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The Payne School

Since 2001, the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management has gained significant recognition for producing outstanding graduates who serve the industry’s needs locally, nationally and abroad.

The genesis of SDSU’s Payne School, a public/private partnership, began in 1999 when our university began working with 40 prominent industry professionals to create a groundbreaking, industry-based bachelor’s degree program. After two years of planning, workshops, and focus groups with industry leaders, a unique and rigorous curriculum emerged for this new HTM Undergraduate Program.

In 2010 our industry advisors called for a graduate program to hone the leadership and business skills of their seasoned talent and up-and-coming leaders. The HTM Master’s Program was created with one goal in mind: to produce innovative and highly effective leaders for the hospitality and tourism industry. Our program defies the principles of traditional academia by creating a personalized educational experience for each student.

Since its beginning, the Payne School has partnered with industry to create transformational Centers of Excellence to support both students and industry. These include:

  • The Center for Surf Research is THE international hub for research on sustainable surf tourism and issues of sustainability affecting the industry and broader community.
  • The Institute for Meetings and Events is the first higher education institute of its kind, with a primary focus on education and research dedicated to the application of professional principles in meetings and events, shaping the future of the industry. The IME combines classroom learning with community application of successful practices and the execution of meetings and events. Through exciting partnerships with industry professionals, experiential learning opportunities and professional educators specializing in the field, San Diego State University equips students with the knowledge and experience to be experts in the field.
  • In July of 2005, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation donated $5.5 million to the HTM program to establish and endow the country’s first Tribal Gaming Research Institute exclusively focused on tribal gaming. The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming produces cutting-edge research to support public policy initiatives and offers an online tribal casino operations management certificate and a 4-year degree program.
  • Through a generous gift from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation in January of 2009, the Payne School created the Student Center for Professional Development (SCPD). The Foundation provides funding to facilitate undergraduate hospitality students and alumni access to a wide range of professional development services. The Center also exposes HTM students to experiential learning, which will, in turn, enhance their effectiveness when they enter the workforce.
  • China Hospitality Education Initiative: The Marriott China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI) is a charitable effort funded by The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. The initiative’s purpose is to enhance hospitality education, leading to rewarding careers for the next generation of China’s hospitality leaders. Developed in partnership with San Diego State University, this multi-faceted program enables Chinese educators and students to gain knowledge and real-world experiences in hotel operations.
  • Center for Executive Education: Providing hospitality professionals with executive level education. Taught by faculty and staff from the L. Robert Payne School of HTM and taught on San Diego State University’s campus. Partnering associations include The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), and Meeting Professionals International (MPI).