Entrepreneurship or Business Degree - Here is How to Decide
May 1, 2023
Starting a business is a dream for many self-motivated individuals. While innovation can be learned through trial and error, there are numerous benefits that a degree can bring to those who are interested in starting or improving a business. Entrepreneurs who take the self-taught route might find themselves underprepared to conquer unexpected challenges, but a degree can provide students with the skills and early-startup support they need to set themselves up for long-term success. It’s no wonder that 95% of entrepreneurs have at least a bachelor’s degree.
And that success isn’t limited to small businesses, either. They also contribute to a larger societal good. Startups—many of which are run by young entrepreneurs including recent graduates and even current students—support the overall economy in ways that are more important than ever post-pandemic.
That could explain why entrepreneurship is on the rise. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, business startups grew from 3.5 million in 2019 to 4.4 million in 2020 in the U.S. alone. Plus, a Culture Co-op survey in Time magazine found that 61 percent of Gen Z-ers said they planned to start their own business or work independently within the next five years.
Deciding to pursue a college degree in this field is just the beginning. When it comes to choosing a specific path for higher education, aspiring entrepreneurs (like you!) often need to make the choice of whether to pursue an entrepreneurship degree, as opposed to a more traditional business degree. So how do you know which road to take?
The most important first step in determining the best decision for your goals is to understand how the degrees compare. It is also crucial that you consider your own interests and big-picture vision, as well as what your degree will mean for your job prospects, and your life, after you graduate.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Skill Focuses and Classes
While they are both tied to the subject of business, a business degree and an entrepreneurship degree are actually not the same thing.
Essentially, a conventional business degree offers a broader education that covers a wider range of business topics. It provides insights into the fundamentals of all things business, as a whole. “All things business” is, of course, a highly general category that can be applied to countless fields. Because of this, the coursework for this kind of degree is less targeted, equipping students with a more general skill set that includes things like management, administration, and risk assessment.
An entrepreneurship degree, on the other hand, offers a more narrow focus on topics that are directly aimed at innovation and creation. While at first thought, entrepreneurship courses may seem to target students who are looking to start their own businesses in the future—or students who already have— but in reality, corporate workers and those seeking to advance into a new career can highly benefit from these taught skills. From ideating and launching to sustaining and growing, these kinds of skills are very specialized and teach strategies that go past just risk assessment. Think skills such as learning how to build an initial business plan, identifying investors and securing funds, managing risk and evolving a company to adapt in response to changes in the market. At Drexel University specifically, these kinds of courses that are sure to excite entrepreneurial spirits include Thought Leadership, Social Entrepreneurship and Ready, Set, Fail, which help students develop an appreciation for risk and the potential for failure in order to move past it.
There is some overlap in the type of coursework between these two concentrations. That being said, while many aspects of a traditional business degree are relevant to entrepreneurship students, not all entrepreneurship coursework is relevant to those pursuing a broader business degree.
The difference between an entrepreneurship degree and a business degree extends beyond coursework and into post-graduation life, too. Historically, and in general, people who graduate with a business degree have had a clearer path toward their first job out of college. And it’s not hard to see why: These job seekers often apply to already established companies through familiar interview methods and work programs. Employers in this scenario may be inclined to give preference to an applicant with a business degree as it has been the “standard hire”. But intrapreneurs - entrepreneurs that work within a company or corporation - are a great addition to any team as they come equipped with a growth mindset that transforms company growth.
Remember: A clearer, linear path doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better path. And now more than ever, many would agree that this method of evaluating applicants could be a mistake on the part of the employer as large companies start to stagnate in their maturation phase and are in desperate need of fresh ideas and transformation by intrapreneurs.
Applicants with an entrepreneurship degree possess specialized skills that can actually give them an edge in the traditional business world, and not just in relation to startups. As entrepreneurship continues to grow in popularity in the United States and around the world, we can expect an increasing number of employers to value the skill sets these self-starters could bring to their companies. The ability to innovate, communicate effectively and executive efficiently are just a few of these tools that are very well-prized in today’s professional world (not to mention, your personal life), across a wide range of disciplines. Companies are even establishing programs and requiring employees to go back for certifications and graduate opportunities that will teach them the valuable skills that entrepreneurs bring.
According to a McKinsey Global Innovation Study, 84 percent of executives consider their future success to be very dependent on innovation, and 82 percent of organizations incorporate innovation exactly the same as they would any measure to achieve performance gain.
Plus, entrepreneurs who are ready to launch a company post-graduation don’t need to embark on a traditional job search to find a role that suits them at an existing business. They are creating their own opportunities rather than relying on what’s out there. Not only is it nice to have this extra bit of independence, but it can also provide real, valuable security in times when the job market is weak and prospects are low.
If you do decide to go with a more traditional business career after graduating with an entrepreneurship degree, there are certain positions that will be especially relevant to the skills you’ve learned in college. These positions include fundraiser, management analyst, business consultant and recruiter, just to name a few.
BENEFITS OF AN ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEGREE
Why go with the more specialized approach of pursuing an entrepreneurship degree rather than a more general business education? Some may consider a focused approach to be limiting, but a zeroed-in, targeted skill set can give you an edge in the eyes of prospective employers and in the day-to-day responsibilities of your future job.
On top of that, there are perks of an entrepreneurship education that will impact your college experience before you even enter the job market.
Entrepreneurship degrees require you to take fewer of the classes you’re not as interested in, so you can prioritize what is most important for your individual goals. In most cases as an entrepreneurship student, you’ll be required to take fewer math and science classes than you would with a business degree. In other words, if you’re super passionate about starting your own business but not so passionate about equations and lab work, you can still follow your ambition without being deterred by the need to complete those other courses.
Even though entrepreneurship degrees cover specific topics that will be particularly relevant to launching projects and running a startup, that doesn’t mean these students are pigeonholed in this field. On the contrary, while general business students need to prioritize minors like finance or marketing, an entrepreneurship path offers the chance to experience a more interdisciplinary education. It’s yet another way that you’re able to tailor your degree according to your own personal interests—a factor that’s attractive to most students, but especially entrepreneurial ones.
The cherry on top of the benefits of an entrepreneurship degree? The potential for a higher salary! According to findings from Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a business administrator is $56,404 per year, while the average salary for an entrepreneur is $81,434 per year.
Enhanced Opportunities at the Close School
Since Drexel is home to a designated entrepreneurship school, there are an abundance of additional resources that go above and beyond to specifically support budding entrepreneurs. These include programs that offer experiential education for invaluable real-world experience. Even Drexel’s location itself contributes to the richness of its entrepreneurial programs since the city of Philadelphia is a continuously blossoming hub for innovation and business having been ranked an innovation hub.
One of Drexel’s defining experiential offerings is the Co-Op program. Short for cooperative education, Co-Ops are an alternating mix of traditional coursework and full-time employment. This program allows full-time students to apply the curriculum they’ve learned inside the classroom to real situations outside the classroom, working hands-on with active companies. Undergraduate students can gain up to 18 months of this hands-on experience, while graduate students can gain up to six months. And if you’re a particularly passionate entrepreneur who is extra eager to jump into post-graduate life, Drexel offers a three-year degree program. The three-year degree comprises all the coursework, rigor and standards of the four- and five-year degrees, but in a shorter time frame.
Supporting these students even further is Steinbright's Peer Mentor Program, which connects current co-op students with students who have already experienced co-op. By opening that line of communication, the current students can exchange ideas and receive key guidance from seasoned peers who have been there and done that.
If you’re a student who qualifies, you’ll receive a $19,000 scholarship to support your efforts...
While the co-op program is a requirement for most majors, the Close School also features special funding opportunities that are not necessarily built into the path of a business major. This includes an entrepreneurship-specific Co-Op experience that allows Drexel undergraduate students the chance to use their own company as their co-op focus—a truly incredible opportunity to grow a young business. If you’re a student who qualifies, you’ll receive a $19,000 scholarship to support your efforts. That’s in addition to priceless one-on-one mentoring from Close faculty members and experienced entrepreneurs. Plus, you’ll be granted your very own workspace in the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship—another feature of the Close School designed to propel entrepreneurs toward success.
The crown jewel of a Drexel entrepreneurship education, the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship is so much more than just a physical space. The state-of-the-art institute provides incubation and experiential programs that help students harness classroom lessons combined with mentorship, to innovate disruptive ideas and launch tangible companies. Featuring a plethora of services, from legal aid to formal mentorship and advising, the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship is a place where aspiring business owners can rub shoulders with esteemed faculty members and innovators all across campus.
In addition to the educational component on Drexel’s campus, entrepreneurship students will graduate with a robust alumni network. They’ll have access to this incredibly helpful group of individuals who are just as passionate about entrepreneurship and can relate closely to their experiences.
DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
It's important to note that entrepreneurship and business are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs have a business degree and have leveraged their business knowledge to start and grow their own ventures. Similarly, individuals with an entrepreneurship degree can also pursue careers in established companies, using their innovative mindset and problem-solving skills to drive growth and change.
Both entrepreneurship and business degrees have their unique advantages, and the decision between the two ultimately depends on your individual interests, goals, and career aspirations. An entrepreneurship degree can provide you with specialized skills, practical experience, and a supportive community to help you succeed in the entrepreneurial world. On the other hand, a business degree can offer a broader education and open doors to a wide range of business-related careers. Regardless of your choice, it's important to carefully consider your personal interests, long-term goals, and the skills you want to develop, and choose the path that aligns best with your vision for your future.