Online Event Planning Degree Programs
Many events can, and are meant to be fun. But other gatherings may not be focused on fun and games — they may be more serious or practical in nature. In both cases, making sure an event is carried off without any glitches can involve a lot of hard work and expertise. This is where event planners step in with their combination of customer service, marketing, and interpersonal skills. Event planning degree programs can help prepare aspiring event planners for careers in this creative and competitive space.
In today’s technology-rich world, much of the event planning process can take place online. That can make event planning degree a natural (and even complementary) option for students interested in this exciting, growing field. Students typically have the ability to complete coursework whenever it is convenient for them, so working adults and students with families can benefit from the flexibility of an online degree program.
What Does an Event Planner Do?
Event planner duties include:
- Meeting clients to understand and plan the purpose, scope and nature of an event
- Plan events including costs, location and logistics
- Negotiate contracts with clients, venues and other contractors
- Arrange transport and lodging for guests, as necessary
- Arrange for audiovisual equipment, notebooks and the like, as required
- Arrange the menus, catering and decorations for the event
- Monitor the event to ensure the clients and attendees are satisfied
- Take care of the invoicing and payments for the event
As part of the greater hospitality industry, event planners plan and manage a whole range of events including conferences, trade shows, weddings, exhibitions, concerts, product launches, conventions, and seminars to name a few. They present clients with a plan that includes the venue, the menu, the décor, and the schedule based on their needs. They then coordinate the whole event using various contractors. A good event planner does all they can to ensure that all their client has to do is show up!
With technology advancing, event planners must be able to make effective use of digital platforms to prepare and plan for events including the use of social media to garner publicity.
How to Become an Event Planner?
Here are a few steps on how to enter the world of event planning:
- Obtain relevant educational degrees in event planning, hospitality or a related field
- Gain experience through internships
- Start building your portfolio
- Grow your network with vendors and contractors and join a professional organization
- Obtain professional certifications and licensures as necessary
- Work on your social media
What Can I Do With an Event Planning Degree?
Entry-level positions in event planning may only require a high school diploma or certificate along with relevant experience. However, as events become bigger and more complex, many employers look for candidates who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Management positions may require a graduate-level degree. Specializations may also help you pursue a career in the event planning field that interests you. The table below lists different degrees in event planning and associated wages.
Projected Job Growth
|Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners||117,610||$54,880||7.2%|
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
Online Event Planning Certification
What can I expect to learn in event planning certification?
Entry-level positions in event planning may only require a high school diploma or certificate along with relevant experience.
Typical duration: Less than or up to two years, depending on the program
General Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Typical coursework: Depending on the program you choose, obtaining your event planning certification online can help ensure you receive a proper introduction to the hospitality industry along with training that specifically focuses on event planning. Core curricula can include:
- Fundamentals of event management
- Introduction to small business management
- Event marketing
- Event risk management
- Event coordination
- Site and venue selection
Additionally, individuals may be required to acquire work experience in event management and complete a project in order to graduate.
Possible electives: Event entertainment, event décor, event protocol
What can I do after earning a certificate?
A certificate in event management may enable you to switch careers to the event management field or make you eligible for entry-level roles, if you are a fresh graduate. Some potential careers are:
- Meeting, convention, or event planner
- Food service manager
- Lodging manager
Online Associate Degree Programs in Event Planning
What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?
Associate degree programs may serve as an extension of certificate programs. While business and event planning are taught in more detail, associate degree programs may also include foundation courses like English and mathematics.
Typical duration: Two years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Typical coursework: Associate degree courses typically consist of the core topics in certificate courses and more. They may also offer the opportunity to specialize in the management and planning of a particular type of event or meeting. Some of the topics you may see in the curriculum of an associate degree course are:
- Tourism and hospitality management research
- Mechanics of event planning
- Introduction to convention/meeting management
- Introduction to exposition and trade show management
- Travel management
- Principles of sales presentations
- Principles of accounting
In addition, you may be expected to complete an internship or gain a certain amount of work experience as a part of the program.
Possible electives: Special events design, international convention meeting management, convention destination management, event fundraising and sponsorship
What can I do after earning an associate degree?
An online associate degree in event planning can act as a stepping stone to completing an undergraduate degree. You may be able to transfer your credits from your associate program to a bachelor’s degree program. An associate degree program in event planning can also prepare you for entry-level roles in larger event management firms. Some potential careers are:
- Meeting, convention, or event planner
- Food service manager
- Lodging manager
- Catering manager
- Wedding planner
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Event Planning
What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?
In addition to planning and managing actual events, event planners need to understand a wide variety of business and marketing concepts. A bachelor’s degree program builds on core subjects giving a more in-depth view of the hospitality industry along with the skills needed for leadership roles in the industry.You may also be able to choose a specialization as a part of your program.
Typical duration: Four years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED, associate degree
Typical coursework: Some core courses you may see included in your program are:
- Sporting events management
- Approaches to philanthropy
- Special event coordination
- Wedding planning and management
- Attractions and parks administration
- Club management
- Event contracts
Possible electives: Depending on your program you may be able to choose a specialization. Some examples of which are:
- Association planning
- Convention service management
- Corporate planning
- Government meeting management
- Healthcare meeting management
- Nonprofit event planning
Completing an event management degree program online may still require you to complete an internship at an approved firm.
What can I do after earning a bachelor’s degree?
A bachelor’s degree is often considered to be the minimum requirement for employment in larger event management firms. A bachelor’s degree may also prepare you to start your own event management company. Some potential careers are:
- Campaign coordinator
- Sporting event coordinator
- Food service manager
- Wedding planner
Online Master’s Degree Programs in Event Planning
Many master’s degree programs do not focus on event management alone but may combine subjects like business, hospitality management or tourism with a special focus on event planning or convention management. These advanced degree programs may open up careers in higher management roles or allow you to enter into a teaching field.
Graduating from an accredited event planning degree program generally demonstrates to future employers that you have received an education that meets certain quality standards. Another advantage of enrolling in an accredited program is being able to transfer your credits from one program to another should you choose to advance your education.
Look for colleges that have regional or national accreditation. A few professional bodies that provide accreditation for event management degree programs online are:
- The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA)
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Certifications and Licensure for Event Planning
Although certifications are not necessarily required to practice as an event coordinator, becoming certified can show commitment to the profession, competency in your field and may help advance your career in an area of specialization. A few certifications you might want to consider earning in the field of event planning are:
- Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
- Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)
- Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)
- Certified Master Wedding Planner
Whereas certifications may be voluntary, licensing requirements are usually mandatory if you plan to work independently through your own business. Depending on the state you live in, event planners may need to hold small business licenses or meet other requirements mandated by the state such as various permits that may be required for holding an event.
Meeting, Convention and Event Planners
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
Scholarships and Financial Aid Programs
- Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Scholarships
- The Timothy S Y Lam Foundation Scholarship
- IFEA Foundation Legacy Scholarships
- Helen Brett Scholarship
Professional Organizations and Resources for Event Planners
- Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)
- Event Planners Association
- Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP)
- International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA)
- International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)
- Events Industry Council
- Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA),http://www.acpha-cahm.org/accreditation/ , accessed June 2018
- American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP), AACWP Training,https://aacwp.org/certification/, accessed June 2018
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fundraisers,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/fundraisers.htm, accessed June 2018
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm, accessed June 2018
- Carlson Wagonlit Travel, 2018 Meetings & Events Future Trends Report, 2017,https://www.cwt-meetings-events.com/content/dam/cwt/countries/de/pdf/2018-ME-Future-Trends-Report.pdf, accessed June 2018
- Dallas County Community College District, Richland College, Hospitality, Exhibition and Event Management – Hospitality, Exhibition and Event Management AAS,https://www1.dcccd.edu/catalog/programs/degree.cfm?degree=hospitality_exhibit_aas&loc=RLC, accessed June 2018
- Events Industry Council, Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Continuing Education Program,https://myaccount.eventscouncil.org/Education/History/Classes.aspx?selmenid=men2, accessed June 2018
- Events Industry Council, Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), https://www.eventscouncil.org/CMP/About-CMP, accessed June 2018
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- Florida Atlantic University, College of Business, Certificate in Meeting and Event Management,https://business.fau.edu/executive-education/open-enrollment/course-offerings/hospitality/course2449/, accessed June 2018
- George Washington University School of Business, Professional Certificates, Event Management,https://business.gwu.edu/academics/programs/executive-education/professional-certificates/event-management, accessed June 2018
- International Live Events Association (ILEA),http://www.ileahub.com/ilea-landing, accessed June 2018
- Lynn University, Event Management, Bachelor of Science, https://www.lynn.edu/academics/colleges-schools/event-management, accessed June 2018
- Stratford University, Event Management,https://www.stratford.edu/event-management, accessed June 2018
- Sullivan University, Event Management and Tourism,https://sullivan.edu/national-center-for-hospitality-studies/associate-of-science-in-event-management-and-tourism/, accessed June 2018
- Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy Report, Events Industry Council, February 2018, http://www.eventscouncil.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/oe-eic-meetings-significance mdash; -2018-february.pdf?sfvrsn=0
- Meeting, Convention and, Event Planners, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Last modified: April 2018,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm
- 2018 Meetings and Events Future Trends, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, September 2017, https://www.cwt-meetings-events.com/content/dam/cwt/countries/de/pdf/2018-ME-Future-Trends-Report.pdf