Online MBA in Hospitality Management

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Where hospitality
meets profitability

As economic prosperity continues to improve across many countries, more people than ever are travelling. The travel and tourism industry contributed $2.6 trillion to the global economy in 2013, and hospitality leaders are helping drive business in areas like destination marketing, hotel management and convention planning. One of the best (and most convenient) routes to breaking into a leadership position in is to earn an online MBA in hospitality management. Learn more about program types and courses, steps for getting into business school, and more.

MBA Milestone Map: Hospitality Management

A life in the hospitality industry can take many twists and turns. Below is an example of what a career and academic path might look like for someone with an online MBA in hospitality management.

First
International Trip

Family vacation to Bahamas resort at
age 8

Summer Job

Restaurant host at country club before heading to college

Bachelor’s Degree

Explores academic interests, worked as campus tour guide

Entry-level Job

Lands job at the front desk of a nearby hotel

MBA

Completes online MBA in hospitality management

Promotion

Offered position as the hotel’s night manager

What Should I Expect from an Online MBA in Hospitality Management?

Online programs provide students with the tools to access necessary course materials. MBA students may be expected to have email exchanges with instructors and classmates, use online document sharing programs for assignments, utilize web-based tools for study, read books and articles from the online library, and listen to recorded or live lectures. With online tools at their fingertips, some students find distance learning a more affordable and efficient means of earning their degree.

Online students still have to put in the work, however. Students might also be required to complete internships for academic credit, giving them the real-life work experience and opportunity to apply skills they’ve acquired through their online studies.

What Types of Online MBA Programs Are Available?

Online MBA degree programs are comprised of interdisciplinary subjects such as accounting, business, finance and marketing that prepare students for situations they might encounter in real life. But there are several routes to the same outcome, depending on where potential students are in their careers:

  • Full-time (2 years)
  • Executive (2 years)
  • Part-time (3+ years)

As with other online MBA in hospitality management programs, training provided through a full-time program may focus on convention management, international tourism, and employee management. A full-time program is ideal for those who want to break into the industry or are not yet on a management track and feel comfortable spending two years out of the workforce.

Mid-level and executive managers who seek to hone their skills in corporate sustainability, leadership and development, budget management or other areas might consider this type of program. Students often work together in groups to experiment with solutions to real-life problems in their professional realms.

A popular option for busy professionals working in any field, a part-time online MBA in hospitality management is self-paced and may take up to six years to earn. However, part-time students may pay a premium for courses, which are typically more expensive for students not taking a full load.

What Classes Do Students Take
in a Hospitality Management MBA?

MBA students taking hospitality management courses can expect to enroll in classes focusing on finance, marketing, tourism, international business, hotel administration, human resources and strategic marketing. While each student’s experience depends on his or her individual goals, the following courses are staples:

Strategic Marketing

Businesses must have a good strategy not just to excel, but to survive. A strategic marketing course takes students through case studies, presents them with various scenarios, and exposes them to different consumer and business markets. For instance, professors might discuss brand management and ask students to solve marketing problems.

Hotel and Restaurant Management

Analyzes the basics of the lodging and food industries, including management, operations and competition in the marketplace. Faculty members might explore detailed topics such as security, menus, personnel and housekeeping.

Event Planning and Management

With a particular emphasis on conventions and the stakeholders who plan and invest into them, a curriculum for this kind of class would cover sponsorships, marketing, contracted services, appropriate venues, budgets and staffing.

Financial Management

Budgeting is a major component of most positions in the hospitality management field. Students in this course will learn about short- and long-term financing methods and how to make sound financial decisions based upon data.

Effective Leadership

Students pursuing careers as mid- to upper-level supervisors or managers can take this course, which addresses concepts and theories in organizational management and pushes students to think through solutions to common workplace problems. Instructors may also integrate cross-cultural approaches to conflict resolution.

How Do I Narrow Down My Business School Choices?

Because business is one of the top fields in the United States for graduate degrees, finding the best MBA programs can be overwhelming. Use this checklist to make sure you’re applying to the right schools:

  • Decide what you want to get out of a program. For instance, if you are interested in working in hospitality abroad, pursue a program with an international focus.
  • Make sure the schedule aligns with your own. School start dates differ, and some programs operate with the traditional school year on a semester basis while others allow online students to start throughout the year.
  • Check that you meet the application requirements. Schools have their own minimum GPA and GMAT score requirements.
  • Apply to an accredited program. Schools and programs that hold accreditation are held to a high standard and better respected by employers than unaccredited schools and programs.
  • Call or visit schools. You can speak with current students and admissions representatives to get a feel for the school.
  • Look into support services for online students. A big one is career services, which prepares students to transition from school to employment.
  • Get financial aid. Schools typically have scholarships, work study programs, grants or assistantships. Be sure to check into every financial opportunity to help fund your education.
  • Make sure you can afford the program. Scholarship and grants are available, but there are no guarantees those will be received by the start of the school year, if at all, so students should be prepared to pay tuition costs upfront.

Why Should I Pay Attention to Accreditation?

Institutional accreditation from either a regional or national accreditor ensures that the school has met minimum educational standards and student outcomes, while also allowing students to benefit from federal financial aid program. Online hospitality management MBA programs typically follow the same accrediting process as other MBA programs within a business school. For more details on business school accreditation, please see our hub page on MBA degrees. And for comprehensive information on accreditation as a whole, read our accreditation guide.

How Can I Get Ready for an MBA
in Hospitality Management?

Graduate programs, whether taken online or on campus, constitute a considerable investment of time and money. Planning out the process to achieve a degree requires first getting a grasp on the admissions process. Students considering pursuing an MBA in hospitality management online should take into account the following steps:

Time Before Program Start Date
Step 1

Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.

2 years, 3 months
Step 2

Get an entry-level job in a hotel, restaurant or other service-oriented workplace.

2 years
Step 3

Take the GMAT.

13 months
Step 4

Apply to schools over two rounds of admissions.

11 months for Round One admissions

8 months for Round Two admissions

Step 5

Get funding by submitting the FAFSA® and searching out grants and scholarships.

9 months

Students applying to online MBA in hospitality management programs might gain a competitive advantage over other candidates by doing the following:

  • Volunteering for local organizations in which hospitality or business management skills are applicable
  • Taking leadership classes in high school or during their undergraduate program to foster extracurricular involvement and demonstrate their capabilities beyond the classroom
  • Taking standalone online classes

What Careers Do Hospitality MBAs Go Into?

From catering to international travel to destination marketing, there are many possible career tracks for those who earned an online MBA in hospitality management, including:

Food Service Manager

A food service manager typically supervises restaurant food and supplies, inventory, customer service, human resources and finances. During their workweek, they might also train or evaluate employees to achieve superior customer service in hotels, catering businesses, or restaurants. Earning potential is typically higher for those who work at larger resorts, hotels or exclusive properties.

Gaming Manager

In areas of the country where gambling is legal, gaming managers assist with overseeing casinos’ customer relations, security and employee relations. Security is a particularly important task as casinos circulate large amounts of cash throughout the day.

Travel Agent

Booking travel, improving guest experiences and coordinating entertainment are crucial for success in this job. Most managers also receive reduced rates when they travel. The higher end of earnings usually goes toward travel agents who work for the government or internally for one company.

Convention Service Manager

These hospitality specialists oversee the logistics of large-scale conventions for hotels and convention centers. They coordinate with outside event planners on dining, entertainment and accommodation details, while keeping an eye on budgetary concerns.

Lodging Manager

People in this position are typically in charge of operational and support services that govern the hotel’s customer service experience. These highly visible positions are responsible for creating or implementing best practices to improve the effectiveness of the facility, achieving goals to maximize profits, and handling budgets and surveillance issues. Experience and geography most often determine median salary for hotel general managers.

Career National Job Growth(2014-2024) National Median Annual Salary(2014)
Food Service Manager 5% $48,560
Gaming Manager -1% $67,310
Travel Agent -12% $34,800
Convention Service Manager 10% $46,490
Lodging Manager 8% $47,680

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Note: Convention Service Manager data represents all Meeting, Convention and Event Planners.

What Hospitality Management
Certifications Are Available?

With the notable exception of gaming managers, who must be licensed by a relevant state regulatory agency, and travel agents, who may need a state license to operate, most jobs in this field do not require certifications. However, professionals who wish to boost their resume by earning certifications have options, including:

Additional Online MBA Concentrations

While a master’s program in hospitality management covers a vast field of interests in the travel and tourism industry, programs that offer different perspectives include:

MBA in International Business:

Degree programs in this area focus on the challenges and intricacies of conducting business on a global scale, including legal and organizational implications. An MBA in international business offers graduates opportunities to pursue careers in the international workforce with governments, nonprofits and other agencies as marketing directors, business development directors, analysts and managers specializing in trade and customs.

MBA in Marketing:

Those who specialize in marketing promote ideas, products and entities to target audiences. Professionals who go on to careers in this area often are recruited by top agencies in the country and represent a spectrum of industries, including pharmaceutical, film, retail, advertising and public relations.

MBA in Healthcare Administration:

Executives seeking to enhance their skills in analysis or decision-making pertaining to health care strategies would find this degree program useful. Programs offer several specializations in financial health management, health information technology or management and policy, all of which offer courses that train businesspeople to help healthcare facilities deliver quality care.

Hospitality Management Resources