If you're aiming for leadership in today's booming travel industry, then tourism and hospitality scholarships can go a long way to fund your career dreams.
Hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise ships, amusement parks, and other travel-related organizations employ millions of professionals behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly for their guests. Choosing a tourism or hospitality management major can set you up for success in a hungry industry that has added more than 1.6 million jobs since the recent economic downturn.
Therefore, below we've highlighted 20 of the most lucrative scholarships that can be utilized to finance the education that will start your career in tourism and hospitality.
1. AH&LEF Graduate Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 1st
Through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation, the AH&LEF Graduate Scholarship Program has been hosted annually since 2008 to provide $5,000 in tuition assistance to graduate students who are pursuing a degree in hospitality management or have achieved at least four years' employment in the industry after completing a hospitality-related undergraduate degree. Applicants must be enrolled at least part-time in a United States college, have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. All applications must be accompanied by academic transcripts, a current resume, a 500-word essay describing career goals, and letters of reference from both faculty and employers.
2. AIANTA Tourism and Hospitality Scholarship
Deadline: December 1st
As part of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, the AIANTA Tourism and Hospitality Scholarship is presented annually for $1,000 to provide financial assistance to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students pursuing a degree or certificate related to hospitality, tourism, recreation, or culinary arts. Eligible candidates must be accepted into an accredited college, plan to enroll at least part-time, carry a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, and show documentation of their Indigenous heritage. In exchange for the funding, recipients must return 12 volunteer hours to a tribe, national park, or public lands institution.
3. American Express Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Endowed with more than $500,000 since 1994, the American Express Scholarship is awarded through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF) for undergraduate students pursuing a major in hospitality management at an accredited U.S. university. Associate majors will receive $1,000 for full-time enrollment or $500 for part-time enrollment, but baccalaureate majors can receive $2,000 for full-time enrollment, and $1,000 for part-time enrollment. Qualified applicants must be working at least 20 hours per week at an AH&LA member hotel with at least one year of hotel experience, or they must be dependents of hotel employees and have past employment in the hospitality industry.
4. Carol Chorbajian Scholarship Fund
Deadline: May 27th
Sponsored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), the Carol Chorbajian Scholarship Fund distributes a $2,500 merit-based award annually for outstanding undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in an accredited college with a major related to the restaurant, food service, hospitality, or tourism industry. Preference is given to students from Monterey County, California and individuals attending school in California, but the NRAEF will select other recipients if no eligible students meet these requirements. Candidates must submit two letters of recommendation, a current resume, proof of enrollment, academic transcripts, and their Student Aid Report.
5. Clem Judd Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: July 1st
In honor of a forceful and visionary leader in Hawaii's visitor industry, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association has created the Clem Judd Jr. Memorial Scholarship for state residents who are in their junior or senior year of an accredited hotel management program with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 or better. Eligible applicants must provide proof of Hawaiian ancestry, proof of U.S. citizenship, official college transcripts, an autobiography, a letter of recommendation from a university professor or dean, and a 500-word essay detailing their career objectives in hotel administration.
Clem Judd Jr. Memorial Scholarship
2270 Kalakaua Avenue Suite 1506
Honolulu, HI 96815
6. Davidson and Jones Hotel Corporation Scholarship
Annually, the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) awards the Davidson and Jones Hotel Corporation Scholarship for $1,000 to a rising junior or senior student currently enrolled in a four-year undergraduate culinary or hospitality management program in the state. Eligible applicants must be North Carolina residents, have full-time enrollment, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and have previous work experience in the hospitality industry. Preference will be given to any upper-division students who plan to enroll full-time in a state graduate school to receive an MBA in a hospitality-related field.
7. FirstCaribbean International Bank Scholarship
Deadline: March 30th
Through the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the FirstCaribbean International Bank (CIBC) Scholarship is granted for $5,000 each year to young Caribbean professionals pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree in tourism, hospitality management, culinary arts, or event management in America. Applicants must be enrolled full-time in an affiliated institution, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and pass on their knowledge through community outreach. Each scholar must agree to return to the Caribbean region and work in the hospitality or tourism industry for at least two years following graduation.
8. Gerald J. Roper Scholarship Fund
Deadline: May 15th
The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Foundation (IHLAEF) offers the Gerald J. Roper Scholarship Fund to provide $2,000 in honor of the long-time President and CEO at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Eligible graduating high school seniors or current undergraduate students must be enrolling full-time in an accredited U.S. university, be pursuing a degree in hospitality management degree, have lived in Illinois for at least 12 months, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Applicants will be judged based on their academic record, letters of recommendation, and personal essay describing their hotel career goals.
9. Harvey & Laura Alpert Scholarship Award
Deadline: June 20th
In the amount of $5,000, the Harvey & Laura Alpert Scholarship Award is presented each year by the International Flight Services Association (IFSA) Foundation to relatives of current members who are pursuing a degree related to hospitality, tourism, or travel with the goal of leading a career in onboard services operations. Applicants must be in good academic standing, be currently enrolled full-time in an accredited institution, and exhibit high leadership potential. Along with the application, students should attach official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, an employment history, and a short essay describing their most meaningful achievements.
10. Hotel and Restaurant Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: February 24th
Since its inception in the late 1970s, the Hotel and Restaurant Foundation (HARF) has rewarded the next generation of bright young leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry with up to $2,500. Qualified applicants must be attending a California university accredited by the WASC, be pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree related to hospitality management, show a minimum GPA of 2.75, and verifiable hospitality work experience beyond required internships. Finalists will be judged based on leadership abilities, industry potential, extra-curricular involvement, career goals, and verbal communication skills in the required interview.
11. HSMAI Foundation Mike Dimond Scholarship
Deadline: July 15th
Created in 2008 through the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) in memory of the late hospitality marketing giant, the Mike Dimond Scholarship is awarded annually for up to $5,000 to exceptional graduate students enrolled in accredited U.S. colleges who intend to pursue a career in hospitality sales, marketing, or revenue management. Qualified candidates are required to have relevant work experience, be in good academic standing, and be involved in HSMAI extra-curricular activities. Winning recipients will have the check forwarded directly to their respective college to be applied toward tuition expenses.
12. Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students
Deadline: May 1st
Also administered through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF) since 1988, the Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students offers a $2,000 award and plaque for an outstanding African American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaskan Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander student pursuing a career in hotel management. All applicants must be enrolled full-time in a bachelor's degree program for hospitality at a U.S. university with at least junior-level status. Applications must be accompanied by academic transcripts, a current resume, a 500-word essay detailing their career goals, and two letters of recommendation.
13. Keith R. Kittle Memorial Travel & Tourism Scholarship
Deadline: April 29th
In honor of the formal General Manager of the Winchester Mystery House, the San Francisco Bay Area Attractions Council has created the Keith R. Kittle Memorial Travel & Tourism Scholarship to provide $1,000 annually. Applicants must be residents of Northern California, be currently attending a two or four-year college, and have a declared major in tourism or hospitality management. For consideration, candidates should submit a typed one-page essay explaining why they are interested in pursuing a career in the Bay Area's hospitality and tourism industry.
Keith R. Kittle Memorial Travel & Tourism Scholarship
330 Townsend Street Suite 112
San Francisco, CA 94107
14. Louis N. Ventresca Scholarship Award
Deadline: April 15th
As the highest and most coveted honor distributed through the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association (NYSHTA), the Louis N. Ventresca Scholarship Award presents up to $7,000 annually for graduating high school seniors or current college students who are working at member properties and/or dependents of qualified employees. Applicants must be enrolling full-time in an accredited New York college, plan to major in a hospitality-related field, and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. Interested students should fill out the application, provide a two-page autobiography, enclose three letters of recommendation, and attach an official transcript.
15. Minorities in Hospitality Scholars Program
Deadline: January 31st
In collaboration with Choice Hotels International, the International Franchise Association (IFA) Educational Foundation hosts the Minorities in Hospitality Scholars Program to offer competitive $2,000 awards for African American, American Indian, Hispanic American, and Asian American students who are enrolled in a hospitality-related degree program. Eligible applicants must be attending an accredited U.S. college, be at least a sophomore, and have U.S. citizenship. To qualify, applications must arrive before the deadline with a certified academic transcript and a 500-word essay describing why the candidate should be chosen.
16. Rama Scholarship for the American Dream
Deadline: May 1st
Endowed by the five Rama brothers who emigrated from India and successfully built JHM Hotels Inc. into 35 properties with over 1,500 associates, the Rama Scholarship for the American Dream is administered through the AH&LEF for $3,000 to encourage others to follow their own dreams. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate hospitality management major, be enrolled in at least nine credit hours per semester, and carry a minimum GPA of 2.5. Preference is given to minority students of Asian-Indian descent enrolled at one of 13 participating institutions.
17. Richard B. Combs Hospitality Scholarship Grant
Deadline: April 2nd
Named for a respected tourism leader, the Richard B. Combs Hospitality Scholarship Grant is awarded for $1,000 annually through Connecticut's Office of Culture and Tourism to state residents pursuing a degree in hospitality, travel, or tourism at accredited universities. Eligible applicants must have resided in Connecticut for one year, be graduating high school seniors or currently enrolled college students, and plan to pursue a hospitality-related degree at least part-time. Applications must be mailed or hand-delivered with two letters of recommendation, an official transcript, personal resume, and a statement addressing candidates' academic goals.
18. Ronald H. Brown Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: June 14th
Within the U.S. Travel Association, the Destination & Travel Foundation awards the Ronald H. Brown Memorial Scholarship annually to bestow $3,000 upon a deserving minority undergraduate student who is committed to pursuing a career in any segment of the travel industry. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, be enrolled full-time in a declared tourism-related major, display leadership abilities, have financial need, and possess a minimum GPA of 3.0. For consideration, students need to submit a 500-word essay explaining which segments of the travel industry interest them and why.
19. Stephen P. Marra Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: October 26th
Through the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA), the Stephen P. Marra Memorial Scholarship has been established in memory of the beloved restaurateur and former chairman who passed away suddenly in 2011. Applicants must be Rhode Island residents, be enrolled in an undergraduate program leading to an associate's or bachelor's degree, have a declared major in hospitality or lodging management, and maintain good academic standing. Qualified candidates must submit an essay, letter of recommendation, transcript, and personal statement of their educational/career plans in hospitality.
Stephen P. Marra Memorial Scholarship
94 Sabra Street
Cranston, RI 02910
20. Tourism Cares Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships
Deadline: April 1st
Annually, Tourism Cares awards up to 40 academic scholarships ranging in value from $1,000 to $4,000 apiece for undergraduate and graduate-level students who are pursuing a travel, tourism, or hospitality-related program of study at an accredited college in the United States or Canada. Eligible candidates pursuing an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree must be enrolled at least part-time, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and have completed an Academy of Hospitality and Tourism program at their high school. Scholarships can be used to cover expenses for tuition, textbooks, educational fees, and research-related expenses only.
Tourism Cares Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships
275 Turnpike Street Suite 307
Canton, MA 02021
For making the move successfully from guest to manager, you'll likely need to complete at least two to four years of post-secondary education in an approved hospitality program. Since tuition prices won't be dropping any time soon, it's advised that you find numerous sources of additional funding to reduce your financial burden and avoid borrowing loads of loans. Whether you're looking to manage a fine dining restaurant, bed-and-breakfast, or high-rise hotel, check into these top-notch tourism and hospitality scholarships for supporting your education and moving a few steps closer to your career aspirations.