The field of Hospitality is very diverse, and graduates with a hospitality degree have many opportunities ahead of them to land exciting and high paying careers. Getting a degree in hospitality qualifies graduates for careers in hotels, restaurants, casinos, cruise lines, resorts, theme parks, and professional sports teams. Professional sports teams hire graduates with hospitality degrees to work as the travel liaisons for the athletes and team members, arranging their schedules and managing their travel.
The 25 Best Hospitality Colleges in the US ranks programs based on academics, real life and hands-on experience in a hospitality environment (such as a hotel or restaurant), program diversity, reputation, and any internship and career placement opportunities. As always at SuccessfulStudent, this ranking is considered from the student’s point of view.
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1. School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
As one of the first schools founded with a dedication to all aspects of the Hospitality degree, and the only Ivy League program, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration offers Bachelor’s to PhD level education within this diverse and global industry. 60 full-time faculty take their students through all aspects of Hotel and Business Management, including design, financing, and management.
Hands-on experience and application of concepts is attained through the on-campus Statler Hotel, and opportunities for networking abound with the over 200 companies working in connection with the school. Other engaging facilities on campus include not only standard classrooms, but also interview rooms and a food laboratory. After graduation students will have many career options to choose from in an exciting field with salaries ranging from $80,000 to over $115,000.
2. The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
Founded in 1927, Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality and Business has grown into an innovative and progressive leader in its field. The school proudly hosts the Kellogg Center for Continuing Education, founded 20 years after the initial opening of the school, which provides necessary training experience for the students. With a smaller class size of approximately 800 students, individual attention and personalized career opportunities are possible.
For the more adventurous student, a study abroad program offers the chance to see the organization and management of Hospitality in other countries. Recruiting services for career opportunities are available through the Student and Industry Resource Center.
3. Conrad N. Hilton College, University of Houston (Houston, TX)
Within the hustle and bustle of the city of Houston, Texas lies an excellent opportunity for the student seeking a degree in Hotel or Restaurant Management. Founded in 1969, the Hilton College is home to the world’s largest Hospitality Industry Archives, a nationally unique wine laboratory, and a fully operational teaching Hotel with 86 rooms, 3 ballrooms, 7 meeting rooms, and a banqueting hall.
Gourmet night is the cap stone project for many students in which all aspects of hospitality are put to the test. Planned over an entire year in all the details from budget to execution, this entirely student run event includes a reception, banquet, entertainment, and silent auction. Pride is strong and evident in the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor where notable leaders in the field are recognized. With such dedication to their students it is little wonder that over 80% of graduates have career options available to them upon and even before completing their degree.
4. William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada at Las Vegas (Las vegas, NV)
What better place for a Hospitality school than in a city filled with hundreds of tourists, hotel resorts, and casinos! Las Vegas may be well known for its night life and tourist attractions, but it is also well known for the notable Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Students here have an obvious advantage and numerous opportunities available within the surrounding city life.
International recognition and experience is also available with the addition of a new campus opened in Singapore. Another point of school pride is in the unique Professional Golf Management Program that is offered in addition to the more usual Hotel/Restaurant Management, Food and Beverage Services, and Lodging and Resort Management programs. Career opportunities are plentiful for the Hospitality major as school sponsored programs like the Bob Boughner Career Services Center on campus helps its students move onto successful futures.
5. Stout School of Hospitality Leadership, University of Wisconsin (Menomonie, WI)
One can find the school of Hospitality Leadership within the larger Wisconsin Polytechnic University and its beautiful 124 acre campus. Here attributes such as leadership, service, and professionalism are key. With a focus on Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism management two unique locations are available for hands on experience in the Corner III-Cedar Cafe and the Rendezvous Restaurant.
Students in the Food Production program prepare the daily menu for the Cafe, while the Rendezvous Restaurant is a full food service laboratory, which works in conjunction with the Restaurant Operations Management classes. The school at large reports an impressive 90% employment rate for its graduates.
6. International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Fairleigh Dickinson University (Teaneck NJ)
Hospitality studies are, all things considered, a relatively new academic field. Many of the schools on this list have only existed for two or three decades, and some have been around for far less. This makes Fairleigh Dickinson’s 72 years of experience all the more impressive. But despite its ample time to grow, Fairleigh Dickinson’s International School of Hospitality has found that keeping small class sizes averaging about 16 people helps build a sense of community and fosters personal growth within the students.
The school has developed a large social network and multiple campus locations in the metropolitan area in order to offer its students as many opportunities as possible. Two such examples that provide students with hands-on training include the Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center and the Park Avenue Club. Exciting international studies in Switzerland or Italy are also available to the senior class. With internships and career positions combined, the school can offer over 2,000 opportunities to its students each year.
7. W. A. Franke College of Business School of Hotel & Restaurant Management, Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ)
Every dry and dusty desert needs an oasis. Luckily, the dynamic, lively, and fresh program at the College of Business School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in Northern Arizona provides just that for anyone looking to learn this trade. Confident leadership and business management strategies are emphasized throughout the 1200 hours of course work that students are required to complete within their chosen field of study. Many engaging seminars, also known as SHRM Pathways, are available. Through these programs and the rest of the curriculum students develop personal and professional skills within a positive and supporting environment. With on-campus recruitment, over 70% of students will graduate with at least an entry level position in Management.
8. Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
Keeping faith with their appropriate and rather fitting school motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), the Hospitality and Tourism degree is integrally connected with the larger College of Business department at Pamplin College Virginia Tech. The many internationally recognized faculty members within the Hospitality program engage students through all modes of learning from lecture to multimedia and direct application. Students are taught the strategies and tool sets required for thriving careers by professors who are often active within the field themselves. As a popular recruiting school for businesses such as Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt Hotels it is common for over 70 percent of students to have careers available upon graduation.
9. College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
The University of Alabama’s College of Human Environmental Sciences has been able to nicely blend both a liberal arts degree with a professional application through all of their departments, from undergraduate to graduate. Encouraging intellectual grown and curiosity, professionalism, and the foundation for successful futures, the College offers baccalaureate, master’s, and even doctoral level studies.
In addition to this wide diverse spread of degrees, students also have access to distance learning options. This is especially useful for the student with a schedule already made busy by work in the industry. Within the Hospitality Management degree there is a strong focus on food and nutrition in the effort of improving the restaurant experience. Students can expect hands-on learning from experienced professors in the field, great networking opportunities, and the chance for a successful career.
10. Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts)
One mark of a great school and successful program is the pride of the alumni and their return to the school to share their experiences, both good and bad. Such can be found within the Isenberg School of Management’s Department of Hospitality. This cutting edge program offers students hands on experience through core curriculum requirements such as the Marriott Meal.
Students are taught to organize and manage a five star dining experience by other students inspiring confidence and ensuring competence in the field. When the Hospitality and Tourism Management Career Day comes around students can impress over 70 companies with their skills and knowledge, leading many to the right employment opportunity come graduation.
11. School of Hospitality Management, Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA)
For over 75 years Penn State University’s School of Hospitality and Management has been inspiring students to reach their goals within this growing and dynamic field. Students are required to meet a minimum of 1000 hours of hands on experience along with their academic credits, making Penn State’s program both competitive and sought after by many.
The Laura Cafe, also known as the Living Lab, provides students with the real experience of managing a restaurant. Knowledge of food preparation, from Bistro style to elegant multi-course dinning, is expected from each student. Other key aspects of the Cafe include interacting with other student managers and most importantly how to deliver the best customer satisfaction. It is not surprising that graduates from Penn are looked upon favorably by so many companies.
12. School of Hospitality Business Management, Washington State University (Pullman, WA)
In the current job market a solid candidate for any position will already have experience relevant to the position. Washington State University’s School of Hospitality can guarantee its students will have such experience through the their necessary internships. Those majoring in Hospitality must complete 1,000 work hours within the field, while minors need 400 hours.
The Marriott Foundation Hospitality Teaching Center helps make these requirement hours possible. Unique to the school is the new wine business management degree as well as the consideration of cultural differences in Hospitality. These differences can be experienced first hand through study abroad programs in Switzerland, Italy, South Korea, and Thailand. Students will have the opportunity to network at 2 career fairs held each year, the Burtenshaw Hospitality Career Night and the Hospitality Career Previews.
13. Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
If experience is the best teacher, then the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality is the place to go. Students will gain the knowledge and skill sets needed for Hospitality within a state-of-the-art, 159,000-square-foot, Mediterranean resort-style campus in the center of Orlando, Florida one of the most visited places in the United States.
In addition to the connections with Walt Disney World, the school also offers two teaching kitchens, a wine and beer laboratory, and a 200-seat dining room and bar. Though it was recently established in 2004, this up-and-coming program has made tremendous strides and is looking forward to a bright and successful future for its program and its students.
14. School of Hotel & Restaurant Administration, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)
Oklahoma has many attractions, one of which is the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration at OSU in Stillwater. The school operates two teaching restaurants in which students are expected to put in a minimum of 800 hours of hands on experience. Four events are hosted throughout the year featuring globally renowned chefs who work directly with the students for three days passing on tricks of the trade and invaluable wisdom. The different classes offered, from management and financial analysis to operations and production, can be used towards a dual undergraduate degree for the industrious student. This includes a program that provides a hospitality learning experience at Oklahoma State University’s European partner in Switzerland.
Students also get real-life, hands-on class instruction in the fully functioning historical Atherton Hotel on the campus of OSU. This stately hotel recently underwent a $6 million dollar renovation. Graduates from this program have gone on to manage country clubs, plan corporate meetings, and run successful restaurants and hotels.
15. The Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver (Denver, CO)
The Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, at the Daniels College of Business, prepares students for senior levels of employment in the hospitality industry. Knoebel reports 100% career placement for its students who are diligently seeking employment. This is accomplished through the school’s career development activities and networking opportunities with industry professionals.
Since the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management is under the Daniels College of Business, the hospitality education is centered within their top-notch business education, which has an accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Given this, at Knoebel, a hospitality degree comes with a solid business understanding and emphasis, to an extent that other hospitality programs cannot offer.
Located in picturesque Denver, Colorado, Knoebel’s facilities are first rate. Students get hands-on instruction at their state-of-the-art laboratory, which includes a 2,800 square-foot kitchen, a beverage management center which is modeled after a Tuscan wine cellar, a front-desk operations center, and a 170-person dining hall.
The Bachelor in Business Administration in Hospitality Management offers the following concentrations: Hospitality Sales & Marketing, Lodging Resort Operations, and Restaurant/Food & Beverage Management. Students must complete 1000 hours of work experience in order to graduate. This can be done working at the student-run coffee shop Beans Cafe, or coordinating events for the Event Center at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.
16. Johnson & Wales University’s Hospitality College (Providence, RI)
As one of the few private, non-profit institutions, Johnson & Wales University is the place for a unique education experience tailored to the students strengths and interests, especially when it comes to their thriving Hospitality program. The small class sizes allow students easy access to world leading professors within the field and the personal attention that results in strong, well rounded skill sets. The core curriculum has a main focus on business and leadership allowing students to easily transfer credit hours to different majors if desired.
As in any world-class Hospitality program, real world experience is the key to success. Internships are a must at Johnson and Wales University’s Hospitality Program and are offered at local, national, and international areas, including Asia, Australia, and Europe.
17. Collins College of Hospitality Management, California State Polytechnic (Pomona, CA)
With humble beginnings in 1973, the Collins College of Hospitality Management in Pomona, California can now boast of its success in becoming one of the first and largest 4 year degree programs in Hospitality Management. From 30 students and 2 faculty to now over 1,000 students and 30 faculty, this program has made tremendous strides and currently offers a wide array of courses, internships, and networking opportunities to all of its most diligent students.
One of the more prominent opportunities for students is the chance to work at the Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch. This mainly student-operated Restaurant offers guests idyllic scenery and a romantic atmosphere and allows students the experience of running all levels of a high-end facility. This includes the Restaurant’s one acre, award winning fruit, vegetable, and herb garden.
Between the customized curriculum, engaging and unique atmosphere, and student successes, it is clear to see how Collins College of Hospitality is focused on the vision of excellence within the field.
18. Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management offers a multitude of truly unique opportunities, not the least of which is the program’s one-of-a-kind focus on Sport Management. As one of the top entertainment industries, Sport Management is rife with opportunities that students can access through the school’s connections to the majority of sport teams in the city as well as the Sports Leadership Academy.
The Beverage Studies Initiative and Drexel Food Lab provides students the knowledge of recipe development, production, sustainability, marketing, and more. The Dennis Gomes Memorial Casino Training Lab focuses on the management and operations of a casino. The founder, Dennis Gomes, was well known in Las Vegas and Atlantic City for holding top executive positions. The Philly Chef Conference allows networking opportunities for Chefs already in the field to collaborate and share experiences, as well as new products.
19. Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA)
What should you ask of an elite hospitality program that prizes its students? How about connections to leaders in the industry, a first class mentorship program, practical on-the-job training, and vibrant surroundings?
Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business offers just such a program. Obviously, the hospitality industry is inherently social. Ivory tower bookworms do well in the library and the lab, but here people need to apply their wits in a corporate setting. That is why Georgia connects its students via fruitful relationships with experienced professionals. It is also why so many industry leaders work alongside the Georgia State program. The school also makes full use of its location in Atlanta. This puts it within driving distance of one of the largest airports in the country, major government hub caps like the Center for Disease control, numerous corporate headquarters, and arguably the leading metropolis in the south.
20. Kendall College School of Hospitality Management (Chicago, IL)
National boundaries mean less as information, goods, and people freely move from one place to another. The Kendall College School of Hospitality Management has made a concerted effort to tap into these evolving opportunities in as least two ways.
Kendall’s first strategy is to build a world class, international hospitality program. Kendall is part of the Laureate International Universities. It consequently has student exchange programs with Australia, Glion, China, Switzerland, and Spain. The school also offers an Advanced Certificate in International Hospitality Management. This deeply respected qualification originated in Switzerland, and speaks volumes of one’s international job prospects.
The second way Kendall distinguishes itself from the competition is through its wide variety of concentrations. These specialties cover a wide range of topics, including beverage management, how to run large scale conventions, effective business meeting, asset management, and numerous others. The final result is a program with broad international reach and targeted skill development.
21. Dedman School of Hospitality, Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
While located in a bustling metropolis in sunny Florida, the Dedman School of Hospitality thinks globally, and offers a top-notch education that prepares students for careers in hospitality fields all over the world, working as industry managers across many cultures. As such, Dedman offers students many internship and recruitment opportunities around the world through its vast network and affiliations with the world’s leading hotels, restaurants, country clubs, theme parks, resorts, etc. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management or Global Club Management.
The Dedman School of Hospitality operates under the Florida State University College of Business, and is located in a state-of-the-art facility where students receive hands-on instruction in the school’s teaching kitchens, technology center, food and beverage lab, publication resource center, four multi-media classrooms, an 8,000 square foot ballroom, placement center, and a 35,000 square-foot, professionally managed city club that provides students with food and beverage experience in an elegant setting.
22. College of Merchandising, Hospitality, and Tourism, University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
The University of North Texas was the first program of its kind to be recognized by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. Not surprisingly, this experienced program is now the sixth largest in America. But despite its significant size the program still dedicates ample attention to its students. North Texas runs several student-based development initiatives, such as its Career Center which helps students plan their future, its Learning Center which assists students in their studies, and a host of advisers with substantial book learning and practical experience.
The College of Merchandising, Hospitality & Tourism requires students to complete 300 hours of work experience in merchandising, and 300 hours in hospitality-related positions, and complete on-campus and online classes. The College also requires students to complete an internship in their field of study in order to graduate. Through the supervised internships, students gain industry experience and career awareness, and apply their education to the hospitality business directly. The annual Career Expos attract companies to campus, who recruit students for internships and career opportunities.
23. School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
It is hard to argue with numbers, and Temple University boasts some of the best in the business. 100% of its bachelor students are given experience building internships before graduating. Even more important is the 90% of students who receive employment within three months of graduating. These two statistics by themselves are enough to warrant giving Temple a second look.
Temple, however, has a lot more going for it. The school offers students looking to expand their training beyond the bachelor’s level three different graduate degrees. Temple also has three different areas of specialization. Those looking for the excitement associated with planning unique events can focus one event leadership. Those interested in running a tight ship with respect to day to day activities can study hospitality operations. And finally, those looking to focus on combining the perfect place with the perfect experience can study destination management.
24. Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Florida International University (North Miami, FL)
Miami, Florida is arguably the ideal vacation spot in the U.S. It has an ideal climate for three months out of the year and enough air conditioning to still love the fourth month. Oh, and lets not forget about entertainment galore. Given these ideal tourists attractions it is not surprising that such a highly respected hospitality program has developed here.
Florida International University students can choose from studying at the bachelor’s or master’s levels, (or even pursue a doctorate in the sister business administration program). They also have the choice between fully online or residence-based programs, or hybrid programs for certain hospitality programs. Also, unlike many similar programs, students at Florida can do original research via a thesis option, or instead focus on additional coursework. And for the budding venture capitalist with a taste for exploration, the school has also developed a unique hospitality real estate development degree that teaches students not just how to run preexisting resorts, but how to create entirely new ones.
Students at Chaplin can also take advantage of their dual degree program, which works in cooperation with Tianjin University of Commerce, in Tianjin, China. The Marriott Tianjin China Program was established in 2004, and is Florida International University’s largest program abroad.
Professionals across the hospitality industry give guidance and instruction at the many workshops held on campus, such as the Resume Workshop, Mock Interview Series, Networking Skills, LinkedIn and Dress for Success.
25. Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Dietetics & Nutrition Division, University of Alaska Anchorage (Anchorage, AK)
Once variety was the spice of life, but now it is the norm. From business to entertainment people want things their way. And why should a school educating individuals be any different? Luckily, the University of Alaska’s Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Dietetics & Nutrition Division grants students the specialized programs that suit their respective needs and culminates in a B.A. in Hospitality and Restaurant Management. It is the only program in the state of Alaska to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality. As such, graduates are prepared to enter directly into management positions in Alaska’s growing hospitality environment.
Students can choose whether to complete substantial portions of their degree online or in person on campus. They also have the option to take focused coursework in nutrition studies. Alaska students also have a wide plethora of local hotels and other resorts to choose from when deciding where to spend their 600 hour, paid internship. Students get hands-on training at the Lucy Cuddy Dining facility, which is a bakery, restaurant, and dining room. The school puts a large emphasis on the culinary arts, and offers Culinary Arts, Dietetics and Nutrition programs–the only such programs in the state.