Best Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Programs
Consider improving your career prospects and salary potential with a master's in hospitality management. Read on to explore admission requirements, career paths, and much more.
The hospitality industry encompasses many types of recreation and lodging spaces, such as hotels, restaurants, resorts, and casinos. While the industry has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels have begun to recover as travel begins to resume.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that lodging managers employed in specialized management roles earned an annual median salary of $95,180 in May 2020. The highest-paid managers earned more than $108,060 annually. The BLS projects lodging manager occupations will 9% between 2020 and 2030.
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Earning an online master's in hospitality management can help candidates progress to upper-level management positions in the hospitality industry. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that graduate students paid an average tuition rate of $19,792 during the 2019-2020 academic year. Online schools typically offer comparable tuition rates but may offer greater flexibility for working students.
Our guide to master's in hospitality programs includes admissions requirements and common courses. You'll also find information on career paths in both hospitality management and other business fields.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Hospitality Management Program?
Hospitality management requires professionals to possess business savvy along with strong skills in communication, organization, and customer service. Candidates also need an aptitude for leadership as upper-level positions in the field require the management of other hospitality personnel.
Online master's in hospitality management programs vary in length. Some accelerated programs may take as little as one year to complete, while part-time programs may take several years. Credit requirements vary among schools, but students typically need to complete 30-40 credits to graduate from a master's program.
The hospitality industry encompasses many different sectors, and a master's in hospitality management may offer several specializations or concentration options, such as:
- Lodging management
- Tourism management
- Food and beverage management
- Recreation and leisure management
- Meeting and event management
Completing a concentration can help graduates distinguish themselves when applying for jobs. For example, candidates who hope to work in the hotel industry or eventually open their own bed and breakfast may concentrate on lodging management.
Given the degree's professional focus, many hospitality management programs include an experiential component, such as an internship, practicum, or capstone project. These experiences enable participants to gain a hands-on understanding of the hospitality industry. When preparing for graduate school, students should determine if a program features any in-person experiential requirements.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Hospitality Management Programs
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Courses in an Online Master's in Hospitality Management Program
Organizational Behavior in the Hospitality Industry
This course highlights leadership models and organizational structure in the context of the hospitality industry. Students may explore strategies for managing and motivating different personality types in hospitality settings.
Hospitality and Tourism Marketing
Integrated marketing strategies play a major role in the hospitality industry. This course focuses on approaches to service marketing, including the analysis and evaluation of marketing strategies.
Global Issues in Hospitality and Tourism
This course examines trends and industry-wide issues in hospitality management. Students explore the increasingly connected global hospitality industry and the effects of national and international tourism.
Hospitality Business Law
This course examines the laws and regulations that affect hospitality businesses. Students may explore topics including employment law, product liability, risk management, and the legal rights and responsibilities of hospitality businesses.
Many online master's in hospitality management programs end with a capstone project that ties together major program themes. Students often work to identify and solve an issue in the hospitality industry.
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What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Hospitality Management?
Most colleges maintain the same admission requirements for both campus and online master's in hospitality management programs. While different colleges maintain different admissions standards, all programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college.
Some programs may prioritize applicants with undergraduate backgrounds in business or hospitality management. Other programs admit students of all academic and professional backgrounds.
This section highlights the major admission requirements for online master's in hospitality management programs. Some schools may include other components, such as an interview.
All colleges require students to complete an online application. The online application includes personal information and other required components such as transcripts and letters of recommendation. Larger state college systems, such as the University of California or the State University of New York, operate system-wide portals for applications.
Many online master's in hospitality management programs require applicants to submit scores from graduate-level exams such as the GRE or GMAT. These exams evaluate analytical and critical thinking skills. Score requirements vary widely among schools, but careful test preparation can usually help students increase their scores.
Letters of Recommendation
Graduate programs usually ask applicants to submit letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors. These letters should speak to the applicant's strengths and their preparedness for graduate study. Always be sure to ask for letters of recommendation well before application deadlines to give recommenders plenty of time to prepare.
Resume and Work Experience
Most master's in hospitality management programs ask applicants to submit a resume that outlines relevant work experience. Some programs may require applicants to possess experience in the hospitality industry, while others may only ask for general work experience. However, many master's programs prefer students to have at least some experience in the workforce.
Many programs require candidates to submit a personal statement or other essay. This piece of writing enables students to describe their background, their interest in graduate study, and their professional aspirations. Personal essays can be especially useful for students whose transcripts don't tell the full story of their academic or professional journey.
All graduate programs require applicants to submit undergraduate transcripts from previous schools they attended. Students who have completed other graduate-level work should usually submit these transcripts, as well. Many schools accept transfer credits from other graduate programs, but students should check with individual colleges to determine credit transferability.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Hospitality Management Degree?
Hospitality management graduates often find employment in the hotel and restaurant industry, which offers many employment options. The BLS projects careers for lodging managers to grow 9% between 2020 and 2030, about the same rate of growth across all U.S. occupations. Careers for food service managers are projected to grow 15% during the same period.
Salary rates in the field can be quite high, especially for managerial positions. Human resources managers and sales managers can earn annual salaries over $100,000. Higher-level positions in hotel management, food service management, and gambling management also often earn average annual salaries in the low six figures.
Lodging managers run hotels and resorts, overseeing operations, housekeeping, and guest services. They may also take responsibility for broad business functions such as marketing, sales, and human resources. Obtaining a master's degree may enable graduates to move into the top 10% of hotel managers, who earned more than $108,060 annually in May 2020.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $56,670
Gambling managers coordinate operations at casinos and other facilities. Like lodging managers, they may oversee many different aspects of a casino, such as staffing, maintenance, and operations. They may also take responsibility for determining house rules.
With a master's degree, candidates can progress to upper-level management positions. The top 10% of gambling managers earned more than $139,000 annually in May 2020.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $75,470
Food Service Manager
Food service managers direct staff and manage operations at restaurants and other food service environments. They may oversee staffing, budgeting, and general operations.
With a master's in hospitality management, candidates can pursue higher-level management positions in the restaurant industry. Managers who move into corporate management positions earned a median annual salary of $109,760 in May 2020.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $56,590
Sales managers oversee sales for all kinds of businesses. In the hospitality industry, they may focus on sales for hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Sales managers may analyze sales data, set new sales goals, determine overall sales strategies, and create training programs for an organization's sales associates.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $132,290
Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers coordinate businesses' administrative and personnel functions. They may take responsibility for recruitment and hiring practices, employee benefits programs, labor relations, and staff conflicts and mediation. Human resources managers may work for all types of hospitality organizations, including hotels, resorts, restaurants, and casinos.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $121,220
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A master's degree serves as the highest level of education necessary for most careers in the hospitality field. Only a small portion of master's candidates go on to pursue doctoral degrees such as a Ph.D. However, many colleges do offer Ph.D. programs in hospitality and tourism management.
Doctoral programs typically focus on research and academic perspectives for hospitality management. Students may also pursue a doctorate in a related field, such as business administration or organizational leadership.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Hospitality Management Program?
While students may expect online degrees to be less expensive than campus degrees, this isn't always the case. Also, keep in mind that private colleges generally charge far higher tuition rates than public colleges. Always be sure to consider a program's true cost, which includes tuition along with additional fees and expenses.
A program's format greatly affects your overall experience. Part-time programs typically serve working students, while full-time or accelerated enrollment requires more coursework but enables you to graduate faster. Asynchronous programs enable you to complete coursework at any time, while synchronous programs feature live class sessions with set log-in times.
Online learning can enable students to attend schools in other cities or states. However, some programs may include campus requirements, such as workshops, in-person classes, or residency sessions. When researching online programs, always ask about any on-campus requirements.
Accreditation indicates that a college has met federal and state standards ensuring students receive a proper education. Any college offering an online master's in hospitality management should hold regional accreditation, rather than national accreditation. The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration also accredits individual hospitality management programs.
It never hurts to research a school's available student support services. Colleges typically offer a variety of resources for students, including mentorship services, career counseling, and internship opportunities. Many schools also offer dedicated student services for online learners, such as online tutoring, academic advising, and technology support.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Hospitality Management Programs
Is a master's in hospitality management worth it?
For many students, the potential for career advancement makes a master's in hospitality management a practical professional choice. A master's degree program can prepare graduates for leadership and management roles in the industry. These positions typically come with greater responsibilities and increased salaries.
Students considering graduate school often view a master's degree as a professional investment. While a graduate program may result in increased student debt in the short term, career advancement and increases in earnings can offset these expenses in the future.
What can I do with a master's in hospitality management?
A master's in hospitality management prepares graduates for a variety of leadership and management career paths in the hospitality field. Graduates often enter management roles at hotels, resorts, restaurants, and casinos. Candidates may also move into upper management roles with hospitality businesses, such as sales, marketing, or human resources.
An online master's in hospitality management can also prepare candidates for doctoral study. Some graduates enter Ph.D. programs in hospitality management, business, or similar fields. Earning a Ph.D. can prepare graduates to pursue academic or research-based careers. These professionals often teach at colleges and conduct research into hospitality management practices.
Are hospitality management majors in demand?
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the hospitality industry, reducing hotel occupancy and overall revenues. However, the industry has begun to show signs of recovery, which should contribute to the demand for hospitality management majors. The BLS projects jobs for lodging managers to grow 9% between 2020 and 2030.
The BLS projects other management positions to grow at similar rates. Positions for sales managers, human resources managers, and marketing managers are all projected to grow 9-10% between 2020 and 2030. This growth should create a generally steady demand for managers in the hospitality industry.
How much money can I make with a master's in hospitality management?
Salaries in the hospitality industry vary widely by position, location, experience level, and field of employment. The BLS reports that lodging managers earned a median annual salary of $56,670 in May 2020. However, hotel managers in the top 10% earned more than $108,060 annually.
Holding an advanced degree generally leads to higher-paying management positions. Food service managers employed specifically in management occupations earned an annual median salary of $109,760 in May 2020. Gambling managers earned an annual median salary of $75,470, but the upper 25% earned more than $99,000 annually.
What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in hospitality management?
Most of the top-paying jobs in the hospitality industry are upper-level management positions. Front-facing hotel and restaurant management positions may feature competitive salaries, but corporate management positions commonly yield higher pay. Management positions in sales, marketing, training and development, and human resources feature average median salaries in the low six figures.
Hospitality professionals can also increase their salary levels through professional development opportunities, such as workshops and certifications. Credentials offered by organizations like the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute can help experienced professionals gain new skills and continue to advance in their careers.
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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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