Online restaurant degrees and career-boosting certificates are not uncommon, and can be a great asset in the career of a restaurant worker or executive. An online higher learning degree also allows you to continue your career and study simultaneously from anywhere, at anytime.
How Online Restaurant Programs Work
Online programs in the restaurant industry range from certificates on specific subjects to bachelor's and master's degrees. Students may have to take prerequisite courses to qualify for enrollment in a fully-online course. The programs differ in whether they start in sync with traditional semesters and in their flexibility—whether there is a specific time allotted to the student to complete tasks and the program overall.
"Our program is flexible in timelines, but we encourage students to complete courses before the semester ends, if possible," said Professor Lynn Huffman, Chairperson of the Department of Nutrition, Hospitality and Retailing at Texas Tech University. "We have no hard and fast deadlines because we understand who our client is. From company vice-presidents to young mothers, our students usually work full-time and need greater flexibility."
Online programs aren't for everyone. They are very engaging, often more so than traditional curriculums. Online programs often demand more of the student; it is a misconception that they are easier than traditional programs. However, most online schools offer plentiful help for students through phone calls or email to the instructor or specialized support staff.
"Many people are not geared to independent study. The student must be self-motivated because the courses can be more demanding than they expected. Some students just need face-to-face interaction. But our students form work groups, have chat group communication, even comment on other students' papers. They become like family." said Huffman.
Online Restaurant Schools
Several institutions offer online restaurant training and degree programs. Some options include:
- Cornell University - eCornell - a subsidiary of Cornell University, has online training in Hospitality and Foodservice Management
- New England Culinary Institute - Online - offers an online Bachelor of Hospitality and Restaurant Management
- The University of Delaware Online - offers courses leading to a bachelor's degree, or taken individually in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
- Texas Tech University - offers an online Master of Science degree in Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management
- Penn State Online - offers an associate's degree or certificate in Restaurant Management
- Northern Arizona University - offers an online certificate in Restaurant Management
- Ashworth College - offers a career diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management
At the least, online restaurant programs are competitive with "brick and mortar" institutions in pricing, but typically students save money without some of the other fees associated with college attendance coming into play. Plus, there can be other unique financial windfalls for online restaurant students.
"Adult online learners can maintain their current employment (continue making money), plus, the costs could be lower since there is no travel, or dorm expenses for the student," said Dr. Frederick J. DeMicco, Professor and ARAMARK Chair of the Hotel & Restaurant Management Program at The University of Delaware. "We also have a program for a ‘site rate,' where, for example, if a hospitality company has more than ten employees enrolled, those online students can get nearly an in-state tuition rate but be educated anywhere around the globe. It's really a great deal."
Scholarships are offered to restaurant students through the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) as well as most professional hospitality associations.
"Our industry will add millions of careers ... as people continue to dine out and travel more ‘glocally' (globally and locally). Having a degree allows students to meet this growing need for managers. Positions are to be had in restaurants, contract foodservices, lodgings, stadiums, and convention centers," said DeMicco.
The restaurant industry is becoming more appreciative of higher learning degrees and theoretical knowledge. Graduates are more knowledgeable, confident, and polished. Online students are usually already working in the field, and education gives them an edge and great opportunity for the future.
"Some students educate themselves for their job, for a very specific goal," said Huffman. "In addition to that, many want to learn more, stretch their mind, become better at the job they already do. They gain money indirectly, but more importantly, they achieve self-fulfillment."