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Published on October 24, 2018

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In 2017, the travel and hospitality industry in the United States raked in nearly $1.6 trillion, according to Deloitte. Experts expect this industry to continue growing thanks to a robust global economy, increasing competition among airlines, and more businesses requiring employees to travel. As hospitality booms, the sector needs more qualified managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects some hospitality management jobs to grow 10% by 2026, which is higher than the average of all positions.

In 2017, the travel and hospitality industry in the United States raked in nearly $1.6 trillion according to Deloitte.

While earning a master's degree in hospitality, students study what makes hospitality businesses, like hotels, restaurants, and event centers, successful. As such, a master of hospitality management sets applicants apart in a competitive job market.

Should I Get a Master's in Hospitality Management?

Any learner aiming to enter a management-level position within the hospitality industry should consider earning a master's degree in hospitality management. However, not all master's in hospitality management programs are ideal for all students. For example, degree candidates with work and family obligations may prefer the flexibility of an online program rather than taking courses on campus.

Traditional on-campus learning affords students opportunities to connect with their peers and use campus research facilities. In-person learners can also network with professors who often have hospitality experience and connections.

Whether pursuing an online or in-person education, students earning a master's degree in hospitality management can gain skills in corporate financing, business communication, and operations management. Students also study management theories and how to apply them to hospitality businesses. Learners also receive access to job placement assistance, career fairs, and resume reviews. Graduates can seek certifications to further advance their careers.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Hospitality Management?

A professional with a master's degree in hospitality management has a variety of career options available. Personable graduates who enjoy teaching others may enjoy roles as training and development managers, while those with creative prowess may fare well in marketing and promotions roles. Hospitality professionals who enjoy event planning can find appropriate management positions as well.

Hospitality Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers in this industry ensure that employees within an organization understand how best to serve customers. Since these roles require extensive knowledge and business acumen, a master's degree can advance these careers.

Median Annual Salary: $108,250*

Hospitality Administrative Services Manager

These administrative managers design and implement plans for administrative support staff. They may oversee facility maintenance, office management, mail services, and bookkeeping. While education requirements vary for these positions, a master's degree in hospitality management makes job applicants competitive.

Median Annual Salary: $58,670*

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner

A professional with a hospitality management master's degree can work as an event or convention planner. These professionals may work for hotels and convention centers as concierges for clients who host events in the space or for the clients themselves.

Median Annual Salary: $94,020*

Hospitality Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager

Hospitality organizations, hotels, convention centers, and restaurants need marketing and advertising professionals to promote their services. A master's degree in hospitality management equips graduates with the skills needed to excel in this field.

Median Annual Salary: $129,380*

Hospitality Sales Manager

These revenue managers may work for large corporations to sell franchises, for hotels to sell event spaces, or cruise lines to sell packages to large groups. As sales professionals, they must be knowledgeable about the businesses they represent.

Median Annual Salary: $121,060*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Choose a Master's Program in Hospitality Management

While many universities offer master's programs in hospitality management, it's important for students to find a program aligned with their needs. Learners should consider whether they wish to take classes online or on campus. An online master's degree in hospitality management offers the same academic rigor as on-campus learning but with more flexibility and accessibility.

Recent high school graduates may prefer the benefits of on-campus learning, such as connecting with classmates through discussions and student groups. On-campus students also have more opportunities to network with professors, who may have connections within the industry and can write letters of recommendation.

Students should also consider a program's curriculum to ensure the courses and internship experiences offered are aligned with their academic and career goals. With respect to cost considerations, learners should factor in location, tuition, and program type. Other factors, like housing costs and transportation, significantly affect the price of a master's degree as well.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Hospitality Management

Institutional accreditation indicates that a school adheres to quality academic standards and offers financial aid, employment, and educational opportunities. Graduate hospitality management learners should also consider programmatic accreditation, which ensures a program within a school adheres to quality standards. A master's degree in hospitality management may receive accreditation from one or more of the following organizations: the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, the Commission for Accreditation of Hospitality Management Programs, and the American Culinary Federation Foundation's Accrediting Commission.

Master's in Hospitality Management Program Admissions

Because universities charge application fees, students should be selective about which schools they apply to. Candidates can rank schools by which they most want to attend and submit applications to schools at the top of that list.

Before applying, learners should gather the application documentation that most schools require, including GRE or GMAT scores, transcripts, a resume, and letters of recommendation. Some schools also require applicants to submit essays or statements of purpose. Below are common prerequisites and admission materials for master's in hospitality management programs.


Most master's programs in hospitality management require applicants to have bachelor's degrees in majors related to hospitality. However, some programs may accept undergraduate degrees in unrelated subjects. Many universities do not require applicants to have professional experience in hospitality, but experience may improve a student's chances of admission. Many universities require graduate applicants to have at least a 3.0 GPA, but some institutions require a 3.25 or 3.5. Students can sometimes offset the GPA requirement with high test scores or professional experience.

Admission Materials

Prospective students must submit an application detailing their educational and professional background. Applicants must submit transcripts from all postsecondary learning. Each official transcript may cost about $15. Applicants typically need at least two letters of recommendation from professors, colleagues, or supervisors that can attest to the applicant's professional and academic strengths. Most hospitality graduate schools request either GRE or GMAT scores, but some do not. Graduate schools often charge between $50 and $100 to process each application. Some schools waive this fee for students with demonstrable financial need.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Hospitality Management?

Curricula, concentrations, cost, and time to completion vary by program and institution. The following section outlines what master's in hospitality management students can generally expect regarding those factors.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Hospitality Management
Concentration Description Careers
Event Management Learners interested in event planning can choose this specialty. In addition to core hospitality courses, degree candidates study areas like planning and strategy. A master's degree in this area increases a job candidate's competitive edge. Event planning manager
Marketing Management Marketing requires a balance between creative thinking and strategy. Learners in this concentration take courses in marketing research, theory, and management. Graduates from this concentration can design effective campaigns to attract hospitality customers. Hospitality marketing manager
Entrepreneurship Degree candidates interested in starting their own business can pursue a concentration in entrepreneurship. Courses may include small business financing, hiring, and marketing. Business owners
Operations and Revenue Management Large-scale hospitality businesses need skilled business managers to oversee daily operations and revenue. Learners in this specialization take classes in budgeting, project management, and operations. Hospitality administrative services manager
Food Service Students with this concentration learn the nuances of food service management. Courses may include food safety and staff management. Graduates can manage high-end restaurants. Restaurant manager or owner

Courses in a Master's in Hospitality Management Program

Because universities offer different expertise and concentrations, individual course offerings vary. However, most hospitality management programs offer similar core coursework in areas such as workforce management, corporate finance, hospitality law, and franchising. Below are some of the standard courses that many learners take.

Workforce Management in the Hospitality Industry

Students study workforce management theories and standards. Learners gain essential management skills that employers require for high-level positions. Graduates who leverage these skills are competitive for lucrative and respectable management jobs.

International Service Management

When a hospitality business goes global, it faces unique challenges. In these courses, students gain skills in navigating cultural and linguistic barriers. With knowledge of the international hospitality business, graduates can work for some of the biggest brands in the industry.

Corporate Finance

Whatever path a student's career may take, a solid understanding of how businesses make and manage money helps to advance a career. These courses give learners this important understanding and allow them to apply for high-level management positions.

Franchising in Hospitality Management

Franchise business arrangements are complex. In these courses, students learn about the laws and best practices surrounding hospitality franchises.

Hospitality Business Law

This class gives hospitality graduate students a foundational understanding of the laws that govern their industry. This understanding helps graduates pursue successful careers while abiding by the law.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Hospitality Management?

A master's in hospitality management typically takes two years of full-time study to complete and comprises between 30 and 48 credits. However, several factors affect this timeline, such as whether a student takes courses full time or part time. Part-time learning may add years to the degree. Students who take summer courses or enroll in accelerated programs can complete their degree in less time than traditional students. Thesis projects may also add time to the degree.

How Much Is a Master's in Hospitality Management?

Several factors affect the cost of a master's degree in hospitality, including tuition, books, location, and transportation. In-state students at public schools typically pay the least tuition compared to out-of-state students at public institutions and private school students. In addition to tuition, learners should also budget for books and technology expenses, such as laptops and software.

School location also affects the cost of a degree. Learners attending schools in more expensive areas of the country can expect to pay more for their degrees than peers in other regions. Furthermore, students who take public transit or walk to school spend significantly less than those who must commute by car.

Many universities offer graduate students teaching assistant positions that can offset many of these costs. Learners can also apply for federal financial aid, scholarships, and grants.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Hospitality Management Prepares For

Certified Hotel Administrator

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) offers this certification to professionals working in management at lodging businesses. This internationally recognized certification helps hotel managers advance their careers. Professionals must take an exam to receive the initial certification and maintain their portfolio to renew it.

Certified Hospitality Sales Professional

Another offering from the AHLEI, this sales certification is world-renowned. Hospitality professionals take an exam to receive certification. Every five years, the board examines the professional's portfolio and determines recertification.

Certified Hospitality Revenue Manager

This certification from AHLEI cements a professional's standing as a hospitality finance and revenue expert. Candidates must take an exam that covers several revenue management topics and apply for recertification every five years.

Resources for Graduate Hospitality Management Students

American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute

The AHLEI is the premier provider of certifications in the hospitality industry. Students can access certification resources and read blogs for guidance on the industry.

Hotel Online

Learners can turn to Hotel Online for up-to-date news about hospitality business and education. Doing so prepares students to enter the job market upon graduation.

H Careers

This resource offers students and graduates a hospitality-exclusive job board with student internship opportunities and job opportunities upon graduation.

Hospitality Technology

Degree candidates interested in the intersection between technological advances and the hospitality industry can find related articles on this website. Learners can apply what they read here to essays and thesis projects.

International Journal of Hospitality Management

Students can turn to this respected journal for the latest research and white papers in the industry.

Professional Organizations in Hospitality Management

Professional organizations give members unique career advancement opportunities. Many associations hold local meetings and annual conferences in which members can network and create lasting business partnerships. Furthermore, members can earn certifications, access job boards, and read exclusive content. Some organizations offer student members discounted rates.

The AHLA is a premier hotel association in the United States. Members get their issues heard in the halls of Congress, receive access to certification programs, and can attend exclusive webinars. This association helps restaurant owners and managers connect and advance the industry. Members access management tools, the latest research, local networking events, and job boards. The WTTC is a global organization that represents some of the world's most successful tourism companies. The council advocates for smart policies, provides new research, and hosts events worldwide. This organization brings sales and marketing professionals together to discuss new research, provide career advancement opportunities, and expand the knowledge of members. The PCMA allows convention planners and organizers to connect with colleagues. Members access an exclusive online community, attend annual events, receive the industry's leading magazine, and take advantage of career growth opportunities.
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