Study Event Management: Master's Degree & Graduate Program Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's degree or graduate certificate in event management? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and event management graduate programs.
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Event Management Master's and Certificates: Programs at a Glance

Event management studies can lead to careers in the hospitality, tourism and sports industries, as well as any industry that needs people to plan big conferences and events. Most careers only require a bachelor's degree along with relevant experience. Advancement usually occurs after gaining experience and showing that you can take on more responsibilities.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of meeting, convention and event planners was projected to increase by 44% between 2010 and 2020, which was much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS noted that professionals who have a bachelor's degree along with experience and industry certification were likely to have the best job opportunities. Even with significant growth expected, event planners may face strong competition for jobs.

Graduate Certificate Master's
Who is this degree for? Bachelor's degree holders seeking specialized training in event management Individuals seeking a graduate degree focused on event management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Meeting/event manager ($76,000 - with 5 years of experience)*
- Meeting/event director ($101,000 - with 7 years of experience)*
- Sports event ticket manager ($47,000 - with 5 years of experience)*
- Meeting, convention or event planner ($46,000)**
Master's degree holders qualify for the same careers as graduate certificate holders.
Time to Completion About 2 semesters, full-time Roughly 2 years, full-time
Common Requirements - Roughly 4 courses in event management - Anywhere from 6-12 advanced courses in event management, tourism and related areas
- Practicum
- Project or research component
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree - Bachelor's degree
- GRE/GMAT scores (depends on the program)
- Letters of recommendation
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *Salary.com (figures as of December 2012), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)


Graduate Certificate in Event Management

Graduate certificates in event management are often pursued by bachelor's degree holders who are interested in switching careers or event specialists seeking advanced training in the field. The program only consists of a few courses, allowing full- and part-time students to obtain a certificate in 4 semesters at most (taking 1 course per semester). The curriculum of the program is broad and can be useful for event managers in many industries. Students who aren't sure if they want to pursue a master's degree can begin with the certificate program, as the courses completed in this program can commonly be applied towards the requirements of a master's program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Courses can usually count towards a master's degree if you wish to continue your studies at the same school
  • Can usually be completed in only 2 semesters
  • May give individuals an advantage over bachelor's degree holders who don't have advanced training in event management

Cons

  • Rarely a hard requirement for upper-level event management positions
  • Small number of course options does not allow you to focus you studies in a particular type of event planning (such as sports, parties, conventions, etc.)
  • You'll be spending additional money and time to obtain a certificate while you could be gaining the experience necessary to advance to high-level event planning positions

Common Courses and Requirements

This graduate certificate program requires students to complete a total of 4 courses. Some programs may only consist of 2 traditional courses, replacing the other courses with a practicum and a graduate-level project. The curriculum structure is rigid and typically does not give students any elective options. Common courses in the program include facility management, event management, event marketing and customer service.

Online Program Options

This certificate program is available completely or partially online. Online certificate programs in event management are more common than on-campus ones. The coursework in an online program is identical to an on-campus program, and students can still complete the practicum and project over the Internet. The program is designed to be flexible and can suit the needs of part- and full-time students.

Getting Ahead with This Certificate

Employers tend to look for candidates who have experience with various computer programs, such as Microsoft Office products and event planning software. Becoming familiar with the type of software commonly used in your desired line of work can add to your qualifications and give you a boost over your competitors. Software vendors may offer free or low-cost training modules, which can help you learn about event planning software on your own terms while pursuing your certificate.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics mentioned that the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation from the Convention Industry Council is recognized by many employers that operate meetings and conventions. To qualify for the CMP credential, candidates must have 3 years of work experience (only 2 is required if you have a bachelor's degree) and have completed an industry internship or continuing education hours. Once you meet the qualifications, you'll need to pass the required exam.


Master's Degree in Event Management

Studies in event management at the master's level may be found as a concentration within a broader program, such as tourism or sport administration. Although students can focus their studies more than a certificate program allows, they'll still get to cover a broad range of topics in event management. Some programs may even give you a chance to get some hands-on experience by working at actual sporting events and any other events that take place at the campus. This specific area of study is not widely available, so your program options may be somewhat limited when searching for schools.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can provide advanced event training not available at the bachelor's level
  • Usually includes elective course options, allowing you to focus on topics relevant to your specialty within event management
  • Can lead to careers likely to see high demand (the BLS predicted a 44% increase in jobs for meeting, convention and event planners from 2010-2020)*

Cons

  • Rarely required or preferred by employers
  • You'll be competing with bachelor's degree holders who may have more experience since they did not pursue graduate-level studies
  • Concentrations and programs focused in event management are not extremely common, potentially limiting your school choices

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Programs that allow you to concentrate in event management usually begin with a couple core courses covering concepts related to the broader degree title. Students then complete a set of 4 or 5 concentration courses covering event management principles. Broader programs just include the event management courses as part of the general program curriculum. Common courses include:

  • Facility management
  • Sports administration
  • Event entertainment
  • Conferences
  • Sport venue operations

Students can typically select up to 3 elective courses, which vary between schools and programs. The latter part of the master's program usually requires a practicum and project related to event planning, and some may even offer a thesis option.

Online Options

Master's programs concentrating in event management are available completely online. The coursework and requirements are usually identical to on-campus programs, but some electives may not be offered online. You probably won't have the opportunity to complete a thesis if you opt for an online program and will be limited to a practicum or advanced study course instead.

Stand Out with This Degree

Joining a professional organization, such as the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) or the Event Planners Association (EPA), gives you benefits that may grant you an edge in your job hunt. The continuing education activities in meeting and event organizations can also count towards your recertification hours if you have the CMP credential. EPA members have access to networking opportunities, continuing education courses and special discounts. EPA also allows students to become members.

SGMP is intended for planners who work on government meetings and events. In addition to continuing education courses, publications and networking events, SGMP also awards the Certified Government Meeting Professional designation to individuals who complete the required training course and pass the exam.

While you're in school, you can get more practice planning meetings and events by joining an event planning club. Club members also have a chance to listen to guest speakers and network with other people who are interested in planning events.

Popular Schools

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Kaplan University

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Grand Canyon University

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Herzing University

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Regent University

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