Best Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Programs of 2021

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Published on February 16, 2021

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The hospitality industry contributes greatly to the United States economy, encompassing more than 7.5 million jobs and generating more than $1.6 trillion in 2017. With an online master's in hospitality management, graduates can prepare themselves for leadership positions in this industry.

To help prospective students better understand the field and its opportunities, this page delves into master's in hospitality management programs, covering program requirements, common courses, and career paths.

For additional information, visit our master's in hospitality management program guide.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Hospitality Management Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#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

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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Hospitality Management Programs

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University of Central Florida View School Profile Orlando, FL

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.

Florida International University View School Profile Miami, FL

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.

Purdue University View School Profile West Lafayette, IN

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.

University of Houston View School Profile Houston, TX

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.

Johnson & Wales University View School Profile Providence, RI

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.

University of Alabama View School Profile Tuscaloosa, AL

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.

University of New Orleans View School Profile New Orleans, LA

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.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette View School Profile Lafayette, LA

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.

University of North Texas View School Profile Denton, TX

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.

University of Kentucky View School Profile Lexington, KY

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

Students in a master's in hospitality management program develop advanced leadership and communication skills applicable to many management careers.

Students in a master's in hospitality management program develop advanced leadership and communication skills applicable to many management careers. These programs typically require 30-45 credits, and learners can graduate within two years.

A master's in hospitality management usually awards an MS degree, although other degree types with different formats and career pathways may be available. Some schools, for example, offer a master of management in hospitality (MMH) degree, a professional degree that takes under one year to finish and focuses almost entirely on hospitality management.

Learners may also find MBA programs with a hospitality concentration. These programs typically focus more on general management skills and may feature accelerated completion options. All three degree types can lead to the same career paths, but MS degrees open the door to further study, including doctoral programs.

Within a master's in hospitality management, degree-seekers can diversify their career options by concentrating in a subfield like marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. The advanced training in a specialized discipline can lead to additional employment opportunities in the hospitality industry and in general business.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Hospitality Management Programs

Applicants usually need a bachelor's degree, along with professional recommendations. Certain programs may require a minimum GPA, and GMAT or GRE scores that meet a certain threshold.

Additionally, some programs require students to complete course prerequisites in business and hospitality. Professional programs like an MBA or MMH may also require professional experience.

Consult our Graduate Admissions Guide for help compiling your application.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Hospitality Management Program?

Online master's in hospitality management curricula vary significantly, but most programs offer similar core courses. The following section highlights five common courses in these programs.

Contemporary Tourism Issues

Students in this course analyze the latest scholarship in tourism, learning about contemporary challenges in tourism, trends, and movements that impact hospitality providers. Covered topics may include globalization, international economics, and safety and security.

Leadership

In this course, students examine leadership strategies in the hospitality industry. Learners look at the various administrative duties of hospitality managers, including finance, marketing, and communications. They also learn how to oversee human resources and training and development tasks.

Hospitality Law

Hospitality law courses teach students about the legal and ethical standards that hospitality managers must follow. Students learn about specific laws regarding security, privacy, insurance, and rental contracts in the hospitality industry, along with environmental protection measures that apply to the industry.

Sustainable Management

In this course, students learn how to develop a management plan that adheres to environmental policies, local laws, and health and safety standards. Degree-seekers also learn how to create environmental-forward communications and guest experiences.

Service Management

Service management courses familiarize learners with hospitality management technology, service standards, and human resources strategies. Students learn how to make service-minded decisions and create a welcoming environment for diverse guests.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Hospitality Management Degree?

A master's in hospitality management prepares graduates for various management roles within the hospitality industry and related industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 5% growth for management occupations between 2019 and 2029.

According to Deloitte, the travel and hospitality industry experienced 10 years of continual growth between 2009 and 2019. Since management positions also tend to pay well, this field may be competitive. However, master's graduates with relevant leadership training and experience should be competitive candidates for many of these jobs.

Find out where a master's in hospitality management can take you. Learn more about business management careers.

Administrative Services Manager

Administrative service managers oversee many of the daily tasks for an organization, including facilities upkeep, records management, and compliance measures. In a hotel, for example, they may manage health and safety regulations, inventory, and on-site events.

Marketing Manager

These professionals handle marketing and promotions for organizations by developing advertising campaigns, working with graphic designers and writers, and coordinating with sales teams. They analyze market research to establish effective pricing, sales, and communication strategies. Marketing managers work across the hospitality industry, including in tourism, travel, event management, lodging, and food service businesses.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers bridge the gap between management and employees of an organization. They perform staff development duties, handle employee compensation packages, and mediate disputes.

Training and Development Manager

These managers oversee the staff development needs of an organization. They develop training systems that help companies meet their talent goals, train managers, and establish continuing education programs. These professionals work in many different industries, including in hospitality.

Compensation and Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers develop financial packages for employees. They establish pay structures based on market conditions, state regulations, and competitors' compensation packages.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Hospitality Management Programs

Is a master's in hospitality management worth it?

For many graduates, a master's in hospitality management is worth it. Degree-seekers should evaluate their career goals when choosing between an MS, MMH, or MBA in hospitality management.

Is hospitality management a good career?

It can be. Between 2009 and 2019, the hospitality, air travel, and cruise industries all grew considerably. Although the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted this industry in 2020, there may be more opportunities for this industry to grow again in the future.

What can I do with a master's in hospitality management?

A master's in hospitality management can lead to careers in travel, tourism, event management, lodging, and food service. Depending on their experience and program specialization, graduates may also qualify for management careers in marketing, finance, and administration outside of the hospitality industry.

How much money can I make with a master's in hospitality management?

Salary potential varies depending on location, experience, and management role. According to the BLS, lodging managers made a median salary of $54,430 in 2019 and food service managers earned a median salary of $55,320. However, some managers make quite a bit more, with the overall median salary for all management positions across all industries coming in at $105,660 in 2019.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in hospitality management?

The highest paying management careers depend on location, experience, and the specific role. However, according to the BLS, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers made the highest median annual salary in 2019 at $135,900. The top 10% of marketing managers earn over $208,000 annually.

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