by Andrea Doyle | March 13, 2018
The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) has collaborated with the University of South Carolina's (USC) College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management to help the school develop and launch its Certificate Program in Meetings, Events, and Incentive Travel (MEI). 

Designed with working professionals and industry employers in mind, this certificate program provides continuing education in the areas of meeting, events, and incentive travel, marketing and communication, financial management and current issues impacting these industries. The MEI program is entirely online and lasts six months, including a two-month period of supervised real-life application of the course's content. 

Incentive spoke with Allan Schweyer, the IRF's chief academic advisor, about the program. 

Can you tell us about the new certificate program?

More than a year in the planning, the University of South Carolina's Certificate Program in Meetings, Events, and Incentive (MEI) Travel will launch with its first group of students on April 2, 2018. IRF trustees and others, led by Rodger Stotz, chief research officer of the IRF, contributed many hours to the encouragement and development of the program. We're proud to have worked with USC in bringing it to life. The MEI program is entirely online, part-time, and lasts six months. Learners can work on it anytime of the day they wish.

What are some highlights of the program?

The mix of guided and self-directed learning; the graduation event with speakers and panels at the end of the program; and the practicum, which involves working as a meetings/incentives professional for two months or, for those who are already employed in the field, to work on an approved project for the same duration. This gives the program a solid footing in theory, best practice and practical application. 

Why now?

In 2015, the IRF started an initiative to make stronger connections with academics and university/college programs focused on rewards. One of the goals was to support and encourage the development of university-based certificate and degree programs in various aspects of meeting planning and events. This is the first of what we hope will be many such programs.

How did the partnership with the USC start?

In 2016, Stotz began discussing the possibility of a program with Professor Miyoung Jeong and several of her colleagues at USC. USC has been a research partner with the IRF for several years.

Why should meeting and incentive professionals consider getting this certification?

This is the first certification of its kind that we know of. The program leaders and instructors at USC are respected in this field for their teaching and published research. Participants will gain a solid foundation of knowledge in meetings, event planning, and incentive travel, which should enhance their career prospects significantly due to the fast growth in these fields. It is important to note that participants don't have to be established as meeting or incentive professionals to qualify for the program. Anyone with an associate's degree and interest in the field is eligible.

For more information on the program, visit the USC site here.