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Grad Program: Entrepreneurship

Basic Information

Do you need a graduate degree to start your own business? Well, no. Some entrepreneurs (Bill Gates comes to mind) have done just fine without an advanced degree.

For the rest of us, however, a graduate degree in entrepreneurship can be a worthwhile investment. Over three-fifths of new businesses fail within eighteen months. Successful entrepreneurs need more than a good idea—they need real business savvy. Graduate programs in entrepreneurship offer you the chance to develop business skills you lack, network with potential collaborators and funders, and try out new ideas with fewer risks than you’ll encounter in the real world.

Classes within the entrepreneurship concentration will take you through the process of launching a new product or service. You will learn to identify opportunities, develop a business plan, find partners, raise capital, launch your product or service, and manage growth. Many programs will prepare you for entrepreneurship within specific fields like technology, media, emerging markets, healthcare, and social causes.

Schools with strong entrepreneurship programs offer many opportunities outside the classroom, including internships with start-up companies, networking events with venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs, and business plan competitions with seed money available to the winners.

A concentration in entrepreneurship can lead to any number of careers. You might start a successful small (or large) business, or put that entrepreneurial mindset to work for an existing corporation or non-profit organization. Whatever you do, you’ll be valued for your creative thinking skills and ability to take calculated risks.

Degree Information

Most students interested in entrepreneurship chose to pursue an MBA. These programs are generally two years long. In addition to classes within the entrepreneurship concentration, you’ll study all aspects of business, from finance to management. Many of these general business classes are directly applicable to entrepreneurial work. Some schools also offer a one-year Master of Science degree in entrepreneurship. An MS program is likely to offer fewer classes in general business principles. Both MS and MBA programs will give you the quantitative and qualitative skills to be a successful entrepreneur.

If you’re interested in researching or teaching entrepreneurship as a career, consider a PhD. Doctoral programs in entrepreneurship do exist, although there are relatively few. You may need to earn a PhD in economics or a related subject, with a focus on entrepreneurship. Classes within these doctoral programs focus on everything from new venture capital and corporate entrepreneurship, to how individual entrepreneurs make business decisions. They are likely to include theories and methodologies from other disciplines, like sociology and psychology.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Could I launch my business idea without a graduate degree?
  • Are faculty members successful entrepreneurs? In which fields?
  • Is the curriculum designed for future entrepreneurs, or for those who already have experience starting their own business ventures?
  • What opportunities does the school offer to network with other entrepreneurs and potential funders?
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