Hotel Administration Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Course info

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What will you learn in a hotel administration degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and doctoral degree and potential careers.
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Studying Hotel Administration: Degrees at a Glance

A graduate degree in hotel administration is for experienced hospitality workers who'd like to receive additional training in the business, development, management and economic aspects of the lodging business. Hotel administrators use resources and make decisions to meet the needs of hospitality guests. At large hotels, they may watch over multiple departments, including housekeeping, marketing and sales, office administration, security and personnel.

Master's and doctoral degree programs specifically in hotel administration are uncommon. As an alternative, you can seek out hospitality management programs at these levels for a similar education. The employment projection for lodging managers between 2010 and 2020 was 8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but experienced managers may find opportunities in full-service hotels, convention hotels and casinos.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? - Individuals interested in upper management or executive hospitality positions
- Those who'd like to secure an administration position in academia
People who want to work as researchers or in academia as professors
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary) - Lodging manager ($55,000)*
- General and operations manager ($115,000)*
- Chief executive officer ($177,000)*
- Postsecondary education administrator ($97,000)*
- Postsecondary business teacher ($87,000)*
- Hospitality researcher (salary unavailable)
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Master's thesis/research paper
- Master's exams
- Qualifying exam
- Comprehensive exam
- Research
- Dissertation
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Specific undergraduate coursework
- GRE/GMAT score
- Hospitality experience
- Bachelor's degree and/or master's degree with courses in hospitality fields
- GRE\GMAT score
- Hospitality management experience
Online Availability Yes None found at this time

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's in Hotel Administration

Research is the focal point of a master's degree program in hotel administration. The curriculum incorporates courses that hospitality executives and senior staff use in their decision-making processes, such as managerial communication, corporate finance and accounting. The goal of this type of program is to produce graduates that can enter into consulting, entrepreneurial and senior management roles within the various hospitality industries. Some programs offer areas of concentration, such as hospitality education, food service management and casino management. Entry into these programs typically requires previous management experience, preferably in hospitality.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A master's degree may qualify you for top executive and some teaching positions
  • You'll gain a comprehensive education of various hospitality industries, such as tourism, restaurants and hotels
  • Master's degree programs usually require a thesis, which allows you to gain expertise in a specific area of hospitality

Cons

  • Lodging management positions are expected to grow sluggishly from 2010-2020 as hotels cutback on the total amount of managers*
  • Master's degrees can be overkill for lodging managers; a high school diploma and sufficient experience can qualify someone for this position
  • These programs can take approximately 3 years to complete

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

These programs typically have 8-10 core courses spanning topics in leadership, financial analysis and corporate communication along with various management courses. Some programs require prerequisite courses in accounting and statistics. You'll likely take a specialty lecture or research class focusing on administration or an area of hospitality like convention management. While each program's requirements differ, the following are examples of common courses:

  • Human resources management
  • Corporate hospitality strategies
  • Operations management
  • Hospitality law
  • Marketing management

To meet graduation requirements, you may also complete a research paper or thesis and possibly an oral examination.

Online Degree Options

Master's degree programs in hotel administration or hospitality management do exist. And since online options can accommodate working professionals, it may be worth researching these programs. Online programs cover the same content as on-campus programs, and some allow you to speed up or slow down the completion of classes depending on your personal schedule. Programs that are fully online require an array of technical requirements and skills, such as a microphone, a current Internet browser and the ability to upload, attach and download files. You may also be able to find campus-based programs that offer some introductory or prerequisite classes online, which can also provide you with scheduling flexibility.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Given the vast hospitality career options, it would be useful to master an area of the industry to remain competitive. Master's degree programs in hotel administration may have electives in areas such as crisis communication, negotiation, social media, environmental sustainability and contemporary design. You can also focus your research and thesis on a specific topic, such as the use of technology in hotel administration.

Additionally, you can join any of the numerous international, national or regional hospitality-related associations. Some of them specialize in specific aspects of the industry, such as marketing, consulting or education. Membership in these organizations can provide you with educational and professional development resources, among other benefits.

Other Degrees to Consider

If you're looking to enter a field with more positive career prospects, but still allows you to work with people, consider earning a master's degree in public relations and becoming a public relations manager. The BLS projected a 16% employment increase during 2010-2020 for these professionals. According to BLS 2010 data, one-quarter of all public relations managers had master's degrees. In a public relations master's program, you learn about communications, campaign strategies, social media and management.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Hotel Administration

A doctoral program in hotel administration or hospitality management is designed for future researchers and university professors. Scholarly research is at the core of the curriculum with a majority of the program spent working on a dissertation. The original research project allows you to address an industry issue or demonstrate expertise in a hospitality field, such as sales and marketing, management information systems or facilities management. Some programs include a compensated student-teaching experience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • To offset the cost of doctoral studies, most PhD programs offer tuition assistance, fellowships or graduate assistantships
  • Earning a PhD is typically the minimum education needed for university-level teaching positions
  • A doctoral degree may lead to positions in research associated with hospitality, such as tourism

Cons

  • The average executive or managerial hospitality position doesn't require a doctoral degree
  • These programs entail a lot of time spent on research
  • Admission into these programs is very competitive

Courses and Requirements

Doctoral degree programs are individualized to your research interests; however, there are certain required courses. The progression of your studies is typically developed in conjunction with an adviser. Some of the core content explores research methods, statistical analysis and hospitality trends. A typical program at this level includes 1 or several research seminars that highlight issues such as hospitality research, teaching hospitality management and research literature. You'll need to develop and propose a research topic for your original dissertation before conducting your research. Aside from the coursework and dissertation, you'll need to complete a comprehensive exam.

Online Degree Options

At this time, no accredited online PhD programs in this field were found. Programs that are available online may not be accredited, so it's important that you research the school thoroughly before enrolling.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

In preparation for a teaching or research career, there are certain steps you could take to compete with other candidates. One way is to publish scholarly research. Several doctoral programs encourage students to share their research findings in industry journals. Additionally, you can stay ahead of technological advancements since various hospitality fields incorporate technology in areas such as reservations systems, meetings management databases and corporate finance spreadsheets. Technology also plays a role in disseminating and transporting hospitality research to the public. Specific technology used may include list servers, statistical software, color scanners and design programs.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
      • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master : Business Admin
      • MBA: Marketing
      • MBA: Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Marketing
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • MBA - Management
      • MBA - International Business
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    6. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    9. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR

Featured Schools

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • MBA

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Kaplan University

  • Master : Business Admin
  • MBA: Marketing
  • MBA: Finance

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Northcentral University

  • MBA - Marketing
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA

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Colorado Technical University

  • Master of Business Admin

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The University of Scranton

  • Master of Business Administration

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership

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American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Management

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