‘U’ to offer new master’s degree in entrepreneurship

By Marisa Winter, For the Daily
Published July 30, 2011

For master’s students looking to study entrepreneurship, they will no longer have to look any further than the University. Beginning this fall, the College of Engineering will be collaborating with the Ross School of Business to offer a professional master’s degree in entrepreneurship.

Tim Faley, Business School professor and managing director at the University’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, said the collaboration will bridge together science and business to develop additional methods of innovation.

“It will satisfy a huge need for technologists who want to be innovative or are interested in commercialization of science and commercialization in general,” Faley said.

He said engineering and business alumni fueled the idea for the new program because many believe one specialization is no longer sufficient to be successful in the working world.

“Traditional education avenues no longer work in a dynamic world,” Faley said. “Skills in all areas fill the gap the ‘U’ isn’t offering. It’s not an MBA, which trains a student how to be a business person, and it’s not a science degree. It’s the white space in between that creates a bridge between science and business.”

Faley added the program was put into motion in response to both student interest and the demand from major companies looking for students who had both technical and business experience.

“We were overwhelmed at how hungry engineering students were to learn business,” he said. “An increasing company demand, for example from Google and Cisco Systems, would ask for students to become engineers, but they would be much more effective in a corporation if they knew how science would be commercialized.”

The Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies — which also supports TechArb, the University's entrepreneurial hub — backed the creation of the master's degree. Faley said he hopes the Zell Institute will later expand the experiment across campus and help form a similar program with the Law School.

David Munson, dean of engineering, said the University is unique because it has both nationally renowned business and engineering school, adding that the joint effort will produce one of the best programs in the country.

“The melding of the business and tech world will generate a lot more activity in southeast Michigan and throughout the country and world,” Munson said.

Munson added that a business background can benefit an engineering student in many practical ways as they embark upon a career in the corporate world.

“Students have a lot of ideas for engineering companies to get formed but not enough business knowledge or experience to start a company on their own,” Munson said. “Alumni in engineering were pushing very hard for additional programming. Alumni who took courses in business and are in the working world had a clear advantage by knowing about business.”

Doug Neal, managing director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, said the degree was created out of a demand for students seeking to acquire the skills necessary to start their own businesses.

“(The program was created) out of a market need for graduate students looking for an opportunity to get education experience and quickly grow startup ideas,” Neal said.

There is currently a nine-credit academic program for undergraduate engineering students.