HOUSTON—Students at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management will soon be able to pursue doctoral studies. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration at Hilton College to begin in fall 2015.
“Not having a Ph.D. program has been a shortcoming of our academic offerings,” said Hilton College Dean John Bowen. “This will help ensure our national prominence going forward.”
The college will begin taking applications for the program in fall 2014.
Currently, the college offers a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management, a Master of Science in Hospitality Management, and a joint graduate degree with the UH C.T. Bauer College of Business.
The Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration will be a rigorous three- to four-year program with a core curriculum that focuses on the development of students’ research, leadership, teaching and grantsmanship skills. They will become academics or industry consultants.
“Just looking at the data for last year, there were about 40 students in the country who earned Ph.D.’s in this area,” said Dr. Ki-Joon Back, professor and director of graduate programs for the college. “But there were 150 academic positions available. There is a need, and our college has been working on this for a long time.”
Back says the college began working on developing the doctoral program in 2006. In anticipation of this area of study, the college secured research faculty who are now ready to take Ph.D. students.
In 2013, the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education ranked Hilton College’s graduate program fourth among top hospitality programs in the country. Now that the Ph.D. program is a reality, Back expects students from around the country to make Hilton College their first choice for doctoral studies, as well.
“We are unique among the 15 Ph.D. programs in the country in that we have a great relationship with the industry. Many of the other programs in the country lack networking opportunities with industry and opportunities to create data about the industry,” Back said. “This is applied science. We create students who will be influential professionals in the industry. This will bring up our academic reputation, and it’s pretty high already.”