A master's degree in hospitality management online is the perfect choice for a people person with a knack for bringing people together and making them feel at ease. Professionals in this field must possess soft skills like communication, leadership, problem-solving, and patience in order to succeed. Those with a graduate degree in hospitality management can pursue positions in event-planning, catering, or restaurant and hotel management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this industry will experience a job growth rate of 10% by the year 2024, which which is much faster than the national average. Not only is earning a master's of hospitality management online convenient, but it also opens the door to a variety of lucrative positions in a growing field.

What are the best hospitality management programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 Florida International University Miami, FL
3 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
4 University of Houston Houston, TX
5 Johnson & Wales University Providence, RI
6 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
7 University of New Orleans New Orleans, LA
8 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA
9 University of North Texas Denton, TX
10 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS?

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

The University of Central Florida is ranked as one of the most innovative schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. This public research university provides dozens of online certificates and degrees, including a master's in hospitality and tourism management.

UCF's customizable 33-credit program offers online, face-to-face, and hybrid delivery methods. Learners who study completely online are limited to the non-thesis track, which culminates in a strategic decision-making capstone experience. Other courses in the program cover tourism research, strategic marketing, and financial analysis.

Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA, a goals statement, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. New students who have a bachelor's in a discipline other than hospitality management or business administration may need to take up to three undergraduate prerequisite classes.

2

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

Miami's first and only public research university, Florida International University enrolls approximately 54,000 students every year and boasts a major online presence. The university's 33-credit online master's degree in hospitality management is one of its most flexible programs.

Designed for completion in 12 months, this hospitality management degree requires no thesis and no prior industry experience. Required courses include financial management, hospitality enterprise technology, and a final research project. In-state and out-of-state online students pay the same tuition.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts. FIU waives its GMAT/GRE requirement for prospective students who have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

3

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

Purdue University is a four-year public university with a main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. The school also oversees a system of additional campuses, polytechnic institutes, and online programs. Distance offerings at Purdue include an online master's in hospitality and tourism management.

This 34-credit degree may be useful for management professionals in the restaurant, hotel, and tourism industries. Over two years, students take courses in leadership, economics, risk management, and marketing. The program culminates in a capstone project addressing an industry challenge.

Purdue prefers applicants with 3-5 years of relevant professional experience. Applicants should submit official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA, a current resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Prospective students must also complete a phone interview.

4

University of Houston

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Located in the most populous city in Texas, the University of Houston serves more than 46,000 students every year. A leader in distance education, UH launched the first television station to broadcast under an educational nonprofit license in 1953. Today, the public university offers over 300 online and hybrid courses.

UH's online executive master's in hospitality management requires 30 credits. Core courses cover topics like human resources, strategic decision-making, and financial assets and planning. Throughout the program, students complete an industry research project.

The program admits new students on a rolling basis. Applicants must provide official college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, and a resume. A minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and five years of management experience are recommended.

5

Johnson & Wales University

Providence, RI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

In 1914, Johnson & Wales University became one of the country's first colleges founded by women. The private institution serves about 13,000 students -- both online and at four campuses located in Rhode Island, Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina. At JWU, professionals can earn their online master's in hospitality management within two years.

This 30-credit degree includes courses in financial management, competitive strategies, and organizational behavior. Through three elective classes, students can customize their program to match their professional interests. JWU prepares graduates to earn a variety of professional certifications from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.

Prospective graduate students must submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and a current resume or CV. A minimum 2.85 undergraduate GPA is also required for full admission.

6

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

The University of Alabama became the state's first public college in 1831. Today, UA serves more than 38,000 students annually. In addition to in-person classes at the university's 1,200-acre campus in Tuscaloosa, UA offers online courses through Bama by Distance.

Distance learners at UA can earn an online master's degree in hospitality management by completing 30 credits of courses in areas like hospitality law, management, leadership, and research methods. The program offers thesis and non-thesis tracks. Faculty deliver all program coursework asynchronously. 

Admission requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Online learners pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency.

7

University of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

Founded in 1958, the University of New Orleans was the first fully integrated public university in the South. UNO serves more than 8,000 students, about 40% of whom take at least one online class. 

Available on-campus and online, UNO's executive master's in hospitality and tourism management program boasts a 100% industry-specific job placement rate. Students take 10 courses, including marketing applications, tourism destination development, and industry strategic management. The online program uses accelerated, eight-week class sessions, enabling participants to graduate within 12 months.

Graduate applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts demonstrating a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5. However, GRE or GMAT scores are not required.

8

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Lafayette, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second-largest university in the state, serving more than 19,000 students each year. Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, UL Lafayette's School of Business offers an online MBA with eight concentration options, including hospitality management.

This accelerated degree offers completion times as brief as 15 months. Students take 33 credits of coursework, covering advanced concepts in finance, marketing, and information technology management. Concentration courses cover contemporary global issues and feasibility studies in hospitality and tourism.

To meet requirements for unconditional admission, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. GMAT scores are also required, although waivers are available for applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA or at least three years of relevant work experience.

9

University of North Texas

Denton, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

One of the nation's largest universities, the University of North Texas enrolls about 38,000 students each year and boasts a catalog of 230 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. This public research university also offers 80 online programs, including a 36-credit master's in hospitality management.

UNT allows students to customize most of their curriculum to match professional interests. Select courses include promotional strategies, restaurant development, global tourism, and event management. This program also offers thesis and non-thesis tracks. Additionally, with advisor approval, students may complete a field experience.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and three recommendations.

10

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

The University of Kentucky is one of only eight schools in the country offering liberal arts, engineering, professional studies, agriculture, and medicine on one contiguous campus. UK students can also pursue more than 40 degrees and certificates entirely online, including a master's in retailing and tourism management.

Students pursuing this 30-credit degree can choose a concentration in hospitality and tourism management, taking courses in strategic management, trend analysis, and event planning and coordination. The program offers flexible, asynchronous scheduling; thesis and non-thesis tracks; and an industry internship opportunity. All online students pay in-state tuition, regardless of residency.

UK accepts new students on a rolling basis throughout the spring and fall semesters. To apply, prospective students must have a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and provide three letters of recommendation.

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

The details of each online master's degree in hospitality will depend on the specific program and school you choose. Most master's programs in this discipline include core, elective, and concentration coursework, as well as an internship or externship requirement and culminating final project. Common concentrations in hospitality management include marketing, real estate, and self-directed entrepreneurship.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT

While specific course topics may vary from school to school, common hospitality management coursework at the graduate level emphasizes a combination of business, marketing, and leadership topics. The major difference between programs will be the specializations and concentrations that students can choose from. These allow students to customize their degree and prepare them for their long-term career goals. Therefore, it is important to select a program that includes a specialization or concentration that will help you achieve your goals.

However, every online master's degree in hospitality management will still cover the same universal core concepts such as personnel management, business law, team dynamics, and more. Below, you'll find a sample curriculum that includes foundational courses that can be found in any hospitality management program.

  • Economics of Travel and Tourism: This course explores asset theory, tax policy, and cost-benefit analysis as they relate to statistical and economic tourism. Students learn how to utilize methods specifically designed for research of the tourism and hospitality industries.
  • Advanced Hospitality Accounting and Finance Systems: Accounting and finance management are among the most important skills for hospitality employees. This course explores the application of incentives systems, short-term asset management, budgeting and pricing models, and performance evaluations.
  • Advanced Personnel Systems in Restaurants, Hotels, and Institutions: This course explores advanced methods of personnel management for organizing complex employee structures within all types of hotels, restaurants, and other venues.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT?

There are several factors that influence how long it takes to earn an online master's in hospitality management degree. Such factors include whether you plan to study on a full- or part-time basis, whether you prefer asynchronous or synchronous courses, and the individual requirements of each program. Some programs that have minimal internship requirements and that don't include a thesis requirements may offer an accelerated option, allowing students to earn their degree faster than they would in another program.

While the total number of credits required by each program will vary, the majority of online master's degrees in hospitality management include 30-40 credits of coursework and can be completed in one or two years.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Hospitality Management Degrees

When searching for a master's degree in hospitality management online program, be sure to check each school's accreditation status. Any legitimate college or university you're considering attending should be accredited by an agency such as the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is considered as more prestigious than national accreditation. Regional accreditation is typically pursued by four-year public colleges and universities, while national accreditation is pursued by for-profit schools and trade or vocational institutions.

Hospitality management programs may also be individually accredited by one of several industry-specific governing agencies. Programmatic accreditation in hospitality management is awarded by either the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), the American Culinary Federation Foundation's Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC), or the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). These accrediting agencies are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). You can visit the ED or CHEA websites to find complete lists of all accredited institutions in the country.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Hospitality Management Graduates

Earning a graduate degree in hospitality management prepares graduates for a variety of senior positions in hotel, restaurant, catering, tourism, and corporate management. While these graduates are well-suited to advanced employment opportunities in several different work environments, the possibility to fill niche positions within these fields can be even greater. Beyond developing business and leadership skills, successful hospitality management professionals are masters of creativity, empathy, and customer service. Below are a few of the most common careers for graduates with a master's in hospitality management.

Lodging Manager

Lodging managers with a master's degree are eligible to pursue employment within the nation's largest and most prestigious hotel chains. While a master's degree is not the minimum requirement for the field, candidates with advanced qualifications are preferred for positions that require multi-level skills, including hospitality-specific reservation software, complex billing, and housekeeping personnel management.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Like lodging managers, these professionals are not required to have a master's degree to enter the field, though candidates who do are eligible for advanced positions over those with an undergraduate degree and minimal experience. These professionals are responsible for coordinating all aspects of events, from transportation to catering to decor

Food Service Manager

Food service managers are trained in a unique combination of service, culinary, and management skills. While a master's degree is not the minimum requirement for employment at the entry level, candidates with an advanced education and extensive industry experience are preferred for management jobs at upscale restaurants and hotels, catering firms, and more.

MASTER'S IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT SALARY

Hospitality management salaries can vary based on a variety of factors, such as level of education, years of professional experience, and additional industry certifications. While graduates with an online master's degree in hospitality management will enjoy salaries that are higher than their peers with bachelor's degrees, their earning potential is still dependent on job availability and resources in their local market. Generally speaking, prospective earnings for hospitality management professionals with a graduate degree are high, due to their advantage over other candidates who simply meet the minimum requirements for the industry's entry-level positions. The following table outlines expected salaries for common positions in hospitality management at various stages of one's career.

Median Salary by Experience Level

Occupation Entry Level Mid-Level Late Career
Hospitality Manager $42,347 $44,170 $51,415
General Manager, Hotel $44,445 $51,197 $76,551
Director of Sales, Hotels/Hospitality $46,820 $60,488 $62,334
Sales Manager, Hotels/Hospitality $47,000 $49,000 $61,000
Restaurant Manager $40,834 $44,543 $48,675

Source: Payscale

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Hospitality management as a profession is very dependent on communication and customer service. As such, there are a wide variety of professional organizations that allow hospitality management professionals to develop these key skills. Becoming a member of one of these organizations will grant you access to industry events such as annual conventions, seminars, and guest speaking engagements. Members can also access job boards, continuing education opportunities, and more. The following are some of the premier national organizations for hospitality management professionals.

American Hotel and Lodging Association

The AHLA is the most comprehensive professional organization for lodging and hotel workers. This organization represents professionals in every sector of the hotel industry, from major chains to bed and breakfasts to management companies.

Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education

This organization aims to improve education, research, service, and business operations within the hospitality and tourism industry through its programs and services, including publications, conferences, and professional teaching opportunities.

Convention Industry Council

The CIC is a well-known global membership organization for events that are relevant to the hospitality management industry. This organization boasts more than 100,000 members and more than 19,000 firms that participate in meetings, conventions, and exhibitions.

Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International

The HSMAI emphasizes an increase in marketing and sales efforts within their respective sectors of the hospitality industry with goal of increasing traffic and revenue, developing teamwork skills, and improving industry education and research.

Financing Your Online Master's in Hospitality Management Program

The first step towards financing your education is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This allows students to apply for federal financial aid, including loans that have payment deferment and reasonable interests rates. It is also required by most schools as a prerequisite before determining your eligibility for all other financial aid programs. Students can also receive scholarships, loans, grants, and work-studies from a variety of lenders and organizations. There are even some hospitality management businesses who offer scholarships and grants for students who are willing to complete an internship in the field.


AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.