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

A master’s degree in hospitality management opens doors to a variety of different fields, from event planning to restaurant management and even overseeing operations of an entire hotel. The courses offered in an online master’s of hospitality program contain the same information that a traditional campus offers, including budgeting, human resources management, sales and guest service. Online degrees are ideal for someone just starting in the hospitality industry as this field’s irregular hours may make attending classes in person a challenge.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Hospitality Management

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Resort Management Dive into the day-to-day operations in a hotel, financial aspects of running this business and employee relations. General business courses and those specifically related to the hospitality industry are included. Hotel general manager, catering manager, restaurant manager, rooms manager, executive housekeeper
Spa Resort Management Learn the daily operations of a resort and spa, health department regulations, guest safety protocol and general business and finance courses. School administrator, educational grant developer, school district administrator
Restaurant Management Explore the business and financial aspects of running a restaurant and basic culinary techniques. Employee relations and human resources management are also covered, as well as legal aspects of the restaurant and bar industries, including responsible alcohol service. Restaurant general manager, kitchen manager, bar manager
Casino Management Examine the regulations specific to the casino industry, including legal aspects. Guest services, general business and human resource education are also covered. Director of operations
Human Resources Equips students with the knowledge of employment laws at both the state and federal levels. Payroll and wage courses are covered, as well as general hospitality. Director of human resources
Revenue Management and Hotel Finance Specialize in financial operations of hotels, including pricing structures, revenue maximization and budgeting. Long-term financial planning and revenue forecasting are covered.. CFO, revenue manager, director of finance

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Hospitality Management

Courses for a master’s in hospitality management include general business and accounting, human resources, guest services and employee relations. Legal aspects of hospitality management are covered, including state regulations, guest safety and property liability. Marketing and sales are part of the core curriculum, as are soft skills like leadership and communication.

Specific coursework for different concentrations, such as sales, spa management, hotel management and restaurant management, will vary. Some of these concentrations may require practical applications, including work experience or internships. Examples of general hospitality management courses include:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Economics of Travel and Tourism Covers tax policy, asset theory and cost-benefit analysis in relation to statistical and economic tourism. Students will learn methods used specifically to research the tourism and hospitality industries.
Advanced Hospitality Accounting and Finance Systems Learn how to construct a budget and forecast revenue and expenses. Other topics include the application of incentive systems, asset management in both short-term and long-term, and performance evaluations.
Advanced Personnel Systems in Restaurants and Hotels Explore advanced methods of employee management and methods for organizing employee structures in a variety of settings, including restaurants, hotels, resorts and other venues.
Marketing Examine marketing plans, conducting sales calls and working to sell your property. Competitive analysis and customer evaluation are also covered, as are strategic pricing and ROI for marketing initiatives.
Law Course Property law and legal obligations for hoteliers are covered, including the applications of laws and regulations that govern the hospitality industry. Legal relations with guests, employees and government agencies are also covered.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management?

Many online master’s in hospitality management degrees are designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. Some programs have a thesis requirement rather than an externship or work-study, which may change the amount of time your program will take. Most master’s in hospitality management degrees consist of 30 to 40 credit hours, including the internship credit hours. An MBA with a focus on hospitality management may take a little longer, as the typical credit hours are over 40 and include more finance-related classes than the master’s in hospitality management degree.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Hospitality Management Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified Hotel Concierge This certification is developed by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute in collaboration with Les Clefs D’Or USA and The International School of Hospitality (TISOH) and recognizes guest service and accommodation skills of the highest level.
Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics This certification from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute designates in-depth training and knowledge of hotel industry analytics, including formulas and methodology used in the hotel industry. Successful completion of the exam indicates your ability to accurately forecast revenue trends and manage rate structures for maximum profit.
Certified Hospitality Educator This certification from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute explores hospitality instruction in greater depth. Upon receiving this certification, you may be able to lecture in hospitality at the university level.
Certified Hotel Administrator This is an elite certification available for hotel general managers and hospitality executives with advanced knowledge in the lodging industry.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Hospitality Management

Any university you consider should be accredited by a professional agency such as the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Regional accreditation usually designates four-year universities, both public and private, while national accreditation includes for-profit universities and trade or vocational institutions.

The hospitality industry has several governing institutions that regulate degree programs and accreditations. Programmatic accreditation may come from the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), the American Culinary Federation Foundation’s Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC) or the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The U.S. Department of Education oversees each of these bodies, as does the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The ED and the CHEA websites both have complete lists of all accredited institutions in the country that offer a Masters Degree in Hospitality Management.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Hospitality Management Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Those with a graduate degree in hospitality management may find it easier to advance to senior and C-level positions within the rapidly growing hospitality industry. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a job growth rate of 11 percent by the year 2026. While the hospitality profession does not require a degree for entry-level jobs, many middle management positions require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Upper-level management, especially in the financial, human resource and legal departments of a hotel company, typically requires a master’s degree in that concentration.

Expected Salary

Increased job opportunities are one benefit of a master’s degree in hospitality management. Advanced credentials in hospitality management can increase a base salary significantly.

Job Title Salary Range
Hotel General Manager $34,000-$105,000
Human Resources Manager $45,000-$92,000
Human Resources Director $54,000-$133,000
Operations Manager $40,000-$102,000
Marketing Manager $41,000-$98,000
Information Technology Manager $52,000-$130,000
Marketing Director $45,000-$148,000

Source: PayScale.com

Hospitality salaries are related to the size of the property and the location. A hotel on the coast of California will generally pay more for the same position in a small Midwest town. Below is a chart with the top paying metropolitan areas for a lodging manager.

Lodging Manager Annual Mean Wages in Top Metropolitan Areas

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

Your degree may allow you to work in different aspects of the hospitality field or concentrate on a particular specialty, such as finance, human resources or marketing. Acquiring experience in different areas of the hospitality industry will allow you to move up to C-level positions, such as CFO, CEO or COO.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Hotel General Manager Hotel General Managers oversee all aspects of a hotel property. They are responsible for guest services, the fiscal performance of the hotel and assisting with marketing the property. They often work closely with their area’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and other tourism agencies. The position requires irregular hours as the lodging industry is a 24-hour business. $100,410 per year 4%
Human Resources Director Human Resource Directors set policy for hotels and hotel groups, including fair treatment of staff and ensuring that hotel rules are compliant with federal and state employment regulations. They also supervise hiring practices, employee discipline and terminations per federal and state guidelines. Human Resource Directors may supervise a small staff, including payroll specialists. $110,120 per year 9%
Director of Rooms The Director of Rooms position designates an individual responsible for all aspects of hotel guest stays, including check-in and check-out, housekeeping and reservations. These positions are usually found in hotels that have conference space and convention center space, separating the sleeping room responsibilities from the catering and meeting room responsibilities. $51,800 per year 4%
Director of Sales and Marketing The Director of Sales and Marketing is responsible for selling guest rooms, meeting space, catering, and group conferences and conventions. They work closely with the area’s tourism agencies, marketing tourism to the region. They also conduct outside sales calls for the hotel and focus on increasing revenue. Many DSM positions also require writing a marketing plan for the hotel, including comparative analyses and long-term forecasting. $121,060 per year 7%
Food and Beverage Director This position is often part of the leadership team for larger hotel and conference/ convention center properties. Responsibilities include overseeing day-to-day operations for any restaurants and bars, room service and catering departments. They may be asked to help develop budgets as well as set pricing for outlets and group meetings and events. $52,030 per year 9%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations for hospitality professionals are vital to making contacts within the industry and with affiliated vendors, with group meeting planners and in the community. While many hotels and restaurants have a company membership in many of these organizations, different representatives from the company may be the hotel’s primary representative for certain organizations.

Convention and Visitors Bureau: Your community’s Convention and Vistors Bureau is responsible for bringing groups and individuals on vacation to your area. Sales managers and hotel managers may both participate. Often many area sales professionals will work together to bring larger conventions to a community for the benefit of all.

American Hotel and Lodging Association: The only national association representing hoteliers. Its focus is advocacy for travel and tourism in Washington and for hotels with regard to industry regulations.

Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals: An American-based association for financial and IT professionals in the hospitality industry. Membership here may allow those in these niches to stay abreast of digital security for guests and the hotel, efficient property management systems and networking opportunities.

Hotel Marketing Association: HMA advocates best practices for hotel marketing and branding.

Meeting Professionals International: MPI focuses on event planning, convention management and group business. Membership here is important for hotel sales managers as group business and conventions are lucrative pieces of business for larger hotels.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Hospitality Management

Many online programs may be less expensive than traditional on-campus degrees, but these expenses still may be out of reach for many potential students. The first step to seek financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This allows you to explore any grants, government assistance, loans and other financial aid options. There are private grants and scholarships available for hospitality professionals, as well as tuition reimbursement from many larger hotel companies. These resources can help you finance your master’s degree.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

American Express Scholarship

Award: $2,000

Deadline: May

Eligibility: Employees of an AHLA member hotel.

AHLEF Annual Scholarship Grant Foundation

Award: $500-$6,000

Deadline: May

Eligibility: Enrolled full-time in an undergraduate hospitality management program at an AHLEF affiliated school.

Arthur J. Packard Memorial Scholarship

Award: $2,000, $3,000, or $5,000

Deadline: December

Eligibility: The Packard Competition provides scholarships to the most outstanding student of lodging management.