Event Management Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an event management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Event Management: at a Glance

Event planners manage and coordinate the details for corporate meetings and events, weddings, birthday parties and conventions. You'll work with clients to set a budget, reserve a location, negotiate rates, organize invitations and troubleshoot problems throughout the event - among other things. You can work on behalf of the client sponsoring the event, or you can work as a facilities manager, helping organizations and companies meet their needs. Event planners often have training in event planning or hospitality and tourism. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for event planners was expected to increase by 44% from 2010 to 2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for?-Individuals taking steps to pursue a bachelor's degree
-Individuals with related undergraduate degrees or work experience
Individuals wanting to pursue a career in event planning
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary)-Event Planner ($46,000)*
-Wedding Planner ($8-$50/hour)**
-Event Planner ($46,000)*
-Food Service Manager ($48,000)*
-Lodging Manager ($47,000)*
-Gaming and Casino Manager ($67,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years3-4 years
Common Graduation Requirements Internship Internship
PrerequisitesHigh school diplomaHigh school diploma or associate's degree
Online AvailabilityYesYes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **PayScale.com (May 2012 10th-90th percentile figure).

Associate's Degree in Event Management

Event management can be studied in programs like event planning, culinary arts or hospitality programs with a concentration in event planning. Hospitality management programs will also give you introductory coursework in event planning. You'll learn to organize meetings, which includes choosing a location, coordinating registration and budgeting. Employers are often looking for someone with a bachelor's degree, so an associate's degree may get you an entry-level position in event planning. Additionally, credits from an associate's degree can often be applied towards a bachelor's degree. Also, an associate's degree can complement an additional degree in a related field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Training in event planning can prepare you for other event management careers, such as wedding planning.
  • Event planners often travel regularly as part of their job.
  • The need for event planners is on the rise due to increased globalization of companies needing meeting and conventions.

Cons

  • Employers are often looking for graduates with bachelor's degrees.
  • Event planning can fluctuate with the economy. When companies make budget cuts, they often cut back on the amount of events held.
  • Event planning is a customer service position where you may have to deal with demanding clients.

Courses and Requirements

After the completion of your coursework, you should be able to identify sponsors for events, plan a budget, negotiate contracts, identify locations that are appropriate for your event and work with vendors to produce the event. The program may incorporate laboratory sessions along with classroom lectures. You may take courses in:

  • Meeting and event management
  • Food, beverage and labor management
  • Event budgeting
  • Event marketing
  • Catering and banquet organization

In addition, you'll likely have to complete an internship. If you're pursuing a hospitality or tourism degree, you'll also take courses that cover subjects including coordinating transportation and hospitality operations.

Online Degree Options

You can find some online programs in event planning, but online hospitality management programs are more common. These programs may include coursework in accounting, business, menu production and conference management. An internship may also be required even for online programs. You'll also find programs that offer evening and weekend classes for working professionals. Some online programs offer transferable credits towards a bachelor's degree. It's important to check that information when looking for a program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Since most employers prefer a bachelor's degree, the best thing you can do is supplement your degree with work experience. Your internship will give you some experience, but you can volunteer on a nonprofit's event planning committee or plan events for friends and family. It's useful to document your projects, including correspondence reflecting your negotiations and interactions to prove your accomplishments. If your school runs a restaurant or has a partnership with an organization, seek out active leadership roles.

There are an assortment of social media tools and apps designed to make meetings run more smoothly and conveniently. Organizations, such as the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, will help you stay up-to-date on the technical aspects of event planning and offer lists of vendors to use.

Degree Alternatives

Food service management programs within a hospitality or management program will provide some courses that are similar to event planning. With a degree in food service management, you'll learn food safety and cost control. You'll also have an opportunity to take business courses, such as accounting and human relations. Your work experience in food service will give you a behind the scenes look at the work that goes into successfully planning an event. According to the BLS, some event planners enter the field as catering coordinators who start by planning small events. Keep in mind that some food service management programs may be more nutrition oriented and best for someone seeking a career as a nutritionist.

Bachelor's Degree in Event Management

Most of the degrees you find at the bachelor's level combine event planning with hospitality and tourism coursework. Majors may include tourism, convention and event management; meeting and evening management; and hospitality management. You may have the opportunity to choose a niche area of event management including sports management or casino management. A 4-year degree in tourism and hospitality can lead you to career opportunities in event planning as well as food and beverage management, recreation services, food service management and tourism.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The well-rounded coursework in areas of hospitality will give you the background to move more freely between related positions, such as hotel manager, gaming manager and restaurant manager.
  • You may have the opportunity to interact with entertainers, sports figures and celebrities when planning events.
  • You'll be able to plan events for non-profits, government organizations, corporations and individuals.

Cons

  • You can work irregular hours, including long days prior to the event.
  • As technology breaks down barriers between people around the world, you'll have to work harder to justify why people should meet face-to-face.
  • Your daily activities may be varied, and you'll have to be able to move quickly between tasks.

Courses and Requirements

The curriculum for a bachelor's degree is similar to what you'll take when earning an associate's degree. Additional coursework will prepare you to run country clubs, casinos, restaurants and amusement parks as well as plan events. You may take courses in:

  • Budgeting
  • Personnel management and human resources
  • Catering and food service
  • Marketing
  • Menu and food production

Your bachelor's degree program may include coursework in niche areas of event planning including environmentally responsible (green) planning and special events planning.

Online Degree Options

While it will be hard to find online programs that offer a bachelor's in event management, you can find online degrees in hospitality management. For some of them, you can choose event planning as a concentration. Your program may have specific requirements. For example, you may be required to submit a portfolio project, or you may be required to enter with a minimum number of credits or experience. Otherwise, your coursework will be similar, with courses in marketing, budgeting and food safety.

Other Degrees to Consider

According to the BLS, graduates with degrees in marketing can begin careers in event planning. Often marketing departments will create events to get a publicity buzz or launch a new product. Your coursework will provide instruction on attracting a target audience, skills necessary to promote an event. In addition, you'll take courses in accounting that will help you properly budget your event. You may also take courses in human resources that will help you manage an event staff.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

You can keep up with trends in the industry by reading trade publications, which can help you stay abreast of popular food trends, décor and entertainment for the season. In addition, environmental responsibility is catching on in a variety of industries and event planning is no exception. Trade magazines will also help you stay aware of sustainability best practices and help you look for creative ways to incorporate sustainability into your events.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
      • Business Administration, BA - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Hospitality Management
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
      • B.S. Management - No Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Business (General Business)

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management

Are you a US citizen?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
  • Business Administration, BA - Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development

Are you a US citizen?

Herzing University

  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

What is your highest level of education?