Online Travel and Tourism Degree Programs

According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourism produced $1.5 trillion in export earnings in 2014. That makes travel and tourism one of the largest industries in the world. Of course, an industry this huge needs qualified employees to keep it running smoothly.

An online degree in travel and tourism can help prepare students to obtain gainful employment in a wide range of careers. Most positions combine the employee's love for travel with their desire to entertain and serve guests. Graduates of travel and tourism degree programs can be found working in hotels, resorts, casinos, tour companies, cruise lines, theme parks, and more.

How to Choose the Right Travel and Tourism Degree

An online degree in travel and tourism is a great fit for students who have a professional interest in travel and entertainment. These degrees give graduates a chance to be part of the action in one of the world's largest and most exciting industries. The most successful candidates are able to blend their love for entertaining others with a keen business sense, providing an excellent return for customers and tourism companies alike.

For most entry-level positions, a high school diploma is all that is required. However, travel and tourism degree programs can help entry-level employees advance their careers to the next level. When filling management positions, many employers require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Listed below are the different types of degrees available in the field, as well as some of the job opportunities available to graduates of these programs:


Length of Completion

Potential Careers

Certificate in Travel and Tourism

These programs generally take less than one year to complete.

Tour Guide or Escort, Travel Guide, Travel Agent, Gaming Dealer

Associate in Travel and Tourism

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

Tour Guide or Escort, Travel Guide, Travel Agent, Gaming Dealer

Bachelor's in Travel and Tourism

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

Lodging Manager; Gaming Manager; Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner

Master's in Tourism Management

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

Lodging Manager; Gaming Manager; Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner; General or Operations Manager

Online degrees in travel and tourism are an excellent way for graduates to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for career advancement in the travel industry. Prior to choosing which degree to pursue, students should carefully consider their career goals and the employment options afforded by each degree level.

What to Expect in a Travel and Tourism Program

Travel and tourism degree programs provide students with the basic business knowledge and customer service skills necessary to succeed in this thriving field. Students can expect to take courses in business management, tourism, facilities management, hospitality, marketing, accounting, and more.

While the specific curriculum will vary by school and degree type, here are a few core courses typically found in a travel and tourism degree program:

  • Intro to Hospitality
  • Intro to Tourism
  • Fundamentals of Accounting
  • Fundamentals of Hotel Management
  • Marketing for Destinations
  • Tourism Management
  • Technology in Hospitality Management
  • Fundamentals of Casino Management
  • Business Law for Hospitality and Tourism
  • Conventions and Events Planning
  • Facilities Management and Design
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Research Methods for Tourism
  • Financial Strategies for Tourism Development

In accordance with a school's degree requirements, internships or externships may need to be completed prior to graduation. These programs are usually carried out at various industry-related businesses which may be located at local, regional, or global facilities. Internships and externships provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience and make valuable industry contacts that could lead to future job opportunities.

Travel and Tourism Degree Specializations

While pursuing online degrees in travel and tourism, students should expect to obtain a business education that focuses on the specific needs of the travel and tourism industry. Because the industry encompasses a number of different types of businesses, students may be able to specialize in certain areas for a more focused learning experience. Some industry specializations include:

  • Tourism Management
  • Gaming Management
  • Hotel and Lodging Management
  • Meetings and Events Management
  • Resort Management and Operation
  • Marketing and Brand Management
  • Guest Services
  • International Tourism

The availability of these specializations is dependent upon the school attended and the type of degree being sought. Specializing in one area may not always be possible while in school, but many students decide to specialize upon graduation. Most travel and tourism degree programs prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance their career in any of these disciplines.

Benefits of an Online Degree in Travel and Tourism

Success in the travel and tourism industry depends upon the ability of an individual to mix excellent customer service skills with solid business practices. Employees in the industry should strive to provide customers with exceptional and memorable experiences while helping their businesses stay profitable. Online degrees in travel and tourism prepare students with an industry-focused education that will help them meet the demands of both consumers and employers.

As with most business-related topics, travel and tourism degree programs are a great fit for online learners. The business concepts which are taught online are the very same concepts taught in traditional on-campus classes. Rather than physically sitting in a classroom, online students interact with their professors and classmates through a variety of web-based platforms, including instant message, video chat, and message boards.

Most course materials are presented in either a written or video format, and are available to students 24/7. This is major advantage to online learning, allowing students the flexibility to study during a time that is most convenient for them. This is especially advantageous for students with families or those already in the workforce, such are current professionals pursuing an advanced degree.

Careers in Travel and Tourism

The travel and tourism industry encompasses a huge range of different business types. Therefore, graduates of online travel and tourism degree programs may find employment in any number of different areas, particularly in the hospitality 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):

Average Salary
Expected Job Growth
(2014 - 2024)
Tour Guides and Escorts38,660$28,10010.9%
Tour and Travel Guides41,690$28,67010.5%
Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks146,350$38,0503.7%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

According to the BLS, entry-level jobs in tourism and travel usually do not require completion of a degree program. However, most employers do seek candidates holding at least a four-year degree when hiring for management positions. In larger corporations, upper-level managers and top executives typically have a master's degree and years of relevant work experience. Prospective students should carefully weigh their career goals before choosing which type of degree to pursue.

To learn more about online degrees in travel and tourism, or get information on a specific program, contact any of the schools listed below.

Data for Occupations Not Covered in Detail, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/data-for-occupations-not-covered-in-detail.htm
Gaming Services Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/gaming-services-occupations.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
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm
Travel Agents, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm
Top Executives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm

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