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The guiding principle behind the School of Hospitality Administration’s decision to add a one-year graduate degree after 36 years of offering only undergraduate programs comes down to need: the increasing need of the hospitality industry for more job applicants at all levels of employment.

“Companies now require those at upper management to have a solid foundation in the business of hospitality,” says Makarand Mody, SHA assistant professor of hospitality marketing. “A master’s degree is becoming the norm, not the exception, for progression in the industry.”

“Earlier,” says Mody, “it was a get your degree, get into a management training program, and work your way up through middle management kind of approach. Now, students are exploring all sorts of interesting possibilities, including many who want to start their own businesses.”

Mody says he sees a growing number of students “who want to explore opportunities in the burgeoning peripheral hospitality landscape,” from asset management to hospitality finance/real estate to work with tech companies that support hospitality businesses.

And, he says, there are more jobs to fill. Deloitte reports that global business travel spending hit a record-breaking $1.2 trillion in 2015, up 5 percent from the previous year, and the consultancy predicts healthy growth through 2017.

Arun Upneja, dean of SHA, says that while there is a growing hunger for hospitality workers, fewer people are looking for work in the hospitality field.

SHA’s Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) program was designed for those hospitality professionals who require an advanced degree to respond to changes in their industry, as well as for career changers and recent liberal arts and business graduates. “We realized that through the creation of an MMH program, SHA would become one of only two schools in the nation to offer this specific type of degree,” Upneja says.

The MMH program will be distinguished from other graduate hospitality programs in several ways. The SHA program is one year (three semesters), while many others take two years to complete. Students in most hospitality master’s programs are required to complete a final research project. In the SHA MMH program, they will instead use the time for an internship placement, which will offer “real-world experience before they graduate, making them much more attractive to employers,” Upneja says. As the only graduate hospitality program in Boston, a city with more than 125 hotels and 1,000 restaurants, they will have plenty of placement options.

Where some master’s programs prepare graduates to pursue a PhD and an academic career, SHA will be squarely focused on the business of hospitality, leading to careers and advancement in the industry. The difference in approach—practical versus theoretical—was informed by the marketplace, not surprising given that SHA is, as Mody describes it, “essentially…a business school” that happens to focus on lodging, food, and beverage, and meetings and events.

He believes that the practical, market-driven program could become a seamless extension of the undergraduate experience for many SHA students. He recommends, however, that undergraduates “go out and get some solid industry work experience upon graduation. When they are ready to make the jump to upper management, SHAs master’s program can be the perfect tool they need in their arsenal.”

Micah Sieber, who spent 10 years in both undergraduate and graduate university admissions before joining SHA as director of graduate affairs, is excited about the opportunity “to help build a new program completely from the ground up.” He says the school is planning to admit 10 MMH students in its first year, which starts in summer 2017, and many more in the future.

The priority admissions deadline for the inaugural year of the School of Hospitality Administration MMH program was March 1. Rolling admissions continue through May 1. Details about the curriculum and an application can be found here. For questions about admissions, email Micah Sieber at or call 617-353-1011.