Grow in Your Niche: How Specializations and Minors Can Help You Discover Your Interests

Hotel administration and hospitality minors and specializations provide a defined pathway to dive deep into your area of interest as you pursue your bachelor’s degree. The Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration gives you five detailed specializations and one minor to guide your educational experience, backed by the limitless learning resources of Cornell University.

What Are the Cornell Nolan School’s Specializations and Minors, and Should I Have One (or More)?

As a Nolan School student, you have the option to complete a specialization (12 credits) or the real estate minor (18 or more credits). You may also choose to take additional electives from across the different specializations to pursue your interests as your schedule allows. The Nolan School’s specializations are organized into three broad categories: the business of hospitality, hospitality operations, and real estate.

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The Business of Hospitality Specializations

Interested in hospitality business administration? Whether you envision yourself working in financial strategy and investment management, analyzing and improving business models, or consumer behavior and brand management, you’ll receive solid preparation for your career directions.

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Hospitality Operations Specializations

If you see yourself involved in hospitality operations, consider a Nolan School specialization in food and beverage management or beverage management. Prepare for your career in managing a restaurant, or delve into the particulars of managing and marketing wine, beer, and other beverages.

Key IconReal Estate Minor

The Nolan School’s real estate minor provides you with comprehensive knowledge and skills for the exciting world of valuing, buying and selling, and managing property. You’ll complete foundational, enrichment, and complementary coursework for a total of 18 credits or more.

Specialization Courses by Category

Under the Business of Hospitality and Hospitality Operations categories, you can choose one of multiple specializations to suit your career direction and interests.

The Business of Hospitality Specializations

These specializations allow you to pursue a career path in one of three directions: finance, analytics, or marketing. Each specialization starts with foundational coursework, followed by enrichment courses for further knowledge and skills in your chosen career path.

Hospitality Operations Specializations

If you’re interested in operations management, you can specialize in one of two areas: food and beverage management, or beverage management. Each specialization begins with coursework to provide foundational knowledge, followed by enrichment courses that let you pursue your specific interests.

The back of students as they look out a window The Nolan School Real Estate Minor

The only Nolan School-focused minor, our real estate minor is available to Nolan School and non-Nolan School students and prepares you for a career in the rapidly changing field of commercial real estate. This minor draws on the unmatched real estate capabilities of the Nolan School’s faculty. The real estate minor focuses on real estate investment, real estate finance, real estate consulting, structured finance, and real estate transaction support. In addition to coursework, this minor helps you forge quality industry connections. Typical career paths include real estate developer, asset management analyst, acquisitions analyst, financial analyst, loan origination and underwriting professional, and many other pathways.

University-Wide Minors

Cornell University’s schools offer a wealth of knowledge that many students find complementary to their Nolan School degree. These minors can enrich your career preparation.

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Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI)

This minor provides a general approach to entrepreneurial thinking and problem solving, as well as approaches to driving innovation in a corporate setting. A minor in entrepreneurship and innovation prepares you for careers that involve creating new businesses; working in startups or large innovative firms; addressing sustainability issues; and contributing to entrepreneurial ecosystems through finance, accounting, law, policy, and consulting.

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Minor in Applied Economics

Providing a solid foundation in economics principles, and an understanding of how they’re put into action, this minor helps you develop critical-thinking skills, an analytical approach to problem solving, proficiency in data analysis, and knowledge of financial and economic concepts. You’ll discover how the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth affects business and policy decisions and the economy. After introductory economic coursework, you can focus on specific industries and areas, such as the environment and natural resources, international development, food policy, agriculture, or the public sector.

Minor in Food and Agricultural Business

This minor gives you the opportunity to select core business courses relevant to your personal and career interests in food or agricultural business and take coursework that helps you better understand the characteristics of food or agricultural sectors in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. This minor is great if you’re interested in food processing, marketing and distribution, production and marketing of agricultural products, or businesses that support food and agricultural enterprises.

Tree IconMinor in Environmental, Energy, and Resource Economics

If you’re interested in sustainable business, energy, and the environment, consider this minor, which focuses on the interrelationship between the economy and the environment. Coursework also examines the role of sustainability in business and economic development. Introductory economics courses are followed by foundational courses connecting economic theories to the environment, energy, and natural resources, and explores the business case for sustainable practices and how organizational decisions can affect the economy and the environment.

Minor in International Trade and Development

Offering a range of courses on trade, international finance, and the economics of developing countries, this minor provides the opportunity to study macroeconomics issues in trade and finance, as well as microeconomics issues rooted in Cornell’s long tradition as a leader in international agriculture. Beginning with introductory economics, the minor provides electives for you to focus on topics such as the economics of food and agriculture, policy analysis, political economies, and research methods related to international development and emerging markets.

Cornell University Minors

In the spirit of founder Ezra Cornell, Cornell University offers more than 70 minors throughout its many schools and departments, in many fields. You can consider a minor in a foreign language, computer science, theater, nutritional and health sciences, and many others. For more information, visit Undergraduate Minors under the Cornell University Fields of Study.


Expand Your Learning with Experiential Learning Opportunities

Take advantage of the Nolan School’s program flexibility to explore your passions outside the classroom. You can study abroad or focus on research, or immerse yourself in hospitality through our Hotel Leadership Development Program (HLDP). Or earn an associate’s degree through our alliance with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park while completing your bachelor’s at the Nolan School and graduate with two highly coveted degrees in just four years.

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Choose Coursework to Fit Your Interests

Declaring a specialization and minor creates a useful framework for selecting appropriate coursework. Work carefully with your academic adviser to ensure that the courses you choose are suited to your specific career and industry goals.

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Comprehensive Guidance for Your Nolan School Journey

Nolan School faculty advisers help you translate your academic interests into a powerful course of study, providing current information about course offerings, specializations, research, co-curricular opportunities, and facilitating networking. Office of student services (OSS) professional academic advisers can help you clarify your career and life goals and choose coursework to support your achievement of those goals. OSS career-management advisers help you develop crucial career competencies and facilitate access to university career resources and powerful industry and alumni networks.

Common Specializations & Minors FAQs

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Begin your hospitality career with a Nolan School degree in hotel administration. The rigorous academic coursework, personalization with minors or specializations, extended academic opportunities, student experience, world-class faculty, and so much more make Cornell the place for you.

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Are You a Current Student?

If you matriculated before Fall 2022, your requirements are slightly different from those described on this page. Here’s the path back to information on Concentrations and Minors in our Current Students section.

Current Students