Need to know

“Will a master’s degree in hospitality help me secure a better job?” It’s probably the most asked question when it comes to applying to hospitality graduate schools. Last year, more than 80% of hospitality bachelor holders in the UK got a job within six months of graduation, and just 3.4% progressed to postgraduate study without undertaking work in parallel. Those figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reinforce the fact that industry experience is far more critical than qualifications in hospitality.

The World Travel Organisation predicts that hospitality will be the world’s largest industry by 2020. Do you need a bachelor degree with some certifiable experience, or a master’s degree to succeed in such an expanding job market? There is no one definite answer to this question. In fact, the values of a master’s degree in hospitality depend very much on your career ambitions. In other words, at a master’s level, it’s less about whether you’ll be hired than where you want to be in the industry with your degree.

We are listing here some of the most important questions that you should ask yourself before applying to hospitality graduate schools.

Why should I study hospitality at postgraduate level?

Unlike most other disciplines, postgraduate study in hospitality is very vocational.

With regard to the curriculum, the majority of master’s programmes allow students to choose their speciality in particular industry or function, such as events management, tourism management, asset management and human resources. With the expertise gained from those programmes, you can certainly different yourself from those with a general management degree and find your hospitality career develop more speedily.

Moreover, specialist knowledge and managerial skills aren’t something that you can normally develop through the daily tasks of entry-level hospitality jobs. Doing a master’s degree might just be the perfect chance to acquire them in a short period of time, given that most postgraduate programmes last for less than two years. In fact, hospitality studies at postgraduate level look at managing hospitality firms, rather running a hotel or restaurant. Together with your previous work experience, a master’s degree certainly gives you the competitive edge in the race to a graduate management training scheme or a junior management position.

Hospitality schools also focus on improving employability among their postgraduate students. Bringing employers on campus in careers fairs and networking events is a very common practice at those schools. This is a real career-advantage that you are unlikely to get as a general master’s student elsewhere. Some master’s programmes even include an internship or qualify their students for one afterward, such as the International Hospitality and Service Management programme at Stenden University of Applied Sciences. No university assures you 100% that you will be able to get a job, but those opportunities show that your job prospects could be significantly improved after graduate school.

We strongly advise you to do research about the curriculum of the programme and the relationship between the university and the industry before making your decision. It is those two aspects that allow master’s degree holders to slightly higher up the career ladder than their peers.

Does it make sense to study hospitality abroad?

To cater for the ambition of a growing number of young Brits to work in the hospitality industry, more and more British universities have started to offer postgraduate courses in hospitality management. However, we suggest two main reasons why you should consider going abroad for your hospitality master’s degree.

Firstly, an international education will prepare you for a career in an international industry. It’s no doubt that hospitality is an age-old business in every country, but it has clearly evolved into a global phenomenon with increasingly international standardisation. Studying toward an international qualification in hospitality helps you understand better what it is like to be a part of an international industry. Ideally, you will learn how to manage international team and develop an international brand.

Secondly, professional education in hospitality management is often taken far more seriously abroad than it is here in the UK, meaning you might be better trained overseas than at home. A survey by in 2012 reveals that 43% of people aged 16-24 is not keen on a career in hospitality. The picture is far different in other countries such as Switzerland, Australia and the Netherlands, which house some of the best hospitality schools in the world.

While Switzerland is known as the birthplace of hospitality with the highest number of schools specialising in this sector, the Netherlands has recently proved to be a promising destination for hospitality students due to its location and international outlook. British student Andy Hayes decided to go Dutch after finishing his BA at the University of Derby. He’s now working towards a Master in International and Service Management at Stenden University of Applied Sciences. “The Netherlands is a gateway to the rest of the world. If I wanted to meet people from all over the world as well as being somewhat close to home – the Netherlands was the place to be. The links [of the department] with other international destinations and a network of company have allowed me to open my eyes to the possibilities which are out there,” Andy says.

At Stenden University of Applied Sciences and ZUYD Hotel Management School Maastricht in the Netherlands, hospitality master’s students have access to hotels on campus where they can gain hands-on experience. NHTV Breda runs an in-house training company called Sibelicious which help students find work experience at conference events, wine bars and restaurants, to name only a few. This practical approach has made Dutch universities more appealing to British students.

Outside Europe, Australia, famous for beach resorts, national parks, airlines and cruise ships, is rather an ideal place to study hospitality management. For example, the Hotel School Sydney offers the Master in International Tourism and Hotel Management programme with seven different specialisations, including food and beverage management, conventions and exhibition planning and marketing. The flexibility and diversity of the degree reaffirms that hospitality management is an established field at Australian universities and developed profession in the country.

Examples of postgraduate opportunities in hospitality

The Netherlands

Master in International Hospitality and Service Management, Stenden University of Applied Sciences

Master in International Leisure and Tourism Management, Stenden University of Applied Sciences

MSc in Leisure Studies,NHTV Breda

Master in Tourism Destination Management,NHTV Breda


Master in International Tourism and Hotel Management, The Sydney Hotel School

What grades do I need to get in?

Most master’s programmes in hospitality management are geared toward students with or without academic background or industry experience in hospitality. Therefore, admission requirements can be very flexible. Generally candidates are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree.

Having said that, we would strongly suggest you to contact the university to check if your qualifications are relevant to the course. Some universities might require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality-related fields, such as economics, business, management and tourism.