If you’d like to pursue a career in hospitality management, a master’s degree in the subject can enable you to learn the crucial principles of managing a range of hospitality organizations, such as hotels, restaurants, clubs, and foodservice companies. You will develop expertise in managing diverse functions, such as finance and accounting, foodservice, marketing, human resources and lodging.
Read on to find out about common Masters in Hospitality Management degree types, entry requirements, specializations and a range of hospitality management careers.
Common skills gained from a Masters in Hospitality Management include:
Masters in Hospitality Management courses are often offered as a Master of Science (MSc), and are also less commonly found as Master of Arts (MA) degrees or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. For example, Les Roches International School of Hotel Management offers both an MBA in Hospitality Management and an MS in Hospitality Leadership, each targeted at students of different professional levels and with differing interests.
Studying hospitality management at postgraduate level enables you to learn more about the key decisions facing hospitality managers, as well as assessing alternative approaches to management. Teaching methods will vary between institutions, but are most likely to be a mix of seminars, lectures, field trips, and web-based learning.
Course lengths will also vary, depending on national norms. In the UK, for example, a full-time master’s degree is typically just one year, whilst in other countries master’s programs often take two or more years to complete. You could also fit your course around any current commitments by studying part-time and/or online.
Many Masters in Hospitality Management degrees include opportunities to complete work placements, which can be an effective way to boost your future career prospects, and help you decide on your target role. For your final module, you may be asked to complete a dissertation, which is likely to be founded on your own research (particularly in an MSc degree).
The hospitality industry is broad, ranging from accommodation, restaurants and bars, to conferences, travel and tourism. This means there are many possible course specializations to choose between, in order to prepare for your own target hospitality management career.
If you already know what kind of hospitality careers you’re interested in, you may want to choose a course which is dedicated entirely to your area of interest, such as the MSc International Hospitality Finance offered at Glion Institute of Higher Education. Alternatively, you can opt for a more general Masters in Hospitality Management, gaining a broad overview of the sector before moving onto more specialized course modules.
Common hospitality management specializations include:
If you’re interested in a career in tourism management (for example, management roles in the cruise industry) you would benefit from specializing in tourism management, covering course modules such as tourism strategy and development, destination marketing, operating systems and corporate social responsibility. You will analyze a range of current issues and challenges in the tourism sector, and learn to apply this theoretical knowledge in practical case scenarios. This specialization could lead to a range of hospitality management careers, including managerial roles in hotels, travel companies and regional/national agencies.
This specialization is also available along with your main hospitality management course, and is for you if you aspire towards a hands-on role as an events manager, organizer or planner or a related position. You will gain a thorough understanding of how the events industry works, again exploring any issues which are currently faced by events professionals and practising applying what you’ve learned to real-world experience.
Marketing is essential for success in any competitive industry, and hospitality is no different. If you specialize in hospitality marketing, you’ll learn about a range of marketing strategies and tools, including the ever-growing suite of new media and technologies, as well as learning how to analyze consumer behavior. You’ll learn how to market different hospitality products – such as events, destinations and brands – as well as how to conduct effective hospitality marketing research, how to target and track campaigns, and how to put together a marketing strategy.
If you would like to work in the luxury hospitality industry, it’s a good time to do so. Luxury is the fastest-growing sector of the US$6 trillion global hospitality industry, and is becoming increasingly diverse and competitive. Choosing a specialized master’s degree or course module in this field should provide you with the skills and knowledge to successfully manage a luxury hospitality brand, product or service. Course modules are likely to include luxury brand management and marketing, quality systems and performance indicators, public relations and strategic forecasting.
Again, hospitality is no different from any other sector when it comes to the importance of strong financial direction. Specialists in financial management are in high demand in executive hospitality management careers, particularly in the area of real estate (land intended to generate profit). You will also learn about corporate finance, investment strategies and asset management, equipping you with a thorough knowledge of financial strategies in the hospitality industry.
The skills and knowledge developed during your Masters in Hospitality Management degree should prepare you for many specialized careers in hospitality, as well as giving you transferable skills applicable in many other sectors. Other fields in which your degree would be useful include human resources, communications, media, training, and general management, operational or marketing roles.
You will find it is extremely useful to have completed relevant work experience before applying for graduate jobs, either as part of a placement during your studies, or an internship completed between semesters. For example, if you aspire towards becoming the manager of a luxury hotel, it’s a good idea to find a placement or part-time role in a hotel of the standard to which you aspire.
While the hospitality sector offers a huge variety of different roles, some of the most common career paths include:
The most obvious career option as a graduate of a Masters in Hospitality Management degree would be to take on a management role in the hospitality sector. As well as the options listed below, this could also include managerial roles in bars, clubs, casinos, entertainment venues, conference facilities, travel agencies, national/regional marketing organizations and more.
Hotel managers ensure the smooth running of hotels through the effective supervision of employees. This role requires a range of skillsets, including strategic planning, budget allocation, performance tracking and quality auditing, and synchronizing and overseeing hotel services such as catering and accommodation facilities. You’ll need a strong understanding of the hotel sector in general, as well as a good knowledge of the local industry, trends and challenges.
If you love the world of food and have a natural nose for the perfect dining experience, then a career in restaurant management could be for you. As in the hotel sector, there’s great diversity here in terms of the type of restaurant – you could be managing one or more parts of a well-known brand or chain, or overseeing the operations of a smaller independent outlet. Usually your duties will include a selection of administrative tasks and hands-on overseeing of front-of-house operations, to ensure the restaurant functions resourcefully and profitably whilst maintaining its reputation and ethos.
If you’re keen to see the world and have strong sea legs, the role of cruise director might suit you. You’ll need a strong understanding of the sector and its operations, acquired through specialized study and/or through practical experience – and of course, you’ll need to be prepared to travel for fairly long periods of time. In this senior role, you will take responsibility for all onboard hospitality, entertainment and social events, as well as overseeing health and safety issues and ensuring excellent customer service at all points.
If you enjoy meeting people and making things happen – and you have excellent organizational skills – a career in event management could suit you. Events managers are responsible for arranging and running a variety of events, which will depend on the nature of your employer. For instance, you could specialize in organizing fundraising events for a charity, or conferences if you work for a large business or international organization. You would be in charge of overseeing each project, from planning at the start to the smooth running of the event on the day. It’s important that you can work well with a range of people, be a good problem-solver and be able to cope with pressure. If you think this is the career path for you, it will be useful to specialize in events management during your course, and to gain some practical work experience – perhaps through a part-time job for an events organization, or volunteering to help with local charitable events.