Jul 15, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Hospitality Administration, PhD

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Program Description

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree program in Hospitality Administration that is designed to prepare students for the role of hospitality researchers and/or professors at a research oriented university or organization. The program  provides a theoretical (conceptual) foundation, practical knowledge, research development, and critical thinking skills for hospitality administration.

The Hospitality Administration PhD explores most food and beverage (e.g., catering), club (e.g., private clubs), convention and event planning, airline food and beverage service, cruise ship management, and all other tourism/hospitality disciplines. The topics include  finance,  marketing,  accounting,  human resources, service, and general  management in relation to the hospitality industry.

The program emphasizes flexibility, independence, and inter-disciplinary study to accommodate the needs and research interests of  both domestic and international students. As a requirement of the  PhD program, students are required to obtain experience in teaching and research. raduate faculty will mentor  students in the classroom as well as in research settings. 

The Hilton College  is consistently rated among the top hospitality programs in the world and has cultivated relationships with the industry’s top employers, organizations, and associations. Our graduates continue to excel and open the doors for those who follow.

Program Objectives

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) objectives are:

  • To develop teaching skills for both undergraduate and graduate levels
  • To disseminate information about the hospitality industry
  • To develop theory and add knowledge to the field
  • To identify problems through analysis
  • To identify solutions from competing alternatives through quantitative and qualitative metrics
  • To effectively communicate research outcomes
  • To develop grantsmanship capabilities

Admission Requirements

Students who have successfully completed the US equivalent of an MS degree in Hospitality Management or a similar degree with an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 on a 4.0 point scale for their last completed degree and a GMAT or GRE score in the upper 35th percentile taken within the last five years will be considered after successful completion of the graduate application process.

Students who have completed a BS with a GPA of a 3.5 or above, GMAT or GRE score in the upper 35th percentile taken within the last five years and with at least 10 years of supervisory industry experience will be considered  for conditional admittance to the PhD program. These students will complete all prerequisites before beginning PhD level classes. Students will be allowed to enter the PhD program based on passing a candidacy exam. Otherwise, they will be allowed to complete the MS program and can re-apply for the PhD program upon completion of the MS degree. This allows successful industry professionals to enter the PhD program directly due to their exceptional industry experience and academic background.

A Skype or other distance-conducted interview will be required for students who have met all other admission criteria and after approval by the PhD applicant selection committee. The interview will be administered by the PhD selection committee after a date and time is established that accommodates both the selection committee and the applicant.

Note: Students may be required to take additional courses to overcome any deficiencies as determined by the graduate programs office.  

Transfer students can request that a maximum of 9 semester hours relevant to the planned program  be transferred as long as the credits have not been applied to a previously completed degree.

Residency Requirement

Students must enroll in a minimum of nine (9) on-campus credit hours per semester.  

Degree Requirements


Category Semester Credit Hours
Required Courses 24
Prescribed Electives 9
Free Electives 6
Dissertation 18



Required Courses:

Prefix and Number   Scheduled Hours
Hotel and Restaurant Administration Core Courses (6 Credit Hours)
HRMA 8310 Teaching Methods in Hospitality Management   3 Credit Hours
HRMA 8320 Guided Research in Hospitality Industry  3 Credit Hours
Research Methods Core Courses (6 Credit Hours)
HRMA 8304 Qualitative Design in Hospitality Administration 3 Credit Hours
HRMA 8305 Grantsmanship and Technical Writing  3 Credit Hours
Data Analysis Core Courses (9 Credit Hours)
  Two approved advanced data analysis courses from outside or inside the College. 6 Credit Hours
HRMA 8303 Multivariate Analysis in Hospitality Administration  3 Credit Hours
Seminar Core Courses (3 Credit Hours)
HRMA 8188 Colloquium 3 Credit Hours
Dissertation Courses (18 Credit Hours)
HRMA 8398 Doctoral Dissertation Research Proposal 3 Credit Hours
HRMA 8X99 Doctoral Dissertation Research  3 - 9 Credit Hours

Degree Process

Initial Advising

An academic advisor is assigned to each student at the start of their program to provide guidance and assist in planning  their studies until the student identifies a dissertation advisor and supervisory committee members.

Plan of Work

The plan of the sequence of study is initiated by the student and completed with their advisor. Fifty-seven  graduate credits beyond the MS degree are required, including 39 hours in coursework and 18 hours in dissertation research and preparation.

Annual Review

The assigned advisor and the student’s committee will prepare a review of the student’s progress at the end of each academic year. Goals for the upcoming year will then be developed with the student.

Written Candidacy Exam

The main objective of the written candidacy exam is to assess the student’s progress and confirm their ability to proceed to advanced curriculum. Students must take the candidacy exam after completing HRMA 8303 (Multivariate Analysis), HRMA 8304 (Qualitative Design) and one approved data analysis course and at the end of their first year  of the  program. The student must be enrolled full-time for the semester in which the exam is administered and must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be eligible to take the exam. The candidacy exam questions will be prepared by a standing committee and will consist of two main sections: 1) Methodology and 2) Data Analysis. The exam will be one work day in length and will be administered once annually in the second or third week of May.

The standing committee will evaluate the results and will submit their recommendation to the graduate programs office. If the student passes the exam at a satisfactory level, they will be recognized as a PhD candidate,  will be allowed to proceed to the second year of the program, and will officially select a dissertation advisor and committee members. If the student fails the initial exam, they are required to retake the exam in the first week of August or to complete appropriate course work in the following semester and retake the exam at the end of that semester. If the student fails the candidacy exam a second time, they will not be allowed to continue the PhD program.

Dissertation Supervisory Committee

The student selects a dissertation advisor and committee to guide them through their dissertation research and preparation after passing the candidacy exam and before beginning classes in their second year of the program. The naming of a dissertation advisory committee is a requirement for PhD candidacy.

Comprehensive Written Exam

The purpose of the comprehensive written exam is to evaluate the student’s progress in the academic development process, to assess the possible need for additional coursework, and to ensure their readiness to begin a dissertation. Students must take the comprehensive written exam by their second year in the program and after fulfilling a set of competencies in their focus area that are determined by their second semester. An appropriate date will then be set for completion of the comprehensive exam. The student’s supervisory committee can extend the date of the exam to beyond the second year if they determine that the student needs additional study. The standing and dissertation supervisory committees will be responsible for writing the comprehensive exam questions. The standing committee will submit questions for the Research and Statistics section of the exam, and each supervisory committee member will write four (4) one hour questions in the student’s focused area of research.  Students will take the comprehensive exam upon approval by the supervisory committee. and must be enrolled for a minimum of nine (9)hours in the semester in which the exam is administered.

The examination must be completed within a two-week period. The student will provide copies of all responses to each committee member for evaluation. The committee will evaluate the answers within 14 business days. The associate dean for graduate studies will be responsible for obtaining feedback from all committee members. The composition of the supervisory committee will not be changed before a final decision is reached on the result of the comprehensive exam. If a student successfully passes the two areas of the written exam, the head of the supervisory committee will schedule an oral examination. The student will be allowed to retake the exam one time. Students are required to wait a minimum of 60 days before their second attempt if they are unsuccessful in their first attempt. A second failure of the comprehensive exam will result in dismissal from the program.  

Comprehensive Oral Exam

The purpose of the oral examination is to verify understanding of the written exam questions and to facilitate further discussion of the student’s dissertation topic. The oral comprehensive exam will be scheduled a maximum of two weeks after the successful completion of the written comprehensive exam. After the student has successfully completed the oral exam, the head of the supervisory committee will submit the comprehensive written and oral exam questions and responses to the graduate programs office. The student will deliver a signed original ballot of the results to the graduate programs office. At this point, the student will be allowed to register for dissertation credits.

Doctoral Dissertation Registration

The PhD candidate is required to register for dissertation credit hours and will submit a description of their proposed research and dissertation topic for approval by their supervisory committee.

Dissertation Preparation

The dissertation presents  original scholarship or research completed by the student. A dissertation format check by the graduate programs office is required before the dissertation public lecture and presentation of results. 

Dissertation Public Lecture and Presentation of Results

The student will present and defend their dissertation in a public lecture. The results of the defense are conveyed to the graduate school via the defense final report form.

Submission of Approved Dissertation

The student will submit the approved dissertation electronically  and must complete the paperwork required at this final stage.

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