What is an Entrepreneurship Degree?

The word entrepreneur has its origin in Old French entreprendre, meaning ‘to undertake.’ In modern French, entrepreneur is often translated as ‘adventurer’ or ‘contractor.’ The English dictionary defines it as one who ‘organizes, operates, and assumes the risk in a business venture in expectation of gaining profit.’ It follows, therefore, that degree programs in entrepreneurship teach the foundational skills needed to launch a business.

The typical curriculum prepares students for a broad array of career opportunities. Learning outcomes include:

  • an understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation
  • the tools and techniques to lead teams and organizations
  • how to identify market and technological opportunities
  • how to grow and secure finance
  • how to compete in dynamic environments
  • effectual reasoning
  • identifying goals

Program Options

Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurship – Four Year Duration
While there are stories of vastly successful, self-made business leaders that never graduated from college, research shows that over 95% of entrepreneurs in high-growth industries have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some aspiring entrepreneurs may choose to earn a degree in a business or social science field (See the section below, Degrees Similar to an Entrepreneurship Degree) or in a field linked to the very specific industry in which they wish to work. Increasingly, though, students are choosing to major in entrepreneurship, as these distinct degree programs become more common.

Here are a few sample courses from a bachelor’s level entrepreneurship curriculum:

  • The Entrepreneurial Mindset – typical traits of entrepreneurs; ideas, innovation, and strategy
  • Entrepreneurship / Start-ups – commercializing a product or service by forming a start-up venture
  • Social Innovation Entrepreneurship – implementing original ideas with the goal of serving the social, common good through a for-profit or a not-for-profit venture
  • Corporate Innovation – cultivating and launching innovative ideas within the structure of an existing corporation or organization
  • Entrepreneurial Finance – financing and creating financially profitable businesses, fundraising, attracting investors
  • Entrepreneurial Consulting – operating in the entrepreneurial sector as an independent consultant to various businesses

Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship – Two Year Duration
At the master’s level, the entrepreneurship curriculum is often divided into modules, from which students choose a concentration on which to base their thesis. While the exact structure of these programs varies among schools, overall content is similar.

Here is a snapshot of modules that may be offered in a master’s degree program in entrepreneurship:

  • Business Strategy for Entrepreneurs
  • International Competitiveness, Business Strategy, and Innovation
  • Research Methods
  • Venture Financing
  • Venture Growth
  • Business Model Innovation and Intellectual Property
  • Digital Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship in the Social and Sustainable Enterprise
  • High-tech / technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization
  • Fintech (Financial Services and Technology) Entrepreneurship
  • Healthcare Entrepreneurship
  • Retail and Consumer Entrepreneurship

Within these modules, students may take courses like:

  • New Business Development
  • Global Economy
  • Managing Entrepreneurial Organizations and Operations
  • Topics in Business Law
  • Financial Strategy and Management
  • Marketing Management

Doctoral Degree in Entrepreneurship – Three to Five Year Duration
Most entrepreneurship programs at this level are structured around research areas determined by each school. Accordingly, doctoral candidates are encouraged to submit their original research for presentation at related conferences, as they prepare to defend their Ph.D. dissertation.

The following are some examples of possible research areas:

  • enterprise policy, education, and economic development
  • growing innovative enterprises
  • global and international entrepreneurship
  • entrepreneurial management and leadership
  • enterprise and diversity
  • social enterprise, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy
  • family business and enterprising households
  • entrepreneurial networking, social capital, and society

Degrees Similar to Entrepreneurship

Business Administration
Business administration includes overseeing finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. A business administration degree program, therefore, teaches students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.

In very simple terms, the finance field is about helping businesses, organizations, and individuals make money. Degree programs in finance, therefore, teach students about investing, financial and estate planning, risk management, interest rates, insurance, and taxes. Their objective is to produce graduates who are ready to help both commercial and retail clients reach their short- and long- term financial goals.

Information Technology (IT)
Information technology (IT) degree programs train students in computing technologies and how to use them to store, secure, manage, retrieve, and send information. IT includes physical equipment or hardware and operating systems and applications, known as software. In general, individuals who enrol in an IT curriculum aim to lead or be part of a technical team responsible for a company’s information technology infrastructure and assets.

This degree field is focused on activities undertaken by businesses to promote the buying or selling of products and services. Students study advertising and promotion, marketing communications, international marketing, marketing management, sales and sales management, consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy.

The scientific study of the mind and behavior is the focus of psychology degree programs. In simple terms, psychology students study the way that humans and animals act, feel, think, and learn.

Public Administration
Public administration is the implementation of policy at various levels of government to support areas like economic growth, social and community development, environmental protection, and the building of public infrastructure.

Skills You’ll Learn

Entrepreneurship is about meeting the needs of our ever changing world. This means that newly graduated and working entrepreneurs are all, to a certain degree:

  • independent and comfortable with times of isolation
  • visionaries
  • self-starters
  • disciplined
  • both confident and insecure
  • creative and resourceful
  • open-minded
  • willing to take risks
  • skilled at building relationships
  • OK with not being liked
  • planners
  • smart budgeters
  • promoters of their ideas
  • lifelong learners
  • delegators
  • willing to do the little things to achieve the big things
  • time managers
  • communicators who speak their mind
  • dreamers, but not daydreamers
  • passionate about problems and obsess over solutions
  • persevering
  • adventurous
  • competitive
  • flexible
  • voracious readers
  • patient and don’t mind being uncomfortable
  • able to work from anywhere
  • deep conversationalists and debaters
  • always seeking out feedback, advisors, and people that are smarter than they are
  • researchers
  • always looking for opportunities and embrace change

What Can You Do with an Entrepreneurship Degree?

Entrepreneurship is not industry-specific. The entrepreneurs of the world start every kind of business and venture and work in every kind of business and venture:

  • Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Banking and Finance
  • Charity, Not-for-Profit, and NGOs
  • Chemical
  • Computer
  • Construction
  • Culture, Music, and the Performing Arts
  • Education
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Entertainment
  • Environment, Agriculture, and Conservation
  • Food
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Information
  • Management Consulting and Business
  • Manufacturing and Production
  • Media / Mass Media
  • Mining
  • Public Sector and Defense
  • Recruitment and Human Resources
  • Retails and Sales
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Water

Some of the titles they may hold in these sectors include those listed below. In some cases, additional education may be required.

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