Entrepreneurship degree programs equip students with the skills to start and grow a business. You can find entrepreneurship programs of study at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels of study. You could spend two, four or six years on your entrepreneurship education, but it isn’t so much the degree itself that matters. The practical skills you acquire while earning your degree are what will really determine your success as an entrepreneur.
Associate’s Degrees in Entrepreneurship
If you have no college education, the quickest path to preparing to run your own business is an associate’s degree. These programs, offered by community colleges and junior colleges, take two years to complete if you study full-time. Entrepreneurship is an interdisciplinary field of study, but at the associate’s degree level, most of your coursework will be in business and management. You might take college classes such as Introduction to Business, Small Business Accounting, Principles of Accounting, Business Law, Business Statistics, Small Business Management, Financial Management for Small Business and Marketing for Small Business. Studies in economics are also valuable, according to U.S. News & World Report, because they help aspiring entrepreneurs understand economic markets and basic principles of supply and demand.
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Entrepreneurship is not an academic field of study, but a professional one, where the emphasis is on gaining practical skills. Prospective entrepreneurs – especially those who don’t have immediate plans to continue their education beyond the associate’s level – may find career-oriented colleges and entrepreneurship programs more appealing than business programs at liberal arts schools. Even at the associate’s degree level, these entrepreneurship programs emphasize hands-on training and include an internship component.
Entrepreneurship programs are often offered as concentrations within a business administration or business management degree program.
Entrepreneurship at the Bachelor’s Degree Level
Bachelor’s degrees require twice as many college credits to graduate as associate’s degrees do. Offered online and on campus by four-year colleges and universities, these programs are intended to take four years of full-time study to finish, though many students take longer. When you pursue a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship, your coursework will come from a broader range of disciplines than you would find in the curriculum of an associate’s degree, including specially tailored courses such as Law for Entrepreneurs, Small Business Finance and even Psychology of Decision-Making. As an entrepreneurship major, you might take classes such as Team Leadership, Managing Project Risks and Opportunities, Contracts and Procurement and Advanced Entrepreneurship. You will also complete a more robust array of core business classes, including studies in human resources management and management information systems, as well as meeting more intense general education requirements.
Many entrepreneur roles don’t require a degree, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. If a degree is mandatory, what is required is usually industry-specific studies, like medical school for doctors in private practice.
Entrepreneurship Programs at the Graduate Level
While not required for success among the self-employed, graduate-level programs of study in entrepreneurship are popular. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study on top of earning your bachelor’s degree, which means that most students who pursue this path will be in school for a minimum of six total years. Some graduate entrepreneurship degrees are Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with an academic concentration in this field of study. Others are separate and more specialized programs that award degrees with titles like Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Graduate degrees in entrepreneurship are excellent options for students with an undergraduate education in another field who have decided that they want to launch their own business.
Since no one degree is the right choice for aspiring entrepreneurs, it makes sense for each individual student to look at the curriculum and outcomes of different graduate programs in entrepreneurship. A student who would like to develop a broader range of business skills would be better off choosing an MBA program with a concentration in entrepreneurship, in which classes might focus on subjects like business strategy and marketing campaign development. A master’s degree program in entrepreneurship will focus more narrowly on graduate-level studies in subjects such as franchising, leadership of new ventures, funding of new ventures, lean business launches, social entrepreneurship and maximizing a new business’s financial performance.
Entrepreneurs come from all educational backgrounds. In fact, some entrepreneurs have not even earned their high school diploma, while others have doctoral degrees, according to the BLS.