Top Online MBA Programs in Hospitality Management

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The hospitality industry includes lodging, restaurants, resorts, and other destination-based and service-providing areas of work. Between 2018 and 2028, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase in employment for several hospitality-related jobs, including food service manager (11%), lodging manager (1%), and meeting, convention, and event planner (7%). However, other jobs, such as travel agent, are projected to decrease.

Earning a top online MBA sets you apart from other candidates in the competitive world of hospitality management. However, choosing the best hospitality management MBA can be a daunting endeavor.

This guide ranks the country’s best MBA programs. Read on for more information regarding MBA careers and how to choose the best online MBA in hospitality management.

What Is an MBA in Hospitality Management?

MBA in hospitality management programs focus on the hospitality industry, featuring coursework in general business, as well as hospitality management and operations. Students develop their hospitality skills while gaining abilities in finance, operations, and leadership. Graduates of master’s in hospitality management programs earn positions in administration and management. They also become entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry, operating their own lodging and travel businesses.

The number of private establishments offering hospitality services is growing, with an increase of approximately 15,000 establishments from 2018-2019. This trend will likely continue as the travel and tourism industry grows.

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Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Hospitality Management?

Master’s in hospitality management online programs offer the kind of flexibility working professionals need. Classes typically follow an asynchronous format, meaning learners don’t have to attend scheduled classes. Some programs require internships but allow students to complete them with their current employers.

An MBA in hospitality management provides an education that uniquely addresses challenges in the hospitality industry. Students learn to analyze and prepare for the cyclical financial nature of tourism, provide thorough training in a high-turnover industry, and market to diverse audiences in a rapidly shifting landscape. Skilled hospitality planners enjoy increasing demand as companies shift to remote employment with regular in-person corporate events. Innovative MBA graduates also benefit from opportunities in sustainable tourism.

The top MBA programs help graduates to secure competitive positions and improve their salary prospects. Salaries vary depending on employer and location. Luxury hotels and full-service resorts, for instance, offer lucrative job opportunities.

What Can You Do With an MBA in Hospitality Management?

  • Hotel Manager

    Hotel managers oversee day-to-day hotel operations, including staff supervision and customer satisfaction. They manage maintenance and conduct inspections of rooms and grounds. Hotel managers must typically meet financial goals and review bookkeeping and cash flow predictions. They should possess customer service, operations management, and accounting skills. Salaries for hotel managers typically range from $35,000-$60,000 per year, depending on experience, location, and employer.

  • Director of Sales, Hotels/Hospitality

    Sales directors plan, organize, and manage hotel sales activities. They must meet sales goals, obtain new business, and maintain ongoing client relationships. Directors of sales oversee room and facility rentals and may provide event management. They focus on maximizing profits and sales volume for their hotels. Sales directors benefit from skills in sales management, customer relationship management, and contract negotiation. Directors earn an average annual salary around $63,000.

  • Travel Coordinator

    Commonly known as travel agents, travel coordinators schedule and plan vacations and business trips for individuals, families, and organizations. They work with clients to assess their needs and make arrangements for transportation, lodging, and experiences at their destination. Coordinators develop familiarity with foreign travel requirements to simplify the process for travelers. They may maintain financial records and perform data entry, as well. As such, they should boast organizational skills and experience with spreadsheet software. Travel coordinators earn an average annual salary of $41,000.

  • Lodging Manager

    Lodging managers work in a variety of settings, including independent establishments and national hotel chains. They may serve as general managers, overseeing all operations, or specialize as revenue managers or convention services managers. These professionals ensure a positive experience for guests, and they may provide registration services. Managers engage in marketing to help their businesses meet revenue goals. Business, customer service, and leadership skills prove crucial for successful lodging managers. They earn a median salary of $53,390 annually.

  • Hospitality Manager

    Hospitality managers oversee the customer service or front-of-house staff at hotels, restaurants, and resorts. They ensure customers and guests enjoy their experience, developing ongoing clientele for their establishments. Managers may hire employees and train staff to follow all corporate guidelines. They also take care of bookkeeping. Hospitality managers earn an average salary of $49,000. Individuals with operations, training, and people management skills may earn above-average wages.

Online MBA in Hospitality Management Curriculum

Top online MBA in hospitality management programs offer curricula in business and hospitality management. These classes cover finance, marketing, and leadership. Curricula vary, however, so check with prospective schools to make sure their offerings align with your educational goals.

  • Hospitality and Hotel Leadership

    These classes examine the unique challenges of hospitality leadership, including risk mitigation, industry corporatization, and high turnover rates. Students learn to analyze, evaluate, assess, and implement leadership strategies.

  • Tourism and Hospitality Marketing

    Students develop general and specific marketing skills for the hospitality industry. Topics include positioning travel destinations in a global market, assessing supply and demand, and marketing service quality.

  • Financial Management

    Online MBA in hospitality management students complete projects specific to the hospitality field. Topics include accounting procedures, financial analysis and planning, and budgetary and cash flow projections.

How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Hospitality Management Program

Applicants should consider a variety of factors when choosing the best master’s in hospitality management degree. While similar, different degrees cover slightly different material. An MBA in hospitality management provides an education in business administration with a focus on hospitality-oriented enterprises. A master’s in hospitality and tourism, by contrast, offers a generalist curriculum in the tourism industry. Degrees in parks and recreation management focus on recreational facilities, parks, and resorts.

Prospective students must also consider whether they can attend full time or part time. Some programs best suit part-time attendance, offering flexible curricula, while others require learners to attend full-time. Enrollment status may impact cost, as well. Many schools offer discounted tuition for full-time students.

Tuition rates vary widely, so applicants should research their prospective schools’ tuition rates, student fees, and scholarship options. They should also check for regional and programmatic accreditation.

Location plays an important role, as well, particularly regarding local business partnerships. Students aiming to work at a specific company should attend a school that partners with that business, helping to get their foot in the door. They should also consider any extracurricular graduation requirements, such as an internship or thesis, and whether these requirements suit their schedule and priorities.

Scholarships for Hospitality Management MBA Programs

Most students need financial aid to attend college. Universities, private foundations, professional associations, and businesses offer a variety of scholarship opportunities. See below a list of five scholarships for students earning master’s degrees in hospitality management.

  • Banks Brown Graduate Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Students enrolled full time or part time in graduate hospitality programs may apply. The scholarship also accepts graduate applicants who possess an undergraduate hospitality degree or four years of employment in the hospitality industry. Candidates must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: $5,000

    Apply for Scholarship

  • HSMAI Foundation Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Current students in hospitality management programs with hospitality work experience may apply. Applicants must have an interest in hospitality sales and marketing and be involved with the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.

    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship

  • Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Applicants must attend university full time and major in business administration. They should hold a 3.25 minimum GPA. The Daughters of the American Revolution awards this scholarship; membership is not required.

    Amount: $2,000

    Apply for Scholarship

  • Rama Scholarship for the American Dream

    Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in participating schools may receive nomination for this award. Candidates must major in hospitality management and hold a minimum 2.5 GPA. Asian-Indian and other minority students receive preference.

    Amount: $500-3,000

    Apply for Scholarship

  • Forté MBA Fellowship

    Who Can Apply: Women applying to MBA programs at participating universities qualify for this fellowship. Selected fellows boast an average 3.6 GPA, 695 GMAT score, and five years of work experience.

    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship

Professional Organizations for Hospitality Management

Professional associations serve as a hub for networking opportunities and professional development. They may serve the broad hospitality industry or certain fields. These organizations provide resources for students to learn about current trends and issues in the field. Students pursuing careers in hospitality management benefit from mentorship opportunities and specialized education, as well. Many associations offer private scholarships to student members.

American Hotel and Lodging Association

AHLA serves, supports, and advocates for the hospitality industry. It represents over 27,000 members and 80% of all franchise hotels. Student members receive discounts from the educational institute, access to scholarships, and placement in AHLA’s resume database.

Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals

HFTP provides solutions for financial and technology professionals through peer support, professional development, and a unique search engine. The association offers free membership to students, who can also take advantage of certification programs.

Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International

A worldwide network of sales, marketing, and revenue management professionals, HSMAI focuses on education and advocacy. Student members may access mentoring, scholarship opportunities, and an expanded curriculum.

Professional Convention Management Association

PCMA serves event managers and suppliers, focusing on social and economic transformation. Students may join for free to access educational and networking opportunities and scholarships.

Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education

CHRIE, an international collegiate association, works to improve hospitality and tourism education. Membership is open to graduate students, educators, and executives. Benefits include professional development, journals, and research opportunities.

Top Online MBA Programs in Hospitality Management for 2020

How We Rank Online MBA Programs

Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, online flexibility, and student success.

  1. Endicott College

    Beverly, MA



    Endicott College is a private four-year university with campuses in Boston and Beverly, Massachusetts. Learners can complete the 42-credit MBA in hospitality management entirely online with flexible scheduling. The customizable curriculum includes 30 credits in the major and 12 credits in the concentration. Students can complete two concentrations.

    The hospitality management concentration includes coursework in leadership, events management, marketing, and revenue management. An internship is not required, but online students may access the internship and career center for opportunities if they so choose. The program also offers personal advising and networking opportunities.

    GMAT scores are not required. Endicott waives the application fee for veteran and military students; all other students pay a nonrefundable $50 fee. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation and an essay on their career goals.

    Other Concentrations

  2. Washington State University

    Pullman, WA



    Washington State University offers an accredited online MBA that can be completed entirely online in as few as 22 months. Students with a bachelor's in business complete only 36 credits; others may need to take up to 16 additional foundational credits.

    The core curriculum covers topics in strategic planning and leadership, as well as functional business tools. Sample courses include strategy formulation and organizational design, administrative control, and information systems analysis. Three capstone courses lead to the development of a full business plan.

    Online MBA students may participate in an international learning opportunity during the summer. The one-credit course does not count towards graduation requirements, but does provide valuable experience.

    WSU accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers four start dates per year. WSU waives the GMAT requirement for applicants with a business degree or progressive work experience and a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must provide an essay and one letter of recommendation.

    Other Concentrations

  3. East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC



    The AACSB-accredited MBA program at East Carolina University does not require prerequisite business coursework or experience. The program is highly flexible, with individualized scheduling that allows learners to set their own pace. Students take between one and five classes per semester. The degree requires 18 courses, but many students receive waivers to complete as few as 11 courses.

    The hospitality management concentration is offered as one of 13 certificate options. The certificate requires four courses: event management, food service and beverage management systems, lodging operations management, and a seminar on current issues.

    Nonresident online students pay out-of-state tuition. ECU awards over $300,000 in graduate scholarships per year. Applicants must have a minimum 2.7 GPA and a GMAT score of 450 unless they qualify for a waiver. The school usually makes admission decisions within 24 hours.

    Other Concentrations

  4. University of New Hampshire

    Durham, NH



    The University of New Hampshire offers the only accredited part-time MBA program in the state. Students can earn their degree in 24-42 months while taking classes online, on campus, or both. The program features 16 courses for a total of 48 credits. UNH's MBA program uses eight-week terms.

    The hospitality management option includes four courses in human resources, operations and financial metrics, financial management, and a special topics course in revenue management. Students have the option of completing an international residency during their coursework. Nonresident students pay out-of-state tuition. 84% of first-time students receive financial aid.

    Application deadlines are June 1, December 15, and May 1. GMAT scores are optional but encouraged for scholarship opportunities. Two years of professional experience, two letters of recommendation, and an essay are required for admission.

    Other Concentrations

  5. Lynn University

    Boca Raton, FL



    Lynn University is a private nonprofit university located in Boca Raton, Florida. The online MBA program offers the flexibility to take one or two courses at a time. Students can complete the 37-credit program in just one year. The curriculum includes seven foundation courses and three electives. Class sizes are kept small, with no more than 15 students per session.

    The online hospitality management specialization requires three additional courses: food service administration, resource development and management, and service management. Students may elect to complete an internship or independent study for non-degree credit hours. Learners also have the option to study abroad.

    The program offers three start dates per year, and students are encouraged to apply early. Lynn does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students do not need a bachelor's degree in business, but learners from other fields may need to complete prerequisites. Online students receive an iPad upon enrollment.

    Other Concentrations

  6. University of Louisiana at Lafayette

    Lafayette, LA



    The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in Louisiana. The school boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the state and celebrates diversity and community. The university is also home to a research center focused on analyzing big data in the global marketplace.

    The online MBA in hospitality management is an accelerated program that students can complete in 15 months. Learners earn 33 credits in areas such as policy formulation, strategic planning methods, and data analysis. Courses in the specialization include organizational behavior, feasibility studies in hospitality, and global contemporary issues.

    The university offers pay-by-course tuition options. Tuition is inclusive of books and other learning materials. Non-resident online students pay in-state tuition. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The school waives GMAT scores for applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online application process requires an affordable, non-refundable fee.

    Other Concentrations

  7. Fort Hays State University

    Hays, KS



    Fort Hays State University was established in Hays, Kansas in 1902. The university offers the lowest tuition in Kansas, and FHSU graduates have a 96% job placement rate.

    The fully online MBA in tourism and hospitality management allows learners to attend full or part time. The program consists of 34 credit hours: 25 credits in core coursework and nine credits in the specialization. Students without a bachelor's degree in business may complete prerequisite foundation courses.

    The core curriculum covers essential topics in management, marketing, finance, and economics. Hospitality management students choose three electives from six courses. Options include service operations, events management, resort management, and international hospitality.

    Nonresident students pay the same tuition rate for online classes as resident students. FHSU requires GMAT scores for admission. Applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

    Other Concentrations

  8. Lakeland University

    Plymouth, WI



    Lakeland University is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college associated with the United Church of Christ. The university maintains eight centers throughout Wisconsin and an international campus in Tokyo, Japan. The university emphasizes experiential education and offers flexible options to earn college credit in the classroom and the workplace.

    The MBA in hospitality management program is designed for flexibility. Learners can alternate between attending courses on campus and online during any given week. On-campus sessions typically take place in the evenings and on weekends. Classes blend lectures with experiential learning, case studies, and research opportunities.

    Hospitality management students complete nine credits of a cooperative education experience. This internship experience requires a minimum of 25 hours per week. The experience can include paid or unpaid employment or intensive research. Students submit a presentation to the employer and the university prior to graduation.

    Other Concentrations

  9. Midway University

    Midway, KY



    Midway University is a small private institution founded in 1847 by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Originally a women's college, Midway became fully coeducational in 2016. The school is known for unique programs in the state of Kentucky.

    The MBA in tourism and event management program provides a unique opportunity to study the bourbon tourism industry. Students gain experience in bourbon interpretation and evaluation, as well as consumer education. The program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity in this Kentucky-based industry.

    Students can complete the 33-credit program in 15 months. The curriculum includes bourbon tourism industry analytics, the bourbon experience and hospitality, destination branding, and event management. The program culminates with a capstone in the bourbon experience.

    Tuition costs are the same for nonresident and in-state students. Approximately 90% of students receive financial aid, and Midway does not require graduate exam scores for admission. Online students receive support through the academic support center and career services.

    Other Concentrations

  10. Louisiana State University-Shreveport

    Shreveport, LA



    Louisiana State University Shreveport was founded as a public university in 1967. The university recently instituted accelerated eight-week semesters, so students earning their online MBA can graduate in as few as 10 months.

    The hospitality management program at LSUS is designed for students pursuing careers in the gaming industry. Students choose to complete either a concentration or a specialization in hospitality and casino management. The concentration includes three courses in marketing, quantitative methods, and hospitality analytics. The specialization requires one course in management, one in marketing, and a business elective.

    Online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Graduate students are eligible for scholarships through the LSUS Foundation. LSUS accepts applications online through the general scholarship application portal.

    The program features eight start dates per year. LSUS does not require GMAT scores for applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA or candidates with a 2.5 GPA and three years of work experience. LSUS offers an affordable application fee.

    Other Concentrations

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