Traditional business school curriculums prepare students for C-level positions in large, typically public, companies. As the Internet revolution gained momentum, business schools recognized the need to provide an education that met the needs of entrepreneurs building and operating start-ups. The skills needed for a successful startup are often different than those taught in traditional business curriculums. This led a number of business schools to offer an MBA concentration or executive education programs in Entrepreneurship. Some schools now offer specific degree programs, such as an MS in Entrepreneurship. Consider the following when deciding if this path is right for you:
A Master’s in Entrepreneurship or an MBA?
Entrepreneurship programs equip students with the skills to create and build high-growth companies. Some will become founders, others may take on other key roles in a startup, or do in-house innovation in a large company (“intrapreneurship”). Many masters programs in entrepreneurship can be completed in one year, versus the typical two year full-time MBA program. For those who have already earned an MBA, a masters in entrepreneurship program or an executive education program may be the ideal complement to their prior general business training.
While most MBA programs offer elective courses in entrepreneurship, the core curriculum focuses on general business skills, not specifically on entrepreneurship. Students in an MBA program will not invest as much time on experiential learning opportunities (e.g. business plan competitions or start-up projects).
What does a Master’s in Entrepreneurship prepare me to do?
You’ll learn the skills to start your own business, or qualify you to transition to other entrepreneurial roles. Masters programs in Entrepreneurship are not standardized, so there can be more differences between entrepreneurship programs than there are between MBA programs. It’s important to understand the specifics of each program in order to be able to determine which is the best fit for your background and your goals.
What schools have a Master’s in Entrepreneurship program?
Leading masters programs in Entrepreneurship (in alphabetical order) include:
• Babson College: MS in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership
• Northeastern University: MS in Technological Entrepreneurship
• Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: MS in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship
• University of Michigan: Master of Entrepreneurship
• University of Texas: MS in Technology Commercialization
• University of Washington: Master of Science in Entrepreneurship
Which programs are right for me?
There is no such thing as the best school, only the best school for you. Factors to consider when considering different programs include:
• How do your grades, standardized test scores and work experience compare to students recently admitted?
• Is the program full time, part-time or online? Is it a one year or two year program?
• What classes are required, and what electives are available. Is the teaching focus on the case method, lecture, experiential learning and/or group projects?
• Are the instructors for the program full-time academics or entrepreneurs?
• What experiential learning opportunities are available?
• Would I be working on my idea for a startup while in school? Would I be mentored by local entrepreneurs?
• What is the make-up of the class (years of work experience, technical background, etc.) and is it a fit?
• What other activities are supported (e.g. conferences, case competitions, career treks, speaker series, etc.)?
• Would there be opportunities for interaction with graduate students in other departments (e.g. Law, Medicine, Engineering, etc.)?
• Is there a thriving community of entrepreneurs in the local area? See “Entrepreneurial Cities across the US” at www.stratusadmissionscounseling.com/mbanalysis-blog-entrepreneurial-cities
• What is the direct cost of the program?
• What is the opportunity cost (lost salary for the duration of the program)?
• Are the scholarships available?
One challenges in choosing among relatively new academic programs like entrepreneurship is getting accurate information and useful advice. While you may know people knowledgeable about specific MBA programs, it’s less likely that you know someone with broad knowledge and experience in entrepreneurship and innovation programs. To avoid wasting time, energy, and money, consider how you can best identify the right programs for you, and optimize your chances of admission.