Earning a Master's in Entrepreneurship Online

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Unlike other degrees that tend to focus on specific fields or industries, entrepreneurship opens the doors to endless career paths. Whether starting a tech company, clothing boutique, industrial manufacturing plant, or writing business, entrepreneurs typically combine the skills of business alongside knowledge about their chosen product or service. While prior generations focused on finding a career that offered job stability in the form of traditional employment, younger generations believe they can find both stability and growth in entrepreneurial pursuits. Individuals interested in completing a master's in entrepreneurship online understand the benefit of possessing skills instilled by the degree and enjoy the flexibility of distance learning. The following guide discusses salary potential, how to pay for a degree, and requirements to move from matriculation to graduation.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship?

Master's in entrepreneurship online programs appeal to a variety of individuals interested in building an innovative and meaningful business. Those pursuing this path typically possess a hard work ethic and a clear goal. After completing a bachelor's level program, applicants realize they want to continue their education at the graduate level. They also recognize that, to fulfill their entrepreneurial goals, they need to undertake this specialized degree. Lastly, applicants look at the salary and career prospects available to entrepreneurs and decide that a degree can meet their needs.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship?

Pursuing Specialization

While completing a general business degree gives students skills in all the traditional focus areas (e.g. finance, marketing, accounting, HR), these degrees do not teach the skills from an entrepreneurial mindset. By specializing in this topic, students learn how to use these skills to build their own businesses rather than furthering the goals of others. Some specializations, such as real estate entrepreneurship or fashion entrepreneurship, also provide additional skills related to specific industries.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Before striking out on their own, many entrepreneurs-in-training work in other independent or start-up environments to further hone their skills and pick up additional knowledge about running their own businesses. Other entrepreneurs typically value the interests and passions of these individuals, as they want employees who understand what they want to accomplish. This can lead to higher levels of responsibility -- and salaries -- during their time at the company.

Online Learning Technology

By completing a master's in entrepreneurship online, students accomplish two important tasks at once: they earn a degree and learn how to engage and harness the latest communication technologies. Today's entrepreneurs work to understand how best practices in technology and communication can improve their businesses, and learning about emerging tools in school can help set students on the right path moving forward.

Prerequisites for Online Entrepreneurship Programs

When applying to an online business master's in entrepreneurship program, students need to meet a few prerequisites if they want to receive serious consideration from their schools of interest.

    • Work Experience: The majority of master's in entrepreneurship online programs expect students to possess some work/internship experience, as it can provide real-life case studies while in class. Some require a set number of years while others look at the students' application as a whole to determine their preparedness.
    • Exams and Test Scores: While not all schools require exam scores when applying to a master's in entrepreneurship online, those that do typically want either GRE or GMAT scores. Most colleges and universities look for either GRE scores ranging from 150-170 or GMAT scores ranging from 545-700. Test scores remain valid for five years.
    • Coursework: Because entrepreneurship represents such a unique subject area, the majority of schools do not require learners to have specific classes on their transcript in order to receive consideration. They do, however, usually set GPA requirements. The number ranges significantly based on the school, but most require between a 2.5-3.5 GPA.
    • Recommendations: Recommendation letters play a significant role in the application process, as they provide admissions panels with outside opinions about the candidate. Most schools require between one and three letters of recommendation -- typically from a former professor, supervisor, mentor, or colleague.
    • Essays: Essays represent an important component of the application, as they allow the student to creatively speak about prior experiences, motivations, their reasons for completing the degree, and how they hope to use it after graduating. Most schools provide a prompt for students to answer.
    • Interviews: Interview requirements depend entirely on the school. Most departments do not require them unless the program is considered highly competitive and the admissions panel needs more information about the applicant to make an informed decision.
    • International Students: In addition to the information discussed above, international students must demonstrate English language proficiency by providing satisfactory TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores. They also need to prove their eligibility to receive a U.S. student visa.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship?

According to PayScale, small business owners earn average salaries of $71,490. Those in the lowest 10% of earnings bring home $29,000 each year, while those in the highest 10% make $150,000 annually. Earnings for entrepreneurs can also vary based on things like experience level, education, creativity, and how well businesses takes off. The next two sections take a look at a few traditional and nontraditional jobs for entrepreneurs.

Traditional Careers for Entrepreneurs

Career Stats Description

Business Consultant

Median Pay: $108,250

Job Growth: 10%

Also known as training and development managers, these professionals operate an independent business consulting service which includes developing organizational and people-management strategies for other companies on a contract basis. They often work within the office hours set by their clients.

Ideal for: Positive people motivators with strong relationship management and critical thinking skills.

Small Business Owner

Median Pay: $71,490

Job Growth: N/A

Much like the CEOs in traditional business settings, small business owners hold responsibility for the business as a whole. In small businesses, owners often function as numerous department heads. They may create and manage budgets, hire and arrange training for employees, develop marketing strategies, and create strategic plans for the future.

Ideal for: Individuals who motivate themselves, possess leadership qualities, and can boast a well-researched business concept.

Creative Freelancer

Median Pay: $70,530

Job Growth: 8%

Whether working as a writer, artist, designer, editor, or photographer, many creatives operate in a freelance capacity or run their own small business. In addition to their actual creative work, these professionals find clients, create and maintain invoices, network with other creative individuals, and market their work.

Ideal for: Artistic individuals who also possess the skills needed to understand and successfully run a business.

Franchise General Manager

Median Pay: $46,040

Job Growth: N/A

Working within company branding and creative guidelines, general franchise managers create strategic plans for the branches they work in. They also seek out growth opportunities, communicate strategies, develop action plans, and make tweaks and changes along the way to keep the company moving forward.

Ideal for: Detailed individuals who can take a plan and move it forward.

Non-Traditional Careers for Entrepreneurs

Career Stats Description

Real Estate Manager

Median Pay: $58,670

Job Growth: 10%

Whether managing a single property or working as part of a large real estate conglomerate, these professionals oversee the care and upkeep of residential and commercial properties. They ensure that tenants pay rent and that repairs are made, while also liaising with owners to review budgets and set future goals.

Ideal for: Multi-tasking professionals who enjoy working with many different types of people.

Trade or Construction Manager

Median Pay: $91,370

Job Growth: 11%

Working in both residential and commercial development, trade/construction managers typically manage the creation and construction of a building. They work with architects, create and oversee budgets, hire workers and specialists, ensure proper permitting, handle delays, and communicate with clients throughout the process.

Ideal for: Hands-on individuals who enjoy managing projects from start to finish.

Financial Consultant

Median Pay: $84,300

Job Growth: 11%

Working in concert with individuals and companies, these professionals advise clients on decisions related to investments. They create individualized investment portfolios, study market trends, review organizational data on profitability and value, and examine the existing financial investment behaviors of clients.

Ideal for: Individuals with an eye for sound investments who like working with varied clients.

App Developer

Median Pay: $106,710

Job Growth: 24%

Whether working in a freelance capacity or at a tech firm, app developers liaise with clients to assess their needs and develop a corresponding app. While developing the app, they consider topics such as user friendliness, outcomes and goals, and industry trends.

Ideal for: Tech-forward individuals who enjoy creatively using their skills to meet varied client needs.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Entrepreneurship

As the cost of completing a master's degree in entrepreneurship online continues to rise, many students must find creative ways of paying for their education. Some learners find that in-state degrees offer lower tuition rates, while others find that an accelerated program allows them to graduate more quickly. In addition to these options, students should also research funding. Aside from subject-specific entrepreneurial scholarships offered by professional organizations and foundations, many schools provide departmental scholarships, grants, and student assistantships to lower costs.

Tuition Timelines

Students can find part-time, full-time, and accelerated master's in entrepreneurship online programs to meet individual needs. Each school profiled below gives a sense of what to expect.

Part-Time Path

Indiana University's Kelley School of Business provides a part-time option for individuals working while enrolled.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Indiana University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Students spend five semesters completing coursework; those who take summer classes finish in two years, and those who do not spend three years enrolled. All told, the degree costs $39,900. Indiana University does not offer a tuition agreement, meaning the cost-per-credit could rise during your time there.

Full-Time Path

Students seeking full-time options can pursue the American Public University's Master of Arts of Entrepreneurship.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: American Public University
Total Credits Required: 36 quarter credits
Summary: Students can complete APU's program in as little as two years of full-time study, paying about $6,600 annually. Military-affiliated students pay a reduced tuition rate of $325 per credit hour and receive a waiver for technology fees. For full-time consideration, students must take nine credits per 16-week semester.

Accelerated Path

Benedictine University offers an accelerated MBA in entrepreneurship and managing innovation that students can complete in 12 months.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Benedictine University
Total Credits Required: 64-quarter credit hours
Summary: Full-time students can complete this accelerated program in just 12 months. Students with a background in business may receive waivers for foundational courses. Learners may also take advantage of tuition reimbursement by submitting documentation that demonstrates eligibility from their employer. Benedictine University's tuition and fees may change, but students can ask if they should expect tuition rates to rise.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Master's degrees cost a lot, and not many students can pay for them out-of-pocket. Thankfully, a number of scholarships exist to help cover costs.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Entrepreneurship Program

Entrepreneurship programs vary in length, but most full-time learners complete the degree in one to two years. During that time, they cover topics such as entrepreneurial financial management, business planning, small business marketing, and taxation. At the end of the degree, they often create an expansive culminating project -- such as a business plan -- to pull together all they learned into a practical takeaway. Learning takes place through online chat rooms, telecommunications, email, phone, and forums.

Major Milestones

  1. Capstone Coursework – Final semester

    This culminating class requires learners to develop a comprehensive final project that demonstrates what they learned from the program while enrolled. Many students prepare a fully formed business plan.

  2. Internships/Apprenticeships/Job Shadowing – Final year

    Internships and job shadowing frequently appear on entrepreneurship plans of study, as they allow students to learn firsthand about the successes and failures of other entrepreneurs.

  3. Incubation Participation – Throughout degree

    Many schools provide business incubation centers where students either continue developing their own business or work on teams to manage and lead existing businesses.

  4. Thesis Preparation and Defense – Final year

    While not always required, some learners opt to research and write a thesis if they find themselves more interested in the academic side of the discipline. Those wanting to pursue a Ph.D. often follow this path.

  5. Intent to Graduate/Completion Confirmation – Final semester

    After completing all degree requirements, students must signal their intent to graduate by filling out a program completion form, paying fees, and registering for the graduation ceremony.

  6. Application to Professional School – Final year

    Individuals wanting to continue their learning find suitable programs, submit applications, and ask their current supervisors/professors to write letters of recommendation. They must also ask the school to send official transcripts.

Coursework

In the process of completing a master's in entrepreneurship online degree, students encounter a number of helpful classes. Those highlighted below offer a taste of what to expect, but students should contact individual schools for complete plans of study.

Entrepreneurial Strategy

This course teaches students how to conduct competitive analysis and how to use that information to strategically structure and develop businesses. Learners also consider strengths and weaknesses of both themselves and their competitors.

Financial Management

Learners in this class review topics related to financial projections, creating budgets, hiring staff, scaling business ideas, and developing comprehensive financial management tools to keep the business on track.

Managing Talent

This course helps students consider aspects related to hiring and managing employees, emphasizing leveraging their skills. Learners reflect on their leadership abilities before reviewing case studies.

Entrepreneurial Technology

Recognizing that many small businesses require the entrepreneur to perform multiple functions, this course introduces learners to technologies and processes that maximize their time and create efficient results.

Finding Opportunities

Creative in nature, this course teaches students how to identify opportunities and gaps in the market and decide how to best act on them. Students review case studies and discuss business ideas with peers and professors.

Requirements to Practice

While the majority of entrepreneurial ventures do not require licensure or certification, some students plan to create businesses in fields that do mandate these credentials -- for instance, someone who wants to open an architecture firm needs licensure. Though not a requirement for entrepreneurs, some optional certifications demonstrate additional mastery that might lead to more funding opportunities and better connections. Likewise, though entrepreneurs do not need work experience, many students may want to work in their field for a few years to learn the nuances before starting their own business.

    • Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship: The University of Phoenix offers this 18-credit certificate for students wanting to further develop the skills needed to successfully run a small business. Learners must take tests in each class. This certificate costs $7,160 and is delivered fully online.
    • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Harvard Extension School provides this certificate to individuals who want to innovatively think about their business ventures. The program requires four courses and usually takes 1.5 years to complete. The average cost is $11,000.
    • Entrepreneurship: Georgia Tech's Scheller College of Business provides this graduate certificate for future entrepreneurs who feel they need more training in the topic before venturing out. It requires 12 credits; the cost depends on whether the student resides in Georgia or elsewhere.
    • Entrepreneurship & Strategy: The Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina offers this certificate as part of the MBA department. It requires 10 credits that students must complete within 18 months. Tuition costs $1880 per credit.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Because entrepreneurs running small businesses often work alone or with a small staff, they need outlets for and access to professional networking, continuing education, and industry publications. Professional organizations fill this void by creating a community in the entrepreneurial world. Whether just starting out or a business-owning veteran, the organizations highlighted below can provide much help.

  • Entrepreneurs' Organization: This global association serves entrepreneurs by providing one-on-one peer learning, industry expert networking, venture accelerators, and publications. EO boasts more than 13,000 members across 57 countries and 179 local chapters.
  • Startup Grind: This high energy organization maintains a presence in 450 cities across 120 countries and now stands at 1.5 million entrepreneurs and counting. Members can take part in inspiring speaker events, conferences, and coaching.
  • Young Entrepreneur Council: This exclusive group provides peer advice and mentoring, member-led webinars, branding tools, in-house publications, local and national events, and VIP experiences.
  • Female Entrepreneur Association: This organization supports women entrepreneurs by providing member meetups, access to video blogs and posts, inspiring success stories, and free resources for building your business.
  • Ashoka: As the leading organization for social entrepreneurs, Ashoka connects members worldwide through meaningful networking events, stories of work being done, and skills-building workshops and materials.

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