Online Degrees in Restaurant Management

Restaurant managers are professionals in the hospitality industry who are responsible for managing the daily business operations of dining establishments. To succeed as a restaurant manager, individuals must possess excellent interpersonal skills as well as have a knack for business. Graduates holding a restaurant management degree can be found working in places as diverse as restaurants, clubs, hotels, and more.

How to Choose the Right Restaurant Management Degree

Depending on the type of restaurant or establishment one works in, most entry-level positions require no formal education and include on-the-job training. However, in order to obtain employment in managerial positions at top-level restaurants, years of experience in the food service industry are standard. An online degree in restaurant management can help potential job applicants receive the training and business knowledge needed to successfully manage high-profile food and beverage businesses. While pursuing a restaurant management degree, students can expect to take courses in food and beverage controls, leadership, management, marketing, and accounting.

Potential students should exhibit a strong desire to help, serve, and entertain others. Obviously, a respect for quality food and customer service is a must. Because restaurant managers oversee all of the daily business operations, a general understanding of business concepts -- and specific knowledge of concepts related to the restaurant industry -- is required for success. Online degrees in restaurant management can help future restaurant managers obtain these unique skillsets. Generally, some experience in the restaurant industry is also required to advance into managerial positions. Courses in culinary arts may also be beneficial.

Restaurant management degree programs range from certificates to master's degrees. Listed below are the different types of online restaurant management degrees available, along with their potential career outcomes:


Length of Completion

Potential Careers

Certificate in Restaurant Management

One year or less

Bartender, Waiter or Waitress, Entry-Level Food Service Manager

Associate in Restaurant Management

Associate degrees typically take up to two years of full-time study to complete.

Bartender, Waiter or Waitress, Entry-Level Food Service Manager

Bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management

These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.

Food Service Manager, Lodging Manager, Chef or Head Cook

Master's in Hospitality Management

These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.

Food Service Manager, Lodging Manager, Chef or Head Cook, Postsecondary Teacher

Most restaurant management degree programs require one to four years of full-time study. Students should consider the type of restaurant they wish to work in prior to making the time commitment necessary to earn their degree. While certificate and associate degrees may be helpful for those seeking managerial positions at low-end to mid-tier restaurants, students aspiring to manage upscale restaurants might want to pursue a four-year degree. Students seeking to become instructors at culinary schools, technical colleges, or universities may wish to continue their studies and complete a graduate degree in restaurant management.

What to Expect in a Restaurant Management Program

After enrolling in a restaurant management degree program, students can expect to receive a broad-based business education with courses focusing on the specific needs of the food and beverage industry. While great customer service skills are a must for any hospitality professional, restaurant managers are required to have more business knowledge and leadership skills than other positions in the industry. Pursuing an online degree in restaurant management can assist students in obtaining this important knowledge, preparing them for success in any type of food and beverage business.

Core curriculum will vary by school and program. However, here are some courses students can expect to take on their path to a restaurant management degree:

  • Food and Beverage Management
  • Accounting for Hospitality Management
  • Fundamentals of Sales and Marketing
  • Food and Beverage Controls
  • Sanitation and Food Safety
  • Human Resources
  • Principles of Leadership
  • Intro to Hotel Management
  • Intro to Tourism Management
  • Wine and Spirits Management
  • Franchising and Licensing
  • Cooking and Food Prep Techniques

For some restaurant management programs, an internship must be completed in order to graduate. Students might participate in internships at local food and beverage companies, restaurants, or hotels. In addition to gaining hands-on experience, students who complete these internships often make valuable professional contacts who may be able to help them begin their restaurant management careers.

Restaurant Management Degree Specializations

While many online degrees in restaurant management focus entirely on the restaurant business, some are part of a larger hospitality management degree program. Students enrolled in these types of programs may have the opportunity to specialize in one of the following areas:

  • Restaurant Management
  • Hotel and Lodging Management
  • Tourism Management

In addition to specializing during school or post-graduation, students may find themselves working in food and beverage establishments attached to any number of hospitality-related businesses. Some of these places include stand-alone restaurants, hotels, casinos, amusement parks, or cruise ships. Online degrees in restaurant management can help prepare students for success in any of these unique situations.

Benefits of an Online Degree in Restaurant Management

Although all positions in the food and beverage industry require excellent interpersonal skills, restaurant managers must possess a working knowledge of practical business concepts as well. Earning an online degree in restaurant management is an excellent way for future restaurant managers to familiarize themselves with this important business knowledge.

Online business courses cover the same materials taught in traditional on-campus classes. However, in an online environment, students leverage technology to access their course lectures and materials. Communication with professors and fellow students is made possible through the use of video chat, message boards, email, and other web-based tools.

For students already holding down jobs in the restaurant industry, an online degree in restaurant management may be the perfect fit. Due to the nature of online learning, students can design their study schedule around their work and personal lives. Since course materials and lectures are available online at any time, students have the flexibility to study whenever it is convenient for them.

Careers in Restaurant Management

A degree in restaurant management can help students land managerial jobs in a number of different hospitality-related businesses. Provided below is a list of potential career options for graduates, complete with employment and wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Salary
Expected Job Growth
(2014 - 2024)
Business Teachers, Postsecondary83,030$96,77018.1%
Chefs and Head Cooks134,190$47,3909.6%
Food Service Managers201,470$56,0108.8%
Waiters and Waitresses2,564,610$24,4107%
Lodging Managers35,410$59,4105.9%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Online degrees in restaurant management help prepare students with the vital customer service skills and business knowledge required to succeed as a manager in the food and beverage industry. Prior to choosing a degree program, prospective students should weigh whether obtaining a restaurant management degree offers the potential for career advancement and greater monetary returns.

To learn more about earning an online degree in restaurant management, or to get specific program information, contact any of the schools listed on this page.

Bartenders, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/bartenders.htm
Chefs and Head Cooks, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/chefs-and-head-cooks.htm
Food Service Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/food-service-managers.htm
Lodging Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/lodging-managers.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Postsecondary Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm
Waiters and Waitresses, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/waiters-and-waitresses.htm

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