Entrepreneurs take on the risks associated with owning, organizing and managing their own business enterprises. Entrepreneur degree programs prepare students for careers as business owners or managers by teaching them about the financial, analytical and operational aspects of business ownership.
Programs in entrepreneurship can often be found at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Prerequisites for these programs vary by type; associate's degrees generally require at least 100 credit hours in related business coursework, bachelor's degrees may only require a high school diploma, and master's degree programs expect new students to have a bachelor's degree, high scores on their GMAT and possibly relevant work experience.
Entrepreneurship Associate's Degrees
Students enrolled in associate's degree programs in entrepreneurship learn valuable foundational skills in small business management and operations. Most degree programs place a strong focus on providing students with the theoretical and applied knowledge necessary to start their own small businesses after graduation.
Entrepreneurial associate's degree programs teach students fundamental concepts in key areas of business management, such as technology, communication and finance. Many curricula carry requirements for completion of practical experience of some sort, including internships and mock business plans. Course topics typically include:
- Principles of small businesses
- Strategic management
- Small business accounting and communications
- Computer applications for entrepreneurs
- Business law
Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship
Bachelor's degree programs in entrepreneurship educate students in the key components of starting new businesses, such as risk analysis, manufacturing and marketing. Business plan development is a crucial element of degree programs, with most curricula requiring both theoretical courses and hands-on practice in this area. Some institutions offer Bachelor of Science degrees in entrepreneurship, while others allow students to declare an entrepreneurship minor or concentration within general business or business management programs. Several programs may require students to apply to both the university and the individual college or school housing the entrepreneurship program. Some schools will not admit students into their business colleges or entrepreneurship bachelor's degree programs until they have completed core educational requirements and achieved sophomore or junior status.
On top of the key business concepts taught in associate's degree programs, students enrolled in entrepreneurial bachelor's degree programs learn about the following topics:
- Employee compensation
- Investment analysis
- Business plan and product development
- Operations management
- Business ethics
Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship
Students interested in pursuing graduate educations in entrepreneurship can apply for admission to MBA programs. As with the bachelor's degree programs described above, many institutions offer only general MBA degrees, but students can select entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial studies as areas of concentration. Also, like bachelor's degree programs, entrepreneurship master's degree programs prepare students to open their own businesses after graduation. However, master's degree programs place increased emphasis on the management of day-to-day operations. Master's degree-seeking students must meet several admission requirements in addition to holding a bachelor's degree in business or entrepreneurship from an accredited university. Admissions to MBA programs in entrepreneurship are often selective, with decision-makers placing great emphasis upon applicants' GPAs, personal references and work experience.
Master's degree programs in entrepreneurship educate students fully in the startup and management of new businesses, as well as providing instruction in the analytic processes of new business consulting. Topics commonly covered in courses include:
- Entrepreneurship technology
- Managerial accounting
- Human resource management
- Product development
- Quantitative investment analysis
- Corporate economics
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree in entrepreneurship can lead to entry-level employment in many areas of business, including sales, marketing and manufacturing. Graduates of associate's degree programs may also open their own small businesses upon earning their degrees. New small business owners generally wear many hats and assume responsibility for all areas of business operations, including:
- Investment acquisition
- Product development
- Human resources
- Employee leadership and motivation
- Customer service
Although entrepreneur programs are primarily designed to prepare students to launch new businesses, many students pursue employment with existing corporations immediately after graduation in order to gain industry knowledge and experience. A bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship is generally sufficient training for managerial positions in the following areas:
- Sales or marketing
- Product development
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Entrepreneurs who own small businesses can seek continuing education opportunities by joining professional associations like the National Small Business Association or the Association of Small Business Development Centers. These and numerous other national, regional and demographic-oriented organizations cater to the interests of small business owners by providing continuing education conferences and networking opportunities.
As with entrepreneurial undergraduate degree programs, students could be equipped with the skill sets necessary to open their own businesses upon graduation. Master's degree-holders can also pursue careers as business management analysts or consultants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, management analysts made a yearly median salary of $81,320 as of May 2015 and were projected to experience a good employment growth of 14% during the 2014-2024 decade.
Continuing Education Information
In addition to joining small business owner's professional associations, master's degree-holders working as business consultants or analysts may join national or regional groups to further their industry knowledge. One such association is the Institute of Management Consultants USA.
An entrepreneur degree program is a useful asset in a number of fields, and narrowing down your education options will require a knowledge of what you want to use it for. Prospective entrepreneurs may choose to study at the associate's, bachelor's or master's degree levels.