Trained and talented event planners are in high demand throughout the hospitality industry. Events are a people-driven business, and directors of resorts, convention centers and other venues need quality candidates to build successful sales and marketing teams.
Students interested in campus-based or online event planning degree programs can use the list on this page to learn more about the top five event planning degree programs from U.S. colleges. Each program culminates in a bachelor's degree in event planning -- the most common level of postsecondary education employers in the meeting and events industry seek from potential job candidates. Graduates of these programs should have the skills and insight needed to succeed at event planning careers in a wide range of hospitality venues.
Read on to learn more about these top event planning degree programs, as well as financial aid, career outlooks, and common career paths.
Best Colleges for Event Planning Degree Programs
Students can use the following list to get more insight into the top colleges for event planning degrees. We used a unique methodology and data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics to rank colleges and universities throughout the United States. Read on for more information about the five best colleges for event planning degrees, or click on the button below to learn more about how this list was created.
The top university in our rankings is a public co-educational college headquartered in Ames, IA. Enrollment for the 2016-2017 academic year was a record 36,660 students.
Iowa State's bachelor's degree in event management requires 123 total semester units to complete. Students are required to complete between 21 and 24 credits in event management classes such as conference and meeting planning, special events coordination, global tourism management and similar areas of study. Professional business classes include study in financial accounting, marketing, management and hospitality law. Students in the program also must complete 27 elective units spanning a diverse range of topics, from brand management and promotions to wedding planning to publicity methods.
Iowa State University lands in the top spot in these rankings based on its cost of tuition -- $7,736, second best among these five colleges - and its high 71 percent graduation rate. The university also had the highest acceptance rate at 87 percent.
Located in metropolitan Orlando, UCF has a student population of more than 66,000 students. Tourism and hospitality are main drivers of Florida's economy, and the University of Central Florida has a college dedicated to providing new leaders in the industry.
The Rosen College of Hospitality Management offers a Bachelor of Science in event management that requires 120 credit hours to complete. Core coursework (28 total credits) includes study in the following areas:
- Event promotion, strategies, sales, management and technology
- Catering sales management
- Hospitality and risk management
- Food preparation for catered events
Elective courses (15 credits) includes topics ranging from meeting management to fairs and festivals to exploring the wines of the world. At least 30 of the last 39 credits completed in the degree path must be at UCF.
At $6,368, University of Central Florida had the lowest cost of tuition among colleges in these rankings. It also had a strong 70 percent graduation rate, and it was the leader for number of students enrolled in online classes.
The third institution in our rankings is a private Christian liberal arts college located at Point Lookout, Mo. Academic programs at College of the Ozarks are Christ-centered and taught from a biblical worldview.
Students interested in working as event planners can complete a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in hotel and restaurant management. Taught at the university's Keeter Center, an upscale boutique hotel featuring fine dining, lodging, special events and conferences, the hospitality management program at College of the Ozarks is completely immersive in hospitality functions.
Students at the college enjoy a low 14:1 student-faculty ratio, and the university also has a strong graduation rate of 73 percent, best among these five institutions. Ozarks has the stiffest admissions of all institutions, admitting just 12 percent of applicants in 2015.
Headquartered at Mount Pleasant, CMU has an annual enrollment of more than 20,000 students, with an additional 7,000 students enrolled in distance education programs.
The university offers a bachelor's degree in hospitality services management, as well as degree concentrations in recreation, parks and leisure service administration. The recreation and event management major concentration prepares students to work in either community or commercial recreation and culminates in a 30-week internship. Students at the university also have the option of pursuing a minor in recreation and events management.
Although CMU does not have an open admissions policy, the university admitted 69 percent of applicants in 2015. Average class size is 20:1, and Central Michigan University offers a wide range of student support services, including academic and career counseling and job placement services for graduates.
Rounding out our top five is Lasell College, which is located about eight miles west of downtown Boston. The college offers hospitality management, event management and resort and casino management major programs, as well as a minor in event management.
The event management major was developed in partnership with Wynn Boston Harbor, a five-star urban resort-casino set to open in 2019, to develop curriculum and a pipeline of students ready for management positions in the resort industry. Under the program's "connected learning" philosophy, students visit locations such as Fenway Park, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and Stowe Mountain Resort to connect with industry professionals and gain first-hand knowledge of the hospitality industry.
The event management minor requires 18 credits to complete and includes four core courses of study:
- Fundamentals of event management
- Meeting and convention sales
- Social events
- Sport facility and events
Electives span a diverse range of topics such as public relations, non-profit management, resort and casino management and food and beverage management. Lasell College had the lowest student to faculty ratio among our five best colleges for event management degrees at 13:1.
Event Planning Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Students who study event management and hospitality-related coursework in college are typically better prepared for management positions and the many responsibilities that come with careers in event planning. A bachelor's degree is the most common educational level for students who want to work as event planners. You can also work toward becoming a wedding planner with an event planner degree. Here's a look at some of the many skills learned and common career paths for graduates of event planning degree programs.
Career Outlook for Event Planners Majors
As long as there are hotels, resorts, convention centers and the like, there will be continued demand for trained event planners to organize professional meetings and conventions. Candidates with bachelor's degrees should have better opportunities to land jobs throughout the hospitality industry. Here are some employment projections for various careers within the hospitality industry.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Event Planners
There are a number of ways outside of federal financial aid that students can pay for an education in the hospitality industry. Students can pursue one of the many scholarship out there for hospitality careers, such as the Al Schuman Ecolab Entrepreneurial Scholarship, the Colorado Restaurant Foundation scholarships, or the Helen Brett Scholarship for students in undergraduate event and exhibition management degree programs.
Renewable for two additional years if recipient reapplies.
Renewable if recipient reapplies, maintains a minimum "B" grade average, and demonstrates financial need.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015