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Online Degrees in Hospitality and Culinary Studies


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Hospitality and culinary online degree programs can offer the training you need for wide-ranging opportunities in fields such as the lodging industry, recreation, entertainment, or dining and food service.

Typical coursework for culinary and hospitality degrees online

Online associate degrees in hospitality may cover a broad span of subjects including legal and insurance information as well as marketing and sales. One common option for online degree programs is a major in business administration with a concentration in hospitality management. Some hybrid online and on-campus programs may require students to complete an externship in a real hospitality business.

While most culinary arts programs come with a hands-on requirement in the kitchen, some subjects can be studied online, such as nutrition and the concepts of sanitation and food storage. Hybrid programs teach business skills such as cost control and purchasing or food service operations. A restaurant management program online might include food and beverage management as well as related legal, business and managerial topics.

Baking & Pastry
Catering
Culinary Arts

Event Planning
Hospitality Management
Hotel Management
Restaurant Management
Travel & Tourism

Optional culinary certifications and specializations

The International Association of Culinary Professionals stresses the importance of earning the Certified Culinary Professional designation. Earning the CCP designation requires passing a 200-question exam, for which online associate degrees in culinary arts are designed to prepare you. IACP Director Ken Rubin notes: "For me, the CCP certification is a mark of distinction and achievement."

Course catalogs vary on the subject of online associate degrees in hospitality and culinary arts, but each includes standards like culinary fundamentals, food safety and business essentials. At some schools, a culinary arts A.A.S. degree may be a generalist degree, with the option to earn a baking, pastry or catering certificate through extra credits. Culinary and hospitality degrees online help prepare you for professional certification or potential employment, as well as specializations of your choice.

According to the National Restaurant Association, individuals who work in the country's nearly one million restaurants, cafes and bistros comprise one-tenth of the U.S. workforce, and what they do is big business. In fact, the association notes that eating establishment sales for 2011 are projected to reach a record high of $604 billion, showing growth of 3.6 percent over dining receipts in 2010.

Likewise, the travel and tourism industries are on the rise. In fact, international tourism has grown every month since late 2009, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. Additionally, business travel--both spending and volume--grew at rates that surpassed industry expectations at the end of last year. So that's all well and good, but how exactly does one get in on all of this action? Education.

Hospitality and culinary workers may be trained on the job, but upscale institutions and increasingly require formal training from hospitality & culinary arts degree programs. While on-the-job training may be a good way to get a foot in the door, many hospitality and culinary positions involve extensive customer service and business-know how, so advancement opportunities may be limited without formal education.

Traditional and online degrees in hospitality & culinary arts are offered at the associate, bachelor's and master's degree level. Campus-based culinary degree programs may include hands-on skills such as making sauces or wine tasting while online culinary degrees tend to focus on administrative skills such as health code compliance, bookkeeping or menu planning. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation also offers voluntary certifications to managers who qualify by examination.

College programs approved by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration typically offer courses in hotel administration, marketing, accounting, and food service management. Students may also receive training in specialized computer software used for reservations, billing and bookkeeping.

Many college, university or culinary trade school programs require students enroll in internships to gain invaluable on-the-job experience. Internships, in addition to providing experience, help students build life-long career networks, something that can lead to job and career opportunities down the road. Online hospitality & culinary degree programs often include internship programs to help students gain hands-on training and customer service experience.

The National Restaurant Association's dining projections for 2011 show that much of the restaurant growth for the year is projected to occur in South-Atlantic states, with North Carolina leading the way. Other states with strong growth projections include Idaho, Virginia, Colorado, Florida, Maryland and Texas.

Although job growth for food service managers is projected to be slower than average from 2008 to 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts good job opportunities due to high turnover in the industry. According to the BLS, "Applicants with a degree in restaurant, hospitality, or institutional food service management will have an edge when competing for jobs at upscale restaurants and for advancement in a restaurant chain or into corporate management."

The BLS also predicts lodging managers with degrees in hospitality or hotel management should see strong job prospects. Competition in the industry is expected to be tight in coming years as hotel chains seek to streamline management positions, and the BLS predicts that degree holders should see an advantage from their training.

Meeting and convention planners also play a large role in the hospitality industry. Employment in this sector is projected to grow by 16 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS, with many employers preferring job candidates with direct experience and a bachelor's degree. Popular majors include undergraduate or master's degree programs in meeting management. The Convention Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional credential, a voluntary certification that the BLS reports is received favorably by potential employers.

Wages vary by hotel or restaurant location, employer, career training and experience, but the BLS reports that 2009 median annual earnings spanned:

  • Lodging managers, $46,300
  • Meeting and convention planners, $44,780
  • Food service managers, $47,210

The dining and hotel industries remained key sectors in the U.S. economy for the last few years--people continued to travel and dine out. But with the economy on the rebound, hospitality and culinary employees can look forward to brighter days and busy nights.

At a glance:

  • America's 960,000 restaurants employ ten percent of the nation's workers
  • Business travel in the United States supports 2.3 million jobs and takes in $246 billion in domestic and international corporate travel revenues.
  • Internships help online culinary & hospitality students gain valuable hands-on experience

The nation's 960,000 dining establishments will make an estimated $604 billion in sales in 2011, and U.S. food establishments employ 12.8 million workers, according to the National Restaurant Association, or NRA. Online bachelor's degrees in hospitality management and culinary arts can prepare you for opportunities like these.

Online bachelor's degrees in culinary arts cover the gamut of cooking, restaurant management, and baking and pastry arts. Hybrid programs for associate or bachelor's programs may blend hands-on training with Web-based studies of cost control, purchasing and more. For culinary degrees, you can study many academic subjects online, such as financial management, marketing, small business development and organizational psychology.

Online hospitality degrees may offer courses in tourism management, lodging management, marketing, personnel administration, and convention and catering services. Studies could span casino, club and event management. A background in economics, statistics, mathematics and business can be helpful.

Some hospitality and culinary degrees, whether online or classroom-based, combine coursework with internships at hotels and restaurants, allowing you to gain real-world experience. For chefs and head cooks, opportunities depend on training, skills, experience and leadership abilities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also notes the importance of training in the lodging industry, where positions in management, business and financial operations often go to candidates with four-year college degrees.

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