Online Food Service Management Degree Program Overviews

Online associate and bachelor's degree programs in food service management pair instruction in leadership and problem-solving techniques with culinary, business and marketing essential to the food service and hospitality industries. Graduates of these programs are prepared for management careers in food service.

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Essential Information

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in food service management are relatively easy to find online. At the associate's level, food service management topics may be part of hospitality or restaurant management programs, with some in-person practical experiences required. Bachelor's programs may also be offered in hybrid formats, with some required on-campus attendance. Some bachelor's programs are available as degree-completion options, and enrollment may entail prior completion of an associate's program.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food service managers typically have several years of experience in the food service industry and some postsecondary education. A degree is not always necessary, but may be required for some management positions.

Online Associate Degree in Food Service Management Overview

Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Occupational Studies degree programs are all available online through a number of educational institutions. Food service management training is often found within broader degree programs in such fields as hospitality, tourism and hotel or restaurant management. Students enrolled in these programs develop essential leadership and managerial skills and acquire business, legal and culinary knowledge necessary to function in the hospitality industry.

Program Information and Requirements

An associate degree program in food service management can usually be completed within two years. Courses are available entirely online with no campus attendance required. However, some programs require field practice that students must complete at a hospitality facility.

Online courses give students access to the course materials to work on assignments at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. Students stay connected to their instructors and peers through class discussions held on message boards and through e-mail.

Common Food Service Management Courses

The curricula of associate degree programs in food service management are composed of core courses and general education credits in areas such as math, science and English. Professional courses cover the fundamentals of managing practices in a food service environment, such as purchasing and inventory, resource management and accounting.

Restaurant and Dining Room Management Course

This course introduces students to a variety of skills and theories essential to the food service industry. Students discuss topics in cost control, menu planning, staffing and quality control. Management and organizational skills as they pertain to dining room and kitchen operations are also studied in depth.

Food Sanitation and Safety Course

Students examine the basic concepts and methods for the safe handling of food. The course identifies various types of safety hazards and the most frequent reasons for food borne illness. Topics emphasize industrial standards of food handling and sanitation and familiarize students with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and similar governing rules that regulate safety and sanitation in the food service industry.

Nutrition Course

This course analyzes human nutrition in regard to the factors that contribute to a proper, balanced diet and explores the differing nutritional needs of people of various ages. Students identify specific nutrients as well as their functions, health benefits and problems arising from a lack of each nutrient. Contemporary dietary issues, guidelines and fads are also discussed.

Career Information

An associate degree in food service management prepares graduates for careers as supervisors or food service managers. Although formal postsecondary education is not required by most employers, an associate degree provides sufficient training and experience for entry-level managerial positions. As of May 2012, the BLS reported that there were 817,600 supervisors in charge of food preparation workers and servers ( The average yearly salary for these positions at that time was $31,820, according to the BLS.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Food Service Management Overview

A bachelor's degree in food service management is often available in an entirely online format. Bachelor's degree majors exist in culinary management, culinary arts and food service management. Some degree programs are formatted as degree-completion programs intended for students that already hold an associate degree in culinary arts or a similar area.

Program Information

The bachelor's degree in food service management can be completed in four years, though completion programs usually only require an additional two years after earning an associate degree. Though most coursework can be done online, some schools require a few select classes that necessitate a brief campus residency. Field experience is also required and can usually be achieved at a student's current job or through an internship program. The online portions of the coursework afford students scheduling freedom and usually only require a computer with Internet access.

Common Bachelor's-Level Food Service Management Courses

Students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in food service management study topics such as marketing, human resource management and problem-solving techniques. The degree program often culminates with a capstone project that incorporates students' acquired skills and knowledge.

Wine and Beverage Operations Management Course

This course summarizes the history of the alcoholic beverage industry and the different types of wines, beers, spirits and other alcoholic beverages. The steps involved with establishing and managing a bar business are identified, such as developing an initial concept, creating a business plan, inventory pricing and formulating a drink menu. The course emphasizes responsible beverage service.

Hospitality Accounting and Financial Management Course

Students examine the concepts, theories and strategies of financial accounting as they pertain to the hospitality industry. The course studies the process of creating a proper financial statement. Other topics discussed include capital investment analysis, valuation, the double-entry system, inventories, the accounting cycle and the closing process.

Hospitality Laws and Ethics Course

This course reviews legislative and moral issues concerning the hospitality and food service industries. The court systems are studied in depth as well as issues involving contracts, negligence and liability. Students learn the value of ethical decision-making in the business world through theoretical situations.

Career Information

A bachelor's degree in food service management provides ample knowledge and experience to find employment as a supervisor or a food service manager. While these positions could be filled by promoting lower-level employees with food service experience, a bachelor's degree could result in quicker advancement opportunities to managerial positions. The BLS reported that as of May 2012, 189,510 food service managers worked in various establishments, such as full-service restaurants, schools and recreational facilities. These managers were reported to earn an average yearly salary of $52,580, per the BLS.

Continuing Education

Online master's degree programs exist for food service management. Schools offer both educational master's programs in the field and professional Master of Business Administration degree programs with a focus on management in the food service industry. Doctoral degree programs also exist, though online coursework is rare.

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