Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Developing an Entrepreneurship Major and Minor: One University's Story

Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

Developing an Entrepreneurship Major and Minor: One University's Story

Article excerpt


Interest in entrepreneurship by the general public as well as the business community is at an all-time high and continuing to grow (Scales, 2011). Attitudes towards small, start-up businesses are consistently positive with seventy percent of those surveyed believing that starting and owning a small business is a great way to "get ahead" (Dennis, 1997). In keeping with this strong focus towards entrepreneurship and new business start-ups, institutions of higher education and learning have increasingly developed entrepreneurship programs, degrees, centers, and incubators in an attempt to capitalize on changing cultural perceptions (Finkle, Kuratko, & Goldsby, 2006). Even with this growth and focus, there is a lack of consensus on how the highly diverse collection of skills and abilities that comprise a successful entrepreneur can be effectively taught within a structured university setting (Ernest, 2010). Despite this lack of consensus, entrepreneurship educational programs (EEPs) continue to expand. This paper adds to the EEP literature by describing how one business college developed an entrepreneurship major and minor degree program. The balance of this paper includes a brief literature review, a detailed account of the process used to develop and submit the major and minor programs, and a summary of major lessons learned.

The Case for Entrepreneurship Education (Literature Review)

The notion of entrepreneurship and persons wanting to engage in new venture start-ups represents a desirable undertaking for many. For example, the ABC program, Shark Tank, is a mainstay for Friday evening network television viewing. It is the most watched program on Friday nights in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic (ABC-is-Fridays, n.d.) and has steadily increased in total average viewership from 6 million per episode during the 2011-12 season (Gorman, 2012) to over 9 million viewers per episode for the 2014-15 season (Full 2014-15, n.d.). Shark Tank was preceded by American Inventor, a top-rated entrepreneurship-related program which enjoyed high levels of viewership for the same demographic on Thursday evenings for its two-season run during 2006-2007 (American-Investor, n.d.).

There is also interest from education institutions. Ignoring the debate of entrepreneurs being "born and not made" (Black, Burton, Traynor, & Wood, 2005), academics have shown an interest in entrepreneurship dating back to the first class at the Harvard Business School in 1945 (Mwasalwiba, 2010). By 1999, there were 170 universities in the United States offering courses in entrepreneurship, more than double the number that existed in 1996 (Lord, 1999). Entrepreneurship education is one of the fastest growing areas of universities and colleges (Li, Millman, Matlay, & Liu, 2008; Mars & Garrison, 2009), with more than 5,000 entrepreneurship courses being offered at these institutions offering at least one course in entrepreneurship (Morelix, 2015). This interest continues, marked by various studies highlighting the state of entrepreneurship education (Kuratko, 2005; Maritz & Brown, 2013; Pittaway & Cope, 2007).

One reason for the popularity of entrepreneurship education is partially due to a reassessment by educators regarding its value (Jones & English, 2004). Business schools recognize the role of entrepreneurship capability as an engine to drive economic activity and sustainable growth in both developed and developing nations (Li et al., 2008; Matlay, 2009; O'Connor, 2013). Also, EEPs are appearing in non-business school programs, in part because of various campus initiatives and financial support provided by organizations such as the Kauffman Foundation (Stern, 2006).

Despite these efforts, there is widespread belief that conventional classroom-based pedagogy is insufficient preparation for those starting and managing their own companies (Honig, 2004; Tesla & Frascheri, 2015). Consequently, EEPs and related coursework must be appropriately differentiated from traditional business school offerings. …

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