History of the Project Management Program


at the University of Maryland



By John Cable, Director

Project Management Center for Excellence
A. James Clark School of Engineering
University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland, USA


The Project Management Program has led the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, as well as the Clark School, with online an at-scale education and pedagogy. Starting in 1999, the program began as a re-imagining of the Construction Management program that had suddenly lost its key fulltime faculty. The PM Program that replaced it has achieved incredible results leading education both at UMD and around the world.

The following graphic illustrates major milestones of program development. It highlights key developments including a new PM Minor, UMD’s landmark accreditation as the first engineering school with a PMI GAC-Accredited Master’s Degree, and the creation of a robust portfolio of academic degrees and professional development offerings:

This brief summary clearly demonstrates that we have built and are continuing to build a program that is broad and comprehensive and exceeds all initial expectations. We are on the leading edge of providing programs that meet both academic and professional (just-in-time learning) needs based on the latest knowledge and best practices.

Initial funding and payback. 

The Program was seeded by the Department with funding for the salary of a Director, Mr. John Cable.  Mr. Cable, then a mid-career part-time graduate student taking Laufer’s courses, was recruited in 1999 to build this replacement program.  Given severe budgetary constraints at the time and limits on faculty hiring, it was recognized this new program would have to be self-supporting. It could not rely on financial support from the department and could not rely on large numbers of new TTK faculty hires.

Professor Baecher was Department Chair in 1998 when the Program was conceived. He states,

“The Program was established to re-create an important educational function in CEE which had been suspended with the departure of all three faculty of the earlier Construction Program.

Given budgetary limitations, the concept was to re-create an educational program in the broader area of engineering management at minimal cost to the Department, and which would not require many new TTK faculty. The Program was created with this educational purpose and was not expected to generate profit.”

However, following the developmental phase of the program from 1999 to 2003 the PM program has supported itself and provided needed funds to support the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The department would support Mr. Cable’s salary initially with the understanding that the investment would be paid back to the department once the program became self-supporting. As things turned out, the program became self-supporting quickly. Within 24 months the seed funding had been repaid to the Department, and within 48 months all costs of the startup (i.e., ongoing payments to adjunct faculty) had been paid back to the Department. Since that time, ca. 2003, no Department funds have been used to support any costs of the PM Program, except in the 2021 pandemic reduced income year, and in total the Program has transferred some $4 to 5 million of discretionary funds to the Department.  None of those funds came back to the PM Program but were used for other Department expenses.

1999 Creation of the Master’s Program

John Cable was hired in August 1999 with the assignment to create a master’s degree in Project Management that was to be housed in the CE&E Department but was intended for the Clark School of Engineering.

The initial 10-course curriculum was developed in the fall of 1999 with the input of industry and faculty and advice of a five-member faculty group from the department. The initial concept was presented to the dean, Herb Rabin, and department chairs and received their complete approval. The university approved the program in January of 2000 and the first course was launched in summer of 2000.


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How to cite this paper: Cable, J. (2021). History of the Project Management Program at the University of Maryland; PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue III, March. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/pmwj115-Mar2022-Cable-history-of-UMD-PM-program.pdf

 About the Author

John Cable

Director, Project Management Center for Excellence
University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA


 John Cable is Director of the Project Management Center for Excellence in the A.James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, where he has been a professor and teacher of several graduate courses in project management. His program at the University of Maryland offers masters and PhD level programs focused on project management. With more than 1,300 seats filled annually with students from many countries, including more than 40 PhD students, the program is the largest graduate program in project management at a major university in the United States.

John Cable served in the newly formed U.S. Department of Energy in 1980, where he was involved with developing energy standards for buildings, methods for measuring energy consumption, and managing primary research in energy conservation.  As an architect and builder, Mr. Cable founded and led John Cable Associates in 1984, a design build firm. In 1999 he was recruited by the University of Maryland’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering to create and manage a graduate program in project management. In his role as founder and director of the Project Management Center for Excellence at Maryland, the program has grown to offer two undergraduate minors, 3 master’s degrees, and a doctoral program. Information about the Project Management Center for Project Management at the University of Maryland can be found at www.pm.umd.edu

In 2002, PMI formed the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Educational Programs (GAC).  Mr. Cable was appointed to that inaugural board where he served as vice chair.  In 2006, he was elected as chairman, a role he held through 2012.  As Chair of the PMI GAC, John led the accreditation of 86 project management educational programs at 40 institutions in 15 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia Pacific Region. John was awarded PMI’s 2012 Distinguished Contribution Award for his leadership at the GAC.  He can be contacted at jcable@umd.edu.

To view other works by John Cable, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/john-cable/