Mark Zuckerberg Dropped Out But Most Stay On Campus To Do Startups

A revolution in entrepreneurship at undergraduate business schools

A revolution in entrepreneurship at undergraduate business schools

A BLUETOOTH-ACTIVATED BIKE LOCK BECAME THE FOCUS OF A STARTUP

Colton Calandrella, a junior at the Olin School, took the class back as a freshman, developing a business plan with his team for a Bluetooth-activated bike lock with security alerts. He chose Olin in part because of its strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, but had no idea he’d be studying the subject as early as freshman year. He is now double-majoring in entrepreneurship and pursued an internship in the venture capital field this past summer.

“I was pleasantly surprised to find one of my first classes had such an entrepreneurial aspect to it,” he said. “The class whetted my appetite for entrepreneurship in general. I realized how challenging yet rewarding building a business can be.”

Arizona State University received funding from the Kauffman Foundation back in 2006 to work to disseminate entrepreneurship throughout the entire school. As a result of the grant, the school was able to beef up its offerings in the subject, creating several new courses, an entrepreneurship certificate and, in the process, whetting students’ appetite for the subject.

SCHOOLS CREATING ENTREPRENEURIAL MAJORS BECAUSE STUDENT DEMAND IS SO STRONG

Student demand for entrepreneurship offerings turned out to be so strong that in 2013 the W.P. Carey School of Business created an entrepreneurship major for students, in the form of a Bachelor of Science degree, says Sidnee Peck, director of the Carey School’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
“I had students coming to me who were saying, ‘Hey, why doesn’t my diploma have the name of my entrepreneurship certificate on it, or can my diploma say I took entrepreneurship,’” she said.

In 2013, the first year the major was offered, 150 students signed up and last year it grew to 250 students. True to its roots, the major has an interdisciplinary bent, which helps business students learn how to work with students from other colleges within Arizona State and get a more holistic view of how entrepreneurship works, Peck explains. For example, in one core entrepreneurship class for majors, half the class is made up of engineering students while the other half hails from the business school, Peck adds. “We are building everything forward around the mindset of interdisciplinary work, because it is so important.”

Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business has gone in a similar direction, offering a new major in corporate innovation and entrepreneurship for the first time this past January. It’s the eighth major available to Smeal undergraduates, and builds on a popular entrepreneurship concentration the school offered within the management department.

HOPING ENTREPRENEURSHIP WILL BECOME THE ‘PREMIER MAJOR’ AT PENN STATE

“Right away, 74 students signed up for it, so obviously there is a lot of interest,” says Brad Leve, associate director of the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship.. “I knew it would be very successful, but I think the rest of the school was really surprised. My hope is that we become the premier major in the school.”

There are now anywhere between 200 and 300 schools colleges and universities across the country that offer entrepreneurship majors, says the University of Florida’s Michael Morris, who recently co-wrote a book titled “Entrepreneurship Programs and the Modern University.”

As this has happened, business schools have created entire schools and departments devoted to entrepreneurship and, in a handful of instances, even renamed their college so that the word entrepreneurship is featured prominently in the title. For example, in Kansas, Fort Hays State University’s undergraduate business school is called the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, as is Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

ONE COLLEGE NOW OFFERS 27 DIFFERENT ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLASSES FOR STUDENTS

With all of these changes, it is not uncommon now for schools to offer more than a dozen electives in the subject, Morris says. For example, the University of Florida now boasts 27 different entrepreneurship classes for students, from a course in gorilla marketing to one where students help aspiring entrepreneurs in Haiti create companies. That’s a far cry from the days when undergraduate students would be lucky if there was a course or two in the subject offered on campus, says Morris.

“There’s been a revolution that has been happening in terms of entrepreneurship on college campuses in the last decade or so,” Morris believes. “What you’ll see happening in the next decade is sort of the permanence and institutionalization of entrepreneurship on campus. It ‘s becoming part of the woodwork of the university.”

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