Sometimes, when I talk about my masters degree program, I get a wide-eyed reaction, especially from Americans.
“It wasn’t an exchange program? You did the whole thing in Spain? How did you find it?”
The truth is, when I think about how I was able to spend the past year pursuing a masters degree in Tourism and Environmental Economics in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, I get a little jealous of myself. It has been a great formal education process and life experience. I found it by searching far and wide online, then I worked really hard to make it happen. If I can do it, anyone can.
I knew I wanted to study tourism before I knew what programs were out there, which is how the search began. I found the MTEE program through an ecotourism portal website that I love and use often, ecoclub.com. I browsed their ecotourism university guide.
That was several years ago. Since them, a few other degree programs have crossed my radar. If I had my whole life to be a student, I would seriously consider some of these programs. Interestingly, most tourism degree programs are in Europe, where tourism is more studied, researched, and developed as a field than in the U.S.
My top three picks for European degree programs in tourism that I would also love to do:
Master in Tourism Destination Management at the Breda University of Applied Sciences in Holland.
This program looks awesome. It’s an intensive one year master degree like mine was, but it sends you to Asia for the second semester. Looks very hands-on, pragmatic and real-world applicable. They also maintain a really fascinating blog that gives an idea of what the program content is about. The tuition is € 8,422. Scholarships available.
The European Master in Tourism Management in Syddansk Denmark, Girona Spain, and Ljubljana Slovenia.
This sounds amazing. A two-year degree program that starts in Denmark, moves to Spain for the second semester, spends the third semester in Slovenia, then allows for independent research wherever is most convenient. Tuition for EU citizens is € 2,667 per year and € 7,000 for non-citizens, but some heavy-duty Erasmus scholarships are available, including full rides.
Global Studies Program in Frieburg Germany, Cape Town South Africa, Buenos Aires Argentina, Bangkok Thailand, and New Delhi India.
The ultimate international masters degree, although not specifically about tourism. This multidisciplinary program covers sociology, political sciences, anthropology and geography. The diverse group of students studies in three different universities on three different continents over a period of two years. Fees: 200-800€ per semester; flights; living costs: 200-700€ per month.
To be fair, the U.S. does have some good programs as well. The most well-known is the Tourism department of the business school at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. The Sustainable Tourism Destination Management degree sounded pretty good until I checked the price tag. $1,175 per credit hour x 36 credit hours = $42,300. I repeat: go to Europe. Or, the International Ecotourism Society (TIES) offers a Sustainable Tourism Management Certificate online that is accredited through George Washington University. Each course is $425, and at least 6 courses are required for a certificate price of $2550.
Another online option for mid-career professionals is the Responsible Tourism Management degree from Leeds University in England. They also have a one-year, full time degree option on campus. Price: £8,750 for non-EU citizens. Exotic location factor missing.
I’m really happy with my education path and I’m ready to gain some experience working in the field before considering another degree program. But it is fun to window shop, especially with a scary recession job market to face as a recent graduate.