University of Wisconsin - Stout

Purpose of the Review

The review was conducted to assess the quality of the M.S. Hospitality and Tourism degree program as part of the ongoing seven-year review cycle of every UW-Stout program.

M.S. Hospitality and Tourism
Program Director
Dr. Bob Davies
PRC Consultants
Annette Taylor and William Murphy
Date of Review
December 5, 2003
Committee Findings
The committee recommends continuation of this program and a status report from the program director in 2007-08.  The report should address enrollment, retention, and graduation.


The M.S. Hospitality and Tourism degree is designed to provide students with a curriculum that enhances theoretical and research skills that can be utilized in a variety of hospitality and tourism management and planning settings. The program has gone through several major revisions since its inception in 1982 and it continues to change drastically in response to the industry. This was one of Stout’s first programs offered by distance education. The enrollment in 2002-03 was 52, up from 31 students in 1996-97 when the last review was done.  Since the program offers four certificate options, most of the students are certificate students and only eight graduated in the program in 2001-02. A recent change was made in response to feedback from the industry; a thesis is no longer required and it is believed that this change will result in more M.S. graduates in the program.

Process Followed for Current Review

The PRC Chair met with the program director to discuss the review process.  Data regarding several aspects of the program were collected from students, key instructors within and outside the department, program advisory committee members and program graduates through surveys.  The data was analyzed and returned to the program director and PRC members.  The program director then completed the self-study, presented the report to the PRC, and responded to questions. The PRC discussed the program report and the consultants met with the program director for clarification of some questions.  Consultants wrote the report and the recommendations in the report.  This report was reviewed and endorsed by the PRC and forwarded to the dean and the department chair.

Previous Review

The last PRC review was conducted in Spring 1997. The program has instituted an on-line degree program and has a partnership with UW-Eau Claire to deliver certificate programs that can lead to an M. S. in Hospitality and Tourism from UW-Stout. The program has successfully met most of the PRC recommendations from the last review as summarized below:

For the Program Director

Continue to provide leadership in the development of new 700-level courses, particularly courses appropriate for students in the tourism concentration.

Nine new 700-level courses have been developed.

Continue to move the “Plan B” option through the appropriate curriculum committees so it becomes an option for students in the near future.

Plan B is one of three options that support the degree.

Expand collaborative efforts with area business and industries, particularly tourism-related organizations, in an effort to provide students with more opportunities for internships and applied research experiences.

In response to industry recommendations, the non-thesis Technical Operations option was included in the 2002 revision and became available in 2003.

Continue to recruit both international students and non-international students, particularly students with academic preparation and work experience in the hospitality or tourism industries.

Student enrollment includes both international and resident students currently 60%-65% domestic and 40%-35% international.  Because of the large number of applicants, the program is able to choose students with good credentials.

Work with Placement and Co-op Services to develop a system for obtaining placement data from all program graduates.

The program today enables employment because of the changes in focus from research to operations. Most on-line students are already employed and campus students are employed within months of graduation. Placement data for international students is difficult in all programs on campus.

For the Dean

Continue to work collaboratively with the Graduate College and the Provost to ensure there are adequate resources for graduate education, including an increased number of graduate assistantships so UW-Stout programs can compete with other universities in the recruitment of students.

While the department has made some efforts to add assistantships when soft money was available, the number of assistantships has not changed. Whether or not there are adequate resources for this type of support remains in question. Additional assistantships would be helpful in attracting individuals to the M.S. 

Continue to monitor enrollment in the program and ensure that staffing levels remain adequate as program enrollment increases.  This will help to maintain small class sizes and a low student-teacher ratio for this graduate program.

A number of people have left the department and it remains questionable whether there is sufficient staff or whether staff has the necessary expertise as enrollments have increased.

Program Review

Program Strengths

All data suggest that, for the most part, faculty are knowledgeable, bring experience to the classroom, are available and approachable, and are up-to-date.  Source: student, faculty, advisory committee surveys and program director report.
Relevance of program
The program offers four 12-credit certificates and three research options leading to an M.S.  Thus programs can be tailored to an individual student’s need. Source: program director report.
Availability and flexibility of coursework
The on-line program provides the necessary flexibility.  Source: program director report.
Strong curriculum
The curriculum has been revised several times to meet student and career needs. Source: program director report.
The program enjoys a reputation as one of only six graduate programs in the United States. Source: program director report.
The large number of applicants allows faculty to admit students with outstanding credentials.  Source: program director report.

Issues of Concern  

  1. Some students have not had timely responses from faculty in the program. Source: student surveys.
  2. Because careers in this field are sometimes in flux, the students tend to move into and out of the program in large numbers. Also, while the number of students receiving certificates has increased, the number of graduate degrees conferred has declined. At this time, it is unknown if the non-thesis option will be effective in attracting more students to the M.S. program. Source: Program Director
  3. The role of advisory committee is extremely important to this program and yet it appears that it is not operating effectively. Source: Advisory Committee survey.
  4. Faculty may not have all of the expertise needed. Source: Student survey and Program Director

Recommendations for the Program Director

  1. Establish a reasonable target and expectation for time in which faculty will respond to students e-mails and assignments and let students know what they can expect. Set up a system of automatic reply for e-mails received and notification when faculty members are out of the office.
  2. Monitor the number of students receiving the different types of certificates and degrees.

Recommendation for the Department Chair

  1. Provide the resources necessary to enable an effective advisory group to function.

Recommendation for the Dean

  1. Review positions to determine if adequate support exists to continue this program.  Encourage and support faculty development within the department to provide the expertise required.