Travel and Tourism Degrees: Associates, Bachelor's & Online Course Info

About this article
What will you learn in a travel and tourism program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and a bachelor's degree and potential careers.
View available schools

Studying Travel and Tourism: Degrees at a Glance

Professionals in the travel and tourism industry utilize their skills to create enjoyable and memorable experiences for consumers at destinations around the world. People in the industry possess strong skills in customer service, problem solving and communication. Employers typically seek job candidates who understand the planning, marketing and ethical facets of travel and tourism.

The associate's degree program can prepare you for entry-level career opportunities at hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, museums or on cruise ships. The bachelor's degree program can provide the education required for positions in travel and tourism management.

Job outlook varies based on the specific area of travel and tourism you are considering as well as your level of education. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that lodging managers would see an eight percent employment growth from 2010-2020, while meeting, convention and event planners should see a 44% growth over the same period.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level positions in the travel industry People who wish to pursue a position in management
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary) - Tour guide and escort ($27,000)*
- Travel guide ($33,000)*
- Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks ($34,000)*
- Food service manager ($53,000)*
- Lodging manager ($55,000)*
- Meeting, convention and event planner ($50,000)*
Time to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credit hours
- Internship or field experience may be required or recommended
-Roughly 120 credit hours
- Internship required or recommended
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent

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

Associate's in Travel and Tourism

Associate's degree programs, such as the Associate of Applied Science in Travel and Tourism, deliver a foundation in tourism management and business administration. Programs combine the principles of financial management and marketing with destination planning.

Students may participate in relevant field experiences working in hotels or researching case studies in a range of sectors, including sustainable tourism or historic preservation. You might find that the most practical programs are located in areas that offer a strong tourism economy.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A variety of programs related to tourism and travel are available
  • In addition to tourism and travel, you can also study related areas like lodging and food service in these programs
  • Many programs offer courses that transfer to a bachelor's degree program should you decide to continue your education

Cons

  • Some positions require experience and less education
  • Some positions require a bachelor's degree
  • Food service management occupations are predicted to see a three percent decline in employment*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program delivers knowledge of the technical, financial and travel-planning skills required for entry-level positions in multiple settings. Programs focus on the development of customer-oriented skills and the computer skills required for performing automated activities. You can expect to gain the skills necessary to work in tour arrangement agencies, airlines and conventions, to name a few. The following are some common courses offered by the program:

  • Event management
  • Destination marketing
  • Hospitality industry
  • Domestic and international landmarks
  • Hospitality law
  • Selling cruises and tours
  • World issues and travel

Online Degree Info

The online associate's degree program offers courses similar to traditional programs. Schools design distance-education training to suit the needs of working professionals. Many programs emphasize international tourism and provide courses in resort management, hospitality law and tourism marketing. Online programs might offer courses in leadership and technology. Keep in mind that distance-education programs might not provide internships.

How to Stand Out

Gaining experience can improve your job prospects. Consider taking multiple internships in different travel and tourism settings to gain experience and identify an area that interests you. Before pursuing you degree, you may also consider taking advantage of the Lodging Management Program offered by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. This 2-year program provides training in tourism and hospitality management.

Bachelor's in Travel and Tourism

The bachelor's degree program delivers an advanced education in the travel and tourism experience. Schools design programs like the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Hospitality and Tourism Management or B.S. in International Hospitality and Tourism Management to provide practical instruction through a combination of travel internships or professional experiences and coursework. Some programs offer courses in nature-based, cultural or sustainable tourism. You might take guided electives and required concentration courses to focus your studies. In addition, some programs require a practicum that utilizes classroom education in a hands-on environment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Bachelor's degree programs offer training in advanced tourism and travel topics
  • Concentration options may be available
  • Meeting, convention and event planners should see much-faster-than-average job growth of 44% over the 2010-2020 decade*

Cons

  • Competition against skilled professionals will present a challenge for some related positions
  • The economy influences the availability of meeting, convention and event planning positions
  • Lacking experience can influence your access to positions in the industry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program offers advanced training through courses designed to establish second language fluency, tourism theory and the global effects of travel. Programs might require a capstone project that combines the education gained through courses and hands-on experience. The programs usually offer concentrations in tourism products, management or sustainability, to name a few. Some programs offer mentoring programs that assist students with preparing for a suitable career path.

Online Degree Info

The online bachelor's degree program provides courses similar to those offered by traditional programs. You might find programs that offer a degree in hospitality management in addition to travel and tourism. Some online programs offer concentrations in club and casino management. Keep in mind that some schools design their programs for individuals who possess an associate's degree.

Stand Out with This Degree

Experience and certification can influence your access to jobs. The Certified Meeting Professional credential validates a candidate's experience with facilities and services, meetings and logistics. In addition, candidates should possess three years of experience in the industry. Consequently, consider pursuing internships and other work experience opportunities during your studies. Many schools offer collaborative projects that can also expose you to the travel and tourism industry.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
  • Online Programs Available
    2. 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
    3. 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
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
      • Business Administration, BA - Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Hospitality Management
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
      • B.S. Management - No Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Business (General Business)

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment

Which subject are you interested in?

Colorado Technical University

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

Are you a US citizen?

American InterContinental University

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

Are you a US citizen?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
  • Business Administration, BA - Management

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?