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Students in hospitality management programs learn the basics of the business, like marketing and sales, and take advanced courses in industry operations. Many programs concentrate on the statistics and research used to better understand the industry.
Graduate students can choose to earn a master's and a Ph.D. in hospitality management totally or partially online. Some hospitality management programs - especially Ph.D. programs - have on-site requirements, such as on-campus residencies or coursework.
Admissions standards vary among programs, degree levels and schools. However, all students interested in earning a master's degree must have a bachelor's degree, while applicants seeking a doctoral degree must possess a master's degree. Degrees may need to be in hospitality or in a related field of study. Schools often require prospective students to submit resumes and, in some cases, documentation of managerial experience in the industry. Recommendation letters, graduate test scores and personal statements are commonly expected as well.
Designed to mirror on-campus programs, there are a variety of courses offered in online graduate programs for hospitality management. Basic courses, including an introduction to hospitality management, facility management and tourism convention management, are available as well as more advanced courses. These include hospitality planning and business models as well as marketing decision analysis in hospitality. Students who choose to specialize in one specific area will find a number of courses that focus just on their specialization. Possible areas of concentration include the following:
- Hotel management
- Restaurant management
- Resort management
- Casino management
- Club management
- Food and beverage management
- Lodging management
Students may complete a thesis, but many distance learning programs at this level require or give the option to complete a final comprehensive project and/or complete additional coursework. For doctoral students, a major component of their program is completing dissertations requiring significant research. These extensive projects must be presented and defended in front of a committee at the school.
Distance learners are able to complete assignments, view lectures and interact with classmates or instructors using a variety of tools within an online classroom environment. Some courses may require participation in class discussions via message boards, chat rooms or even live Web classes utilizing conferencing technology.
While some master's programs in hospitality management are offered totally online, others require some campus-based attendance. Distance learners may have to take selected courses on campus, complete short on-site residencies throughout the program or participate in in-person capstone activities. Doctoral programs are rarely fully online, although they may include some courses or components that can be completed through distance learning. The intensive studies and focus on dissertations limits the amount of online education available to Ph.D. candidates.
Students leave their education with a keen understanding of the industry and the ability to start their own businesses or help to run and manage an existing business. Graduates with master's degrees are often able to begin as management-level professionals in large hospitality corporations or consulting firms. Those who earn a Ph.D. typically do so to be able to teach and perform purely academic research after graduation.
A number of master's degree programs in hospitality management are offered fully online and include courses on key topics related to business models for lodging, restaurant or tourism operations. Online Ph.D. programs in the field are also offered, but they often have on-campus requirements.