Completing an online entrepreneurship degree at the bachelor's level offers graduates opportunities to pursue careers with startups, gain experience with established organizations, and start their own businesses. When reviewing online entrepreneurship courses and degrees, learners should look at specific elements and outcomes to find the best fit. The following guide looks at common outcomes, how the degree can be used, and explains the importance of accreditation and professional organizations. Readers should pay attention to potential careers, as well as research on average salaries.
Overview of Entrepreneurship Degrees
An online degree in entrepreneurship at the bachelor's level helps students gain the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to start their own venture. When used in this context, entrepreneurship refers to the process of planning, developing, opening, and running a business. Rather than working for someone else as an employee, entrepreneurs are their own bosses. Entrepreneurship degrees teach students the skills necessary for success. Degree seekers learn about business planning, due diligence, financial management, marketing, and other facets of running a small business.
Most entrepreneurship degree online programs do not have in-person requirements, although many suggest students complete an internship with a local entrepreneur to learn hands-on skills. This degree path appeals to those who enjoy thinking outside the box, know they want to work as their own bosses, and possess the dedication and focus needed to see their ideas come to fruition. Career outlook information doesn't exist for entrepreneurs given the wide variety of companies they start, but the U.S. Small Business Administration maintains some general data. Approximately 80% of all new small business started in 2016 survived at least one year, while approximately 50% of all new small businesses survive at least five years.
When applying to an entrepreneur school online, prospective students must submit supporting documents alongside their applications. Most schools require minimum GPAs between 2.0 and 3.5 as well as all past transcripts.
Colleges and universities also want scores from any standardized test taken, such as the ACT or SAT. Alongside these scores, those pursuing an online entrepreneur degree must provide letters of recommendation. Lastly, unless students receive a waiver, most schools charge an application fee.
What Will I Learn?
Because entrepreneurs hope to one day open small businesses, the curriculum of an online entrepreneurship degree focuses on instilling transferable skills that can be used in any type of industry. Topics will include social entrepreneurship, new venture planning, international entrepreneurship, managing a family business, and understanding entrepreneurial consulting.
For example, the University of Illinois at Chicago offers a bachelor's in entrepreneurship in which students complete 48 credits related to general education, 45 focused on the business core, 18 devoted to major requirements, and nine credits for business electives. Most programs require 120-128 credits.
When reviewing the sample course descriptions below, keep in mind each school's curriculum will vary.
Managing Small Businesses
This first-year course introduces students to common topics in entrepreneurship, including acquiring capital, finding success, employing sound management principles, and handling accounting and financial management. This class helps students build a foundation for future studies.
With a focus on innovation and creativity, this course helps students think about business opportunities and look for industry gaps. Students consider consumer trends, shifts in technology, and ideas/concepts like their own.
Starting a Digital Media Business
Designed for students who want to embrace evolving technologies and build a business within the digital media industry, this course focuses on the skills needed. Students take part in semester-long business incubations, with some working to launch a global podcast and others getting a digital image consulting firm off the ground.
Crowdfunding Entrepreneurial Ventures
The rise of sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Fundrazr has made it easier for entrepreneurs to develop campaigns that help fund their ideas. This course teaches students how to harness new technology, discusses ethical and legal considerations, and offers guidelines on how to successfully scale a new business.
As expanded technology continues making it easier to connect with world markets, this course teaches students interested in growing their business outside the U.S. about global venture creation and management. Students review topics like cultural considerations, varied legal/ethical requirements, international marketing strategies, and income reporting.
Marketing for Entrepreneurs
Essential for student entrepreneurs, this course covers topics such as standing out in competitive industries, use of limited resources in marketing strategies, sustained awareness, the use of social media and new digital solutions, and using freelance marketing consultants.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship?
Students pursuing an online degree in entrepreneurship at the bachelor's level can select from numerous career paths after graduating. While some may want to immediately launch their business ideas, others may decide to continue building skills by working at a company for a few years. The following sections highlight some of the core skills gained from this degree and review potential careers.
Completing an entrepreneurship degree online instills the necessary skills and knowledge for launching and maintaining a successful venture. While some of the lessons learned in these programs transfer to specialized areas, most relate directly to entrepreneurial success. When reviewing the skills highlighted below, think about how each relates to the career you are interested in.
In these programs, entrepreneurs learn to communicate effectively in order to demonstrate the practical elements of their idea and how it can succeed. Entrepreneurs must learn to embrace optimism: starting a new business can feel daunting and those without proper knowledge may let the fear of failure overwhelm them before their idea takes off. This means they must also possess a high tolerance for risk, as even the best-planned business has no guarantee of success.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Because entrepreneurs can be found in every industry, graduates with an online degree in entrepreneurship have transferable skills that help them succeed in business. Many entrepreneurs gain real-world experience working for a startup or established company before opening their own business. Entrepreneurship degrees serve these learners well, as many of the skills gained while enrolled transfer easily to business settings. Other entrepreneurs often value having these individuals on their teams, as they understand the driving forces and motivations of starting a small business. When reviewing the careers below, think about how each can help better equip you to start your own venture.
Annual Median Salary: $100,410
These professionals manage the day-to-day and long-term operations of the companies they serve. They oversee human relations, coordinate delivery of materials, handle purchasing, create general systems of operation, and manage administrative staff.
Human Resources (HR) Manager
Annual Median Salary: $110,120
HR managers oversee administrative tasks and staff. They hire, train, and fire employees, manage benefits programs, hire outside vendors to provide continuing education, manage administrative budgets, and liaise with other departments on personnel issues.
Annual Median Salary: $129,380
Also called a sales manager, these detail-oriented individuals manage and encourage ongoing relationships with customers. They stay in touch with clients to ensure continued business, check in often to see if customers need to reorder, and provide personalized attention to let clients know their business is important.
Annual Median Salary: $129,380
Tasked with getting the word out about their company's product or service, marketing managers use traditional and digital media, advertising campaigns, and other creative strategies. They work with outside vendors to design campaigns and liaise with the accounting department to set competitive pricing.
Annual Median Salary: $71,670
Rather than working for a single organization, business consultants work on short- and long-term projects for many clients, helping them improve procedures and outcomes. They gather information about issues, talk with staff members, and recommend changes.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Entrepreneurship?
As learners finish their bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship, many wonder whether they need to earn an advanced degree. While an entrepreneurship degree online at the bachelor's level instills many of the skills needed to find success, individuals interested in advanced knowledge of entrepreneurial principles, or those who want to take on a leadership role at an established company before striking out on their own, may benefit from further education. Some individuals may find that a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship prepares them fully for the role they want.
Accreditation for Entrepreneurship Bachelor's Programs
Accreditation is important when choosing an online entrepreneurship degree. Students who attend unaccredited or improperly accredited programs can run into significant issues later, such as difficulties transferring courses, finding employment, or receiving licensure/certification. Two types of accreditation exist: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation exists in both regional and national forms, with regional accreditation generally considered the more rigorous of the two. No entrepreneurship-specific accrediting body currently exists, but the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredits numerous colleges of business that house entrepreneurship programs.
Entrepreneurship Professional Organizations
Regardless of industry, professional organizations for entrepreneurs offer myriad benefits to both recent graduates and business veterans. Because entrepreneurs can sometimes feel disconnected from other professionals, these associations help them meet others working toward similar outcomes, learn best practices, find resources, and participate in continuing education initiatives.
As the only global professional association devoted to furthering the interests of entrepreneurs, EO serves members by providing interactive learning opportunities, access to entrepreneurial experts, and networking events throughout the world.
United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship
USASBE serves thousands of members each year. They provide education and research on entrepreneurship and public policy, have local chapters and affiliates, sponsor an annual conference, and provide opportunities to continue growing entrepreneurial skills and knowledge alongside peers.
The Entrepreneur Association at UCLA's Anderson School of Management is one example of the campus-based entrepreneurship organizations at colleges and universities throughout the country. Students and alumni can benefit from membership through mentoring, continuing education, and networking.