Restaurant Management Schools & Degrees - Culinary Management Schools

Culinary and Restaurant Management Schools

The restaurant industry is projected to generate more than $700 billion in sales in 2015, according to the National Restaurant Association. An expansive industry, more than 14 million people work in restaurants across 1 million locations in the United States. Restaurant managers are vital to the success of this massive industry, ensuring restaurants operate effectively, efficiently and profitably. Research from the National Restaurant Association shows nine out of ten restaurant managers start at the entry level and advance their way into leadership positions. For prospective students, gaining access to the career path can start either in the classroom or the restaurant.

Restaurant management schools and education

There are many paths to working in food service or as a restaurant manager. There are varying academic and professional requirements for employment across the hospitality and food service industry, which provides a degree of flexibility to individuals interested in pursuing careers in the field. Below is a description of different educational options in restaurant management.

Career diploma: Individuals seeking quick, fast-paced entry into the workforce can complete a career diploma in hotel and restaurant management. These programs, offered by culinary management schools and career colleges, can usually be completed in as little as one year and include hands-on, industry-specific training in areas such as restaurant operations, menu development, financial statements, and human resources and payroll.

Associate degree: These programs help students develop entry-level knowledge of restaurant management through the study of topics ranging from food and beverage cost control to sanitation, event and catering management to customer service. Unlike a career certificate, associate degrees include general coursework in areas such as science and the humanities, offering students a more well-rounded approach to their education. Example degree programs include the following:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Restaurant Management
  • Associate of Applied Business in Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Associate of Applied Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Associate of Applied Science in Hotel Management

Bachelor's degree: At the four-year level, studies in food service management are typically offered as an area of concentration in a hospitality management program of study. The restaurant management concentration is designed for students interested in gaining a broad understanding of food service and restaurant management. Although curriculum varies by program, students learn about food procurement processes, financial management, industry regulations and trends, payroll, marketing and sales, customer service nutrition, and operational and management techniques.

Master's degree: At the graduate level, prospective students may select from several educational options designed to prepare them to pursue new professional opportunities. Master's degree programs are designed for individuals who have complete a bachelor's degree and want to enhance their management skills and develop advanced industry knowledge. Example master's programs include the following:

  • Master of Science in Hospitality Management (concentration in food service management)
  • Master of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Master of International Business in Food & Beverage and Restaurant Management

Traditionally, these programs can be completed in as little as 18 to 24 months, and some universities offer fully online degrees for professionals working in full-time positions. Curriculum varies by the individual program, but students may complete coursework in topics such as international hospitality management, managing financial systems, strategic service marketing, and food and beverage quality management. Depending on the program, graduate students may be asked to complete an internship, as well as a thesis or research project.

Restaurant management certifications

Restaurant and hospitality professionals may pursue a range of certifications in various industry areas, including food and beverage, food safety, and operations. Professional certifications and certificates are offered by industry groups, such as the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and universities. Below is an overview of example certification options for individuals working in the various areas of restaurant management:

ServSafe: A training arm of the National Restaurant Association, ServSafe offers training to restaurant professionals in food safety, alcohol, career development, and management.

Foodservice Management Professional (FMP): The FMP credential assesses a candidate's knowledge of skills related directly to restaurant management. The examination includes 175 questions that cover risk management, human resources, operations, marketing, and cost.

  • Fee: $150
  • Recertification: Permanent

ManageFirst Professional Credential (MFP): The MFP credential is part of the ManageFirst Program sponsored by the National Restaurant Association. The ManageFirst Program is a complete training program that covers topics ranging from controlling food service costs to hospitality and human resources management, customer service to bar and beverage management. Each topic culminates with a certification examination in each area of study. In order to earn the MFP credentials, candidates must pass five required ManageFirst examinations and possess at least 800 hours of industry experience (either paid or unpaid).

American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI): The American Hotel & Lodging Association created the AHLEI as a nonprofit dedicated to hospitality training, education, and certification. More than 20 certification programs are available for entry-level and experienced professionals alike.

Certified Food and Beverage Executive (CFBE): The CFBE is a certification is open to applicants who are working in management- or executive-level positions in culinary or food and beverage operations. The examination consists of 150 questions that test a candidate's knowledge in areas such as financial management, food operations management, beverage operations management, and human resources management.

  • Fee: $375 members; $500 nonmembers
  • Recertification: 5 years

Master Certificate in Foodservice Management: This online program is offered through Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. Designed for food service professionals, the certificate program includes 18 online courses that require approximately 18 hours to complete. Students complete classes in topics such as restaurant revenue management, team dynamics, and human resource systems.

  • Fee: $7,900
  • Recertification: None

Restaurant management career outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 11 million people were employed in the food service industry as of May 2015. The food service and restaurant industry is diverse and growing. Employment projections from the National Restaurant Association estimate more than 1.7 million jobs in the restaurant industry will be created between 2015 and 2025. Employment growth for restaurant managers should be robust in a number of states. For example, Projections Central projects career growth will be strongest in the following states:

  • Utah: 22% growth
  • Washington: 19.3% growth
  • Arizona: 18% growth

Because of the sheer diversity of the food service industry, prospective students can pursue employment opportunities across a spectrum of business sectors, including hospitality, tourism and travel, and food and beverage. Explore your options with some of the schools below.


  • National Restaurant Association, 2015 Restaurant Industry Pocket Factbook,
  • ManageFirst, FMP Credential,
  • American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute,
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook,
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Foodservice Industry,
  • Cornell, Master Certificate in Foodservice Management,
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