According to the Kauffman Foundation, two-thirds of colleges and universities in the US now offer a course in entrepreneurship. Despite the growth in popularity, entrepreneurship as a field is still considered “mostly on the fringes of academe,” and many still debate whether it can even be taught (after all, many of today’s tech leaders dropped out of college or didn’t attend altogether).
As the field of entrepreneurship is still in relative infancy, curricula across schools vary and are an ongoing work in progress. That said, the nation’s top programs share common attributes, including: an interdisciplinary core curriculum, business competitions, mentoring and networking opportunities, and experiential learning to enable students to gain real-world business experience while still in school.
As NerdScholar continues to celebrate small business month in May, we highlight seven of our favorite universities with entrepreneurship degrees. Our selection was based on:
- The programs’ demonstrated results: Namely those where 20%+ of their graduates actually start their own businesses after college.
- Affordability: With student debt past the one trillion dollar mark, we advocate that students and parents consider universities that are public or offer generous financial aid and scholarships.
- Quality of the school: Aspiring entrepreneurs benefit from networking and collaboration with other intellectually curious students and experienced professors. All the universities listed are among the top ranked colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report.
NerdScholar’s Favorite Entrepreneurship Degree Programs
Baruch College, The City University of New York
Students majoring in entrepreneurship at Baruch College can expect to focus on the interconnections between education, government, and the private sector. The major’s history goes back to when The Lawrence Field Center for Entrepreneurship launched to help New York residents start businesses. After seeing success transforming the area’s economy they decided that focusing a major in this area made perfect sense.
Twenty-two percent start businesses of their own after graduating. The program emphasizes creating self-starting entrepreneurs. They have direct access to the Small Business Development Center to seek advice on how they should start a business and determine sustainability factors. For instance, alum Michael Chiang created “MatchPuppy,” which is an OkCupid-like app to connect dog owners and allow them to have doggy play dates. The young entrepreneur’ young business even caught the attention of Jay Leno.
Their faculty shows strong interdisciplinary backgrounds in the business, tech, non-profit center, and government business policy. This public university gives in-state students bang for their buck as their average tuition is $5,778.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University’s School of Entrepreneurship is a leading innovator in their dedicated entrepreneurship curriculum. Thirty percent of their undergraduates start businesses after college, and it is no surprise why. With 10 interdisciplinary faculty members and its 32 courses, OSU’s approach is heavily focused on helping students find their entrepreneurial potential based on the 11 unique entrepreneurial competencies they see as key: “recognizing opportunity, assessing opportunity, mastering your creativity, leveraging resources, guerrilla skills, mitigating and managing risk, planning when nothing exists, innovation—developing ideas that work, building and managing social networks, the ability to maintain focus yet adapt, and implementation of something novel or new.” All these skills helped 2008 alum Kayvon Olomi start his own business, AppTank, which connects professional app developers with app projects.
Students undoubtedly get their strengths tapped into and sharpened at OSU. They have the opportunity to participate in experiential learning bootcamp-like programs that partner with local entities like the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, giving them real world experience. They also get to work with experienced academics like Dr. Robert A. Baron, who has bridged the disciplines of psychology and entrepreneurial business ventures. With such a robust and holistic program, OSU students are encouraged to think outside the box. The tuition price at OSU, a public university, is $7,107.
University of Houston
About 65% of the students who major in Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston’s Wolff Center of Entrepreneurship start their own businesses during their college tenures or shortly thereafter. They are taught to become business leaders by being taught the way a CEO would train a replacement—through academic rigor and real world experience. Students must undergo a required set of 6 core courses that teach the entire business process and is based on practical business skills that allow students to scale their ideas. From those 24% of UH grads that start a businesses, 89% still have managed to keep their businesses going strong. Clearly, the rigorous training and mentorship these students receive from the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center is cultivating innovation. You can take UH’s Alfonso Rivera who started RailTronix as a prime example. His successful company sells web-based software systems to help rail shippers keep track of their shipments.
University of Houston’s students also must fulfill a service requirement, as the program believes that students should give back and apply their self-starting skills in that arena. The tuition for the University of Houston is $9,211 and scholarships are available.
University of Missouri-Kansas City
With over 20% of their graduates starting their own businesses, the Entrepreneurship Major at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School has built its curricula around experiential learning and has given students the foundation to start their own businesses after college. For example, one of their required courses, “Creating the New Venture: Experiential Learning,” requires students to develop a business plan, execute steps for an operation launch, and develop a plan to secure customers and other revenue streams.
It aims to keep class sizes small to foster close connections between students and its internationally renowned faculty, facilitating their entrepreneurial discovery process. The program’s 13 faculty members are themselves former entrepreneurs who provide students with a template roadmap they can use to maximize their business venture ideas. They even have structured apprenticeship programs in which students can help professors’ research and publish studies. The University of Missouri-Kansas City is a public university and has an annual in-state tuition price of $9,220.
Arizona State University
At Arizona State University, students are taught that entrepreneurship is the business of change, one in which they should manage and leverage change to succeed. Twenty-eight percent of undergraduates start a business after the program, which requires them to complete a curriculum revolved around practical experiential work, direct expert teaching, and close relationships with professors. Their faculty’s background varies from sociology, fine arts, engineering to marketing and investing.
Among ASU’s innovative alumni is Kate Spade who presently designs and manages her own fashion empire. Although she did not major in entrepreneurship, ASU honors her as an example of how students can strive for innovation and business creation. A more recent example of the program success is Senior and Management major Nick Jarvis’ succeeding venture. With the help of Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives Sidnee Peck, Jarvis and his student business partner Phil Kockerbeck launched Down2Mob 6 months ago and are already making a profit buying and reselling motor cycle parts.
Aside from the real-world experience these students receive, coursework is essential too. Among their required courses, “Entrepreneurship in Society” taught by Jane Robbins, students’ creativity is cultivated to help them understand the inter-relationships between innovation, technology, law, and public policy. Having this background helps students build business ventures that cross through all sectors of society. ASU is a public university and its annual tuition is $ 12, 990.
The hands-on approach offered by Belmont’s Entrepreneurship Program sets them apart from other programs and helps their students hit the ground running. Student entrepreneurs are given opportunities to work in one of several student-run retail spaces on campus or they can develop their own business ventures with faculty support. This co-curricular programming equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed to become successful entrepreneurs.
More than a third of the students majoring in entrepreneurship create businesses that are their main or sole source of income after graduation. Additionally, students have the option to do an internship for course credit where they can work for entrepreneurs. Several events and programs such as the Moench Entrepreneurship Lecture Series, Lunch and Learn, Morning Coffee, and a variety of mentorship opportunities are available to students. Their private school annual tuition is $26,130 and approximately 74% of Belmont students receive some type of financial assistance.
At Baylor’s John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship, students who major in entrepreneurship gain a suite of venture skills and techniques to launch real businesses. They have two course tracks, one in business and the other in social entrepreneurship so students with various interests can take advantage of this program.
Students have the opportunity to take the “Accelerated Ventures” two-semester course in which they create products, raise real funds, and launch products and services to generate sales. Basically, they learn how to take a company from a concept and idea to fruition and they have the track record to prove it—over 67% of students start businesses. They also have access to the universities influential alumni network that includes Bill Townsend, co-creator of Lycos and whose intellectual property helped form the basis of LinkedIn.
The annual tuition at Baylor, a private university, is $33,716 and disburses some sort of aid to 70% of their students.
Clarkson University’s entrepreneurship major concentrates on ideation, the commercialization process, and new venture creation. They seek to accelerate and commercialize discovery-driven Clarkson innovations to the marketplace. In the first-year business sequence, 100 percent of business students start and run their own companies.
Their degree program works in tandem with the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship where students can compete in business plan competitions for the Young Entrepreneur Award. As the price, they get to attend Clarkson without payment of tuition for the remainder of their four-year undergraduate careers. Overall, 20 percent of their graduates start a business.
Clarkson’s tuition is $38,610 and the average net tuition price stands at $24, 205. Eighty-five percent of full-time undergraduates at Clarkson receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $24,507.
University of Southern California
USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is one of the most lauded in the country. In addition to having a dedicated set of curricula, its vast and diverse faculty seem are the one of the most powerful resources students here could take advantage of. Professor Nandini Rajagopalan helps maintain a network of professors who promote interdisciplinary research in entrepreneurship from which students are encouraged to seek guidance from.
Students also have access to the powerful alumni network USC has established. This year, the center honored Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace.com. From learning the tools and tactics to start a business to leveraging the guidance of alum and professors, 50% of USC students majoring in entrepreneurship succeed at beginning and running their own ventures.
While the average net tuition price at USC is $27,541, 60 percent of their students receive some type of financial assistance.