Entrepreneurship Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate, Diploma & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in an entrepreneurship degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of a diploma, associate's degree and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Entrepreneurship: Degrees at a Glance

Entrepreneurs are usually self-employed professionals who start a new business or purchase an existing business. Entrepreneurship studies can teach you how to create a business plan, raise the necessary capital to start a business and manage a staff of employees. If you're interested in owning your own business, you may want to consider obtaining an undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship, but keep in mind that there's no set amount of education needed to own a business.

Employment projections for entrepreneurs weren't available at the time of this article, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did have some information on small businesses. Overall, the number of new businesses being established decreased from 2006-2010, according to the BLS. The BLS also noted that some establishments fail, so you won't have any guarantee that your new business will be successful. The BLS also found that some industries have higher business survival rates than others.

Diploma Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this program for? Individuals looking for specific training that can help them oversee daily business operations Individuals seeking basic knowledge of business operations and intend to start their own business People looking to own their own business or obtain mid-level management positions in business
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) Individuals with a graduate diploma may qualify for additional positions similar to bachelor's degree holders.
- Business owner (varies widely based on specific business)
- Department retail sales manager ($36,000)*
- Business office manager ($72,000 - with 7 years of experience)*
- Business owner (varies widely based on specific business)
- Business development manager ($104,000 - with 4 years of experience)*
- Operations manager ($87,000 - with 8 years of experience)
- Business development associate ($57,000)*
Time to Completion Typically less than a year About 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Requirements - About 7-12 courses focused on entrepreneurship and business concepts - Roughly 4-6 core business courses
- About 3-6 courses in entrepreneurship
- Internship/hands-on learning experience
- About 3-7 general business courses
- Approximately 8-15 courses in entrepreneurship and related topics
- Practicum or business plan project
Online Availability Undergraduate programs are available; graduate programs are not Yes Yes

Source: *Salary.com (figures as of October 2012).

Diploma in Entrepreneurship

A diploma program in entrepreneurship can give you business operation skills that are useful for starting your own business or obtaining a salaried position in the industry. The program usually takes less than a year to complete, and covers topics like business plans, self-reliance, customer satisfaction and making new products.

Most entrepreneurship diploma programs are found at community colleges and designed for undergraduates, but you can find a few graduate diploma programs in entrepreneurial management that are meant for bachelor's degree holders. The length and purpose of the graduate diploma program is about the same as the undergraduate one, but you can expect to cover more advanced concepts and participate in more hands-on opportunities in the graduate program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Takes less time to complete compared to an associate's or bachelor's degree program
  • Programs are typically focused on business concepts, so you won't have to spend time on unrelated general education courses
  • Skills taught in this type of program can be useful for salaried jobs as well as running your own business

Cons

  • Employers may prefer to hire management candidates who have a degree
  • A diploma is not required to become a business owner
  • Undergraduate diploma programs usually don't include hands-on learning opportunities

Typical Courses and Requirements

Entrepreneurship diploma programs only focus on specific business and entrepreneurial activities, so you won't typically have to take any general education courses. Some of your course options may include:

  • Small business management
  • Business law
  • Marketing for entrepreneurs
  • Creating a business plan
  • Business finance
  • Communication skills

Graduate diploma programs may also include internship opportunities, allowing you to work at local start-up businesses while you go to school. These programs will also focus on more advanced concepts than undergraduate programs.

Online Course Info

While undergraduate diploma programs may be available completely online, no graduate diploma programs were available as of October 2012. Coursework in an online program are commonly very similar to coursework in an on-campus program. Since the undergraduate programs are based on coursework and not hands-on experiences, you won't have to worry about missing out on any special learning experiences if you opt for an online program.

Getting Ahead with This Diploma

Some community colleges have entrepreneurship clubs, which are usually open to all students. Joining one of these clubs can give students networking opportunities and allow them to discuss their ideas with other students. Clubs may also offer special workshops, conferences and business plan competitions. Some clubs may even conduct projects that give students a chance to help out the community.

Associate's in Entrepreneurship

Associate's degree programs in entrepreneurship are designed to prepare students for business management, development and ownership opportunities. Students in such a program can learn how to create a business plan and purchase an existing business. Although the focus of an entrepreneurship program is typically on starting and operating your own business, it also covers general business concepts that can be useful for salaried and wage occupations in the business industry. In this way, the program can prepare you for small business ownership or management positions within existing businesses.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Diverse course topics can be useful for starting a business in almost any industry
  • Program is still useful if you decide to pursue a salaried position at a company instead of building your own business
  • Most programs offer hands-on or internship experiences, allowing you to apply what you learned in the program before you graduate

Cons

  • Postsecondary education is not always needed to become a business owner
  • Non-ownership management positions often require a bachelor's degree
  • Associate's programs usually only have a few entrepreneurial electives, limiting how much you can learn about specific areas of interest

Courses and Requirements

You'll typically start the program by taking some fundamental business courses, such as business law, accounting, marketing and salesmanship. Beginning in your second semester, you'll start taking entrepreneurship courses, which might include entrepreneurial marketing, small business management, new business creation and human resources management. The internship/work experience opportunity is generally completed in the second semester or later, depending on the program. Additionally, associate's degree programs commonly include general education courses, which can be useful when transferring to a bachelor's degree program.

Online Course Options

The associate's program in entrepreneurship is available completely online, but it's not extremely common. The online program is comparable to the on-campus one, but the internship is usually replaced by a capstone research project. This could be a significant difference, since hands-on learning is often an important part of entrepreneurship programs at this level.

Standing Out with This Degree

You can start by gaining experience in the industry you hope to start a business in. This can allow you to learn the details of that particular industry, such as product pricing, product details, customer service techniques and daily business operations. Entry-level positions can sometimes lead to supervisory jobs, which would give you a taste of overseeing employees and making decisions.

Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship

Similar to the associate's programs, bachelor's programs in entrepreneurship can give you a strong foundation in business concepts as well as the skills needed to start your own business. However, you'll typically have more elective options dedicated to teaching you how to start a successful business. The bachelor's program can also instruct you how to make funding and investment proposals to venture capitalists. Although the focus of the program is on entrepreneurial activities, this degree could still lead to management positions at a variety of companies.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Typically includes more courses focused on entrepreneurship than an associate's program
  • What you learn in the program can help you start a business in a variety of sectors
  • Can lead to mid-level management positions at businesses

Cons

  • You don't need a college education to start your own business
  • May need a master's degree for top executive positions at large corporations
  • Most programs only train you to run small- and medium-sized businesses, so you may need additional training and experience if you hope to own a large business

Common Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's program usually includes some basic business courses in accounting, business law and finance. Your entrepreneurial course options may consist of entrepreneurial strategy, venture planning, small business management and entrepreneurial law. Your capstone or final project requirements depend on the program; some may ask you to complete a plan for a new business and present it to professionals in the field, and other programs may just feature a standard capstone or internship experience.

Online Options

This program is available completely online. However, you may have difficulties finding it at public schools, as it's mostly taught at private, for-profit colleges in this format. The online programs cover similar concepts and are intended to show you how to complete a business plan and manage a business. You may still have the opportunity to work on a business plan in an online program, but you won't get as much hands-on experience if you opt for this format.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

You can start getting an edge over the competition by joining an entrepreneur club at your school. This type of club can increase your networking opportunities and allow you to learn from other professionals at meetings and luncheons. Some clubs may even have competitions that award prizes for business ideas. Clubs usually have additional learning resources on their websites that can be useful for students planning on starting a business.

Alternative Degree Options

An entrepreneurial program may be the right choice for you if you're planning to start your own business, but if you plan to work for an existing company, you might consider a degree in business. Business administration bachelor's degree programs commonly prepare you to work in a variety of management positions in the field, and can include specialization options in a variety of areas, like accounting, finance, marketing, human resources or international business. Many programs also include a specialization option in management information systems, which can prepare you for management positions in information technology settings.

According to the BLS, advertising and promotions managers earned a mean annual salary of about $103,000 as of May 2011, while sales managers earned a mean annual salary of about $117,000, financial managers earned a mean annual salary of about $120,000 and computer and information systems managers earned a mean annual salary of about $126,000. From 2010-2020, all of these professionals except for financial managers are expected to see average employment growth, according to the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Business Administration (AS)
      • Business Administration (AS)
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
      • AASBA in Business
      • AASBA in Small Business Management
      • Associate: Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Business Administration - Associate
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Yakima, WA

    Yakima Valley Community College

  • Wichita, KS

    Wichita Area Technical College

Featured Schools

Argosy University

  • Business Administration (AS)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
  • AASBA in Business
  • AASBA in Small Business Management

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Baker College Online

  • Business Administration - Associate

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Associate of Science - Business Studies

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American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Colorado Technical University

  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
  • A.S. Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Business

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

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