Undergraduate study in hospitality, tourism and personal services

Courses and specialisations

The growth of the hospitality and tourism industries has led to the emergence of a wide variety of courses at undergraduate level. Courses in the personal services industry, such as hairdressing and beauty therapy, are offered in the VET sector only. For more information, see VET study in tourism, hospitality and personal services.

Undergraduate degrees in hospitality and tourism prepare students for employment in management roles. Many are specialist bachelor degrees in areas such as tourism management, events management, international hotel and resort management, international restaurant management, culinary management and hospitality management. There are also a number of undergraduate degrees in business that offer specialisations in hospitality and tourism (a bachelor of business specialising in tourism management, for example). While specialist hospitality and tourism degrees are a good option for students who are certain about studying and working in these industries, the general bachelor of business degrees allow students who are interested in management to sample a number of fields before committing to dedicated study in tourism and hospitality. There is also a small number of double degrees that combine studies in tourism and hospitality with study in fields such as humanities, and business and management. Honours degrees are also available for students who are looking to complete more in depth research into the industry.   

Undergraduate degrees in tourism and hospitality usually involve classes that teach you about your industry and how it works, classes that deal with business skills relevant to the industry (such as marketing or management), and classes that involve extensive practical components (including training in elaborate practical facilities on campus and paid industry internships).

Applicants must meet academic and English language entry requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Entry to some institutions is highly competitive and requires students to attend an interview as part of the selection process. For more information about undergraduate degrees and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Undergraduate.

Where to study

Undergraduate degrees in tourism, hospitality and personal services are available at universities, TAFE institutes and private colleges around the country. There are a number of specialist providers in this field of study. You may find that there is greater range of courses and a higher level of expertise at specialist providers and institutions located in popular tourist areas.

Some of the private colleges are elite residential schools, where students live and work on campus as part of their course. Residential schools may charge higher fees than other institutions, but fees usually include accommodation and meals.

Practical experience is a very important part of many hospitality and tourism courses, so it is important to check that the courses and institutions you are considering have good facilities, incorporate plenty of practical experience through industry placements and simulated training environments, and provide access to the latest equipment and techniques. The best courses should also have good contacts with employers and help students to find work in their industry. Look out for training restaurants that are open to the public, simulated environments such as mock hotel front desks, industry-standard equipment and software, and field trips.

There are many employment opportunities overseas in the hospitality and tourism industries, so international recognition is important to many students. Look for courses and providers that are accredited by prestigious international organisations in your industry and ask institution staff about graduate prospects overseas.

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