The MS & PhD: Our Researched-Focused Hotel Administration Programs

Prepare to teach, lead, and innovate in the exciting hospitality management field.

Share your passion for hospitality with the next generation of hotel leaders. Teaching at the university level is often a natural next step for executives in any industry. Earning a doctoral degree gives you the research experience—and the academic credentials—you need to pursue faculty positions. A master’s degree prepares you for careers in academic research—and is a stepping stone to the PhD program.

Why the Nolan School for Your Master’s or PhD in Hotel Administration?

The Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration offers two research-rich graduate programs: a Master of Science and a PhD. As the first school of its kind in the United States—and the only one in the Ivy League—the Nolan School has set the standard for hospitality education. We continue to innovate in the field by expanding our research, curriculum, and programs.

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Our premier centers and institutes, such as the Center for Hospitality Research and the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Leadership, provide groundbreaking industry insights.

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As part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, the Nolan School gives students the opportunity to collaborate on research with peers and faculty across the college’s schools, programs, and centers.

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Our worldwide Hotelie alumni base is 15,000+ strong, and Cornell’s Big Red Alumni Network is a global force of more than 50,000. Strong industry partnerships expand our international reach.

Program Overview: Master’s in Hotel Administration

Here’s a closer look at our research-rich hospitality master’s degree program:

Degree Awarded

Master of Science in Hotel Administration


Ithaca, NY

Program Format

Full-time residential

Program Schedule

Two years; four semesters

Program Overview: PhD in Hotel Administration

Here’s a high-level overview of what to expect in our hospitality doctoral program:

Degree Awarded

PhD in Hotel Administration


Ithaca, NY

Program Format

Full-time residential

Program Schedule

Five years; 10 semesters

Meet a Hotelie: What Our Students Say

Our graduate students agree: The collaborative atmosphere is one of the hallmarks of a Nolan School education.

Headshot of Steve Choi.

“The Nolan School program is truly interdisciplinary. Be ready to learn a lot about hospitality but open your doors to gain exposure in economics and finance.” —Soon Hyeok (Steve) Choi PhD ’23

Degree Requirements: Hotel Administration Academics

As an MS or PhD student, you’ll gain specialized knowledge and build solid research skills through an enriching, rigorous curriculum.


Foundational Coursework

Hone your quantitative and qualitative research skills with a variety of modeling, statistical, and econometrics courses. PhD students align their methods classes with their area of interest—HR, marketing, real estate, finance, operations, or technology.


Specialization Areas

Customize your curriculum by choosing elective credits from across the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and throughout Cornell University. Students focus on areas such as financial management, marketing, operations, and real estate.


Thesis & Dissertation

Receive close faculty mentorship as you embark on deep graduate-level research. The program culminates with a final exam for MS students and a dissertation defense for PhD candidates. You might even have a chance to publish or present your work.

MS vs. MMH: What’s the Difference between Our Hospitality Graduate Programs?

The Nolan School’s hospitality graduate programs have a lot in common: a world-class faculty, cutting-edge facilities, and immersive learning experiences. The main difference between the MS in Hotel Administration and the Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) is that the MMH prepares you for industry, and the MS prepares you for academia. As you explore your options, keep your ultimate professional goals in mind.

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Master of Science in Hotel Administration

The MS degree is researched-focused and requires a master’s thesis and final exam. Many students in this program continue on to related PhD programs at top-tier schools, including the Nolan School.

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Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH)

The MMH is industry-focused and prepares students for leadership roles in a range of hospitality and real estate specialties. This program requires an internship and offers many other real-world learning experiences.

Headshot of Professor Crocker Liu.

Industry Experts: Hear from Our Hospitality Faculty

Nolan School faculty members are passionate about moving their industries forward—and advancing their students’ academic and corporate careers.

Few top-tier schools offer real estate as a degree option, and even fewer offer hospitality. Uniqueness is [our] defining factor.” —Crocker H. Liu, Robert A. Beck Professor of Hospitality Financial Management


Program Eligibility: Is an MS or PhD in Hotel Administration Right for Me?

Our MS and PhD in Hotel Administration programs are highly competitive and rigorous. Ideal candidates will have an exceptional academic record, relevant industry experience, and clear professional goals. Before you begin the application process, we encourage you to review our eligibility requirements.

See MS & PhD Program Requirements


Admissions Overview: How to Apply: MS and PhD Programs

If earning a master’s or PhD in Hotel Administration feels like the right fit for your next academic endeavor, we invite you to learn more about the admissions process. Our MS and PhD admissions page will give you all the details you’ll need to start your application.

How to Apply to the MS & PhD

Dates and Deadlines: MS and PhD Admissions Timeline

New MS and PhD students are admitted each fall semester. Our application period for both programs runs between September 1 and December 15.

Applications Open: September 1
Application Deadline: December 15

Apply to the MS & PhD

Request Information: Learn More about Our MS and PhD Programs

Exploring your hospitality master’s options? Interested in earning a doctorate in hospitality? Our graduate admissions team is ready to answer your questions about the Nolan School’s MS and PhD in hotel administration.

Request Info

Tuition and Financing: Investing In Your Hospitality Career

Earning a graduate degree is an investment in your future self; the cost of attendance and financing options vary from program to program.

MS Student Financing Options

MS students may be eligible for federally subsidized student loans, which help cover the cost of tuition and living expenses during the residential program.

PhD Students Financing Options

Most PhD students receive full financial support for five academic years and four summers, including a stipend, health insurance, and full academic year tuition, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance.

Life at the Nolan School: A Community Built on Hospitality

As a graduate student at the Nolan School, you’ll become part of a collaborative learning community united by a passion for hospitality and service. This welcoming feeling extends across the SC Johnson College, where you’ll interact with graduate students from a range of programs.

Our School

For more than a century, we’ve been innovators in hospitality education and industry leadership. Our graduate faculty are deeply committed to research and teaching, and our alumni are making a difference around the world.

See Reason to Choose Nolan

Our Campus

We’re located on Cornell University’s beautiful campus in the vibrant college town of Ithaca, NY. The heartbeat of the Nolan School is the Statler Hotel, a full-service luxury hotel that serves as a learning lab for our hospitality students at all levels.

Visit our Campus

Our Expertise

Our renowned faculty members are among the world’s foremost scholars and practitioners in hospitality, real estate, financial services, and technology. As mentors, they guide graduate students through their theses and dissertations.

Discover our Industry Advantages
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Stories and Updates: The Latest from the Hotelie Community

Our BusinessFeed features stories and updates about Nolan School faculty, staff, students, and alumni, from professional achievements to exciting new research.

Read Nolan School Stories

FAQ: Questions about our MS and PhD Programs

You have a lot to consider as you research and compare graduate hospitality programs. In this section, we answer a few of the most common questions from MS and PhD applicants, including test score requirements, what a hotel PhD entails, and available support resources.

Next Steps: Applying to the Nolan School

If you’ve reviewed our admissions requirements and think you’re a fit for our welcoming yet rigorous academic community, we invite you to begin your application to our MS or PhD program today.

To get started, simply register or log in to the Cornell Graduate Admissions website.