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What is an MBA in HospitalityWhat is an MBA in Hospitality

An MBA in Hospitality is a surefire way to propel your career as a future leader in the hospitality industry. Whether you plan on managing group sales for a luxury hotel chain or manage the seasonal reservations at a ski resort, the sky’s the limit for holders of an MBA in Hospitality.

Providing an optimal customer experience for all guests/patrons is at the core of the hospitality industry. Your MBA studies will include real-world hospitality experiences complimented by a solid foundation in business principles. Hospitality professors will share their personal experiences as top-level managers, and teach the latest technology the industry has to offer prospective B-Students.

Graduates of MBA in Hospitality programs are poised to become leaders within high-end restaurants, luxury hotels, resorts, and corporate settings all over the world. If you love to travel and want a career that takes you to the hottest tourism spots, an MBA in Hospitality is a well-respected credential in the industry. Whether it’s operations, customer service and sales, marketing strategies, or global leadership, B-students are equipped with the latest approaches to lead effective teams. They’ll also learn how to:

  • Manage organizational change
  • Quantitatively analyze market opportunities
  • Strategically analyze Human Resource issues
  • Observe challenges in the global hospitality industry

From deepening your knowledge of analytics, financial, marketing and economics to international business studies, Hospitality B-students are well-rounded business professionals groomed for entrepreneurship.

What Is the Career Outlook for Hospitality ManagersWhat Is the Career Outlook for Hospitality Managers

Employment of hospitality managers is projected to grow 6% through 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Expected growth in tourism and travel will be the driving force behind the growth of Hospitality Managers. Those with an MBA degree will have ample opportunity to go from middle- to executive level positions, whether it’s working in a casino, a resort, corporate restaurant chain or managing a high-end hotel chain. Those who have real-world experience by way of internship/externship and also have the MBA credential will differentiate themselves from fellow applicants new to the industry. The most reputable MBA programs will have coursework in both international business and hospitality. AACSB-accredited programs understand the importance of globalization and will tailor their curriculums accordingly.

Average Salaries for MBAs in HospitalityAverage Salaries for MBAs in Hospitality

The median annual wage for hospitality managers is $51,840. The lowest 10% earned less than $28,870 and the highest 10% earned more than $96,570. Those with an MBA in Hospitality will have the greatest opportunity to secure leadership positions in some of the most coveted positions.

What Can I Do With an MBA in HospitalityWhat Can I Do With an MBA in Hospitality

Graduates with an MBA in Hospitality may seek higher-level positions within global organizations that require international business experience. In the highly competitive hospitality and tourism industry, professionals are needed to manage all functions of a hospitality business (operations, finance, marketing, HR, purchasing and buying). They are also responsible for the recruitment and training of all staff members. From Group Sales Managers to Revenue Managers, the Hospitality industry has an ever-growing list of career paths for MBA graduates.

General managers oversee the department operations of a hospitality business including housekeeping, HR, concierge, marketing and sales, purchasing, security, maintenance, recreational facilities, and other activities. The most effective GM’s have the people-skill to motivate and lead teams and the quantitative skills to analyze the financial health of the business.

Revenue managers are concerned with protecting the company’s bottom line. They are the financial wizards making sound decisions based on profits and losses. A revenue manager works closely with bookkeepers, accountants, and buyers to ensure that expenses are limited and profits are plentiful.

Front-office managers whether it’s training the concierge desk or managing the incoming reservations, front-office managers are responsible for employees that greet hospitality patrons. Most Front-office managers are customer service specialists knowledgeable on how to treat guests as loyal patrons. Most of their day-to-day is spent interacting with guests, training new employees, and handling billing via a centralized customer relationship system.

Convention service managers special events, conferences, and business meetings are usually organized through a convention service manager. They deal with the corporate side of event planning and usually have to coordinate with hospitality staff to ensure smooth operations. These managers are responsible for billing, booking, and organizing large corporate venues.

Is an MBA in Hospitality for MeIs an MBA in Hospitality for Me

Hospitality Managers come from all walks of life. If you love working with people and are a natural problem-solver, an MBA in Hospitality might be the right fit. If you choose the Hospitality concentration, you will receive a world-class business education applicable to industries outside of the Hospitality if you decide to change your career down the line.

Sector Description
The Career Advancer This is the hospitality manager already thriving in the industry and looking to build upon their work experience. They’ve noticed that most of the executives have their MBA and handle a lot of the back-end financials of the organization. An MBA in Hospitality or a more specialized Master’s in Hospitality would further develop their leadership skills and delivery a credential that sets them apart as an experienced manager.
Entrepreneur This is the restaurateur, event planner, buyer, or lodge owner that wants to run a successful enterprise. They have a business plan ready-to-go and now they need to learn all functions of business in order to take their incredible idea to the next level. This could also be the small restaurant owner who wants to expand their operations or build a franchise of similar restaurants throughout a particular territory.
Career Switcher This is someone who might have work in retail, finance, real estate, education, or marketing that wants to switch careers. This is the person who’s decided to follow their passion and pursue a career in hospitality. They’re usually customer-centric employees who love rolling up their sleeves and working with people.
Family-Owned Business If you’re ready to take over the family business and want to keep it successful, an MBA in Hospitality will give you the business tools needed to run the operations. If you want to take the family business to the next level and learn the latest cutting-edge technology, an MBA in Hospitality is a great choice.
Career Starter If you’re a recent college graduate and you see yourself managing a hotel, restaurant, or high-end resort, this is the logical next step.
Academic Researcher Whether you want to pursue the MMH degree or an MBA in Hospitality, a graduate degree in hospitality is the credential needed to apply to Ph.D. programs and start conducting research in the industry. Most terminal degree programs require 3+ years of working in the field alongside a Master’s in Hospitality degree. This will position yourself as an academic researcher and the potential to have your extensive knowledge in the field published.

Typical Classes for Hospitality MBAsTypical Classes for Hospitality MBAs

  • Hospitality – This MBA course uses the case study methodology to examine different segments of hospitality (resorts, casinos, airlines, restaurants, lodges, and hotels). The course is designed to introduce students to the complexities of managing the operations of a hospitality business.
  • Food Service Operations – This is a graduate-level course that introduces the managerial problems and decision-making process a hospitality manager undergoes in order to become an effective leader. Topics are specific to the hospitality industry and cover forecasting, decision trees, quality control, decision support systems, and real-time problem solving. This course is taught using the case study methodology and students will be able to use real-world examples to learn Food Service Operations.
  • Hospitality & Organizational – This MBA course examines the managerial process of hiring, training, and motivated staff employed in the hospitality industry. Whether it’s how to lead teams effectively, motivate personnel, or design new policies around employment expectations, the Hospitality & Organizational course teaches students how to build systems around performance.
  • High Performance Hospitality – This is a continuation of the MBA-level Hospitality & Organizational course and explores how to effectively motivate teams to reach company-wide goals. From managing sales teams, building marketing campaigns, or running the front desk operations, this course teaches B-students how to implement systematic performance plans to motivate employees to reach their optimal potential.
  • International Business – This course explores hospitality as a global enterprise. The course is designed to introduce students to the opportunities available in the global hospitality industry and how to manage employees from different cultures. Using the case study methodology, topics include social responsibility in the hospitality industry, ethical decision making, managing diverse teams, and globalization of economic conditions.
  • People & Systems in Organizations – Whether it’s creating a comprehensive Human Resource Strategy for new employees or evaluating different information systems, this MBA-level course examines how different internal systems help managers make sound decisions. This course emphasis information systems as a means of evaluating performance, assisting in the decision-making process, and providing optimal customer service to hospitality patrons.

Campus vs. Online MBA in Hospitality ProgramsCampus vs. Online MBA in Hospitality Programs

Hospitality employers value work experience. This is especially true if you plan on managing a high-end restaurant chain, a luxury hotel brand, or well-established lodging facility. There are plenty of hospitality managers that have worked their way up through the ranks and have no formal education. They have extensive on-the-job training which some employers value over classroom experience. Whether you choose a traditional on-campus MBA in Hospitality or an Online MBA program, it’s important to work in the industry. An on-campus MBA in Hospitality allows you to interact with like-minded hospitality professionals and will provide ample opportunity to network with professionals already in the industry. On-campus programs will most likely have recruiting events and a career opportunities department to help assist in your job search. You can certainly build relationships with an online community; but most likely, they will be students from all over the world; therefore, it may be a bit more difficult to secure employment via an eLearning platform.

If you plan on completing your MBA in Hospitality online, be sure to ask your B-School about internship/externship/job placement opportunities for Online MBA students. Here is a quick snapshot of the Pros/Cons of online vs. campus-based learning:

  • The Pros of online learning include lower overhead cost which includes online textbooks, dormitory expenses, and commuting cost. The convenience and flexibility of choosing your own times for learning, and the comfort of learning in your own home.
  • The Cons of online learning include limited social interaction, computer, and software issues as well as the cost of high-speed Internet, often requires the student be self-motivated and disciplined progress through the program.
  • The pros of campus-based learning include face-to-face and in-person interaction with instructors and fellow students, regularly scheduled class hours, use of the school’s library, athletic facilities, and laboratories.
  • The cons of campus-based learning include the requirement to travel to classes, lack of time flexibility, and housing costs.

One of the benefits to online learning as it relates to tuition cost is that a number of schools offer free textbooks online and include these texts in the price of tuition.

How Much is Tuition for an MBA Hospitality ProgramHow Much is Tuition for an MBA Hospitality Program

If you plan on attending an MBA in Hospitality program it’s best to start thinking about your finances. A prospective B-Student in Hospitality needs to weigh their options, whether it’s tuition rates, job opportunities, and starting salary. A highly reputable MBA program can pave the way for a great starting salary by way of on-campus recruitment from luxury hospitality organizations. An online MBA program can provide the flexibility of completing a program while being employed in hospitality. With that being said, the lowest in-state tuition for on-campus MBA in Hospitality programs is $20,684.00 compared to the highest average in-state tuition of $96,855.00. There’s a significant tuition range for in-state programs. The average in-state tuition is $61,135.80 compared to an average out-of-state tuition of $66,511.40 for traditional on-campus MBA in Hospitality programs. If you have the option of attending a highly reputable in-state program, it may be worthwhile to upwards of $12,000 in tuition costs. If geography is a limiting factor, then a well-respected online MBA program may be the best option for aspiring Hospitality students. The average in-state online MBA program in Hospitality is $58,769.50 compared to the average online out-of-state program of $72,208.50.

Campus Tuition

Online Tuition

GMAT Scores for an MBA Hospitality ProgramGMAT Scores for an MBA Hospitality Program

It’s important to note that not all MBA in Hospitality programs require a GMAT Score for acceptance; but most AACSB programs do. There are other factors that ultimately decide an admissions decision. They include undergraduate GPA, professional hospitality experience, letters of reference, CV, and a personal statement. The GMAT measures a prospective students’ ability to quantitatively analyze data. The MBA in Hospitality is considered a more practical hands-on program because of the requirements needed to enter the industry; therefore, GMAT scores may take a back seat to a strong undergraduate GPA and professional experience. The average GMAT score for on-campus Hospitality programs is 546 compared to an online GMAT of 480. If you have a specific program in mind, it’s best to boost your GMAT to improve your chances of acceptance. With a GMAT Score range of 480 to 591, there’s plenty of opportunity to attend a high-quality MBA in Hospitality program.

Campus GMAT Scores

Online GMAT Scores

Student / Faculty Ratio for an MBA Hospitality ProgramStudent / Faculty Ratio for an MBA Hospitality Program

The best MBA Student/Faculty ratio in Hospitality is 1.31 compared to the worst on-campus Student/Faculty ratio of 14.37. The lower the ratio, the better it is for students. This is especially true in the field of Hospitality where hands-on practical experience is critical to the B-Students overall success. Students attending a graduate Hospitality program receive personalized one-on-one attention from faculty mentors who have extensive experience in the industry. The Student/Faculty metric is a matter of personal preference and for those students who excel in large groups, may not need the low Student/Faculty ratio. The best Student/Faculty ratio for online MBA programs is 3.35 compared to the worst online Student/Faculty ratio of 9.00. The combination of cutting-edge eLearning platforms and innovative Blackboard courses make the online experience a rewarding one for prospective Hospitality students. The Student/Faculty ratio comes down to personal preference. For a B-Student interested in networking with professors and fellow students via a cohort style classroom environment, it’s best to look for Hospitality programs with lower Student/Faculty ratios. If you don’t mind the lecture hall environment, then a higher Student/Faculty ratio may be a suitable option for the prospective MBA applicant.

Campus Student/Faculty Ratio

Online Student/Faculty Ratio

Student Population for an MBA Hospitality ProgramStudent Population for an MBA Hospitality Program

Every B-School has a strategy behind their enrollment sizes. If a prospective Hospitality graduate student is looking for networking opportunities, wants to attend job fairs, and plans on joining student organizations, B-School enrollment size plays an important role in the decision-making process. On-campus recruitment is critical for Hospitality graduates. Hospitality graduates will most likely compete for corporate hospitality positions with their fellow classmates for these positions are highly coveted. For the B-Student interested in the smaller cohort-style/hands-on classroom experience and thrives in more intimate hands-on settings, a manageable enrollment size is the preferred option. This is especially true for Hospitality cohort MBA programs where students stay together for the entire program. The average MBA in Hospitality full-time enrollment for on-campus programs is 712 compared to the average online MBA program of 611. The average MBA part-time enrollment for on-campus is 412 students compared to the average part-time online enrollment of 487. It’s important to note there is a significant difference between the online study experience versus the traditional classroom experience.

Campus Enrollment

Online Enrollment

Student Population from the United States for Hospitality MBA ProgramsStudent Population from the United States for Hospitality MBA Programs

The ever-changing global hospitality industry has produced countless corporate managerial positions for those with international business experience. Just like a the employee demographics of a highly successful hotel chain, an MBA in Hospitality program should be a reflection of members of the global hospitality, tourism, and lodging community. The more international students, the better the program – especially for the aspiring hospitality professional. A company that hires employees from other countries evolves into a well-rounded organization. The employee talent should represent the company’s most important asset: its patrons. The average percentage of students from the U.S. in traditional Hospitality MBA programs is 75.22% compared to an average of 79.10% for online MBA programs. If you want to collaborate, network, and learn from global business leaders, it’s highly recommended that prospective B-Students attend an institution that accepts a higher percentage of international students compared to students from the U.S. If you are serious about learning from the global hospitality community, you will most likely learn from industry professionals who have travelled all over the world.

Campus Global Enrollment

Online Global Enrollment

Faculty Information for an MBA in Hospitality ProgramFaculty Information for an MBA in Hospitality Program

Highly competitive B-Schools recruit part-time and full-time professors that are both academics and industry influencers. They are the subject matter experts in their Hospitality industry. Most Hospitality, Tourism, and Lodging professors have experienced success in the industry and have written extensively in their chosen field. The number of highly-qualified full-time faculty is directly related to the reputation of most elite MBA in Hospitality programs. The average number of full-time on-campus MBA faculty is 114 compared to 134 for part-time on-campus programs. The average number of professors with doctorate degrees is 91 for on-campus MBA programs compared to 90 doctorates for online MBA programs. You want to learn business from industry influencers and academics who are on the front lines of their respective industry. Looking at business professor bios, their published work, and their professional history is a great way to determine if your MBA programs hires quality faculty. You will find that most have worked at luxury hotel chains, managed five-star restaurants, are industry consultants, or have started their own restaurant.

Campus Faculty Numbers

Online Faculty Numbers

Listing of Campus and Online MBA Hospitality ProgramsListing of Campus and Online MBA Hospitality Programs

  • The number of on-campus MBA Hospitality programs offered: 6
  • The number of online MBA Hospitality programs offered: 2

Since the MBA in Hospitality concentration is considered a highly specialized concentration, there’s a limited number of programs to choose from in the MBA Guide. There are 6 on-campus traditional MBA in Hospitality programs in the U.S. compared to 2 accredited online programs. As mentioned previously, Hospitality is one of the most specialized MBA concentrations delivering a super concentrated course of study for B-Students. Specialized Hospitality courses are designed to create well-rounded managers in both luxury hotels, high-end restaurants, and tourism settings. There are plenty of career paths for an aspiring hospitality student. An MBA in any specialization is a highly respected credential and the perfect gateway for leadership positions in a competitive industry like Hospitality.

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About Michael J. Marquis

Michael J. Marquis is a Portland, Maine-based freelance copywriter and MBA-graduate who loves writing about disruptive technology. When he's not exploring interesting parts of the world, you can find him at either Gillette Stadium watching his beloved New England Patriots or at a local Portland coffee shop working on his next copywriting assignment. Feel free to find Mike on Twitter @MarquisInteract.