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Massage Today
January, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 01

Online Certificate Program for Spa and Hospitality Management

UC Irvine seeks to meet demands for those trained in spa business and management.

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

While initially facing skepticism about how effective and thorough its content would be, online certificate and degree programs have developed quite a following in recent years, especially when the programs are introduced by reputable educational institutions.

The University of California at Irvine has developed an online certificate program for the booming spa industry by introducing a uniquely designed online program for busy professionals seeking real-world training in the spa and hospitality management industry. UC Irvine previously offered the program through the UC Irvine Extension, but is now offering the certificate program in a completely online platform. The program is endorsed by Spa Finder and Spa Trade and boasts an impressive advisory committee.

"The exponential growth of the industry has prompted the need for spa professionals to enhance their skills specifically related to the business and management issues unique to spas," said Angela Jeantet, MBA, associate director of the Business and Management Department at UC Irvine Extension. "UC Irvine Extension's program is the first university-quality curriculum designed to establish a formal body of knowledge to better prepare national and international professionals in the business of spa."

The program focuses on the business models and positioning needed for various spa categories. Students in the program will take classes covering: business planning/operations; marketing/retailing; human resources; finance; customer relations; and legal issues.

Woman receiving a head massage. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Students have five years to complete the program, and even those not pursuing the certificate program are welcome to take as many individual courses as they wish. The certificate is awarded when students complete five required courses and two elective courses (a total of 15 units) with a grade of "C" or better. Required courses and the order in which they should be taken include:

  • Introduction to the Spa Industry, Services and Treatments;
  • Introduction to Spa and Hospitality Operations;
  • Spa Industry Finance;
  • Spa Marketing and Branding; and
  • Human Resources and Leadership for the Spa Manager.

Elective courses include:

  • Spa Retail Management;
  • Fundamentals of Spa Design;
  • Customer Engagement Management in the Spa Industry;
  • Ayurveda: The Art of Living; and
  • Integrative Wellness Within a Spa Environment.

Classes range in price from $625 to $660 per course, and discounts are available for groups of three or more from the same company. There are approximately 200 students enrolled in the program annually. "To facilitate maximum learning and interaction among our students and with the instructor, our class size is kept to a minimum of 30 [students]. Our classes are offered on-ground, as well as completely online - and all are instructor led," said Jeantet. "We do have the capacity to offer additional sections as needed to accommodate student demand."

The Advisory Committee is a distinguished list of industry and business experts, many of whom teach some of the courses offered in this program. Committee members include Peter Anderson, CEO of Anderson & Associates; Angela Cortright, principal, Spa Gregories; Jim Croghan, director of spa and recreation, The Island Hotel Newport Beach; Nina Curtis, president, Curtis Communications; Susie Ellis, president, Spa Finder; Ann Emich-Patton, senior spa consultant, Blue Spas, Inc.; Robin Eckert, MD, College of Medicine UCI; John Gray, CEO, Glen Ivy Hot Springs; Nancy Griffin, CEO,; Janice Gronvold, principal, Spectrec, Spa Business and Marketing Development; Mia Kyricos, director of spa development and operations, Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Erika Mangrum, president, IATRIA Spa; Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD, Senior Fellow Health Studies Collegium; Julie Raistrick, spa director, Montage Resort and Spa; Valory Reed, spa director, St. Regis Resort; and Maureen Vipperman, spa director, The Spa at Pacific Palms Resort.

Dr. Micozzi is a particularly distinguished addition to the advisory board. In 2002, he became the founding director of the Policy Institute for Integrative Medicine in Bethesda, Md. His goal with the Institute was to educate policymakers, the health professions and the general public about the needs and opportunities for integrative medicine. He also served as executive director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He also is an adjunct professor in the department of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and in the department of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University and a faculty member for the new CAM curricula at Drexel University in Philadephia.

"UC Irvine Extension's Spa and Hospitality Management Certificate Program offers a high-quality and valuable educational experience for those spa professionals seeking to enhance their business and management skills," Micozzi said. "I look forward to working with UC Irvine Extension to develop and hone curriculum that further equips spa professionals."

"The Spa Program has cemented our reputation as the educational resource for the spa and hospitality industry. It is very important to us that we continue to build on this success with our current collaborators such as Spa Finder and Spa Trade, as well as establish new and stronger industry and academic connections," said Jeantet. "One such new initiative is a possible collaboration with Arizona State University Polytechnic on a new undergraduate program with a concentration in spa management. We are very excited about this potential opportunity to create additional learning pathways that will benefit our students, our graduates and the industry as a whole."

For those interested in UCI's Spa and Hospitality Management Certificate, a demonstration is available online at or contact Angela Jeantet at (949) 824-2033.


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