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One of California’s largest and most vibrant industries is tourism and hospitality, so the state’s universities offer several hospitality degrees in California to meet the needs of a growing part of the state’s economy. This large West Coast state features an incredibly dynamic and diverse environment where residents can sit on the beach in the morning and hit the ski slopes in the afternoon. The highest peak in the lower-48 is located in California and is Mount Whitney, which is 14,495 feet tall. Although the state is often associated with the huge metropolises of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, there are also thousands of miles of remote deserts, forests, and plains with nary a soul nearby. For example, Alpine County is so remote that the entire county has no ATMs, traffic lights, or high schools.

Bristol University

Degree Programs

Describing itself as a private institution, Bristol University’s goal involves offering a variety of programs and courses to students at a price that is affordable. The school offers the choice to study in a classroom on its campus in Anaheim or through an online environment. The university was created in 1991 and originally focused its academic efforts on paralegal studies. In the decades after its opening, the school expanded into other areas like hospitality and sports management through a variety of business degrees at the bachelor and graduate levels.

Bachelor Degree in Business Administration – Hospitality Management Emphasis

Bristol’s BS in Business Administration features several concentrations, but hospitality-inclined students will want to look at the Hospitality Management Emphasis. Upon graduation, students should be prepared to enter the business world at entry-level management positions, which should offer significant income opportunities over the money made at an entry-level hospitality job that doesn’t require a degree. All students in the business program at Bristol must take a variety of general courses related to a broad curriculum as well as business-centric classes. In addition to basic classes like English Composition and Business Mathematics, students will also take business classes like Principles of Accounting. With the Hospitality Management Emphasis, students will take seven courses within that realm which include classes like Hotel and Restaurant Accounting. In addition, students must be prepared to undertake an internship within the hospitality business sector.  Link 


2390 Orangewood Avenue, Suite 485
Anaheim, CA 92806
Phone: 714.542.8086
Fax: 714.245.2425

California Polytechnic State University

Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration

Usually called “Cal Poly” by locals, this school is part of the California State University system. The school dates back to 1901 when it was founded as a high school that focused on vocational education. The college is very keen on ensuring its students obtain practical experience in their chosen discipline, so classes are designed to facilitate a hands-on approach to learning. The school currently plans to increase its size from around 17,000 students to over 20,000 by the time 2020 arrives. The school is also going to try and maintain its reputation for low student-to-teacher ratios, which means that several more classrooms and laboratories will be necessary in the next several years.

B.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration: Tourism Planning and Management Concentration

The Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration is a department within Cal Poly that seeks to improve the healthy lifestyles of vacationers and residents of California through hospitality and tourism. The department has dedicated itself to ensuring students know how important it is to protect natural places in the state as well as historical monuments. The department’s tagline is “Live, Protect, Explore.” Within the school’s Hospitality and Tourism Management specialization, students will be prepared to work within leisure industries and tourism. Students will not only receive instruction on general tourism, but will also learn how to accommodate international travelers and visitors. Further emphasis in the program is available in areas like tourism marketing, tourism planning, and resort management. After graduation, students may choose to work for companies that sell leisure products, as well as businesses like resorts, national parks, and popular tourist destinations.


Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Administration
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Phone: 805.756.1288

California State University, East Bay

College of Education and Allied Studies

Perched on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay Area, California State University at East Bay offers a healthy 136 undergraduate degrees as well as 60 graduate level diplomas. The university is known for a demanding graduate program and has been near the top of lists of colleges in the western United States. There are around 14,000 students at East Bay, which was known as California State University, Haywood as recently as 2005. The school’s mascot is a pioneer, but in an interesting choice the student body in 1961 decided to dress the pioneer in a space suit instead of in classic pioneer garb. In more recent years, the mascot has been dressed again as a classic pioneer.

Master of Science in Recreation and Tourism

The faculty at Cal State East Bay realizes that the hospitality industry has become an incredibly diverse and complex area in which to work. The faculty provides education at the graduate level to satisfy the need for students to learn advanced concepts within hospitality. The curriculum features theories, literature, and accepted methods used in today’s hospitality environments as well as scientific data gathered from studying the industry. Graduates must confront a variety of ethical, personnel, and legal issues, and this Master of Science program is designed to offer students knowledge in those delicate areas. The program is designed to allow students to progress at their own pace as well as participate in group discussions. The school hopes that its future graduates will be able to arrive in the workplace as knowledgeable workers dedicated to enhancing the hospitality industry in California and worldwide.


College of Education and Allied Studies
California State University, East Bay
Physical Education Building, PE 130
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94542-3095
Phone: 510.885.3043
Fax: 510.885.2423

California State University, Long Beach

College of Health and Human Services

CSULB is one of the largest campuses in the California State University system and also has one of the largest populations of any university in the state at over 35,000 students enrolled at bachelor and graduate level study. The university is an incredibly diverse school and was named one of the top diverse universities in the western United States by U.S. News & World Report. The school’s art program is one of the most well-funded of any in the country, and the cost to attend the school is also incredibly low when compared to the average tuition paid by students around the country. Not unexpectedly, the university was voted one of “America’s Best Value Colleges” by the “Princeton Review.” The school was originally established in 1949 to serve the educational needs of soldiers returning from World War II who needed to attend college after fighting in the war.

The Master of Arts in Family and Consumer Sciences – Emphasis Hospitality Foodservice and Hotel Management

Students who are already in the workforce may want to consider advanced study in CSULB’s master of arts program, which features an emphasis in hospitality. The program is designed to help students become adept researchers, as well as experienced practitioners of services needed within the average community. Students should already possess knowledge of their intended area of study since the graduate program is offered at an advanced level. The program requires that students come to the table with at least a 2.5 GPA from the 60 most recently completed collegiate units. Students must also take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) before applying and must also meet a variety of course requirements before enrolling in graduate level coursework. Once enrolled, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and to complete the hospitality emphasis must complete 34 units within that discipline.


California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Room 128, Building FCS
Long Beach, CA 90840
Phone: 562.985.4958

California State University, Monterey Bay

College of Business

As one of the colleges in the California State University system, the Monterey Bay campus is one of the smallest in the system with less than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled. The university is also fairly new as it was established in 1994. Its location is a former U.S. Army base that sits along the central coast of the state, and it was the 21st campus created in the state for the CSU system. One of the interesting features of the university is that bachelor’s degree students must complete a capstone project at the end of study in order to graduate. The project requires students to put together a portfolio of experience and projects accomplished in school as a demonstration of competency in a certain discipline. Around half of all students who attend the Monterey Bay school live on campus, and the school also provides affordable childcare to parents enrolled in classes.

B.S. in Business Administration: Hospitality Management Concentration

The business program at Cal State Monterey Bay is designed to allow students to find work in the business or nonprofit sector. A B.S. in Business Administration features classes that help students develop entrepreneurial skills as well as gain knowledge on the important ethical and leadership considerations impacting today’s businesspeople. Before enrolling in the business program, the university suggests that students take a variety of courses at community college that will transfer with a student upon acceptance to the program. Those classes include Finite Math, Pre-calculus, and Statistics. After graduating from this program, students may choose from several different types of employment in hospitality like Director of Operations, General Manager, Director of Menu Development, or even culinary arts like catering and executive chef. Students with business knowledge stand to perform extraordinarily well in California’s hospitality environment with travel, tourism, and hospitality offering billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

B.S. in Business Administration: Hotel/Resort Management Concentration

The second type of bachelor’s degree offered in hospitality at Monterey Bay is a concentration in hotel and resort management. Research performed by the California State University system suggests that travel in the United States is an incredible $700 billion a year industry. California is one of the country’s most popular travel destinations, so a significant portion of those travel dollars end up in The Golden State. Career opportunities within hotel and restaurant management are incredibly varied and may include Marketing Director, Tourism Sales Manager, and Convention Services Director. All destinations in the hospitality industry need students who have a business background and knowledge of how such establishments must be managed for profitability and efficiency. Tourism and hospitality are all about making visitors happy and willing to spend their tourist dollars, but without a background in business it’s hard to ensure an event or site is run well. This is why Monterey Bay’s degrees in hospitality are so valuable for future career success.


College of Business
CSU Monterey Bay
100 Campus Center Drive
Seaside, CA 93955
Phone: 831.582.4232
Fax: 831.582.4251

California State University, Northridge

Department of Recreation and Tourism Management

Most people associate the city of Northridge as the site of the incredible earthquake that occurred in the 1990s, but it’s also the home of the Northridge branch of California State University. This large college has a population of over 38,000 and is the third largest university in the entire state. The school began as a satellite campus of the California State campus at Los Angeles but was designated an independent campus as of 1958. Originally called San Fernando Valley State College, the college was built from the ground-up as a master-planned campus. There are 134 different bachelor’s degrees at the university from which to choose as well as master’s degrees in 70 different concentrations. The 1994 Northridge earthquake caused an incredible $400 million in damage to the campus and was the most significant damage done to any college campus in America.

M.S in Recreation and Tourism Management: Hospitality Travel & Tourism Track

The Department of Recreation and Tourism Management prides itself on boosting the intellectual capacity of its students, which will then help to improve the practical application of those skills learned in a classroom setting. The department says that influencing students to become innovators and leading professionals in the industry is helped by the school’s convenient location within the Greater Los Angeles area. The department seeks to influence its students to become communicators and leaders in helping to bring the best possible experiences to tourists, travelers, and anyone looking for leisure activities. The school works to figure out each student’s personal interests and creates a school experience that will provide the best possible chance for success after graduation. One of the interesting facets of this program is that it teaches the static concepts present in hospitality while also helping students to grow in emotional intelligence.


Recreation & Tourism Management
Redwood Hall, 250
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330-8269
Phone: 818.677.3202
Fax: 818.677.2695

College of the Canyons

Career Technical Education

College of the Canyons sits inside the Santa Clarita Community College District and has a healthy student population of almost 18,000. The suburban campus was approved by voters in 1967 and opened for classes in 1969. The school has seen some healthy expansion in the past few years with a new performing arts center and a new music building opened nearby in 2005. The degrees offered by the school are Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, which may be used to enter the workforce immediately after graduation or as transfer credits to a bachelor’s degree program at a college of the student’s choice. Entering the hospitality industry is possible with almost any level of education; however, obtaining an associate’s degree offers the potential for a nice bump in the expected pay and variety of job opportunities offered to young workers.

Hotel & Restaurant Management (A.S. Degree)

The College of the Canyons program in Hotel and Restaurant Management is a career training program that seeks to help student develop vital skills that would take several years of work within the industry. A worker can enter the food or hospitality industry at an entry-level without an education, but just a few years of training at college may mean the difference between starting out as a “bus boy” or getting work as an assistant manager at the beginning of a career. After graduation, students may enter into any number of major companies or continue school at a 4-year college. The program at College of the Canyons was developed to teach students critical thinking skills as well as the ability to analyze difficult situations that routinely arise in the hospitality industry. Much of a student’s success in hospitality comes from the ability to diffuse tense situations or solve problems and the CoC program offers classroom and practical experience on this subject.


26455 Rockwell Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Phone: 661.362.3712

Collins College at Cal Poly Pomona

College of Business Administration

The Pomona branch of California State Polytechnic University began as a satellite campus of the San Luis Obispo branch of California State University in 1938 but was made an independent institution in 1966. The school’s mottos is “Application of Knowledge,” and the university offers 94 different bachelor’s degrees as well as 39 master’s degrees. Interestingly, the school’s enrollment declined so significantly during World War II that enrollment was suspended, and the campus was closed for several years. After the war’s end, the campus reopened and moved to a local horse ranch in the area. Primary areas of study included agriculture, but other programs in engineering soon followed after the school’s reopening.

B.S. in Hospitality Management

The Collins College of Hospitality Management offered the first bachelor’s degree of its kind in hospitality on the West Coast and has cultivated a reputation for fine education. The college was created in 1973 with just 30 students and a pair of faculty members under the College of Business Administration. Students who enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management will experience classes in a variety of business areas as well as hospitality. Students are expected to understand the economic and social impact of hospitality, as well as the legal and ethical ramifications of the industry. Coursework routinely covers quantitative analysis as well as qualitative analysis of important concepts. The program encourages students to choose an emphasis in one of several areas that include Hotel/Resort Management, Club Management, or Restaurant Management. Students will also complete at least 800 hours of internship or work experience before graduation.

M.S. in Hospitality Management

Students who already have a bachelor’s degree and wish to experience more advanced topics on hospitality will want to consider the Master of Science in Hospitality Management. This degree tract introduces students to concepts like management, accounting, and finance, which are important areas for study before a student applies for work as a manager or other high-ranking hospitality employee. The goal of the program is to ensure that students are able to provide the best hospitality experience for guests in any type of environment. In addition, the program is designed to improve the technological prowess of students so that advanced programs and technology may be used with ease once the student graduates from the program. Students are also exposed to situations where teamwork must be utilized to solve problems and create an efficient hospitality environment.

MBA with a Hospitality Management Emphasis

The MBA program in Hospitality Management is offered through a joint partnership between The Collins College and The College of Business Administration. Professionals who wish to advance their career through advanced study of business, law, and other executive-level topics will want to consider this MBA program. Professionals who currently manage restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality venues and want to move into executive positions or into an entrepreneurial project will find their skills well honed for such adventures with an MBA to their credit. One of the valuable experiences students will get from this program is how to manage a multi-unit environment. Managing a single location, such as a franchise restaurant, takes training, but advanced business knowledge may be required for movement into higher employment that features regional management and responsibilities.


3801 West Temple Avenue
Building 79B
Pomona, CA 81769
Phone: 909.869.2275
Fax: 909.869.6799

Cypress College

Career Technical Education

California has an extraordinary number of community colleges within its borders, and Cypress College is one of 112 two-year colleges in the state. There are over 50 associate’s degrees offered by the college as well as many transfer majors that will translate to university-level study. In addition, the college focuses heavily upon vocational training and offers 145 different programs that result with an associate’s degree or certificate. The college has been open since 1966 and is a fascinating campus with its futuristic styling by architect Frank Lawyer. The school has maintained its interesting architecture with new buildings designed in the same way as the original campus. The college focuses upon educational programs housed within small divisions that the college suggests help students feel like they’re on a small campus and are able to receive individualized attention.

Associate of Science Degree in Hotel Management

The Hotel, Restaurant and Culinary Arts program is located on the Anaheim campus of Cypress College. School administrators and faculty have designed a program that is focused upon hand-on learning of important hospitality concepts. The hospitality environment is a constantly-changing and dynamic environment in which to work, and preparing for a career by obtaining an associate’s degree is one of the best ways to get a boost during the search for a job. The college boasts that its faculty are dedicated to offering students the best possible educational experience with affordable tuition, recommendations to employers, and internship opportunities. The facilities are new and feature state-of-the art learning environments.

Associate of Science Degree in Restaurant Management

Students who wish to work in a restaurant may be employed on the wait staff for several years before the opportunity to move into management is possible, but that process may be hastened with an associate’s degree from Cypress College. Students will take a variety of extremely valuable courses like Nutrition, Restaurant and Banquet Operations, Hospitality Law, and Cost Controls in Hospitality. None of the classes offered at Cypress is thrown in just to increase the course load. Each class has a vital and helpful role for restaurant management. Upon successful graduation from the program, a student will be eligible to transfer to a number of 4-year universities such as Cal Poly Pomona and CSU Long Beach.


1830 W. Romneya Drive
Anaheim, CA 92801
Phone: 714.808.4640

California is a tourist hotspot for visitors as well as residents, so popular hospitality and tourist destinations tend to be packed and busy all year long. A hospitality degree is a versatile diploma at any level of education. With significant growth of the industry expected in California, nationwide, and around the world in the next several years, looking into hospitality degrees in California is a great choice for anyone who wishes to further his or her career in a major industry.

Other California Schools that offer Hospitality Degrees:

Hospitality Degrees in California (D-P)

Hospitality Degrees in California (Q-Z)

For more information on Hospitality Degrees, see this article on “Top 10 Best Online Hotel and Hospitality Management Degree Programs“.