Tourism Master’s Degrees and Programs
What Are Tourism Master’s Degrees and Programs?
Pursuing a master’s degree in tourism could prepare you for a career in the travel industry. At the master’s level, programs typically focus on tourism management, which could be ideal for those who have been working in tourism and hospitality but wish to move up in their career.
Get started in this growing industry with the skills and knowledge you could gain from a tourism degree program.
What are some topics studied in a master’s in tourism degree program?
A masters in tourism may include studies in areas such as customer experience management, marketing and social media, business analytics, and strategic leadership. It may also include electives in international leading opportunities.
Is it possible to finish an online masters in tourism?
Master’s in tourism programs tend to focus on the tourism industry, leadership skills, and business concepts. For example, you might take courses in areas such as:
- Tourism marketing
- Financial management in tourism
- Strategic leadership
- Tourism industry concepts and practices
- Natural resources and sustainability
- Project management and event planning
Some programs also offer study abroad opportunities.
You might also be required to complete an experiential learning course such as a capstone project.
Popular Schools with Tourism Master’s Degrees
Admission Requirements for Master’s Programs in Tourism
Before applying to a master’s degree in tourism program, make sure to find out if you could check all the boxes for admission. While the criteria may vary by school and program, here are some typical admissions requirements to be aware of.
Academic background and GPA requirements
Master’s degree programs in tourism typically require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some programs may also require a minimum GPA or other proof of your academic abilities.
Standardized test scores (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL)
Some master’s degree programs in tourism may require standardized test scores, such as the GRE or GMAT. However, many schools make these tests optional. Keep in mind that if you are an international student, you may need to take mandatory tests, such as the TOEFL.
Letters of recommendation and personal statement
Many master’s degree programs in tourism require letters of recommendation and a personal statement as part of the application process. These documents help the admissions committee get a better understanding of your academic and professional background, as well as why you want to pursue your master’s degree.
When selecting individuals to write your letters of recommendation, choose people who know you in an academic or professional capacity and are ready to speak to your strengths. To craft your personal statement, follow the instructions provided in the application. Generally, you should describe your motivations and intentions for pursuing a master’s degree in tourism and explain why you believe the program might be a good fit for your goals.
Relevant work experience
Relevant work experience may not be required to pursue a master’s degree in tourism, but it could help you stand out. Many programs ask for your resume or C.V. as part of the admissions process. You may also wish to highlight your relevant professional experience as part of your statement of purpose, especially if it played a role in inspiring you to pursue your master’s degree.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Master’s Degree in Tourism
Choosing a master’s degree program in tourism involves many considerations, from your academic interests to the resources your prospective school has to offer. Let’s explore some of the key factors in selecting a program that suits your goals.
Accreditation and reputation of the program
Major considerations when choosing a master’s degree in tourism program are accreditation and reputation. Accreditation verifies that an academic institution or program meets high educational standards. Your school’s accreditation status may impact your ability to apply to another institution, earn professional credentials, and more. So, it’s important to get all the facts upfront.
You may also want to identify which organization(s) has accredited your prospective school and program. Some accrediting bodies focus on hospitality and tourism programs, so they could help you feel more confident that your program meets industry standards. For instance, the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) accredits hospitality administration and management programs. The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT) accredits academic programs designed to prepare students for careers in tourism and related areas.
Reputation may be another important factor to consider when choosing a graduate school. Look for programs that are highly regarded in the industry, and find out whether recent graduates are working for companies you admire or in roles that interest you.
Concentrations and elective courses offered
The availability of concentrations and elective courses also matters when choosing a master’s degree in tourism program. Concentrations typically offer the chance to focus on your area of interest within the broader field of tourism, helping you match your studies to what you’re passionate about. Potential options include sustainable tourism, hospitality management, tourism analytics, and a lot more.
Elective courses could offer the chance to explore new topics in tourism and customize your program to your interests. Look for programs offering courses that get you excited to learn. Some possible electives include cultural heritage tourism, sustainability and impact planning, digital marketing, or even an independent study that focuses on a topic of your choice.
Faculty and industry connections
The faculty of a master’s degree in tourism program typically play a critical role in the student experience. So, you may want to research faculty members’ publications and projects to learn whether their research interests sound like a good fit for your goals.
Finally, consider your prospective school’s and faculty members’ industry connections. For instance, you could look for programs that have partnerships with organizations and companies that could help unlock potential opportunities for students.
Location and internship opportunities
Location, location, location—this matters both when choosing a vacation destination and selecting a master’s degree in tourism program. Schools in areas with a strong tourism industry may have connections to local businesses and organizations offering internships and other potential opportunities. So, you may be able to start preparing for future professional opportunities while you’re in school. And as a bonus, attending graduate school in a popular tourist destination could be a lot of fun!
Career Opportunities with a Master’s Degree in Tourism
Earning a master’s degree in tourism could lead to a wide range of career paths—many of them focused on creating memorable experiences for guests in exciting destinations around the world. In this section, we will explore a few of the possible roles you could pursue in the tourism industry.
Tourism marketing and promotion
Tourism marketing and promotion involves promoting destinations and attractions to potential visitors. Graduates with a master’s degree in tourism could pursue roles with this focus. For example, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers create advertising and promotional campaigns, perform market research to understand new opportunities, and help to create demand for products and experiences. This career path is projected to grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031, a faster-than-average rate.1
Destination management and planning
Destination management and planning is a career area that involves managing many aspects of a tourism destination—from events and activities to local businesses and hotels to natural resources. In general, the goal of this field is twofold: making the destination an attractive place for tourists while helping the local economy and residents thrive. Graduates with a master’s degree in tourism could pursue careers with destination management companies (DMCs), which help to plan and coordinate some of the aspects mentioned above.
Hospitality and hotel management
Hospitality and hotel management involves managing hotels, resorts, and other hospitality businesses—key to welcoming guests to a tourist destination! Graduates with a master’s degree in tourism could find a variety of careers in this area. For instance, lodging manager roles are projected to grow 18% between 2021 and 2031, much faster than average.2 Some other potential job titles for lodging managers include hotel general manager, front-desk manager, revenue manager, and convention service manager.
Event planning and management
Event planning and management involves planning and executing events such as conferences, conventions, and corporate events. Graduates with a master’s degree in tourism could pursue roles such as meeting, convention, and event planner. This career path is projected to grow 18% between 2021 and 2031, much faster than average.3 Some potential job titles include event planner, meeting planner, exhibition organizer, and convention services manager.
Online vs. On-Campus Master’s Programs in Tourism
When choosing a master’s degree in tourism program, you may have the option of pursuing your studies online or on-campus. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of each program format.
Pros and cons of online learning
Online learning may offer greater flexibility and convenience, allowing you to complete coursework on your own schedule from anywhere with an internet connection. For students who work full-time or have other responsibilities, this might be an attractive option.
However, online learning may not provide the same level of interaction with faculty and peers as on-campus programs. Students seeking a more traditional graduate school experience may prefer to take courses on campus. And those who might have trouble with self-motivation could struggle to keep up.
Technology and resources available
If you plan to study online, your prospective school’s technology, resources, and support services may be an important consideration. Look for programs that use up-to-date technology and offer resources such as online libraries, tech support, and tutoring services.
Interaction with faculty and peers
For many students, interaction with faculty and peers may be key to a great learning experience. When considering an online program, find out what types of interaction you could expect, such as virtual office hours and online discussion boards.
Schedule flexibility and time management
Online programs typically offer schedule flexibility, allowing you to complete coursework at your own pace. However, this requires strong time management skills and may not be a good fit for students who struggle to stay on track with coursework and assignments.
On-campus programs, on the other hand, usually offer a more structured schedule. Regular class meetings and face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers may be beneficial to students who may have difficulty with time management.
In summary, both online and on-campus master’s degrees in tourism programs have potential benefits and drawbacks. So, consider your personal preferences and circumstances when you make your choice.
GradSchools.com offers 49 Graduate Schools with Masters in Tourism Management Graduate Programs
Sources: 1 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-1 | 2 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/lodging-managers.htm | 3 https://www.bls.gov/Ooh/Business-and-Financial/Meeting-Convention-and-Event-Planners.htm
Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Accessed 8/11/2023.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.
New York University
CERAM Business School
Rochester Institute of Technology
West Virginia University
University of Luton
London Metropolitan University
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Black Hills State University
University of Brighton
Pasadena City College