Education and project management skills development training at the University of Pretoria has a long history; the discipline was already well established in the Department of Civil Engineering in the 1980s. Project management is a multi-disciplinary field of study and, as a credible, large multi-disciplinary university, it was recognized that the University of Pretoria is ideally suited to lead in this field..

While short courses had been offered before, a more comprehensive (16 to 20 days on campus) continuing education program, the PPM, was launched in 1997 and was later supplemented by a more advanced programme with similar duration for people who completed the PPM successfully. In January 1999 the MPM (Masters in Project Management) programme was launched. This programme obtained the accreditation of the Global Accreditation Center of the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 2008 and it is currently still the only programme on the African Continent with this status. While the MPM is specifically aimed at graduate engineers and scientists, the PPM benefits from the MPM as the PPM is to a large extent taught by the same lecturers.

While the MPM is specifically aimed at engineers, skills development via continuing education (that is presented in collaboration with Continuing Education at UP) teaches generic project management skills that are also applicable in a variety of settings outside the engineering field.  In fact, the majority of people developing their project management skills by means of the PPM are not engineers.