People look to restaurants, resorts, casinos and hotels for good times and special memories, but hospitality is more than just fun and games. The hospitality industry is just that — an industry — and one that needs creative and business-savvy professionals to keep it running smoothly and profitably. In fact, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the travel and tourism industry accounted for 9 percent of the global economy in 2012, and creates 1 out of every 11 jobs worldwide, underscoring the important impact of hospitality in the world market. A degree in hospitality readies graduates for a career as a leader in this growing sector.

Online Study is a Viable Pathway to a Hospitality Career

Like many modern students, a growing number of aspiring hospitality professionals may find a traditional program of study difficult to accomplish. Many may already work in the hospitality industry, making the scheduling demands of an on-campus program impossible to fulfill. Others may not be able relocate to an area with a brick-and-mortar university that offers hospitality degree programs. The good news is that is no reason to miss out on the career benefits of an advanced education in hospitality. It is entirely possible to complete a hospitality degree online, without having to sacrifice academic quality.

Resource: Top 10 Best Online Hotel and Hospitality Management Degree Program

Online Options for Hospitality Students Continue to Increase

The days of limited and subpar academic options for online students are over when it comes to a degree in hospitality. Improved technology and an ever-growing demand for more flexibility in higher education have led to better quality online degree programs, and today’s non-traditional students can study hospitality online through well-known major universities. Choices range from certificate programs to bachelor’s degrees to master’s level programs. For example, at the baccalaureate level, Southern New Hampshire University, an established brick-and-mortar college, offers a 21-month online bachelor of applied science degree in hospitality management. For prospective students with previous culinary or beverage training, the University of Missouri offers a bachelor of science in hospitality management degree that emphasizes flexible study options and encompasses a brief hands-on practicum experience.

For current hospitality professionals looking to take their education to a higher level, online master’s programs such as the one offered by Drexel University can pave the way to higher-paying, more advanced careers. Drexel’s program offers concentrations in global tourism and gaming and casino management, underscoring the increasingly varied options available to online hospitality students. Nowadays, hospitality professionals looking to learn online have no less than an Ivy League school as an option, thanks to the online certificate programs in hospitality management and hospitality marketing offered by Cornell University.

What to Look for in an Online Hospitality Degree Program

When considering different online hospitality degree programs, potential students should check to be sure that the offering institution is accredited by a recognized accrediting body. A strong curriculum will cover specialized topics hospitality topics such as food and beverage, tourism and hotel operations in addition to foundational classes in sales and marketing, accounting and mathematics, and management principles. Applicants should pay particular attention to whether the curriculum offers electives or specializations catering to their own personal areas of career interest. Other factors to consider include faculty credentials and connections and the availability of hands-on learning experiences and networking opportunities. To ensure personal academic success, students should seek out the program that best meets their needs in terms of scheduling flexibility and online learning resources.

Whether working as restaurant managers, cruise directors or meeting and events planners, hospitality degree graduates are in the business of making people happy. If this sounds like the career for you, there is no need for scheduling conflicts or outside commitments to keep you from the hospitality education you need to succeed.

Here’s a look at Hospitality Jobs that may be available to you.