Online Master’s Degree in Tourism Management

Tourism management is a management discipline that focuses on effective leadership within tourism-driven industries, including transportation and travel, hospitality and accommodations, entertainment and leisure, event tourism, and more. A masters degree in tourism management is a good fit for individuals already working in the tourism industry who want to move up into management or for those in other industries who would like to transition into tourism. To better suit the needs of working professionals, some universities now offer accredited online masters degrees in tourism management and related areas, such as sustainable tourism, hospitality and recreation management, and international hospitality and tourism.

An online masters degree in tourism management can typically be completed within two years but program length will differ depending on the required number of credit hours. Students will generally take longer to complete a master’s program if they enroll part-time or if they need to complete prerequisites before beginning the program. Students may finish the program faster if they transfer in applicable credits from previously completed graduate work.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Tourism Management

The courses one takes in an online masters degree program in tourism management emphasize the type of management principles you might learn in a Master of Business Administration(MBA) program, such as strategic marketing and finance. The main difference between a tourism management and an MBA program is that these principles are focused on the tourism industry. Students typically start out taking at least one foundational course that provides an overview of the tourism and leisure industry. E-tourism and information technology commonly used in the tourism industry are typically emphasized, as well as policy and research methods. A few courses you may encounter in your journey toward your masters degree include:

  • Destination and Resort Management
  • Contemporary Issues in Tourism Management
  • Tourism Marketing and Branding
  • Dynamics of Leisure Behavior
  • Administration of Leisure Services

Most masters programs in tourism management conclude with a master’s thesis or capstone project in which a student identifies a real-world problem in the realm of hospitality or tourism management, devises a research method to approach the problem, thoroughly investigates the issue, and comes up with research-based conclusions and/or solutions drawing from what the student has learned throughout his or her course work. Other programs might conclude with an applied project in which a student devises a strategic marketing plan for a real tourism organization. They may alsoinvolve practicum, or field work, experiences at one or more organizations whose primary purpose is providing hospitality or tourism-related services.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Master’s Degree in Tourism Management

Students with a masters degree in tourism management may be qualified for management careers with hotel and resort chains, cruise ships, casinos, travel and transportation companies, amusement parks, and more. Students may find specific positions in marketing, event planning, and recreational activities directing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some careers in travel and leisure include: destination marketing management, sustainable tourism, resort activities director, and adventure guides. Others become lodging managers.

While most marketing managers have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree could help set an applicant apart from the competition for the most desirable jobs in leisure marketing, according to the BLS. Marketing managers can expect 14% job growth between 2010 and 2020. A high school degree is typically the only requirement for becoming a lodging manager, but most large, full-service hotels prefer to hire managers with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS. Slower than average job growth of 8% is expected for lodging managers.


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