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CMP, CMM – Why not a Master’s in Meeting & Event Management? One MPINCC member shares her why…

By: MPI Northern California Chapter | Feb 25, 2021

With the world of events currently on pause, meeting and event professionals have taken the opportunity to sharpen their skills and invest in professional development. Certifications, such as the CMP and CMM, have always been a great way to advance in the industry, but what if you want more? San Diego State University recently launched a master’s program that focuses on Meetings & Event Management. The course offers the opportunity for event professionals to take their careers to a new level with a program that promotes leadership and inspires change. MPINCC member Deanna Roberts, MS, CMM, and Lori Pugh Marcum, MEM, CMP, CMM, CED, HMCC, with Meeting Professionals International, were both in the first master's cohort and described the program as “innovative and transformational.” “It makes you think differently, how you look at things in our industry, and how you can rearrange and reimagine what you currently have to adapt to the times. It makes your mind shift in the way that has you thinking outside the box,” says Deanna when speaking with MPINCC Communications Committee member, Deborah Kuns, CMP, about her experience.

Interestingly, the journey for the first cohort began in 2019, but their “why” holds true for many of us in the meeting industry today. For Deanna, she’d been in business for over 23 years and is what her friends would call a continuous seeker of knowledge, “The program seemed like it would be a great fit for me, as a business owner. The curriculum focused on business strategies and tools as it applies to meetings and events. It was the first cohort and I was excited.” For Lori, she was looking for advancement, “figuring out how to move up from manager, up to a director, and one day to the C-Suite, [I] found that the common thread … was either an MBA or a higher level of degree. I thought to myself, there was no way I was going to do an MBA, not for me!, so I decided to look into this Master’s program. I knew if I was going to commit the time to a master’s program, it needed to be something I was passionate about.”

Deanna and Lori both agree that the best part of the program was learning from the high-level industry executives and leaders who offered perspective and insight through presentations and lectures, as well as one-on-one mentoring with students. “One of the main highlights was the access to top-tier mentors and instructors. Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, CDME, CMP (Managing Director of 2Synergize, LLC), instructed a Data-Driven Decision Making class, and Vince LaRuffa, SVP (Resort Marketing at Universal Orlando), led our Marketing class.” Jeff Campbell, former CEO of Burger King, and former executive of Pepsi was our Program Director. They are actual event professionals, not professors who don’t know what it’s like to work in the industry,” says Lori.”

Though both graduates highly recommend and encourage professionals to take advantage of the program, they acknowledge that it takes time, dedication, and resources. In contrast to other industry certifications and designations, the master's program is 18 months and requires time spent each week to complete assignments, projects, and stay focused and on track. The program closes with finals and a capstone project that encapsulates everything learned over the year and a half. While the majority of classes are conducted virtually/remote, two weeks are spent on campus at the beginning and end of the program, providing an opportunity to connect with fellow cohorts and instructors in person. Like any master’s program, the GRE is a requirement (though currently waived for 2021 due to COVID-19) and tuition looks like it would for any higher education program, however, this shouldn’t discourage anyone! Scholarships are available through SDSU and MPI, and the administrators are available to assist you along the way.

Both graduates agree it is a competitive world and if you are looking to elevate yourself within an industry, this is an excellent program to consider. In addition, with this graduate-level program degree, you are positioned as a leader in an industry that is ever-changing and evolving. How exciting that one of the first ever recipients of the Masters of Science in Meeting & Event Management is a member of our chapter. Congratulations, Deanna!

For more information on the program, please visit Master’s in Meeting and Event Management Degree Online | SDSU Global Campus Event Planning Degree. Applications are now open for Fall 2021, October 1 – June 1. The cohort begins on August 2, 2021.

If you have any questions for recent graduates, Deanna Roberts, CMM, MS, or Lori Pugh Marcum, MEM, CMP, CMM, CED, HMCC, you are welcome to reach out to them directly.  

Deanna's graduation single photo

Deanna Roberts, MS, CMM, MPINCC member and founder of D. R. Roberts Event Management, a full-service global event planning, and marketing agency based in Oakland, California.


Lori Pugh Marcum, MEM, CMP, CMM, CED, HMCC, and Head of Meeting Innovation at Meeting Professionals International.





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