Online Restaurant Management Degree Programs

According to the National Restaurant Association, there are over a million restaurants in the United States, employing 14.7 million people. Approximately half of all adults have worked in the industry at some point in their lives. The industry is expected to grow with employment reaching 354,800 by 2029 as per the BLS.

For students already holding down jobs in the restaurant industry, earning an online degree in restaurant management may help launch your career to a greater height. Online programs allow students to 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.

Typically, food service managers or restaurant managers are responsible for managing the daily business operations of dining establishments, for ensuring the quality standards of a restaurant remain high and making sure that customers are satisfied. They are also responsible for keeping profits up, and managing the staff as well as making sure the restaurant abides by the laws of the state. Typical duties of a food service manager are:

  • Carrying out HR duties like managing, training and hiring employees
  • Ordering provisions like food and beverages along with equipment
  • Ensuring health and food safety standards are complied with
  • Addressing and resolving customer complaints regarding food quality and service
  • Managing employee schedules, duties, payroll records and budgets
  • Overseeing all aspects of food preparation down to presentation and service

To succeed as a restaurant manager, individuals must typically possess excellent interpersonal skills as well as have a knack for business. They are employed in places as diverse as restaurants, clubs, hotels, and more.

The restaurant industry can encompass a range of different types of food service businesses and graduates of hotel and restaurant management online courses may find employment in a variety of places like catering services, casinos, and event venues. A degree in restaurant management may also provide opportunities to work in related fields like the travel and tourism industry. Listed below are some of the most popular career fields, complete with wage and employment statistics provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Business Teachers, Postsecondary83,920$87,20014.7%
Chefs and Head Cooks128,190$51,53011.1%
Food Service Managers235,470$55,32010.8%
Lodging Managers38,340$54,4301.1%
Waiters and Waitresses2,579,020$22,8906.5%

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program in restaurant management?

Online certificate programs in restaurant management help prepare students with the vital customer service skills and business knowledge of concepts related to the restaurant industry – important ingredients for success in this field. Accredited online certificate programs may also give you the training you need for food safety certification examinations.

Typical duration: One year or less

General Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Typically, the core curriculum includes a variety of business topics like personnel practices and managerial techniques, along with food preparation and sanitation. Some of the topics you can expect to study are:

  • Accounting for Hospitality Management
  • Human Resources
  • Sanitation and Food Safety
  • Menu Planning

Possible electives: Alcoholic beverages, hospitality entrepreneurship

What can I do after earning a certificate?

A certificate in restaurant management may enable you to get an entry level position in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Some potential careers are:

  • Bartender
  • Waiter or waitress
  • Entry-level food service manager

Years of experience and a proven track record may enable you to rise to the level of restaurant manager at larger establishments.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

An online associate degree program in restaurant management can help potential job applicants receive the education and business knowledge needed to successfully manage high-profile food and beverage businesses. An associate degree program might be ideal for individuals who do not have the luxury of time or finances that a bachelor degree program might require. The completion of an associate degree program may be used as a stepping stone toward higher studies at later point in time.

Typical duration: Two years of full time study

General Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: The core curriculum of an associate degree program in food service management comprises business topics oriented towards the restaurant industry and food preparation and service. You may also be required to complete an internship as a part of this course. Typical courses may include subjects like:

  • Accounting for hospitality management
  • Introduction to hotel management
  • Customer service
  • Food and beverage cost control

Possible electives: Computer office applications, information systems for managers, principles of marketing

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

With an associate degree in hand, students can enter the workforce directly or pursue managerial positions in smaller food service establishments. Potential careers after earning an associate degree in restaurant management are:

  • Entry-level food service manager
  • Lodging manager
  • Front office supervisor
  • Food and beverage supervisor

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Potential students should exhibit a strong desire to help, serve and entertain others. In an undergraduate study program, you can expect to learn how to oversee all of the daily business operations, receive a general understanding of business concepts and specific knowledge of concepts related to the restaurant industry.

Typical duration: Four years of full time study

General Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED, associate degree

Typical coursework: A bachelor’s degree is considered to be the minimum requirement to get your foot in the door of high-end culinary service establishments. An internship is normally required for hands-on experience and you may have the opportunity to choose a specialization as a part of your degree program. A bachelor’s degree course may also require a thesis based on the specialization you choose. Typical coursework may include:

  • Principles of leadership
  • Intro to hotel management
  • Intro to tourism management
  • Wine and spirits management
  • Franchising and licensing
  • Cooking and food prep techniques

Possible electives: Hospitality decision analysis, viticulture, banquet management

What can I do after earning a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree may afford entry-level opportunities at top-notch food service and catering establishments. You may also find opportunities related to more specialized fields like banquet management or restaurant planning. A bachelor’s degree in restaurant management may open up the following career opportunities:

  • Food service manager
  • Lodging manager
  • Chef or head cook

As with any field, additional career opportunities can come with completing graduate-level programs, including those focused on the hospitality business, like restaurant management. A master’s degree program can be completed after earning a bachelor’s degree and normally takes between one or two years of full-time study depending on the program you choose. You may be able to delve further into a specialization like restaurant layouts, for example, or you may want to learn how to become an educator in the restaurant management field. If you wish to continue your education, doctoral degree programs in hotel and restaurant management or hospitality management are offered by many universities. A doctoral program can prepare you for a career in academia or industry research.


Graduating from an accredited online hotel and restaurant management degree program shows employers that the program you attended was in compliance with nationally recognized standards. Well-known accrediting bodies for the restaurant industry include:


Many online degree programs in restaurant management focus entirely on the restaurant business, although 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 degree programs in restaurant management can help prepare students for success in any of these unique situations.

While a license to practice as a food service manager may not be needed, there are various certifications that can be obtained from professional bodies.

Employment Statistics

Food Service Managers

Industries with highest concentration of employment
  • Restaurants and Other Eating Places
  • Self-employed workers
  • Special Food Services
  • Accommodation
States with highest employment level
  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Tennessee
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Professional Organizations and Resources for Restaurant Managers

Completing an online certificate or degree program in restaurant management can provide a solid foundation for a career as a manager in the food and beverage industry. Prior to choosing a program, prospective students should weigh whether obtaining a restaurant management degree offers the desired 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.

Methodologies and Sources


  • American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC), Postsecondary and Secondary Accreditation for Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Programs,, accessed May 2018
  • American National Standards Institute, ANSI-CFP Accreditation Program (Accredited),, accessed May 2018
  • Bryant & Stratton College, Hospitality Management Associate Degree,, accessed May 2018
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,Occupational Outlook Handbook, Food Service Managers, , accessed May 2018
  • Cincinnati State, Hospitality Management,, accessed May 2018
  • Internal Revenue Services, Trends and Statistics – Restaurants,, accessed May 2018
  • National Restaurant Association, 2017 Restaurant Industry Pocket Factbook, , accessed May 2018
  • O-NET Online, Details Report for: 11-9051.00 – Food Service Managers,, accessed May 2018
  • Penn Foster Career School, Hotel and Restaurant Management Training,, accessed May 2018
  • Stratford University,, accessed May 2018
  • The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), Accreditation,, accessed May 2018
  • University of Phoenix, Bachelor of Science in Business with a Hospitality Management Certificate,, accessed May 2018
  • University of Phoenix, Hospitality Management Certificate (Undergraduate),, accessed May 2018
Related Resources & Tools


Online Travel and Tourism Degree Programs

If you want to work in travel and tourism, an online degree can set you on the right path. Learn more about online degrees in travel and tourism.


Online Degrees in Hospitality Management

Online hospitality management degrees can lead to the path to a career in the hotel industry. Learn more about hospitality management degree programs.

Methodologies and Sources