The Best Tourism Degrees

by TBS Staff

Updated August 12, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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"By some measures, tourism may already be the world's largest industry, with annual revenue approaching $500 billion."

An online Bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management or a Master's degree in Hospitality Management and Tourism provides a major step in getting a foot in the door to this massively growing industry and once inside, people have extensive career options.

A hospitality management degree online program provides students the business skills and cultural education necessary to run travel agencies, organize cultural attractions, operate a food service business, plan meetings as well as large conventions and events, facilitate operations at hotels, theme parks, casinos and resorts, promote tourism, and arrange individual, group, or corporate trips and tours around the world.

A hospitality management online degree allows students to work in sectors such as food service operations, visitor bureaus and conventions, recreational business, tourism development agencies, hotels, resorts, theme parks, international travel and tourism agencies, airlines, and casinos. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 44% employment growth for hotel meeting planners from 2010 to 2020.

Hospitality management online degree programs vary widely across the universities and colleges. Tourism and hospitality degree programs offer bachelor and master degrees in many different concentrations and specializations, such as tourism, hospitality, travel, recreation, and event/meeting management.

Programs in the field offer courses such as tourism and hospitality marketing, food service management, brand management, travel law, international travel, hospitality and tourism management, sustainability in hospitality and tourism, operational management, corporate finance, and economics of travel and tourism.

taj mahalTo earn a tourism degree students usually take required general business courses and decide on a program track in areas such as hospitality management, tourism management, or a related field. In most tourism degree programs students take all required courses as well as electives, complete an internship, and finalize their studies with a comprehensive capstone course which includes a practicum and/or research paper.

The 20 Best Tourism Degree Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the tourism and travel management degree programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation.

The schools are listed in alphabetical order. The list includes mainly bachelor degree programs and a few master degree programs.

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While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

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Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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The Best Tourism Degree Programs

  1. Arizona State University

    Phoenix, AZ

    Founded in 1885, Arizona State University (ASU), a space-grant research university, awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees from 16 colleges peppered across four campuses. The Higher Learning Commission has provided accreditation to all campuses.

    The W.P. Carey School of Business's Bachelor in Tourism Development and Management degree program provides students with the marketing techniques and solid business foundations necessary for success in the tourism industry and related professions.

    The Tourism Development and Management bachelor's degree program includes core courses in areas such as tourism planning, convention sales and management, tourism and recreation policy, tourism marketing, and community development.

    To complete the program students must take an honor's thesis course and finish one--12 credits of an internship working in the tourism field. Upon graduation, students can seek employment in resorts, commercial recreation businesses, tourism development companies, and travel bureaus.

    The W.P. Carey School of Business is ranked #30 overall, and #70 for its undergraduate program, by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the magazine ranked ASU #139 out of 280 “national universities” (2013). The university was also  ranked in the top 10 for "Up and Coming" universities in the U.S. by Forbes magazine for the fourth year in a row. Moreover, Forbes named ASU as one of "America's Best College Buys." Finally, ASU ranks #5 among public universities in National Science Foundation grants for graduate study, and #11 among all universities, in 2012.

  2. Brigham Young University Hawaii

    Laie, HI

    Founded in 1955, Brigham Young University (BYU) Hawaii---located in the northern part of the island of Oahu---offers programs in areas of liberal arts, management, and mathematics. The university's main focus is on undergraduate education. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns and operates the university.

    The BYU Hawaii Bachelor's in Science (B.S.) in Hospitality and Tourism Management degree prepares students for one of the world's largest industries. Students learn fundamental business principles to understand and execute the challenging demands of the tourism industry and to produce a high level of quality in a hospitality setting.

    Graduates can apply for positions in settings such as hotels, resorts, food service operations, visitor bureaus and conventions, recreational business, and tourism development agencies.

    To earn the hospitality and tourism management bachelor degree, students must take a departmental mini-course and then decide on a program track in either hospitality or tourism management. Courses within these tracks include topics in marketing and entrepreneurship, human resources management, marketing communications, operations management, and corporate finance.

    All students must complete an internship or other practicum of one--12 credit hours and a capstone course.

    Brigham Young University Hawaii was ranked #17 in the 2013 edition of Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (West) and was listed as the #1 "best value" in the region in 2006.

  3. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA

    Drexel University (DU), a private accredited university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers over 70 full-time undergraduate programs and accelerated degrees, as well as over 100 masters, doctoral, and professional programs.

    The Goodwin College School of Technology and Professional Studies's Bachelor in Hospitality Management with a concentration in Travel and Tourism offers students courses on the international and tourism business end of hospitality to prepare them for careers in management in the U.S. and around the world. The program offers training in four key areas: customer service, innovative management, technology, and international operations.

    To graduate, students must take the required hospitality foundation courses in areas such as hospitality law, commercial food production, and food safety, as well as select a major and the additional concentration courses of study, business minors, and other electives for a total of 182 credits.

    The travel and tourism major focuses on tourism economics, convention management, cultural and heritage tourism, and current issues in travel and tourism. It also includes a guest lecture series.

    The Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed Drexel University 190th in the World and 76th in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranked Drexel #83 among all universities of the United States (2012) and third on the 2012 U.S. News & World Report "Best Colleges: Up-and-coming National Universities" list. Princeton Review named Drexel University #6 on their list of "2010 Top Entrepreneurial Programs: Undergraduate.”

    Drexel University is well known for its cooperative education program, which is currently ranked as one of the best in the United States.

  4. Florida International University

    University Park, FL

    Founded in 1965, Florida International University (FIU) is an accredited, top-tier research institution regarded as a high research activity school by the Carnegie Foundation. FIU awards over 3,400 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees annually.

    The FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management's Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Travel and Tourism Management degree program includes a comprehensive set of core educational courses and hands-on practical experiences, which provide a solid foundation in business management, accounting, operations, and more, preparing future leaders to begin a career in the tourism industry.

    To graduate form the BS in Travel and Tourism Management program, students must complete the required tourism concentration courses, including topics such as international travel and tourism, sustainable tourism practices, and destination marketing, as well as complete an advanced internship program and a senior seminar in hospitality management.

    U.S. News & World Report ranked FIU as one of “America's Best Colleges" overall (2010) , the Landon Undergraduate School's undergraduate international business program as #10 in the nation (2013), and the Chapman Graduate School of Business as #11. Bloomberg Business Week ranked the Landon Undergraduate School #8 in international business and Forbes included FIU in its “America's Top Colleges List” in 2013.

  5. George Mason University

    Fairfax, VA

    George Mason University (GMU), founded in 1957, is named after the American revolutionary father George Mason. GMU is known for its economic, business, law, and creative writing programs; faculty members have won two Nobel Prizes in Economics.

    The school enrolls over 32,500 students, making it the largest university in Virginia with respect to student population.

    The Tourism and Events Management undergraduate program provides students with skills and knowledge in all areas of tourism and hospitality, including programming, marketing, finance, administration, policy, and planning.

    The Tourism and Events Management (TEM) bachelor's degree curriculum consists of general courses, professional sequence courses, and tourism management concentration courses, altogether totaling 120 credits.

    The Bachelor Degree in Tourism provides concentration courses such as:

    • Women and tourism
    • Ecotourism
    • Resort management
    • Hospitality sales
    • Cultural tourism
    • Meetings and conventions

    Internship and practicum field experiences are also a part of the TEM program.

    The Tourism and Events Management program prepares students to work in many areas of tourism and hospitality including wedding planning, tour operations, visitor services, cruise ships, entertainment venues, cultural attractions, eco-tourism, operations, and consulting.

    U.S. News & World Report ranked GMU Tier 1 among National University rankings (2011) and #1 in the Up-and-Coming National University category (2012). George Mason University was also ranked #70 in the top public schools list by U.S. News & World Report. Its graduate programs were ranked #24 by Public Policy Analysis (2012) and Princeton Review ranked GMU #4 in the most diverse university in the nation list.

  6. George Washington University

    Washington, DC

    Founded in 1821, George Washington University (GWU), the largest accredited institution of higher education in the District of Columbia, offers 20,000 students a vast range of disciplines from forensic science and medicine to international affairs and public policy.

    The GWU School of Business offers the Master of Tourism Administration (MTA) program. The MTA program prepares students for international management positions in hospitality, sport management, event and meeting management, and tourism.

    Through field-based and classroom education in the foundations of tourism, students are prepared to work in management jobs in commercial, public, or non-profit industries offering services at the local or international level.

    The Master of Tourism Administration program consists of 36 credit hours comprised of core courses, electives, and a capstone course (including a practicum and thesis). Students typically complete the degree program within one to two years.

    The Master's of Tourism Administration degree program core courses include subjects such as:

    • Sports marketing
    • Event management
    • Hotel market analysis
    • Tourism research
    • International hotel management
    • Sports law
    • Destination planning and management

    GWU's graduate programs was ranked #41 for Global MBA Programs by the Economist, and #50 in the best national university category (2012) and #7 on the International Businesses Rankings list by U.S. News & World Report. George Washington University was also ranked #54 in the Best Business Schools in the United States category in 2012 by Bloomberg Businessweek and #76 among private colleges and in research universities by Forbes.

  7. Indiana University

    Bloomington, IN

    Founded in 1820, Indiana University is a public research university whose flagship campus is located in Bloomington. Indiana University has more than 40,000 students.

    The university has numerous schools, including the Jacobs School of Music, the School of Public Health, the School of Informatics and Computing, the School of Education, the Kelley School of Business, and the Optometry School.

    The Bachelor in Recreation Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management program at IU prepares students in several sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, including transportation, marketing, management, and food and lodging. Students in the program primarily focus on the administration, budgeting, and marketing side of tourist facilities and destinations, which include resorts, convention centers, hotels, theme parks, visitor centers, cruises, government tourism, and airlines.

    Completing the Bachelor in Recreation Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management program requires general education requirements plus 124 credit hours in the major and concentration courses.

    Some of the specialization courses include legal aspects of recreation, green operations in hospitality management, event management, program development, and strategic planning. Internship placement and study abroad programs provide students special opportunities to expand their understanding of foreign tourism and travel.

    U.S. News & World Report has ranked IU #83 on its National Universities list and # 22 in its Best Business Schools category. Indiana University Bloomington was ranked #58 among all research universities by Forbes.

  8. Johnson & Wales University

    Providence, RI

    Established in 1914, Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is a private, NEASC-accredited institution serving nearly 11,000 students from 70 countries. JWU has five campuses and offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs in areas ranging from culinary arts and hospitality to business and education.

    The Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality Management Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program at JWU prepares students to work in all facets of tourism, from managing high-end resorts to negotiating tours packages all over the world. Students learn strategic tourism and hospitality management skills, as well as ethical standards. After graduation students work in settings such as cruise ships, tourism offices, airlines, resorts, and other tourism operations.

    Students in the internship program gain experience related to their field of study. The school provides international internships and six study abroad programs. Also, faculty members serve as personal career mentors.

    Students have interned for notable companies such as:

    • Royal Caribbean
    • Walt Disney World
    • Marriot, Ritz-Carlton, and Double Tree
    • Doral Gold Resort & Spa
    • Democratic national conventions
    • ESPN
    • MTV
    • Stadiums of New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Bobcats

    The four-year Hospitality Management degree online offers courses in areas such as:

    • The Hospitality Field
    • International Policies of Tourism
    • Dynamics of Tourism
    • Hospitality Strategic Marketing
    • Destination Management Organization
    • Hospitality Sales and Meeting Management
    • Food & Beverage in the Travel & Tourism Industry

    The bachelor's degree in travel, tourism, and hospitality management also includes a Familiarization Tour, a group project where teams research, schedule, and implement a tour to an exciting destination, either in the U.S. or overseas.

    JWU is considered the largest food service educator in the world and was ranked #98 in Best Regional (North) University by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes also ranked Johnson & Wales University's Providence Campus among the top undergraduate institutions in the nation.

  9. New York University

    New York, NY

    New York University (NYU), founded in 1831 and one of the nation's largest private educational institutions, is known for some of its more famous graduates, such as 36 Nobel Prize--winners, 16 Pulitzer Prize--winners, and 30 Academy Award--winners.

    NYU has 18 schools, colleges, and institutes with Art and Science the largest academic section of the university.

    NYU offers a B.S. in Hotel and Tourism Management from the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management. The undergraduate degree prepares students for management positions in some of the world's fastest-growing hotel, conference, and tourism sectors.

    The tourism degree program provides the skills to lead ecotourism initiatives, manage tourism bureaus, and operate catering businesses and special events. Students select a concentration which suits their field of interest.

    The Hotel and Tourism degree program consists of general courses, electives, and specific concentrations (15-credits each) in event management, hotel development, marketing and revenue management, organizations and operations, and tourism development.

    The B.S. in Hotel and Tourism Management degree include subjects such as:

    • Entrepreneurship
    • Conferences and special events
    • Lodging development
    • Brand management
    • Sports tourism
    • Casino operations

    The Bachelor in Hotel and Tourism Management degree program requires students to complete 600 intern hours at two to four organizations.

    NYU's Stern School of Business's undergraduate program was ranked #5 by U.S. News & World Report and #12 by Business Week. The Stern's Executive MBA program was ranked #6 by U.S. News, #11 by The Economist, and #16 by BusinessWeek.

    Those seeking to go beyond an undergraduate degree can pursue NYU's M.S. in Tourism Management, a master's degree program that gives student an in-depth understanding of their field.

  10. Purdue University

    West Lafayette, IN

    Purdue University, founded in 1869, is the flagship university of a six-campus accredited college system. Well known for its engineering program and world-class research, Purdue offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in 211 areas of study. The university has the fourth-largest international student population of any college in the U.S.

    The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Tourism and Hospitality Management degree program offers a well-rounded, hands-on learning experience which prepares students to work in any facet of the tourism and hospitality industry, including lodging, food service, and tourism. Upon completion of the degree, students can enter work settings such as cruise lines, conventions centers, casinos, theme parks, and state tourism.

    The Bachelor in Tourism and Management degree program includes general and major courses of study, internships, and a capstone course which total 120 credit hours. The paid internship program requires 400+ hours of field experience.

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