May 2, 2023

Ranked No. 1, Purdue’s 100% online hospitality and tourism management master’s is a hot commodity

Program teaches career-expanding business and management skills 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Sidelined by the pandemic and now bolstered by pent-up demand from folks who were stuck at home for years, the hospitality industry is back, with industry groups such as the American Hotel and Lodging Association predicting that 2023 will surpass pre-COVID-19 demand.

The association is predicting something else as well – personnel shortages, including for trained managers. That makes Purdue University’s top-ranked, 100% online Master of Science in hospitality and tourism management a hot commodity. Essentially an MBA for hospitality and tourism managers, the accessible degree program is taught by faculty from Purdue’s flagship West Lafayette campus and a battery of industry experts.

“You get everything you would expect from a high-quality business degree, focused on hospitality and tourism management,” said Jonathan Day, associate professor and graduate program director in Purdue’s White Lodging-J.W. Marriott, Jr. School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

UniversityHQ rates Purdue’s program No. 1 for Best Online Master’s in Hospitality Management in 2023, ahead of San Diego State, New York University, Auburn and Central Florida in the top five.

The ratings are based on data from, among other things, government sites such as College Navigator, College Scorecard and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with nongovernmental sites like Payscale. UniversityHQ considers a variety of factors including acceptance, retention and graduation rates; graduating salaries; reputation in the industry; and expert opinion.

“I think it speaks to the reputation that we’ve developed over time as being a strong program,” said Ceridwyn King, professor and head of the White Lodging-J.W. Marriott, Jr. School. “Purdue was one of the first in the online space for a credible, high-production-quality online learning experience at the graduate level.”

Purdue’s online Master of Science in hospitality and tourism management is designed for experienced professionals who need to fit enhancing their careers around a job and other commitments. Students who go through the program are looking to distinguish themselves and develop professionally, whether that’s to pursue a new job or a promotion or just in general expand their skill set, King said.

The program’s reputation was a selling point for Morgan Mason, who graduated in August 2022 and now works on the strategic development team for Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Working remotely managing properties for Marriott in the Washington, D.C., area when she enrolled in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, she also needed an online program with the flexibility to fit into a busy schedule. That included not only work and school, but also participating in the She Has a Deal pitch competition, which is designed to open pathways to hotel ownership and development for women. (Mason ended up winning the $50,000 grand prize in the competition’s early career track.)

“What I liked about Purdue’s program was that it really fit in with my schedule,” Mason said. “Each class was eight weeks at a time, so I was only focused on one course for that eight-week period, which was manageable. The other thing I appreciated was the flexibility my professors showed, how accommodating they were because they knew I was trying to get all my assignments done but I also had two other major things that were going on.”

The experiential, project-oriented curriculum is presented asynchronously but also features flexible opportunities to interact with the instructors and fellow students. The program includes hospitality industry-oriented courses in subjects such as hospitality and tourism leadership; accounting, finance and revenue management; business statistics and quantitative analysis; business law and personnel systems; risk and service management; hospitality and tourism marketing; and more. A capstone project addresses real-world challenges in the industry.

“I had mostly been in sales and revenue management at the point that I entered into the program,” Mason said. “For me, getting to take courses in marketing, corporate finance, the elements of service, human resources, hospitality law – these are all things that I hadn’t had much exposure to in my roles. It expanded my knowledge base within the industry.”

While the focus is on the business side of hospitality and tourism management, the hospitality and tourism master’s – much like an MBA – teaches executive business and management skills that are immediately applicable, translate to a variety of industries and service-oriented positions, and expand graduates’ career options.

“The emphasis is on elevating their analytical, critical thinking mindset as opposed to some graduate programs that are an introductory to the industry,” King said. “That’s not what this program is about. It’s going to set them up to pursue a range of professional opportunities and stand out from their peers.”

For more information about Purdue’s 100% online Master of Science in hospitality and tourism management, visit the program website.

Writer: Greg Kline, Purdue Online, 765-426-8545,

Sources: Ceridwyn King,

Jonathon Day,

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