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A master’s in hospitality management program will teach students to demonstrate advanced skills in presentation, communication, customer service, and organization. The breadth of study encompasses several types of lodging spaces and recreation, such as hotels, restaurants, casinos, resorts, theme parks, travel companies, and spas.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for lodging managers is $65,360. Jobs in this field are expected to grow by 7% through 2032.

An online master’s in hospitality management typically requires a total of 30-40 credits, which can be completed with 1-2 years of full-time study. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of graduate school tuition is $12,596 per year at public universities and $28,017 per year at private schools.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Program

Choose your area of study

Early in the research process, students should define their goals and consider the area of hospitality management that interests them most. Many programs will allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field, such as:

  • Hotel and motel management
  • Meeting and event planning
  • Food and beverage service management
  • Tourism management
  • Recreation and leisure management
  • Gaming management
  • Human resources management
  • Country club management
  • Ecotourism management

Having a clear idea of the type of job you want to pursue post-graduation will allow you to seek out programs that provide the training and knowledge you need for your career. Students should also consider the type of master’s degree they want. A Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in hospitality management are the two most common options.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in hospitality management program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for hospitality management education.

Beyond accreditation, you should also find answers to the following questions:

  • Do students need a bachelor’s degree or work experience in hospitality management to be eligible?
  • Does the program require experiential learning, such as a practicum or internship?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their qualifications?
  • How do online students interact with classmates and instructors?
  • What services are available to online students, such as academic advising or tutoring, mentorships, and career services?

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

The eligibility requirements and application processes for an online master’s in hospitality management will vary by school and program. It’s a good idea to confirm these requirements with an admissions counselor before starting an application. Some schools may want applicants who have a minimum undergraduate GPA, a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or relevant work experience.

In general, students can expect to need the following materials for an application to a hospitality management master’s program:

  • Completed application and fee
  • Official transcripts from undergraduate institution
  • Letters of recommendation from a human resources manager, work supervisor, or professor
  • Essay or personal statement detailing professional experience and reasons for seeking a master’s in this field
  • Resume/CV highlighting relevant hospitality management work experience
  • GRE or GMAT scores

Select your program

As you gather information, some schools may stand out as more aligned with your interests, needs, and budget. At this point, you can eliminate any schools that don’t sufficiently meet your needs and focus on applying to the ones that do. Some students may only apply to one or two programs, while others submit several applications to increase the odds of acceptance. Students applying to multiple programs should remember that most schools charge application fees and budget accordingly.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

During the research process, speak to a financial aid counselor to clarify the program’s total cost (including fees) and what financial aid options are available to online master’s students.

It’s a good idea to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which schools will use to determine eligibility for federal student loans and grants, need-based institutional aid such as scholarships, and other sources of funding. Many schools also offer merit-based scholarships to students with strong academic and professional backgrounds. Students can seek out scholarships and grants from external sources like professional development organizations, non-profits, or community and religious groups as well.

Students who plan on working while enrolled in an online master’s in hospitality management program should find out if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits to help cover the cost of college. Veterans or active military service members can also inquire about tuition discounts for military members and GI Bill benefits.

The Top 50 Best Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Degree Programs

Best Online Master's in Hospitality Management Degree Programs

University of Central Florida

Florida International University

Purdue University

University of Alabama

University of North Texas

University of Houston

University of Nevada at Las Vegas

Johnson & Wales University

SDSU Global Campus

University of New Orleans

Lasell University

Liberty University

Colorado State University

Auburn University

Florida State University

University of Florida

University of Toledo

University of Mississippi

Roosevelt University

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on master’s degrees in hospitality management. Most programs offer a Master of Science (MS) in hospitality and tourism management, although in some programs, you can earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA). All of the programs can be completed online.

Every program is accredited by a regional accreditation body. This guarantees that the schools meet a high standard of quality in higher education, and it means credits and degrees are more likely to transfer to other institutions. Also, many of these options have programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration.

We evaluated each program based on flexibility, faculty, course offerings, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score of each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Program?

The core curriculum for this degree will usually include courses in hospitality law, marketing and sales, organizational behavior, leadership skills, accounting, and revenue management. As students move through the program, they may be able to pursue more in-depth study in relevant areas such as food service management, marketing and communication, event planning, or international tourism.

Many programs include an experiential learning component, such as an internship or practicum. Students who work in the hospitality management field can find out if their current position will fulfill this requirement. Depending on the program, students may also have to complete a thesis or capstone project to demonstrate their research and knowledge in the hospitality management field.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in hospitality management degree program

  • Global Issues in Hospitality Management. Students will learn how to deal with trending issues that affect the hospitality industry.
  • Human Resources. This course covers the hiring process, dealing with workplace conflicts, and other HR issues.
  • Hospitality and Tourism Marketing. Students learn how to market their facilities using social media as well as various other platforms.
  • Hospitality Business Law. Students examine laws and regulations affecting hospitality businesses.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Hospitality Management?

Career outlook

Those who pursue a master’s in hospitality management degree are able to choose from a variety of job roles. If you prefer to interact directly with desks, a role as a travel consultant or cruise ship director may be a good fit. Those who prefer to stay behind the scenes may enjoy operations-based jobs, such as a lodging manager or casino manager.

Here are some potential hospitality career paths to explore:

  • Lodging manager — Train staff and oversee operations at hotels, motels, and other facilities that house guests.
    • Median annual salary: $65,360
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 5,400 annually
  • Food service manager — Manage food preparation, customer service, and financial activities for restaurants and other establishments that serve food.
    • Median annual salary: $63,060
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 0%
    • New job openings projected: 39,600 annually
  • Top executive — Coordinate the work of an organization by establishing goals, overseeing activities, and appointing department heads and managers.
    • Median annual salary: $103,840
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New job openings projected: 311,600 annually

Online Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in hospitality management degree program?

The first step is to confirm all the application requirements and deadlines with an admissions counselor. Students applying to multiple schools may find it helpful to create a spreadsheet or checklist to track all the materials they need to submit and the dates by which they need to submit them.

Most schools accept applications and supporting materials online, although some may still want hard copies of official transcripts and test scores.

Depending on the school, there may be a hard-and-fast deadline to submit an application, while other schools accept applications and enroll new students on a rolling basis.

How much does an online master’s in hospitality management degree cost?

The specific cost of an online master’s in hospitality management degree will vary based on the type of school a student selects (public universities tend to cost less than private institutions), the additional fees a school charges, and the amount of financial aid a student receives.

For reference, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of graduate school tuition is $12,596 per year at public universities and $28,017 per year at private schools.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in hospitality management degree?

Most students generally take two years to complete a master’s in hospitality management degree. The length of time to earn a degree can vary depending on various factors:

  • The number of credits required to earn a degree varies from program to program. Some require learners to complete as little as 30 credits, while others may demand students to complete 40 credits.
  • A student’s rate of progress may also affect the length of time to finish a degree. Students with a full course load of 12 to 15 credits every semester can usually complete a program in two years. However, those enrolled with a lighter class load or who take time off from school could take longer to complete their degree.
  • Assorted programs might require students to complete an internship or other experiential learning experience. This could add time to degree completion, as students would need to find an internship to fit their schedule and academic requirements.

Is an online master’s in hospitality management worth it?

An online master’s in hospitality management prepares you for upper-level management positions and high-responsibility roles, such as overseeing large resorts or multiple properties.

This degree helps you hone your skills and develop an advanced understanding of what it takes to run a successful hospitality business. Courses focus on business operations, managing staff, budgeting, inventory management, and customer service. You’ll have the opportunity to work on projects, complete internships, and network with other students and faculty, which can give you a valuable leg up when it’s time to apply for a job.

Completing a remote degree program also makes it easier to advance your education and prepare to take the next step in your career without having to sacrifice current work or family responsibilities.

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