According to a study on entrepreneurs conducted by American Express OPEN, approximately half of all entrepreneurs pay themselves full-time salaries. The average income hovers around $70,000 annually, though many make significantly higher figures based on their business concepts and ability to carry out a vision successfully.
What's more, today's flourishing market along with the internet -- which allows for the creation of businesses that could not exist just a decade ago -- currently complement two backbones of the U.S. work mindset: small business ownership and professional independence.
If you're passionate about working hard, forging your own path, and contributing new ideas to the market, a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship may provide a perfect fit. Keep reading to learn about common coursework, certifications, and resources.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship?
Before committing to any academic program, students must consider their options. After deciding to follow an entrepreneurial plan of study, degree seekers must figure out whether they want to enroll at a brick-and-mortar campus or study online. Many first-time college students moving straight from high school elect to complete a campus-based program to receive more support and structure as they step into adulthood. Other students pursue distance education as a way of balancing personal, professional, and academic responsibilities with a more flexible learning schedule.
Regardless of learning format, students enrolled in entrepreneurship programs gather concrete skills in areas of finance, marketing, business administration, communications, and leadership. They also learn about the entrepreneurial mindset and what sets these professionals apart from those who work for others.
When selecting a program, students should consider the individual program and resources it offers to students, e.g., networking events, lecture series, incubation center access. As students near graduation, they should also take advantage of internships, job placement programs, and career services. Even after graduating, alumni may find it helpful to stay in touch with fellow alumni or meet with their professors to gain wisdom and advice.
What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship degrees at the baccalaureate level empower graduates to take on a number of meaningful roles -- either within a company they create or at other entrepreneurially-minded ventures. Some graduates may elect to start a business from scratch and work nontraditional hours, while others may follow more traditional 40-hours-per-week paths. In any event, the entrepreneurship bachelor's provides career paths to fit the needs of varied personalities, interests, and work habits. Check out the jobs below to learn about a few of the positions available.
- Business Consultant
Rather than working with a single company, business consultants provide their problem-solving and big-picture skills to a portfolio of clients. They may work with an organization for a short or long term, offering tips on topics ranging from staffing and financial issues to project management and maximizing company efficiency.
Median Annual Salary: $71,107*
- Financial Analyst
Using the knowledge gained from extensive finance coursework taken during their undergraduate career, entrepreneurship majors working as financial analysts consult on investments, survey financial data, review trends within the general economy and their company's area of interest, create up-to-date reports about their findings, and present this information to relevant stakeholders.
Median Annual Salary: $84,300*
- Top Executive
Put simply, top executives sit at the helm of the companies they run and provide leadership, management, and supervision of other employees in the company. Rather than focusing on day-to-day operations, they typically use a big-picture lens to set and meet goals, develop policies, ensure financial solvency, and bring in new business.
Median Annual Salary: $104,700*
- Operations Manager
Whether working in a small, family-owned business or a large, multinational organization, operations managers oversee the daily running of their companies. They manage human resources, consult on purchasing, review sales and/or production records, and create policies and procedures to ensure the company as a whole runs efficiently and effectively.
Median Annual Salary: $123,460*
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship Program
Because so many schools introduced entrepreneurship degree programs in the previous decade, degree seekers may find it difficult to narrow their choices to just one school. If you feel overwhelmed by the process of picking the perfect program, consider measuring each school against a number of important factors.
First, length plays an important role. Most full-time programs take four years, although some schools may offer accelerated programs for those looking to graduate early. Some departments provide part-time options for individuals who need to work while in school. Whichever program they choose, students should ensure it offers the classes needed to further their professional goals.
Second, some students feel torn between online versus campus-based programs. While this guide focuses on traditional brick-and-mortar offerings, learners can review Best Colleges' ranking of the top online entrepreneurship programs for more info.
A third measure of potential programs involves preparation for graduation. Many programs require learners to complete an internship at a local or national organization to gain hands-on experience, while others may require a thesis or culminating project demonstrating knowledge gained throughout the course of the degree.
A final consideration centers on location. Some learners may attend a program near their home to save money, but they must also consider whether that location offers adequate career opportunities upon graduation. If looking to build connections while in school and connect with the local business community, students must decide the best location for accomplishing that goal, both while in school and after entering the working world.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship Programs
One of the most important considerations for any potential entrepreneurship degree student revolves around accreditation, a rigorous review process that schools undergo to ensure their degrees adequately prepare graduates and that students receive support along the way. Within the world of entrepreneurship schools, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) serves as the name to know. Students wondering if schools on their list have received accreditation can review the AACSB's list of approved schools and programs.
Selecting a properly accredited program represents an important step in the process of finding the perfect school, as students who attend unaccredited programs may find it difficult to transfer credits to other institutions, pursue graduate studies, or compete against other job applicants who attended accredited schools.
Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship Program Admissions
After narrowing the list of programs to which you plan to apply, the next step involves fully understanding the admissions process. The good news is that campus-based entrepreneurship degrees tend to use a less-intensive admittance process than their online counterparts, as admissions panels considering distance learners must also ascertain whether they have the focus and discipline needed to engage in independent study.
Admissions experts suggest students apply to four to eight programs, depending on the availability of coursework and suitability to the student's needs. But if learners only find five programs that offer the type of environment, academic services, and career outcomes they seek, they shouldn't apply to other programs just to hit a specific target. If unsure how to measure prospective programs, read the section earlier in this guide regarding metrics for reviewing individual degree paths.
- Minimum GPA: GPA requirements vary widely across programs, but most require at least a 2.5 or 3.0 GPA. Students unable to meet this may be able to offset the requirement with high SAT/ACT scores.
- Application: Many schools now use the Common App, which allows learners to submit information to multiple schools at once. Students should begin the application process early, as it may take time to gather necessary documents.
- Transcripts: Learners must ask any high schools or colleges they've previously attended to send official transcripts to any school to which they apply. Most schools charge a small fee for this service.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most programs require one to three recommendation letters from teachers, mentors, supervisors, or others who can speak to various facets of a student. Ask at least one month before the due date to give your recommenders time to gather their thoughts and write something meaningful.
- Test Scores: The majority of schools require ACT or SAT scores to help them ascertain where the student falls on the academic spectrum. Learners should contact individual schools to learn about acceptable scores.
- Application Fee: Application fees typically range between $25-$125 and are not refundable. Some schools waive these fees for students demonstrating academic merit and/or financial need.
What Else Can I Expect from a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship Program?
Many students want to know more about common coursework offered in bachelor's-level entrepreneurship programs before committing. While the section below highlights a few classes often seen in these programs, degree seekers should remember every program focuses on unique goals and outcomes, so they should review individual schools to get the best sense of what to expect.
Courses in a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship Program
The following section highlights some common courses for entrepreneurs pursuing this path. While most entrepreneurship courses provide similar, overarching outcomes for learning, students should remember that each program offers unique coursework, so they should check with the school to learn more.
- The Entrepreneurial Mindset
In this course, students pursuing a small business degree analyze common characteristics of entrepreneurs, with emphasis on developing skills that help them see unmet needs and opportunities within the business world. Students consider topics such as innovation, strategy, and the value of ideas.
- Low-Risk Startups
This course looks at how entrepreneurs can think smartly about creating a business on a lean budget. Topics covered include various business models, bootstrapping, and minimizing unnecessary overhead.
- Entrepreneurial Finance
This class provides a crash course in all the topics surrounding financing and creating financially profitable businesses. Aside from covering various methods of raising funds, students also learn about financial forecasting, creating long-term capital, and attracting investors.
- Social Entrepreneurship
Designed for learners who want to use their businesses and entrepreneurial skills to make the world a better place, social entrepreneurship focuses on the skills needed to create nonprofits or other socially-conscious organizations that are financially viable but also give back.
- Entrepreneurial Consulting
In addition to starting their own small businesses, many entrepreneurs find it professionally rewarding to consult with other aspiring business owners and troubleshoot issues in their companies. This course provides the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective consultant within this sphere.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship?
As with other baccalaureate programs, most bachelor's degrees in entrepreneurship require four years of full-time study for learners with no previous college experience. This schedule suits the needs of countless degree seekers, but some may have unique needs to consider. Learners who want to graduate early have numerous options.
Because high school AP courses often count toward general education requirements, motivated students can complete these and transfer them to their new school. They can also seek out accelerated programs, which often provide condensed course schedules and year-round learning.
Meanwhile, other students need more time. These learners should speak with individual schools to learn about part-time options. These learners likely pay more in semester-based fees since they will be at the school for a longer amount of time than their full-time counterparts, but the cost of tuition should remain the same.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship?
In addition to other programmatic and career factors reviewed earlier in this guide, one of the biggest considerations for many students centers on cost. According to a 2017 study by College Board, the average cost of public education ranges between $9,970 and $25,620 annually, depending on whether degree seekers receive in-state or non-resident tuition rates. Those attending private institutions pay an average annual tuition rate of $34,740. With these numbers in mind, students can easily spend six figures on their undergraduate degree and feel burdened by debt upon graduation.
Other costs to factor in include school fees, textbooks, materials, organizational dues, and technology costs. Students must also consider housing. College Board found average costs for campus-based room and board to range between $10,800 and $12,210 annually, depending on whether the school identifies as public or private. In some cases, learners may find it cheaper to live in off-campus accommodation with roommates to cut costs. Many degree seekers elect to work -- at least on a part-time basis -- to cut costs, while others spend ample time researching and applying to various grants, scholarships, and work-study programs to further offset costs.
Resources for Entrepreneurship Students
Entrepreneur.com offers helpful tips to entrepreneurs just getting started who want to avoid common errors made in the early days.
Forbes provides practical and actionable advice within this article for students who want to get their business started quickly.
In addition to taking advantage of qualified and knowledgeable professors, many resources exist at a typical college campus to help aspiring entrepreneurs thrive.
Under30CEO offers a range of helpful ideas for student entrepreneurs who want to make the most out of this season of life and build their business to be the best it can be.
For those learners who enjoy being inspired by the work of others, the podcasts listed on Entrepreneur's Top 25 list can help motivate and energize.
Professional Organizations in Entrepreneurship
Regardless of whether they are still completing degree requirements or have enjoyed work as an entrepreneur for multiple decades, all individuals can benefit from membership in a professional organization. Aside from providing a concrete and/or virtual space where entrepreneurs can come together to network and discuss shared experiences, these associations also frequently offer continuing education programs, annual conferences, insight from industry thought leaders, and active career services programs.
A global organization dedicated to serving the needs of entrepreneurs, EO provides opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions, access to industry leaders, and a fascinating blog.
In operation since 1983, the CEO program now maintains chapters at more than 250 college throughout the country. The group provides regular events and a host of resources.
To get female entrepreneurs engaged, FEA International offers member benefits, including blogs, stories of successful entrepreneurs, freebies, and learning courses.
An elite group of successful entrepreneurs under the age of 40, YEC serves members by providing peer insights and networking, personal branding and media training, and VIP events.