Study Event Planning: Bachelor's, Master's & Certification Info

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

Event planning degree programs are often offered under other names, such as meeting and special event management, hospitality management, or facility and event management. Event planning is a specialization of the meeting, convention and event planning profession, which is itself often considered part of the hospitality industry.

Certification in the event planning industry is voluntary. Those who want to pursue certification can do so through the Convention Industry Council or, for those who want to work with the local, state or federal governments, the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to work in entry-level, non-management, or lower-level management jobs in event planning People who intend to work in top-level management in the hospitality industry, or who intend to pursue an academic career in the study of the hospitality industry
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Meeting, convention and event planner ($50,000)*
- Lodging manager ($55,000)*
- Administrative services manager ($78,000)*
Same as for bachelor's degree holders, plus: Public relations manager ($108,000)*
Time to Completion Four years full-time 1-2 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 120 credits of coursework
- Grade point average of at least 3.0
- Internship
- Approximately 36-48 credits of coursework
- Grade point average of at least 3.0
Prerequisites High school diploma Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Online hospitality management bachelor's degree programs are available Online hospitality management master's degree programs are available

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2012 figures).

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Schools that offer bachelor's degree programs in fields of study similar to event planning, such as facility and event management or meeting and special event management, may offer students the choice of earning a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. In most cases, the required curriculum is the same for each degree option.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Prepares students for careers in a variety of hospitality-related specialties (business, entertainment, fund raising, sporting events, etc.)
  • Some schools have networking relationships with local businesses in the hospitality field
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected jobs for meeting, convention and event planners to increase by 44% from 2010-2020.*
  • Some employers will accept a bachelor's degree as a substitute for 1-2 years of work experience

Cons

  • On-campus programs that offer hands-on experience opportunities tend to be concentrated in areas of the U.S. with large tourism industries, such as Florida
  • Online programs from accredited schools may be difficult to find, since many programs require hands-on experience
  • Stronger-than-average job growth means jobs in this industry will be competitive

Source: *BLS, May 2012.

Courses and Requirements

In addition to core courses, a bachelor's degree program in fields similar to event planning might also require seminars, internships, practicums and a thesis or capstone project. Core and elective courses might include:

  • Banquet and catering operations
  • Event management
  • Facility management
  • Hospitality law
  • Leadership and supervision for the hospitality industry
  • Marketing
  • Professional speaking
  • Public relations

Online Degree Options

As of August 2013, online bachelor's degree programs with 'event planning' as the field of study from accredited colleges and universities were rare to nonexistent. However, accredited schools offered online bachelor's degree programs in the closely related field of hospitality management.

How to Stand Out

Some schools offer you the chance to join student organizations related to hospitality management. These organizations may offer travel opportunities that will allow you to gain additional hands-on experience and networking opportunities in your field.

Event Planning Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in a field of study closely related to event planning are often offered as hospitality management programs. These programs typically award a Master of Science degree, but you can also find Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with a hospitality management specialization. Programs may offer thesis and non-thesis options; the thesis option is recommended for anyone who intends to pursue a Ph.D. in this field, and the non-thesis option may require a research paper or capstone course.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The additional business skills you'll study in a master's degree program may be helpful if you plan to run your own business
  • The additional training and experience you gain in a master's program may be an advantage in a competitive job market
  • Part-time programs are available for those who want to study around a work schedule

Cons

  • Many management positions in the hospitality industry do not require an advanced degree
  • If your undergraduate degree isn't in a related field, you may need to take additional business courses as part of your degree program
  • Online programs are available, but relatively rare

Courses and Requirements

Requirements vary from program to program. They might include one or more internships, residencies and a capstone course. Courses might include:

  • Exhibition management
  • Financial management
  • Global hospitality and tourism issues
  • Healthy menu development
  • Hospitality information/technology management
  • Human resources management
  • Marketing management

Online Degree Options

Fully online master's degree programs are available in hospitality management. Just as with degree programs in this field of study at the bachelor's degree level, these programs are relatively hard to find, since an internship, seminar or other hands-on work experience is typically required as part of the program.

How to Stand Out

You can stand out in a master's degree program in hospitality management or a related field by taking part in independent study, if your program allows for it. This allows you to customize the program to your specific interests; for example, if your primary interest is in wedding planning, you could plan a course of study specific to the wedding industry.

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. 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
    4. Benedictine University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelors in Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Keiser University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    8. 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
    9. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. 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

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?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Hospitality Management
  • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
  • B.S. General Studies - Business

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Benedictine University

  • Bachelors in Management

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

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

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