Best MBA Programs in Hospitality Management for 2021

Your Guide to Career, Curriculum and Education

When earning an MBA, you can expect to learn about effective economics, leadership, and communication. If you are thinking about earning an MBA in Hospitality Management, you’ll learn all of this including management skills, marketing, and human resources.

However, you also learn how to wow your guests with experiences they will always remember. At the same time that you’re planning events, you also need to ensure that employees are working hard, verifying that finances are kept under good control, and that the marketing is current.

You can find programs that will allow you to transition easily into working in a convention center, hotel, lodge, cruise line, or at a recreation or amusement park. Hospitality management applies to all of these, plus food, beverage issues, gaming, marinas, and even professional sports facilities.

However you choose to earn your degree, whether face-to-face or online, it should prove to be an excellent return on investment.

what-is-an-mba-in-hospitality-management

What is an MBA in Hospitality Management?

Earning your MBA in Hospitality Management means you’re going to be ready to lead an organization in the service industry. You may head the staff at a resort or an event planning organization.

Wherever you’re working, you’re going to be ready to become a vital member of the hospitality network in your community, the US, and even around the world. Look for an MBA in Hospitality Management program that offers real-world learning experiences, internships, and a program that is diverse enough to offer you opportunities in solving marketing or management issues and discussions that increase your ability to work with competitors and customers. This should also allow you to develop the capabilities that are at the center of organizational management. An excellent MBA-Hospitality Management program offers various managerial points of view in guest services.

What Can You Do With an MBA in Hospitality Management?


Guest Services Manager


In your daily role, you’ll oversee hotel employees and make sure that they are providing an experience that goes beyond expectations for hotel guests. While this isn’t an easy bar to meet, this is how you get both repeat and new customers.

You’ll supervise bookings for new guests and manage the scheduling of amenities, such as spa treatments. You may also responsible for making sure that room service orders are handled quickly and correctly. You’ll hire and train new desk and reservation agents and you may provide input on hiring and training other service professionals. You’ll be visible and fully involved every day.

Hospitality Manager


Because you’re in the hospitality industry, your expertise and experiences will transfer easily from hotels to restaurants and resorts. Your daily responsibilities mean you’ll be overseeing those employees who work in customer-facing roles – desk clerks, for instance. You’ll be involved in training employees to offer friendly and efficient services to guests. You’ll be on the lookout for job applicants who have outgoing personalities and customer service experience and you’ll regularly ensure that each employee is meeting high standards so that guests feel welcomed.

If a guest is unhappy about something, it’s your responsibility to offer support to employees and the guests if a confrontation or misunderstanding is developing. You’ll lead by example in all situations, including potential confrontational situations.

Lodging Manager


Like the hospitality manager, a lodging manager is fully focused on ensuring a happy experience for business and vacation travelers. As you work on this, you’re also responsible for ensuring that the hotel’s budget isn’t exceeded; you’ll have to run a profit.

If you have higher goals, you may begin to move up from a front office manager to a general manager, convention service manager, or a revenue manager. In each one of these roles, your focus will change to ensure that the services you are responsible for will be satisfactorily met.

Hotel Event Coordinator


In this managerial position, you’re going to focus solely on events that are being held at your hotel. Events run the range and can include engagement parties, wedding receptions, and conventions. You’ll meet with the hotel client to find out what the event is all about, what the theme is, cover the menu and beverages, and the setup and breakdown of the conference room(s).

You may also be responsible for managing vendors for conventions. After the event has ended, you’ll evaluate whether it was successful and what could have been done better.

Online Vs. On-Campus for an MBA in Hospitality Management


You’ll have a choice of earning your MBA in Hospitality Management online or in a traditional face-to-face environment. Depending on the quality of the program, they may be practically the same. While you may need to go to a setting where you can observe a hospitality management role in action for the online degree, this shouldn’t be particularly difficult.

An online MBA-HM is developed to be industry-specific. This means that, when you start your career in hospitality management, you’ll be prepared to handle everything you encounter. Ideally, the online program will be created so that it caters to your needs as a busy professional, possibly with a family.

On the other hand, an on-campus MBA in Hospitality Management puts you right there in the classroom with your professor and fellow students as you learn about current hospitality trends. Your instructors will challenge and push you to look at hospitality businesses as organizations for global service, where guests are active in creating the service experience they seek. You’ll learn techniques and strategies that you’ll be able to put into action immediately such as using engagement with leaders, consultation, and hands-on research.

Types of Hospitality Management MBA Degrees


  • Postgraduate or Post-MBA Certificate in Hospitality Management
    Average Salary: $70,000

    The post-graduate Hospitality Specialist Certificate looks at hospitality services that have become more and more complex in the recent past. You’ll learn highly advanced skills that will add polish to your MBA in Hospitality Management. You’ll become an expert in the tools of this field so that you’re able to grow your employer’s profit and revenues. This 12-credit certificate program (four courses) can be completed in under one year if you attend part-time. Course options may vary occasionally.

  • MS in Hospitality Management
    Average Salary: $57,285

    A Master of Science in Hospitality Management allows you to gain the skills and knowledge you need to lead your team and increase your annual salary potential. Hospitality management is growing quickly. You should be able to customize your degree plan to your goals, allowing you to focus in one area of specialization, such as human resources or events. The 36 required credit hours can be completed in two academic years.

  • MBA in Hospitality Management
    Average Salary: $45,000

    Earning an MBA in Hospitality Management is a more specialized degree program, exposing you to the industries of tourism management and hospitality more generally. In this concentration, you will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of critical functions of the hospitality and tourism industries. This includes sales, marketing, hospitality law, front office operations, and service management. Your degree program consists of 37 credit hours.

  • Executive MBA in Hospitality Management
    Average Salary: $70,000

    In an EMBA program, which is full-time, you’ll take three distinct types of courses:

    • Professional Development
    • Business Growth/Acumen
    • Hospitality Management Skills

    You’ll learn both your leadership potential and hospitality management. The hospitality management discipline can be learned through hospitality immersion delivered via hands-on classes focused on hotel and restaurant operations or through online programs depending on the availability of the program near you. You’ll expand your knowledge about expected industry standards in hotel environments.

Sample Curriculum & Courses for Hospitality Management


An MBA in Hospitality Management teaches business, finance, and accounting. You’ll also learn about tourism, hospitality, and hotel and restaurant management.

  • Corporate Financial Accounting
    If you haven’t earned an undergraduate degree in business, this course will be necessary. You’ll get the foundations of managerial and financial accounting principles, info on business entities, and learn how to prepare financial statements.
  • Ethics, Corporate Responsibility and Law
    In this course, you’ll learn about making difficult ethical choices when you have very little information on an issue, as well as conflicting values. You’ll learn how to resist the easy answer.
  • Hospitality and Tourism Global Issues
    This is an advanced study of how the roles and missions of higher managers have developed. You’ll study important issues and problems that are developing, along with new trends and issues and how they affect the rapid development of tourism at the national and international level.
  • Information Technology in Hospitality and Tourism
    In this course, you’ll gain an inside view of the technology needs of an organization in hospitality and tourism. You’ll learn about research in data, analytics, point-of-sale, customer experience, online tourism marketing, property management, and information security.
  • Event Operations & Risk Management
    This course is advanced, allowing you to gain needed competence in risk management, risk assessment, risk operations, and planning and evaluation techniques - which are used by professionals in event operations. Knowledge in these areas helps you to reduce risk proactively.

Best MBA in Hospitality Management Colleges


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Location
Blacksburg, VA
Retention %
93%
Graduation %
86%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$109,600
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
14:1
San Francisco State University Location
San Francisco, CA
Retention %
80%
Graduation %
55%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$111,300
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
22:1
California State University-Long Beach Location
Long Beach, CA
Retention %
87%
Graduation %
73%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$92,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
24:1
Tulane University of Louisiana Location
New Orleans, LA
Retention %
93%
Graduation %
86%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$101,600
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
8:1
Georgia State University Location
Atlanta, GA
Retention %
82%
Graduation %
53%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$103,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
26:1
Washington State University Location
Pullman, WA
Retention %
79%
Graduation %
59%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$97,500
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
16:1
University of the Potomac-VA Location
Idylwood, VA
Retention %
83%
Graduation %
100%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$58,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
10:1
University of New Hampshire Location
Durham, NH
Retention %
86%
Graduation %
76%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$71,313
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
17:1
East Carolina University Location
Greenville, NC
Retention %
82%
Graduation %
65%
Accreditation
AACSB
Average Salary
$75,300
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
18:1
Endicott College Location
Beverly, MA
Retention %
86%
Graduation %
79%
Accreditation
No
Average Salary
$62,187
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
11:1
Full Ranking Report

Frequently Asked Questions


What certification should I get in addition to an MBA in Hospitality Management?

Even if you have an MBA, any specialized role you accept will likely mean that you’ll need more learning and preparation. Adding a post-graduate certificate to your resume helps you not only on your resume, but also in your daily job performance.

Today, you don’t have to stop working to attend a certificate program full-time. You can find accredited online programs that allow you to study for and earn your certificate while you keep working and earning. This means that you can fit your studies and even your exam into a schedule that works for you.

What are the differences between an MBA in Hospitality Management and a regular MBA?

Immersing yourself in an MBA-Hospitality Management program teaches you to think in a different way. Along with gaining knowledge in human resources, finance, and accounting, you’ll gain the knowledge you need to work in a hospitality management role in any setting; managing a hotel and planning and carrying out large events are major parts of an MBA in Hospitality Management.

By contrast, a general MBA introduces you to advanced business courses and graduate-level electives that will serve you in a general business role. Your graduate education is designed to be more general on purpose because may be working in any number of a large variety of settings.

Who should consider getting this degree?

You have to want to work in business and hospitality management for this degree to really help you achieve your goals. If your career goal is to see your guests ooh-ing and ahh-ing at how pleasant a stay they had at your hotel or resort, this is what you’re looking for. If this isn’t something that excites you, then you should look more closely at a general MBA.

However, hospitality isn’t the only thing you’ll focus on in your graduate studies. You also need to know how to carry out the general functions of the business. A well-structured MBA-Hospitality Management program exposes you to both sides of this degree.

How to Choose the Right Program


Do You Have to Go Back to School?


It takes time to earn your MBA in Hospitality Management. Not only that, but you shouldn’t overlook the time you’ll spend searching for the right program for your goals and the time you really should spend applying for scholarships and grants in order to lessen the financial burden of the degree. You could spend as many as six months looking for the right program, applying, taking the GRE or GMAT, writing your personal statement, and applying for financial aid.

Is This a Long-Term Career Path for You?


Do you realistically see yourself in this career long-term? If so, you can begin making plans to find the right MBA-Hospitality Management program right away.

Consider what you want to do after earning your MBA. While this is two years down the road, you need to have a solid grasp on your goals now. Where do you want to work? Do you have the amount of experience right now to be hired by one of them? Knowing this will help you make the best decision when it comes to earning a graduate degree.

What Kind of Networking Opportunities are Available?


Networking, or facilitating long-term connections; no matter what you call it, you need to make sure you have the opportunity to reach out and meet other hospitality managers in your field.

Once you graduate, you may find yourself relying heavily on the connections you made in your classes. Perhaps at one class session, you met a VIP speaker who told you they were interested in learning more about you. In the right program, you should have plenty of opportunities to for connections with other students, specialists, and businesspeople who work in the hospitality industry. It’s vital that you choose a program that offers as much chance for networking as possible, even if these are only online connections rather than face-to-face meetups.

Does Earning this MBA Provide a Significant Return on Investment (ROI)?


By investing your time, effort, and money, you are hoping to gain a good return on investment after earning your degree. Perhaps it’s because you are seeking a business career that you decided to reach for an MBA. How will you benefit?

First, you expand your career possibilities with an MBA of any kind. Even with a focus in hospitality management, you’ll have greater access to careers in human resources, finance and accounting, marketing, or general management. An MBA commands respect. It shows that you committed to a difficult program and you succeeded, especially if you are in the middle of your career.

An increased earning potential after earning an MBA also means that you may experience a significant jump in your annual salary. A wider professional network means you can reach out to others and build connections that can help you succeed throughout the rest of your career.

Consider the Student Outcomes for Each Program


Student outcomes are the lifeblood of every university and college. Knowing the first-year student retention rate helps them to determine what programs are working or not. While this is limited to first-year students, the graduation rate is measured annually for both undergraduate and graduate students and can give you the same kind of information about these programs.

One university maintains an unusual statistic. The hospitality and tourism research papers written by graduate students are entered into the Annual Graduate Students Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. This university maintains a record of years in which students’ research papers have been given “best paper” awards.

Make Sure the Program is Accredited


The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) gives programmatic accreditation to business schools all around the world.

Accreditation is a special recognition of a school’s academic quality. In the case of programmatic accreditation, it can assert the quality of their business degree programs specifically. If you need to apply for federal financial aid, you can only do so if your university is regionally or nationally accredited. If you need to transfer, it will be significantly easier to do so if your current program has accreditation. And, if you want a good salary from an employer, accreditation communicates to them that you enrolled in a good program.

Professional Organizations


  • American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA)
    This organization represents the US lodging industry’s concerns and interests nationally. Using regulatory affairs and federal legislative action, along with national media, the AH&LA advances the interests of the US lodging industry.
  • Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I)
    This organization represents more than 1,500 college campus professionals who work to design, market, and coordinate special events and conferences. These events take place on college and university campuses all around the world.
  • Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA)
    CEMA’s mission involves the advancement of professional networking and sharing of knowledge. It provides leadership and education and it supports the value of event marketing.
  • Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA)
    ESPA operates internationally, supporting convention professionals by providing continuing education based on stated needs. ESPA enhances the professional values and standards by advancing and promoting quality customer service.

Potential Scholarships to Consider


  • Broad Full-Time Graduate Assistantships
    Offered by: Michigan State University Broad College of Business

    This merit-based assistantship is offered to both first- and second-year MBA students attending Michigan State University. In-state students are eligible to receive $20,000, while out-of-state and international students are eligible for $38,000.

  • NetJets Scholarship
    Offered by: The Columbus Foundation

    Eligible candidates must be an accepted major in Aviation or Hospitality attending either flight schools, aviation schools, or hospitality schools at Cornell University, Michigan State University, Penn State University, The Ohio State University, or the University of Central Florida. They must hold a minimum 3.5 GPA, attend full-time, be able to work and live in the US, and have no criminal record. Winners receive $10,000.

  • Linda Thompson Memorial Scholarship
    Offered by: the Association of Destination Management Executives International

    Students all over the world majoring in Hospitality Management who are planning a career in destination management are eligible to apply. A North American student and a non-North American student will receive awards.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources