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Hospitality Management Graduate Programs: Degree Options

Oct 19, 2019

Students wanting to work in upper management roles within the hospitality industry can find master's degree programs in hospitality management and doctorate programs in business administration with a specialization in hospitality management.

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Essential Information

During a master's program, students gain practical experience through observing those in the field. In a doctorate program, candidates get to specialize in a specific field within hospitality management in order to tailor the program to meet their career needs. Both encourage, if not require, career shadowing.

To enter a graduate program, students must have a bachelor's degree. Schools may have different requirements for which area an applicant's undergraduate degree must be in. Admission to doctoral programs with specializations in hospitality management is extremely competitive. Many applicants already possess graduate or professional degrees in related fields, such as marketing, law or business administration. Hospitality work experience is also highly desirable, if not required by most doctorate programs.


Master's Degree in Hospitality Management

A master's degree in hospitality management incorporates a range of topics and skills in a variety of areas, like business, computer science, and psychology. Graduate students learn about such topics as human resources management, business technology, and marketing. Along with traditional coursework, students spend a significant amount of time observing relevant professionals in real world environments. This one- to two-year program involves research in hospitality management that culminates in a thesis option, although some programs offer a non-thesis alternative. Many programs allow students to specialize in an area of interest, such as marketing, recreation, and tourism. Common courses include:

  • Hospitality administration
  • Research in hospitality management
  • Hospitality and business law
  • Service industry accounting
  • Hospitality enterprise technologies
  • Conflict management

Doctoral Degree with Specialization in Hospitality Management

Actual doctoral degree programs in hospitality management do not exist. However, schools often award doctoral degrees in various fields, such as business administration and human ecology with specializations in hospitality management. Students enrolled in these types of programs study specific topics in hospitality management as they relate to their larger degree. For example, a doctorate in human ecology focuses on human resources issues related to hospitality management. In addition to normal coursework, graduate students produce a research-based dissertation. Research methods and statistics are important concepts to the overall curriculum. Some course topics covered in a doctorate program may include:

  • Hospitality information systems
  • Financing in hospitality management
  • Hospitality management case studies
  • Managerial communications
  • Real estate appraisal
  • Consumer behavior theories

Popular Career Options

Hospitality professionals with a master's degree gain an advantage within the industry and qualify for upper-level management positions. Graduates of a doctoral program are able to prepare research proposals and demonstrate application of their findings. This kind of background lends itself to academic and research settings, in addition to guest-services industries. Sample job titles may include:

  • Hospitality management professor
  • Hospitality researcher
  • Hotel manager
  • Operations analyst

Career and Salary Info

In addition to increased leadership skills, master's degree graduates gain managerial and analytical competencies. With a doctorate degree, students may find jobs in teaching and research. Some common careers available include spa director, restaurant manager, director of hotel operations, hospitality consultant, and customer service supervisor.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lodging managers are expected to see an 1% growth in employment, and food service manager jobs are projected to have a 11% growth between 2018 to 2028. In 2018, lodging managers earned a median annual salary of $53,390, while food service managers earned $54,240 , the BLS reported.

To obtain higher positions in the hospitality management field, graduate students can earn a master's degree in hospitality management, while those interested in hospitality management theory and research can enroll in relevant doctorate programs and specialize in hospitality management. Both degree levels are research intensive and require the completion of a thesis or dissertation.

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