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Survey: Hospitality schools under the magnifying glass

To know all there is to know about schools and their assets, the programs they offer, their admissions criteria, their costs… From Europe to Asia, Switzerland to Australia, the United States to the United Emirates, Hospitality-ON offers an in-depth look at some of the best hospitality programs.


The Swiss Confederation has already earned its reputation in hospitality training, so Swiss schools are logically the preferred destinations of students seeking careers with high levels of responsibility, whether in hotels-restauration or sectors that appreciate these profiles (luxury, consulting/ finance…). In order to reach the highest peaks, one must be ready to invest the means to achieve one’s ambitions: fees for Bachelors programs –which generally last 3 to 4 years– at top schools generally range from 60,000 to more than 130,000 CHF (55,000 to 120,000 €) for students who are not Swiss citizens, to which may be added fees for a postgraduate diploma or a master.

This entry ticket may seem high, but several factors should be taken into consideration. First of all, scholarships and financial aid may be possible according to financial need, and rates can be lower for Swiss nationals or residents from specific cantons. Moreover, internships in Switzerland that are longer than 6 months are paid a local minimum wage of 2,172 CHF (around 2,000 €) per month; thus, revenues from mandatory internships can help reduce the bottom line. Of course, registration fees should be considered with respect to potential salaries upon graduation; in fact, the Swiss schools that investigated this generally suggest an annual salary of “54,000 to 60,000 CHF” for graduates working in the Confederation. But the reality can vary significantly from one country to the next, depending on jobs and the type of property, rather than school averages. The best approach is to investigate the salaries that correspond to the jobs in the countries where one wishes to work, and work out the return on investment for different training programs depending on career aspirations.

It is therefore necessary to keep in mind that unlike most other non-hospitality programs, and other countries’ customs, registration fees for Swiss hotel schools also generally include nearly all indirect fees generated by a year of studies. These fees include accommodations, generally required (unless exceptions are made) and recommended considering high rents in Switzerland and the geographic locations of campuses; meals (full or half board upon request), as well as health insurance (mandatory in Switzerland), registration fees, cooking and/or school uniforms, federal taxes, Wi-Fi access, student support services, airport pick-up upon arrival, access to campus infrastructure (sports, library…). In short, nearly everything is covered, except during internships and school vacations. The cost of accommodations at most schools refers to accommodations in a double room; if one wishes to have a single, then additional fees are to be expected as are parking permits.


While Switzerland tends to offer “all-included” packages, European hospitality programs are generally “à la carte” as far as non-program related needs are concerned (accommodations, meals, living expenses…), which leaves students with many options. Studying in one of the leading hospitality schools in Europe can thus be the right choice for those who wish to live off campus or share an apartment, study in a major city, work on the side or occasionally do extra work to complement one’s hospitality training… The good quality for price value offered by most programs –with a few elite programs as the exception– also makes the European Union a favorite destination for students seeking training in schools with excellent levels while keeping their debt and /or their impact their family finances to a minimum.

But hotel schools in the European Union nonetheless set the bar high in terms of quality. Some offer studies at top institutions of higher learning and universities where students may integrate powerful alumni networks and general studies programs that broaden the array of career openings for young graduates. At others, the quality focuses on specialized studies, particularly regarding certain operational aspects of tourism, or else through closer work with the student, for example a lower student/teacher ratio.

Many European schools also offer students the possibility of studying abroad for a semester or more, either on their own campuses located worldwide, through the European program Erasmus, or through partnerships with other schools abroad and on other continents. Through exchanges during academic semesters and even during internships, it is thus possible to further knowledge of languages and develop an international profile.


The hotel industry being a universe where familiarity with other cultures is a real professional asset, and where knowledge and knowhow can be acquired around the world, setting off to discover new continents could be an asset for an international career further down the road. Favorite destinations naturally include Anglophone countries, with the United States and Australia in the lead with world-renown training programs. Today, with Asia-Pacific and the Middle East growing rapidly these two regions offer career development opportunities and increasing numbers of training programs. Some training programs even make it possible to combine the best of both worlds, with training programs that combine studies in Anglophone settings as well as in Asia.

A word of warning: American Universities may require students to have already obtained credits in other subjects and/or professional experience. This can mean a degree in hospitality may require a few extra semesters, either in internships or on campus. It is thus important to find out as soon as possible about the criteria specific to each school and the different access routes possible (equivalency credits).


Regardless of destination, it is necessary to demonstrate your qualities to get into the best programs. One of the most important factors is the level of English: nearly all hospitality schools require applicants to prove their level of English through an official exam dating less than two years prior to admissions. It is thus imperative to prepare for these exams well in advance and to pass them successfully before applying, because programs vary according to the results obtained on these exams.

To enter a Bachelors program, it is necessary to have a minimum score of 5.0 on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or a 500 on the written TOEFL, or 61 on the TOEFL IBT (via internet); but many schools require their students to have an IELTS of 5.5 (or 550 on the written TOEFL / 70 on the IBT) or the equivalent, or even 6.0 or 7.0, which is often required for the Masters, MBA or postgraduate degree. It is thus imperative to know one’s level of English before choosing a school. But it is also important to not give up if results seem insufficient: many schools, including the most demanding, accept applications with an understanding that the student will attend an intensive English program for several weeks or months, prior to starting the school’s classic hospitality program. A minimum level is required here as well (generally a IELTS score of 4.0 or the equivalent) to sign up for remedial language classes. Finally, it is important not to forget that some schools also offer degree programs in other languages, such as French and German, at least in the first couple of years.

Academically, in addition to a diploma, some schools also require potential students to present dossiers showing academic excellence (secondary school report cards), to do standardized testing –the GMAT in particular. Applicants should also demonstrate their motivation in a personal interview. Finally, to start a Masters or MBA, professional experience is a frequent request, and it can be a major asset (and sometimes even a pre-requisite) for the Bachelors program. Since requirements can vary it is important to see what best fits one’s profile.

With so many different variables, higher education programs in hospitality offer a real opportunity: regardless of one’s aspirations, profile and personal project, the diversity of schools present worldwide should enable just about anyone to find the right match.

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