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  • Master of Science (M.S.) Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

SHM Graduate Program OverviewHospitality Management (HM) Graduate Program Overview

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

The master of science (M.S.) degree is a research/academic degree rather than an industry/professional degree; therefore, it targets students who wish to develop a research focus with the intent of continuing a career in an academic or research area. Course work is largely customized to a student’s area of interest and academic and professional background. Students plan concentration area courses as well as thesis research with a thesis committee. The program takes 1.5 years to complete.


The M.S. degree prepares students for beginning academic positions at universities and research positions in industry.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

The Ph.D. degree is designed for individuals who wish to become hospitality researchers and professors at the university level. Students’ programs are individualized to ensure that, in addition to a mastery of the scope of knowledge in a respective area, students also have the ability to complete significant conceptual research. The program typically takes about four years to complete, including successful candidacy, comprehensive exams, and thesis.


The Ph.D. degree prepares students for advanced academic and research positions at the university level.

The Department

The Penn State School of Hospitality Management is one of the most prestigious and well-respected programs of its kind in the nation. By combining a broad educational foundation with real-world experiences and other opportunities for students to hone their leadership, business, and communication skills, the School of Hospitality Management equips students with the skills they need to become the leaders of their chosen professions.

The Program

The graduate program in Hospitality Management (HM) is widely considered to be among the best of its kind in the world. Founded in 1937, it was one of America’s first. The program, which offers master of science and Ph.D. degrees, is founded on in-depth, research-based study of the hospitality industry. Flexible programs are available to students seeking graduate-level academic study with emphases available in accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, strategy, branding, service operations, and food service.

The Penn State Difference

Penn State is one of the leading research universities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, it consistently ranks among the top 15 major U.S. universities in research expenditures in science and engineering fields. Its graduate programs attract students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and from more than 100 countries all over the world.

Penn State has an enrollment at its main campus, University Park, of nearly 45,000 students, of which roughly 7,000 are graduate students. The University invites students to consider its graduate programs, whether they aspire to conduct research that will contribute to global knowledge or to hold a leadership position in their field with government or industry.


All Ph.D. students are fully funded for three years, provided they maintain satisfactory progress. During the fourth year, they have the option to teach at least one undergraduate course per semester, and they will be compensated for their efforts. Some external funding may be available for M.S. students, but it is limited.

Additional Information

One to two years of work experience in the hospitality industry is required prior to entrance into both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs. A master’s degree is required for admission into the doctoral program.

The graduate program offers small course sizes to create an intimate learning environment for students and to allow for frequent and close interactions with the faculty. To further facilitate the exchange of ideas, the School of Hospitality Management holds a monthly Research Roundtable series during which faculty members and graduate students engage in discussions about industry trends and academic research.

Doctoral students are expected to present their work at academic conferences and to have at least three papers submitted to a refereed journal during their tenure at Penn State. To enhance their teaching skills, and in preparation of their roles as future faculty members, doctoral students are expected to teach an undergraduate class in their area of specialization.

How to Apply

The process of applying for admission to the HM graduate program includes submitting the following application materials, with some material sent to the Graduate School (Part 1) and other material sent to the HRIM graduate program (Part 2):

Part 1 - Apply to the Graduate School at Penn State

Each applicant is required to submit an online application to the Graduate School.

Information about fees and programs of study can be found at

The online application can be accessed through the “Graduate School Admissions and Program Information Portal” at

Part 2 - Apply to the HM Graduate Program

Both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs share the following entrance requirements:

  • A minimum of a 3.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) for the junior and senior years of undergraduate study
  • A minimum of one year of work experience in the hospitality industry
  • A recent GMAT or GRE score
  • A resume
  • Three letters of reference
  • A written statement of objectives for undertaking graduate study, including an indication of desired career and research focus.


The School of Hospitality Management
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Mateer Building
University Park, PA 16802

814-863-4257 (fax)