Ph.D. in Business

Concentration in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Exciting Announcement!

In order to better serve our students and the discipline, our Ph.D. program has recently been revised and updated to a Ph.D. in Business with a Concentration in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Virginia Tech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Ph.D. in Business emphasizes the research applications of business concepts and strategies to hospitality and tourism management. More specifically, our Ph.D. students develop the knowledge and research skills to address the critical challenges and problems faced by hospitality and tourism businesses.

Program Goals, Process, and Structure:

The goal of our program is to develop the next generation of faculty for Hospitality and Tourism Management Business programs at major research universities throughout the world. We accomplish this goal by producing doctoral graduates who have both conceptual and methodological knowledge and significant research experience in the applications of that knowledge during their Ph.D. program. Students develop the knowledge, skills and research abilities to become successful scholars by engaging in close and collegial research collaborations with a faculty comprised of internationally renowned scholars, journal editors, and professional leaders.

More specifically, our curriculum emphasizes (1) the understanding of business theories and practices in hospitality and tourism management and (2) the conceptual skills and understanding of research design, measurement, and statistical analyses necessary to be effective and productive researchers. The faculty has developed the doctoral program to provide challenging research and learning experiences for students seeking the skills to become leading researchers. The key ingredients to the program’s success are excellent students, a dynamic, research-oriented faculty who publish regularly in top-tier journals, and research collaboration between students and faculty. The specific curriculum and research program is customized to the individual student’s interests; each student works with an advisory committee to develop a program of study and a research dissertation focusing on her / his specific areas of interest.

Advisory Committee

Students selected for admission to the Ph.D. program are accepted by a faculty member who will be their major professor. This selection is based primarily on the potential of a match between the professor’s expertise and the student’s interest as expressed on the application for the program. An Advisory Committee consisting of the major professor and at least three other members will be recommended by the student and his / her major professor to the Department Head to be recommended to the Graduate School. This committee advises the student in planning a program of study and in other degree requirements. It also serves as the examining committee for the preliminary and final examinations. A typical committee consists of a minimum of three faculty (including the major professor/chair) from the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. It is expected, but not required that the committee include at least one faculty member from outside the Department reflecting the student’s cognate area. Preference is given to on-campus faculty. The makeup of the advisory committee may be different for the preliminary exams and the dissertation.

The student should consult with his/her major professor in determining the makeup of the advisory committee. Additional information about the advisory committee can be found in the Graduate School catalog.

Program of Study

A Program of Study refers to the plan of course work and any other related experiences that prepare the student for successful completion of the preliminary exams and dissertation defense.

A program of study meeting all department requirements should be submitted to the Graduate School prior to completing 15 credit hours beyond the Masters degree at this University. The program of study must be approved and endorsed by the student’s advisory committee, the Department Head, and the Graduate School.

Qualifying Exam

A written qualifying examination for all Ph.D. candidates will be conducted at the end of the first year of coursework. This exam will typically be given on the first Monday and Wednesday in June. The exact dates for each year will be announced by the department no later than January 1.

Students will be required to respond to question(s) in the following three sections:

  1. Methodology and Statistics (Section I)
  2. Theory Development (Section II)
  3. HTM body of Knowledge (Section III)

The Graduate Program coordinator will request all tenure track faculty to submit questions and a grading rubric for the exam and will compile the qualifying examination based on the input. The Graduate Program Coordinator will work with the graduate faculty to ensure the inclusion of questions that measure the appropriate level of student knowledge and expertise in each of the exam areas. To facilitate the grading process, the faculty member providing a question will also provide a general rubric for grading of the student responses.

The Graduate Program Coordinator will contact faculty for questions at least one month in advance of the exam.

Students will sit for the exam in the designated exam room in the HTM department. The examination will be given to students in three sections. The first day of the qualifying exam will commence at 9:00 am and conclude at 1:30 pm typically on the first Monday in June and will include two sections: Methodology and Statistics (Section I) and Theory Development (Section II). The second day of the exam will commence at 9:00 am and conclude at 1:30 pm typically on the first Wednesday in June and will focus on the HTM Body of Knowledge (Section III). Students will NOT be permitted to use a personal computer during the exam period; a laptop computer will be provided by the Department for the exams.

Preliminary Examination

This examination is designed to determine the candidate’s ability to progress into the research phase. The written portion of the examination is to be completed within 6 months of completion of coursework. The oral examination phase requires that an examination card be obtained. The graduate student is responsible for the completion and submission of all paperwork required from the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance of the exam date.

The examination is given in two parts:

  1. Written Examination – Traditional or Portfolio/Synthesis of the Literature Format
  2. Oral Examination – scheduled within 30 days of successful completion of the written examination.

Student Qualification Requirements

Students sitting for all preliminary exam components, i.e. written and oral examination parts, must have completed the following:

  1. Approval of the Student’s Chair and Committee members
  2. They must have fulfilled all requirements for taking their preliminary examination as stipulated by the Graduate School (see Graduate Catalog).
  3. They must have an approved plan of study on file with the Graduate School.

Written Preliminary Examination – Specialization (Major) Area

The preliminary exam, oral and/or written, is conducted by the student’s advisory committee. It is comprehensive in nature and is intended to test a student’s ability to integrate, synthesize, and apply concepts, facts, and techniques in solving new and complex problems associated with hospitality and tourism management. The student may be tested on any aspect of their plan of study. The exam may be developed in one of two ways: either in a traditional, in-chamber exam format, or as an ex-chamber Portfolio/Synthesis of the Literature. It is recommended that the student meet with his/her advisory committee prior to preparing for the exam to discuss the nature of the exam, the format, and the evaluation procedures that is the best fit.


Candidates for the Ph.D. are required to carry out original research which will add to the present body of knowledge in the field of hospitality and tourism management. Students are required to defend their proposal for their dissertation research to their dissertation committee. Prior to this defense they must present their proposal in the HTM 5944 Graduate Seminar. The purpose of this exercise is to provide students with the opportunity to get feedback from peers and faculty before actually defending the proposal to his/her committee. Guidelines for this seminar are available in the HTM Department.

Final Examination

This oral examination is primarily a defense of the dissertation, although the examining committee may test the candidate on any material relevant to the field of study. The examination is scheduled through the Graduate School in the same manner as the written preliminary examination. A final presentation of the dissertation in Graduate Seminar is also required. Graduate School requirements must be met for submission of dissertation. Refer to the Virginia Tech Graduate School Policies and Procedures for further information

Ph.D. in Business Core Requirements (15 credits / 15 graded credits)

  • MGT 5124: Business Research Methods
  • MGT 5384 – Ethical Dimensions of Leadership
  • BIT 5724: Managerial Statistics
  • STAT 5615: Statistics for Research I
  • STAT 5616: Statistics for Research II

HTM Core Requirements (6 credits / 6 graded credits)

  • HTM 6434 Theory Development for Hospitality & Service Management (3 credits)
  • HTM 6464: Research Foundations in Hospitality and Tourism Management (3 credits)

Specialization/Major Area (9 credits / at least 5 credits must be graded)

  • At least 3 credits need to be at the HTM 6000 level
  • Remaining credits (6) can be either within or outside HTM, and can be at the 5000 or 6000 level.
  • Students are encouraged, but not required, to include at least one section of HTM 6974 Independent Study, whereby the finished product is a manuscript to be submitted to a top-tier journal. Students are also encouraged to take GRAD 5114, Contemporary Pedagogy, if they and their committee feel this would assist them with improving their teaching skills.

Dissertation (30 credits)

Total Credits – 60 Credits


  1. A minimum of 9 credits of coursework required each semester of the first two years of the program. Students receiving either GTA or GRA support are required to take 12 credits of coursework each semester.
  2. Courses should be taken in consultation with the committee and approval of the Head of the Department.
  3. Courses cannot be counted twice under any of the above mentioned categories
  4. No more than 9 hours can be taken as independent study courses.
  5. Consult graduate catalog for the number of courses that can be transferred.

The size of our program is strictly controlled to allow for intensive faculty – student collaboration. As a result, the program is highly selective. Admission decisions are made by a committee of faculty based on a number of criterion including:

  1. Fit with departmental mission and faculty research interests – a statement of research interests is required.
  2. Standardized test scores, while GMAT scores are preferred, GRE scores can also be submitted. These scores must be sent directly to the VT Graduate School – Virginia Tech’s institution code is 5859 (there is no departmental code).
  3. Previous academic work (official transcripts for all previous academic work are required)
  4. Work experience in hospitality and tourism management
  5. Letters of recommendation (3 letter are required)
  6. For students where English is a second language, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores are required. Applicants should have a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper based) / 250 (computer based) or 100 (internet based). As with the standardized test scores, the TOEFL scores must be sent directly to the VT Graduate School.

In general, students admitted to our Ph.D. program have a GMAT score over 600 or approximately similar GRE scores (verbal-160, quantitative reasoning-160, & analytical writing 4.5), a GPA of 3.5 or greater in their MBA or MS program, very strong letters of recommendation, and more than two years of industry experience. Prior to being accepted, at least one member of the graduate faculty must agree that the applicant’s research interests are a good fit with her / his interests.

The PhD is designed as a four year program in order to support intensive faculty – student research collaboration. Most admitted students receive a full research or teaching assistantship that combines extremely competitive funding with full tuition remission. Given successful progress toward the degree, this funding will be provided for four years. Additionally, summer research grants, research scholarships, and dissertation research grants are available on a competitive basis. For 2016 – 2017, we anticipate a full assistantship will include a stipend of $18,675 for nine months, and tuition remission. Students will only pay fees of approximately $900 per semester. Graduate students also receive health insurance. This assistantship package is even more attractive when coupled with the low cost of living in Blacksburg.

You are welcome to contact us if you have additional questions. We very strongly encourage you to visit campus and meet with the graduate faculty prior to submitting an application.


Dr. Richard Perdue
Director of Graduate Studies