Jun 12, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Hospitality Administration, Ph.D.

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Program Description

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston presents the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree program in Hospitality Administration.  This program is designed for students who wish to become hospitality researchers and/or professors at a research oriented university.  Specifically, the program will provide students with the theoretical (conceptual) foundation, practical knowledge, research development and critical thinking skills for hospitality administration.

Hospitality Administration includes most food and beverage (e.g., catering), club (e.g,. private clubs), convention and event planning, airline food and beverage service, cruise ship management or any other tourism/hospitality disciplines.  The topics include hospitality finance, hospitality marketing, hospitality accounting, hospitality human resources, service, and general hospitality management.

The program emphasizes flexibility, independence and inter-disciplinary study to accommodate the needs and research interests of each student from all around the world.  As a requirement of the doctoral program, students are expected to obtain experience in teaching and research.  Graduate faculty will mentor the students in the classroom as well as in research settings. 

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management University of Houston is consistently rated among the top hospitality programs in the world.  The College 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

General Admission Requirements

Students who have successfully completed an M.S. degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management or a similar degree with an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 on a 4.0 point scale for their last degree completed and a GMAT or GRE score in the upper 35th percentile will be considered.

Students who have completed a B.S. with a GPA of a 3.5 or above, GMAT or GRE score in the upper 35th percentile and with at least 10 years of supervisory industry experience will be considered  for conditional admittance to the Ph.D. program.  These students should complete all prerequisites in order to take the Ph.D. level classes.  Based upon passing the candidacy exam, students will be allowed to enter the Ph.D. program.  Otherwise, they will be allowed to complete the M.S. program and then be allowed to reapply for the Ph.D. program upon completion of the M.S.  This allows successful industry professionals to enter the Ph.D. program directly due to their exceptional industry experience and academic background.

All international students must meet the admissions requirements as specified by the University and College, attaining minimal scores on the TOEFL of 600 (250 computer-based test; 100 online-based test) or have earned a degree from an accredited U.S. institution.  An interview is required prior to acceptance into the program. 
Note: Students may be required to take additional courses to overcome any deficiencies as determined by the program director. 
The Graduate Faculty Committee will review each applicant’s admission application packet.


All applicants must submit for admission:

  • A completed Graduate Application Form, University of Houston.
  • A non-refundable application/evaluation fee of $50 (domestic applicants).  Payments must be made with a credit card, a personal check or money order denominated in U. S. dollars, payable to the “University of Houston.” 
  • Two (2) official transcripts of all academic work, including subjects taken and grades earned.
  • Official GRE or GMAT test score results and an additional certified photocopy of the score card must be sent with the application.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendations.
  • A personal statement of purpose, which includes a 3-page double-spaced paper with 1-inch margins on career goals, research interests or justification of pursuing the Ph.D. program.
  • A complete Resume or Curriculum Vitae.

In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants are required to:

  • Send a non-refundable application/evaluation fee of $125 (international applicants).
  • International applicants must submit official TOEFL test scores (minimum 600 paper-based, minimum 250 computer-based, or 100 online-based).  Students are exempt from the TOEFL if from Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, The British Isles, English-speaking Canadian provinces, the Fiji Islands, Jamaica, Liberia, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Trinidad, the United States, the Virgin Islands, the West Indies or Zimbabwe.  Individuals lacking fluency in speaking English will be requested to take English language courses.
  • International applicants must submit a Letter of Financial Backing and a signed Statement of Understanding enclosed in the Graduate Application Form.

All application materials and admission inquiries should be addressed to:

Dianca Chase

Graduate Program Coordinator

229 C.N. Hilton Hotel and College

Houston, TX 77204-3028

Transfer students will be considered for this program and will be subject to the same regulations that govern all students that transfer to the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.  Students may apply to have a maximum of 9 semester hours relevant to the planned program to be transferred as long as the credits have not been applied to a previously completed degree.  Only courses with a grade of “B” or better would be considered for transfer.  Transfer students can request transfer of credits by providing a complete list of courses that they would like considered for transfer.  The Graduate Program director will examine and approve the courses that will be transferred.  Students would be required to complete a graduate petition form indicating the courses they request to be transferred along with a set of official transcripts from all Colleges attended.  This petition must then be approved by the graduate program director, the associate dean of academics of the College and the Dean of Graduate School at the University.  International transcripts will be evaluated by the Office of International Admissions and transfer equivalency from non-United States colleges/universities will be determined by the Office of International Admissions.

Residency Requirement

Acquiring a doctoral degree requires a strong commitment.  Students who stretch out their studies are usually unable to complete them.  Thus, full-time students must enroll in a minimum of 9-credit hours per semester.  With the exception of credits transferred at the beginning of a student’s program, all courses must typically be taken at University of Houston.  The maximum credit hours can be transferred from other institutes are nine.


Degree Requirements

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


Course works consist of required, prescribed (focused), and free elective (supporting) classes.  Required courses focus on the hospitality and tourism.  Prescribed courses are focused on research methods and statistics.  The program includes a strong element of statistics and research design and prepares students for careers in major research universities or research-based agencies.  Free elective or supporting courses are developed to strengthen research techniques or topic knowledge important to the development of the dissertation.


Required Courses:

Prefix and Number Required Courses Scheduled Hours
Hotel and Restaurant Administration Core Courses (6 Credit Hours)
HRMA 8310 Teaching Methods in Hospitality Management  a(*) 3 Credit Hours
HRMA 8320 Guided Research in Hospitality Industry  b(**) 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 8303 Colloquium 3 Credit Hours
Dissertation Courses (18 Credit Hours)
HRMA 8398 Doctoral Dissertation Research Proposal 3 Credit Hours
HRMA 8X99 Doctoral Dissertaion Research (*) 3 - 9 Credit Hours


Prescribed Elective Courses:

Degree Process

Initial Advising

An academic advisor is assigned to each student at the start of his/her program to guide the student, plan his/her studies and to provide academic guidance until the student identifies a dissertation advisor and supervisory committee members.

Plan of Work

The Plan is initiated by the student and completed with his/her advisor to plan the sequence of study.  Fifty-seven (57) graduate credits beyond the Master’s degree are required: Thirty-nine (39) hours in coursework and 18 hours in dissertation research and preparation.

Annual Review

An advisor and the student’s committee prepare a review of the student’s progress at the end of each academic year.  Goals for the following year are developed with the student.

Written Candidacy Exam

The main objective of the candidacy exam is to assess Ph.D. students’ progress and confirm students’ capability to proceed to advanced curriculum.  A Ph.D. student must take the candidacy exam after completing HRMA 8303 (Multivariate Analysis), HRMA 8304 (Qualitative Design) and one approved data analysis course after finishing the first year of the Ph.D. program.  The student must be enrolled full-time for the semester in which the exam is administered.  A student must have a minimum grade-point-average of 3.0 to be eligible to take the exam.  The candidacy exam will be administered once a year, in the first week of the fall semester. 

The exam will consist of two main sections: 1) Methodology and 2) Data Analysis.  The exam will be scheduled for one day.  The students must pass the exam to continue in the program. 

The standing committee will evaluate the results and will submit the recommendation to the program director and associate dean of academics.  If a student passes the exam at a satisfactory level, the student will be recognized as a Ph.D. candidate and allowed to proceed for the second year.  In case of a student failing for the first time, the student is required to retake the exam in the first week of August or take appropriate course work in the following semester and retake the exam at the end of the semester.  If the student fails the candidacy exam for the second time, the student will not continue the Ph.D. program.

Dissertation Supervisory Committee

The student selects a dissertation advisor and committee to guide him/her through the dissertation research and preparation.  The naming of a dissertation advisory committee is a requirement for Ph.D. candidacy.

Comprehensive Exam

The purpose of the comprehensive exam is to evaluate Ph.D. students’ progress in the academic development process, assess the need for additional coursework, and ensure the readiness to conduct a doctoral dissertation.  Students must take the comprehensive exam after fulfilling a set of competencies for the students’ focus area, which are developed by the second semester of their program.  This will allow students to determine when to take their comprehensive exam. 

The standing and supervisory committee will be responsible for writing the comprehensive exam questions.  Students should be able to take the comprehensive exam upon approval by the supervisory committee.  The standing and supervisory committees will be responsible for writing the exam questions.  The student must be enrolled for a minimum of nine hours for the semester in which the exam is administered.

First, the standing committee will write questions for the Research and Statistics section.  Each of the candidate’s supervisory committee members will write four one-hour questions in the focused areas of research. 

The examinations must be completed within a two-week period.  Students should provide copies of all responses to each committee member for evaluation.  The committee will evaluate the answers within 14 business days.  The director of Graduate Program will be responsible for obtaining feedback from all committee members.  If a student successfully passes the two areas of the written examination, the major professor will schedule the oral examination. 

The purpose of oral examination is to verify the student’s understanding of the issues and further discussion beyond the written questions.  After the student has passed the oral exam, the major professor will submit the comprehensive written and oral exam questions and the student’s responses to the Graduate Program Director’s Office.  The student can retake the exam only once.  Students required waiting a minimum of 60 days before their second attempt if they are unsuccessful in their first attempt.  A second failure of the exam will result in the student being dismissed from the program.  The composition of the supervisory committee shall not be changed before a final decision is reached on the result of the comprehensive exam.

Oral Comprehensive Exam

Upon receiving the results of the written comprehensive exam, the oral comprehensive exam is then scheduled within the next two weeks.  The main purpose of the exam is to confirm the student’s competency level by asking additional comprehensive questions involving an initial discussion of doctoral dissertation topics.  Once the oral examination is passed, the student takes the signed original ballot to the Graduate Office and provides a copy to the Graduate Program director.  At this point, the student is allowed to register for Ph.D. doctoral dissertation credits.

Doctoral Dissertation Registration

The PhD candidate is required to register for a Doctoral Dissertation Research Proposal.  The candidate prepares a description of the proposed research and dissertation for approval by his/her advisory committee.

Dissertation Preparation

The dissertation presents the original scholarship or research completed by the student.  A dissertation format check by the Ph.D. Office is required before the defense.

Dissertation Public Lecture - Presentation Defense

The student presents and defends the 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 submits the approved dissertation electronically and must complete the paperwork required at this final stage.

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