San Diego State University photo by Paul Lang

Starting in August 2019, a new graduate-level program offering a degree in meetings and event management will be added to the courses at San Diego State University. A low-residency program meant for working professionals, it will be the first meetings management master’s degree program offered in North America.

Born from a partnership between Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, the program consists of an 18-month curriculum. From certified meeting managers to people working in convention services or audiovisual and production, the master’s program looks to elevate industry professionals to fully equipped event strategists.

It also intends to provide students with the flexibility and continued career growth that entering graduate school often rules out. Students will attend two on-campus weeks in San Diego, one at the beginning of the program and one at the end. These weeks will provide an opportunity to network and connect with faculty members and other members of the master’s cohort. The remainder of the program, in between, is available entirely through online classes.

“Work on your own schedule, connect with industry leaders and shape the future of meeting and event planning—all while earning your master’s degree,” the program’s description reads.

The curriculum will cover a wide range of topics affecting the meetings and events space, including the following.

  • Strategic leadership
  • Stakeholder management
  • Finance fundamentals
  • Business analytics
  • Applied design thinking
  • Demonstrating ROE (return on experience)
  • Leading change and innovation
  • Modern marketing strategies

Other than a tentative August 2019 start window, SDSU has yet to announce a firm start date for the program, but the university is already inviting perspective students to reach out for more information. The application window for fall 2019 courses in SDSU’s other master’s programs begins Nov. 1.

This new program coincides with a continued push from MPI to support further education and development in the meetings industry with private efforts, such as MPI Academy, which offers certification in fields ranging from health-care compliance to emergency preparedness. “With the meetings and events industry evolving at a rapid pace, there has never been a more exciting time to advance not just your career, but your profession as a whole,” MPI says in the program description on its website.