. You're also required to complete an internship for most programs, which gives you a chance to work at a resort before you graduate.

Your specific elective options will depend on what type of resort you're interested in eventually managing. Each school may offer a different selection of electives depending on the concentrations offered or the area of resort management that is focused on in the program. Some of your major course options may include:

  • Tourism e-commerce
  • Hospitality cost control
  • Hotel management
  • Legal aspects of hospitality
  • Resort management
  • Resort marketing

Online Degree Options

Although you can usually take a few of your courses in an online format at the bachelor's level, fully online programs in resort management are not available at this time. Some online hospitality management programs may offer some courses in resort management and teach you similar concepts, but you'd be missing out on the specialized courses that make a resort management program unique. Be wary of any schools that claim to offer distance learning programs in resort management because you'll be missing out on the internship opportunities that schools often have with local hotels and resorts.

Stand Out with This Degree

If you'd like to manage a specific type of resort, you may consider locating a program that offers hands-on learning in the terrain or atmosphere you're interested in. If your program only happens to require a semester-long internship, then you'll probably want to gain additional work experience before you graduate.

Keeping ahead of other applicants can be challenging, but obtaining a certification in hotel or resort operations could give you an edge. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) confers the Certified Hospitality Facilities Executive certification, which emphasizes human resources and facilities management skills. The Certified Hotel Administrator credential validates your knowledge, experience, education and commitment to the industry. Choosing an appropriate certification can increase your employment potential by proving your skills in resort management to potential employers.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • BA/Service Management - Hospitality Enterprise
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
      • B.A. - Organizational Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
  • Online Programs Available
    9. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Business Administration - Bachelor's
  • Plattsburgh, NY

    SUNY College at Plattsburgh

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • BA/Service Management - Hospitality Enterprise
  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment

Which subject are you interested in?

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development

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