Entrepreneurship MBAs are something of a contested path. On the one hand, plenty of people say that the “entrepreneurship bug” is an innate thing. And, we have icons like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates who dropped out of college to found some of the biggest companies the world has ever seen, creating phenomenon's in computing and social networks.
But, there’s a major case to be made for getting that degree, especially for younger or less experienced aspiring entrepreneurs. A full-time MBA program provides fertile ground for new connections, no matter what university graduate school you attend. It’s also a safe space for both spitballing ideas and learning management fundamentals as well as creating a network of other MBA students and partnerships for your future ventures in your chosen industry.
This type of degree will allow you to develop a strong understanding of business fundamentals, business analytics, innovation, and provide the skills and resources you need to build a business in the real world. Additionally, business schools will help you learn the ins and outs of networking while you explore your creativity with electives.
Here’s a look at what you can expect from an academic program in Entrepreneurship and how to figure out if it aligns with your goals.
What Can You Do With an MBA in Entrepreneurship?
In most cases, entrepreneurs search for and apply to a leading MBA that will give them the tools needed to run their own business. Still, that skill set applies to a wide range of careers from marketing and consulting to general management roles. Here are some potential roles in which an MBA in Entrepreneurship graduate can make an impact.
Average Salary: 60,000-100,000
Business consultants work independently.
Consultants are responsible for assessing a company’s strengths and weaknesses and providing opportunities for growth. Consultants span a range of industries including finance, marketing, management, and more.
Average Salary: $95,000
Product managers work with startups, software companies, and any other business with an original product or service. Generally speaking, product managers will work in an office full-time.
Product managers manage a product’s development. They’ll work with relevant team members to eliminate issues related to the product, including service issues, implementation problems, and more.
In this role, you’ll be a liaison between customers and your team. You’ll listen to customer feedback and work with marketing, product developers, and other personnel to ensure you deliver an innovative product that people want.
Average Salary: 83,000
Marketing directors work with all sorts of companies. They will usually work full-time in an office setting.
Marketing directors work to manage and direct marketing tasks within an organization. They’ll lead a team of marketers and develop strategies aimed at growing the business’ profile. In this role, managers brainstorm ideas, implement appropriate technology, manage a marketing budget, and create projects and campaigns.
While this role isn’t the traditional career path for an MBA in Entrepreneurship, marketing directors benefit from having the quick-thinking mindset of an entrepreneur.
Average Salary: varies
Founders and owners of businesses set their own hours and work wherever they need to for the company to succeed, whether that’s in an office or out networking with investors.
Of course, the more obvious path for the aspiring entrepreneur is starting a new business. Those who graduate with a concentration in entrepreneurship should emerge ready to take on a leadership role and start a company. Now, this could be a solo venture, or you could use your knowledge to team up with another entrepreneur and build something together.
Some students enter an incubator program while in school or after graduation to develop an idea full-time, while others may opt to invest in a franchise or take over a family business.
Types of Entrepreneurship MBA Degrees
When you choose a degree type, you want to account for the big picture. In some cases, employers prefer a candidate with a traditional MBA, as it encompasses a broader range of business skills. However, if you’re looking at entrepreneurship for the right reasons, you have a business or have always dreamed of starting one, the entrepreneurship concentration is a hands-on approach to learning the skills to complement your passion.
Master of Business Administration Entrepreneurship
Average Salary: $98,000
Length: 2 years
MBA programs in entrepreneurship are designed for students who want to grow a business from the ground up. This degree is ideal for those who have a business idea or are involved in a family business, as well as those focused on growing and scaling new operations as a serial entrepreneur.
This degree program combines traditional MBA work with entrepreneurial-focused coursework. You’ll cover areas like venture capital, marketing, product management and development, and more. Some programs require students to have a certain amount of work experience before entering the program, while others require a bachelor’s degree and graduate test scores.
Master’s in Management
Average Salary: $61,000
Length: 2 years
This degree option is an excellent choice for younger entrepreneurs or aspiring business leaders who don’t have much work experience under their belt. Where work experience is required for an MBA in Entrepreneurship, an MIM a is a standard path for those looking to level up their leadership skills directly from an undergrad program.
A MIM degree offers a lower starting salary than an MBA, though you’ll be able to start on your career path early and work your way up.
Master of Business Administration
Average Salary: $100,000+
Length: 3 years
This degree is an in-demand general business degree that covers all of your executive-level basics. Students study accounting, finance, marketing, public policy, economics, management, and more.
A traditional MBA serves as a path toward becoming an executive or high-ranking member of a company. By contrast, a specialized MBA in entrepreneurship, finance, or accounting gives students a blend of the specialized subject matter, plus the management and organizational know-how you’d find in an MBA.
This degree focuses on the mechanics of running a business. And, while less specialized than the entrepreneurship specification, is often more in demand from employers.
When comparing a general MBA to the entrepreneurship track, you’ll want to consider what you want out of your program. The general MBA will give you more of a business background, which can bolster your natural drive and entrepreneurial spirit. On the other hand, you may find the hands-on approach of the MBA in Entrepreneurship to be more attractive.
Sample Curriculum & Courses for Entrepreneurship Programs
These program’s core classes serve as a way to bring entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners up to speed in a variety of relevant areas. These include finance, marketing, and finding the right investors for your next great venture. You’ll also learn more about what it takes to build a business from the ground up in the current economy and manage that business effectively.
- Organizational Behavior:
Organizational behavior looks at human behavior as it relates to the workplace. This course looks at all of the areas that facilitate or hinder work performance, as well as how to develop management strategies that get results.
- Business Intelligence:
This course looks at the principles of business intelligence, which covers technology, applications, and processes aimed at gathering information and analyzing data for better business decisions. What’s more, the course will teach students how to develop a BI strategy. You’ll examine case studies and learn how to measure success based on a variety of metrics.
- Entrepreneurial Finance:
In this course, you’ll learn more about raising seed money and growth capital. You’ll weigh the pros and cons of working with angel investors, investment banks, etc.—and learn more about the financial issues new companies face as they try to grow. Additionally, you’ll learn to develop proposals for venture capital firms and how to make a successful ask.
- New Venture Creation:
This course looks at the basic concepts and best practices associated with entrepreneurship. Students will learn to assess opportunities, as well as select the right team to set the tone for success. In this course, you’ll learn how to come up with a sound business plan, pitch your idea to investors, and look at various opportunities for financing.
- Managing Emerging Enterprises:
This course focuses on managing small, fast-growing businesses. In this scenario, founders and leaders must learn to scale their solution and develop an organizational structure, culture, and company policy. Ultimately, this course gives students a crash course in how to position themselves so that they can grow profitability in a competitive global market.
Who Should Consider Getting this Degree?
This degree is best suited for self-starters and creative thinkers. Anyone taking MBA courses will learn the ins and outs of running a business. However, if you’re going because you want to become an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be ready to promote your ideas, meet deadlines, accept change, and stay motivated. This candidate must be innovative and persistent—a creative person with a well of ideas and the ability to find solutions to tough problems in an ever-changing economic climate.
You want to own your own business
Now, there aren’t many bachelor’s degree programs that specialize in entrepreneurship. However, if you’re in the process of starting your own business or have plans to launch something of your own, heading back to school might be a wise decision.
Younger entrepreneurs with little experience managing a company may benefit most from this specialization. Here, students will learn more about business in a holistic sense. Where someone interested in this path may be ready for the risk and rejection of starting their own venture, the MBA serves as a way to add some structure—bringing practical applications and business theory to the table.
You have relevant experience under your belt
A Master’s in Entrepreneurship is an option that many people feel is a fast track to becoming a high earner, and it may well be. However, many programs prefer applicants with work experience—whether that’s managing a company, running a business, or working in the corporate sphere. Not all programs require a long resume, but it may help you get more out of your experience.
How to Choose the Right Program
If You Have a Business Idea, Does the School Provide Support?
Some students start their MBA program with a business idea that they’d like to get off the ground, while others come in with an abstract idea or the desire to open a consulting firm or the like.
Both options are valid for potential MBA in Entrepreneurship candidates, but if you’re going in hoping to be the next tech startup to make it big, spend some time looking into the school’s resources and options for student aid. Entrepreneurship is more than theory and academics—and some schools offer services or programs to students who gain admission like incubators or competitions that help students grow their business while they’re still in school.
How Many Alumni Have Careers as Entrepreneurs?
Now, as we mentioned above, starting your own business isn’t the only career path available to Entrepreneurship MBA program graduates. However, the purpose of these programs is to arm you with the skills needed to start a business of your own. Do some digging—whether it’s on the school’s site, LinkedIn, or elsewhere—to find out what alumni have been up to since graduating. If you want to start your own business, but cannot find any graduates of the program who have gone on to do the same, you may want to rethink your choice of program.
Who is teaching the courses?
When researching programs, make sure you take a look at the faculty. Ideally, you’ll want to learn from people who have first-hand experience growing a business from scratch, as well as those versed in more traditional business practices and modern theories. Evaluate instructors’ backgrounds, along with the curriculum so that you get the best education from a well-rounded pool of mentors. It’d be great to get insight into international business, but not if it means giving up entrepreneurial insights.
What classes are available?
Learning about entrepreneurship is different than getting an MBA in finance or accounting. Many of the skills are hard to learn in a classroom setting, and as such, you’ll want to seek out a program that covers everything from securing financing to building something and learning from your mistakes. Look for classes that teach theory, business management, and organizational strategy, as well as hands-on application. Additionally, learning to pitch to investors and identify the right employees are vital skills you will need to succeed. Make sure you know what the class requirements and available learning events will be before you sign on.
Why are you considering an MBA?
This is an important question to ask yourself. Why, exactly, do you think an MBA is essential to your career path? Entrepreneurship differs from other specializations, as you don’t need the degree to compete in a space that you make for yourself. Financial professionals, on the other hand, may benefit more from an MBA. This degree provides access to better-paying jobs and more prestigious career opportunities.
However, an MBA in Entrepreneurship can provide a lot of benefits—you’ll have an MBA at the end of the day, so if your business fails or you want to switch gears, you’ll be able to compete in a crowded job market. You’ll also build connections with others—from investors to other students, faculty, and alumni, and learn how exactly to run a business.
Is there another way to accomplish your goals?
Employees with MBAs stand to make a comfortable salary and have access to a vast array of opportunities. If your goal is to start a business, you may want to assess whether an MBA is essential. If you already have a background in business, an MBA might be an additional cost you don’t necessarily need to take on. Still, the networking opportunities and coursework offer a ton of value.
Does this degree fit into your career and personal life?
If you’re a working professional, deciding to pursue an MBA is a big one. Can you quit your job? Do you have a family to consider? If you plan on staying in the workforce, an online or partially online program may be your best bet. Additionally, you may want to check the school’s financial aid offerings or if they feature connections with any businesses pertinent to your goals.
Potential Scholarships to Consider
National Association for the Self-Employed
The NASE Future Entrepreneur Scholarship offers up to $24,000 in funding to students who demonstrate the skills needed to start and run their own business.
AAUW Career Development Grants
This scholarship is available to female MBA candidates only and can provide up to $12,000 annually. Eligible candidates must be US citizens enrolled in an accredited US program—either online or on campus. Candidates are chosen based on the likelihood to succeed, career objectives, and reasons for going for their MBA.
Forte Fellows Program
Another scholarship aimed at supporting women entering the business world, the Forte Fellows program covers up to half of all tuition costs for eligible MBA candidates. Candidates must carry a minimum 3.2 GPA, demonstrate top leadership skills, and be committed to mentoring and supporting other women in business.
National Black MBA Association Scholarships
The National Black MBA Association provides several scholarships each year to African American MBA candidates starting their first year of a full or part-time program. Candidates must be US citizens with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and they must possess excellent leadership skills, engage with their local community, and have a faculty recommendation. Additionally, students must complete a 500-word essay detailing their career objectives in the business world.
Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards
This scholarship is sponsored by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and supports both graduate and undergraduate-level entrepreneurs. To be eligible, you must currently be running a for-profit business. Awards are granted in the amounts of $5000, $10,000, or $20,000 to innovative student entrepreneurs with excellent communication, ethics, and leadership skills, as well as a plan for growth.
Military MBA Scholarship Program
This scholarship is a merit-based scholarship awarded to US residents with a bachelor’s degree who have served in the US military. Awards of up to $20,000 are given to qualified applicants pursuing an MBA in any concentration.
In general, getting an MBA in entrepreneurship is a smart move, if you have the drive to pursue success in this challenging space. If you’re a go-getter and have a passion for networking, this could be the first step on the path to success—and you’ll have more to fall back on with that extra degree.