Food Service Management Degree

John Mackey is one of America’s leading businessmen in the field of food service management. He is the CEO of Whole Foods Market chain, and is a renowned advocate for the use of organic foods. His “conscious business” approach, which focuses on providing services to others and improving the community, has won him the top slot in the industry.  

What is Food Service Management?

Food service management can be described as the science of preparing and selecting food items for consumers. The term is mainly associated with the restaurant industry or food manufacturing sector. As the food industry is constantly being reshaped by customer trends and tastes, the demand for skilled food service managers (those with a food service management degree) is growing. These professionals are responsible for overseeing food preparation, managing cash flows, and ensuring meeting all regulations of the industry.

If you love food and have a passion for preparing food, this can be a great career path for you. Food service managers are required to demonstrate effective cooking and management skills. The field also opens doors to many related occupations. You could work in restaurants, food chains, and even start your own business.

Food Service Management Degree

The first step to preparing for this career is getting a degree in food service management. The main purpose of food service management programs is to equip you with knowledge of food preparation, management, and essential career skills.

Masters in Food Service Management

This is a graduate level program designed to provide students with in-depth knowledge of food service and management. The program will cover a wide range of topics that focus on the overall system of food service. Students will learn about the core fundamentals of food services and how the industry operates.
The curriculum will usually include a range of theory-based courses and practical courses. Each course will highlight a certain aspect of the management process such as menu planning, dining time, client management, cash flow, food marketing, etc. Students may also be required to participate in research projects or complete internships. The exact degree requirements will vary from college to college.


  • Workforce management in the hospitality industry

In this course, students will learn about the role of workers in the hospitality industry, human resource management, and more.

  • Hospitality computer information systems

This course is designed to familiarize students with various applications of computer in the industry. Students will learn about the role of information systems and how it can be used to optimize food service management.

  • Hospitality business research

In this course, students will learn about different research methodologies used in the field. The course will emphasize on various quantitative and qualitative research methods.

  • Financial management

In this course, students will learn about different financial management principles used in the industry. Students will learn about various financial functions and its relevance to food service.

  • Food principles

This course will focus on a wide array of subjects such as food preservation, food microbiology, food safety, scientific and social aspects of food, and more.

PhD in Food Service Management

This is a post-graduate program that is offered to students who have completed their master’s degree. The program can take around 3-8 years to complete and is the highest level of qualification offered in the field. Students enrolled in this program can acquire scholarly knowledge and skills that will prepare them for research, leadership, and advanced job roles in the industry.

The curriculum is divided into various components. Students will participate in research studies and  build a strong foundation of knowledge. Here are the components of the program described in detail:
The coursework will include a range of subjects that will highlight different aspects of food service management. Students will cover these courses in classroom settings. Each course is equal to a number of credit hours.
Independent research study
This is an important part of the program. Students are required to select a related topic on the basis of their research. During this phase of the program, students will apply different research methodologies to gather information.
The dissertation is the final requirement of the degree.  All students must prepare a dissertation and present it before the assigned faculty.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Degree in Food Service Management?

There are many schools in the US, such as the Orange Coast College and Sam Houston State University, which are offering food service management degrees. Students can enroll in a four-year long Bachelor of Science (B.S)/Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Food Service Management. They can also enroll in a Commercial/Institutional Food Service Management Certificate program, which can be completed in less than 2 years. After graduating, students can land jobs in a number of fields including Consumer Affairs, Marketing Research, or Product Development.

What Are the Requirements to Complete a Degree in Food Service Management?

Students enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (B.S)/Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Food Service Management have to complete around 120 credits. They are required to study a variety of modules such as Presentation Techniques, Nutrition, and Meal Management and Hospitality.  Apart from completing the coursework, they also have to complete a 300-hour internship with a food production facility like a healthcare facility or a restaurant.

How Much Can I Make after Completing a Degree in Food Service Management?

After graduating with a degree in Food Service Management, individuals can pursue different careers such as Restaurant Managers, Dietetic Service Supervisors, Caterers, or Menu Designers. It has been reported that Restaurant Managers earned a yearly median wage of $54,240 in May 2018. Job outlook data points towards a positive employment growth of 11% in the field from 2018 to 2028. This information has been obtained from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Food Service Management Certificate Program

This is a short course that falls in the category of non-degree programs. This program is designed for professionals who want to join the field as a food service manager, or upgrade their skills. Students can complete this program in 6 to 12 months, depending on the institute.
A certificate program will typically focus on career-related subjects and skill development. Some of the courses expected to be covered in this program are:

  • Marketing fundamentals for the hospitality industry
  • Menu planning and merchandising strategies
  • HR systems
  • Revenue and service cycle changes

It is also possible to purse a food service management certificate online.

Become a Certified Food Service Manager!

To take your career to the next level, get certified! Professional certifications are great for improving career prospects. There are a number of state boards and organizations offering professional certifications in this field. For example, you can opt for the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification offered by the Manage First National Restaurant Association. The requirements for this certification are:

  • Minimum 1 year work experience or a degree in hospitality
  • Specialized training and a food protection manager certification
  • Passing the certification exam

Can you Study Online?

Yes, you can study food service management online. A number of colleges are offering an online food service management degree. You can study from the comfort of your home without having to go anywhere. Here are a few noted benefits of distance learning:

  • Flexible coursework
  • Individualized attention
  • Make your own study schedule
  • Cost-friendly


  • Business skills
  • Customer skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Communication skills

Admission Steps:

  • Fill out and submit an admission form
  • Submit official high school and college transcripts
  • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Make sure you meet the minimum GPA requirement

The admission requirements will vary from college to college.

Career Prospects

With a food service management degree, you could work in restaurants and food chains, or become an entrepreneur. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 40% of food service managers were self-employed. The median annual income made by these professionals was $47,960.

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 1660 0.11 1.26 18.13 37720
Florida 1130 0.14 1.68 17.97 37370
Illinois 960 0.16 1.92 17.9 37240
Texas 760 0.07 0.78 16.62 34570
New York 650 0.07 0.85 20.12 41840


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