About the Department

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi."

William Faulkner

Mississippi is a special place to study and research tourism and economic development. With an almost $6 billion tourism industry, Mississippi is aggressively attempting to leverage its creative economy, cultural heritage, casinos, natural assets (e.g., beaches; the Mississippi River) and Southern Hospitality to help the economy (Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division, 2012). With its tourism motto of “Find Your True South,” the region has great career opportunities for casino, hospitality, and tourism management.

It is also the birthplace of today’s practice of economic development and Mississippi continues aggressive economic development efforts to overcome its lagging economic performance.   Many economic development scholars begin the story of modern economic development with the Depression era efforts of Mississippi to attract manufacturers from the North with the Balance Agriculture with Industry (BAWI) Program (Kotler, 1993; Cobb, 1993; Eisinger, 1988; Fisher & Peters, 1998). Continuing that tradition of leading in economic development, USM was the first master’s program in economic development offered in the U.S., by that name.

Both the tourism and economic development programs have strong industry advisory councils and are heavily involved with their communities. Students of the program graduate with extensive hands on experience as well as rigorous academic and practitioners instructions.  The graduates of the program understand casino, hospitality, tourism, and economic development in Mississippi so they are prepared to understand the world.