Degree in Hospitality Management: Mixing theory and practice

September 22, 2021 •

6 min reading

Degree in Hospitality Management: Mixing theory and practice

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Some students are looking for that special balance between degree courses that offer an academic challenge but also ample opportunities to learn practical skills outside the classroom. Certain types of students thrive better with a hands-on learning approach; they know that learning while working provides them personally with a better style of training that optimizes their chances to really develop.

For students who do not want to spend all day in the classroom but still want a learning experience that will broaden their horizons and set them up for professional success, a degree in Hospitality can be the perfect solution. Here at EHL, our students not only take classes from industry leaders in the field of hospitality, but they also have the chance to put their skills to use and build their professional experience through a variety of practical learning opportunities.

Here is what all prospective students should know about EHL degree courses in Hospitality and how they combine both academic and practical learning approaches.


Hospitality Management Studies: a mix of theory and practical courses

A degree in Hospitality offers both ample academic and practical opportunities. The industry is incredibly diverse, with graduates working in a range of businesses from hotels and resorts to restaurants and spas. Hospitality education involves all aspects of the Food & Beverage industry, hotel management, finances, business plans, creative marketing, etc. From the art of serving in a fine dining restaurant to managing the accounts, there are many hands-on facets to this university degree.

The academic coursework for a degree in Hospitality includes:

  • Management of various hospitality businesses
  • Human Resources issues 
  • Finance for businesses and how to manage a budget
  • Marketing and engaging customers
  • Administration related to the front and back end of the business

All of these different courses help prepare students for the different aspects of hospitality management, however, the learning does not stop at the classroom door. The thorough EHL program also offers hands-on learning opportunities that challenge and encourage every student to grow. Brains are stretched outside the classroom; the theory of what is learnt in class is regularly put to practical use.

Rather than just learning about the different aspects of hospitality from an academic perspective, EHL students are shown how to put apply and adapt them to real life situations. They learn about what happens out of the office, and are regularly faced with situations where they have to interact with customers, learning how to put the guest at the center of every interaction.

The hands-on part of the Hospitality curriculum includes:

  • Learning about the culinary arts
  • Serving at a Michelin star restaurant
  • Studying tourism
  • Spa management
  • Workshops on exploring their management personalities, strengths and weaknesses

EHL students, from the offset, are urged to step outside the classroom and participate in the running of real hospitality businesses via workshops, internships and business projects. This practical approach continues throughout their degree program.

Bachelor in International Hospitality Management  See business through customers’ eyes. Enter the job market with a leader’s  perspective.  Discover how we train our students to put customers first.  Discover

Opportunities for hands-on experiences in hospitality training

The EHL degree programs include practical learning experiences for students to see how different areas of hospitality studies actually function in real life. Students participate in real-life workshops around the campus ranging from the diverse food and beverage outlets, the in-house gourmet boutique and the Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, Le Berceau des Sens.

Each practice station presents students with a unique opportunity to see how these establishments are run, what goes into making them a success and how to create customers satisfaction. Students get to see in person the subtle differences between these types of businesses and what makes them stand out for customers and management alike.

During these hands on sessions, students have the chance to develop a wide array of all-important soft skills (extremely sought-after not just in the hospitality industry, but across all the service sectors in general).

  • Confidence gained via rigorous practical training. This will help them transition more easily into professional jobs following graduation.
  • Good time management skills gained from having to balance the responsibilities and priorities that come with running a real business. Students learn the importance of efficiently dealing with tasks and prioritizing what needs to be done.
  • A deep sense of delivering customer excellence by paying attention to detail and sensing the needs of the customer.
  • Adaptability and agility. Students rotate around different workshops throughout the degree program, learning how to adjust and pivot to different circumstances and set of responsibilities.

Throughout the entire rotation of workshops, students learn their skills according to the Swiss standards of hygiene and excellence. The graduates from this program demonstrate a high degree of aptitude and discipline, which will benefit them enormously regardless of which part of the hospitality and service industry they later seek employment in. No matter the job, each day brings its own set of challenges that they need to face. The EHL practical workshops help to them prepare for real working life.


Internships and professional experience gained during the hospitality management degree program

In addition to the practical workshops on campus, students have the chance to build professional experience in a variety of other ways:


Students are encouraged throughout the degree program to participate in internships. Guided by a member of faculty to help them find an internship opportunity that fits their career goals and interests, students have the chance to learn in a real-life professional setting what they have been studying in class. During their internship, their work with reputable external businesses in turn helps them to build their CV, gain a larger network and make contacts within the field that can prove useful in the future.

During these internships, students experience what it feels like to work professionally in a typical hospitality establishment. As they ‘try out’ their targeted career goals, they start to cement their ideas for their desired career path and gain experiences and skills that cannot be taught in the classroom.


Student Business Projects

Many degree programs at EHL provide students with the chance to participate in a Student Business Project. During this initiative, they work in a small group to provide real consulting services for external clients. With the leadership of a faculty member, they work full-time over a six-week period creating presentations, carrying out market research and professional services for the client.

These opportunities challenge the students to put their classroom learning to use and see how well it can impact a real-life business. Many clients receiving these services end up acting upon the students’ suggestions and these projects often lead to job offers at the end of their degree program. During these projects, students gain a greater appreciation of the practical application of their new skills and confidence in the services they are able to provide for their customers.

Together, these types of programs make it possible for students to gain professional experience outside the comfort of the campus. They have the chance to enter their desired field with ample professional experience and a CV that speaks to their skills. Students quickly realize the value of putting their skills to use, as there are many aspects of running a hospitality business that crop up in real life but cannot be taught in a classroom. Learning how to make adjustments in response to customer situations, dynamically engage with them and meet their needs is what a great hospitality business is built on, but this skill requires years of practical experience.


Choose the right balance of practical and theory training

The EHL Hospitality Studies degree allows students to select the balance of practical and academic work that fits them best. 

The professional pathway

The professional pathway offers the chance for more hands-on work throughout the degree program. Students who thrive on real-life learning and gain the most when putting their skills to use in-person will find this pathway more suitable for them. They can use their aptitude for hands-on learning to build their hospitality skills and prepare for their career from a more practical perspective.

The academic pathway

The academic pathway is based more on classroom learning throughout the degree program. Students who value opportunities to discuss theories and ideas related to hospitality in a classroom environment among other students may appreciate this option better. This could also appeal more to students who enjoy writing, researching and theory.



It is important to note that both the professional and academic pathways offer students multiple opportunities to engage with real hospitality businesses and customers via the workshops, internships and projects. They both include academic, classroom experiences for students to gain theoretical knowledge about the how hospitality works. The difference simply lies in the degree of emphasis on the academic and the practical areas of the degree programs.

Here at EHL, we pride ourselves on giving students a complete and thought-provoking curriculum that encourages them to not only learn the theoretical side of the hospitality sector in the classroom, but also provide valuable practical insights in-situ. This fully-rounded approach is what helps give EHL its outstanding reputation for hospitality excellence. 

For prospective students looking to challenge themselves to learn a myriad of transferable skills and position themselves on an interesting career path that can take them anywhere in the world, the EHL Hospitality degree programs offer an excellent passport to success!