Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Hospitality and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Annmarie Nicely

Committee Chair

Annmarie Nicely

Committee Member 1

Howard Adler

Committee Member 2

Hugo Tang


The purpose of the present research was to understand Chinese students' expectations and experiences with their Master's education in hospitality-related programs in the U.S. Three groups of persons could potentially benefit from the results of the study: university administrators, professors, and graduate students of hospitality management programs (both current and future students). In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-one Chinese Master's students in a Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) program at a Midwest research university. Content analysis was performed to identify themes regarding students' expectations, experiences and satisfaction with their graduate programs.

When comparing Chinese hospitality management Master's students' expectations and actual experiences, the researcher found both similarities and differences. The participants mentioned actual experiences that were in line with their expectation. Some of the most representative aspects were as follows. The program was research-based and students could get systematic training in academic theories and research methodologies.

Students had much interaction with professors and they felt free to exchange ideas with them. The professors were willing to help students and exchange ideas with them. The university also provided students with opportunities for career preparation, such as mock interviews and résumé development workshops.

However, the researcher also found some differences between Chinese Master's students' actual experiences and their expectations prior to commencing the program. Some differences in the academic aspects were as follows. Students expected to receive knowledge that was updated and connected to the hospitality industry, some thought that what they actually learned was overly academic and not adequately applicable to the industry. The students also reported that the actual academic workload was much higher than expected and they were too busy with academic tasks to explore their personal interests. Participants expected to work with professors on real business projects while in reality students only worked with professors on course-related assignments. Students expected the career center to help them find jobs, instead, they felt the assistance they received was not adequate.

Non-academically, students expected to make friends with students from other countries and experience the U.S. culture. However, they thought that in reality they were less motivated to participate in local activities and they ended up only making friends with Chinese students because of the large number of Chinese students in the program.