Restaurant Management Degrees: Associate's, Bachelor's & Course Info

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

The restaurant management field offers a range of positions in hotels, dining facilities or resorts. Specialists in the field apply their knowledge of business administration, nutrition and food sanitation to the daily operations of multiple establishments. In addition, knowledge of beverage management and hospitality round out the restaurant manager's skill set. Employers seek individuals with solid customer service, communications and business skills.

The associate's degree program can prepare you for entry-level management opportunities. Keep in mind that lodging and restaurant management positions generally require a high school diploma. The bachelor's degree program can prepare you to work at facilities that offer prestigious dining and hospitality experiences. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that careers in the industry might undergo slower-than-average job growth. Lodging managers would see 8% job growth over the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). Sales managers would see 12% growth.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level hospitality positions People interested in a career managing upscale locations or working in purchasing or sales
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Bartender ($22,000)*
- Food service manager ($53,000)*
- Lodging manager ($55,000)
Career paths for both degrees are similar with the exception of: - Purchasing manager ($103,000)*
- Sales manager ($117,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits- Roughly 120 credits
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Restaurant Management

The associate's degree program provides a broad foundation in hospitality and food management. Core classes emphasize the understanding of the basics of food sanitation and safety, bartending and mixology. Programs explore the theories of restaurant management and deliver practical experience through hands-on experiences; some programs offer an internship or field experience program. The program can prepare you for opportunities in entry-level management positions and offers training in the supervisory skills required by employers for some mid-level careers.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many positions only require a high school diploma; your associate's degree might improve your job prospects
  • Some programs offer flexibility by combining restaurant management and hospitality courses
  • Many programs offer cooperative education or internship experiences

Cons

  • Food service managers would see a moderate decline of -3% in employment over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Salaries for some positions were relatively low; bartenders earned a mean annual salary of $22,000**
  • Competition for jobs at popular and upscale establishments might present a challenge

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program emphasizes the development of skills in customer service, business management and food preparation. Programs prepare students to work as managers in a range of hospitality functions through courses that emphasize experiential learning and the hospitality industry. Many programs offer an internship to round out your education. Following are some common courses offered by the programs:

  • Hospitality ethics and law
  • Beverage management
  • Destination marketing
  • Restaurant cooperative
  • Hotel meetings and sales
  • Financial accounting
  • Computer technology

Online Degree Info

The online associate's degree delivers an experience similar to traditional programs. Schools design distance-education experiences to suit the needs of people entering the field or those who currently hold a restaurant management position. You might find programs that emphasize international hospitality or culinary concepts.

Stand Out with This Degree

Certification and experience might improve your job prospects; employers prefer candidates who demonstrate professionalism and practical experience with restaurant operations. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers the Prostart credential, which validates a candidate's skills in a number of key areas. The program requires that candidates complete the appropriate coursework and successfully pass an examination. In addition to certification, consider pursuing internships or field experience opportunities. Gaining experience before entering the workforce can improve your job prospects.

Bachelor's in Restaurant Management

The bachelor's degree program delivers advanced coursework and the opportunity to explore concentrations. Schools design programs to emphasize the development of professional skills and some require that students reach some level of proficiency in Spanish. Programs prepare you for a range of leadership opportunities through courses that develop food personnel management and supervisory skills. Many programs offer training for ServSafe Alcohol, National Sanitation and other industry-standard certifications. Internships at area restaurants are a common requirement.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Purchasing managers earned competitive mean annual salaries of $103,000*
  • Programs develop strong business skills geared toward virtually any industry
  • Employers at upscale establishments might prefer candidates with higher education

Cons

  • Many positions in the industry do not require a bachelor's degree; a high school diploma is sufficient
  • The consolidation of management roles in lodging facilities might influence job availability
  • Pursuing the appropriate certifications will require financial resources and additional coursework

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program combines courses in business with restaurant management principles. Programs deliver a well-rounded education that emphasizes the importance of food sanitation, hospitality law and marketing. Concentrations in wine and beverage studies, baking and pastry arts and sustainability provide students with the option of directing their careers. You will gain an understanding of the restaurant business through courses in beverage appreciation, food service production, food service operations, purchasing, strategic marketing, customer management and mixology.

Online Degree Info

The online bachelor's degree program might prove difficult to find. Many schools offer an online program in hospitality or tourism, although the hands-on nature of restaurant management programs makes distance-education experiences rare.

Stand Out with This Degree

In order to compete for positions at upscale locations, gaining the appropriate experience can make a difference. Consider pursuing a range of internship opportunities at various establishments to build a diverse portfolio of experience. Similar to the associate's degree program, certification might improve job prospects. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute offers several certification options depending on your chosen career path. Each certification requires a specified level of knowledge and experience or a combination of both.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • AASBA in Event Planning
      • AASBA in Health Club Operations
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Orlando, FL

    Valencia College

  • Charlotte, NC

    Johnson & Wales University

  • Online Programs Available
    8. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
  • Associate: Business Admin.
  • AASBA in Event Planning

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Business

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Associate of Science - Business Studies

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

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Colorado Technical University

  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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Valencia College

American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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