U-M to Offer Entrepreneurial Education Among All Majors

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The University of Michigan will offer an entrepreneurship program — open to all majors — as early as fall 2014, the school announced Monday. Thomas Zurbuchen, the newly appointed senior counselor for entrepreneurial education, will lead the design of the program.

The new initiative will be an improved version of the nine credit hour program — available to 90 percent of undergraduate students — offered through the Center for Entrepreneurship at U-M’s College of Engineering. While the current program offers students a certificate upon completion, the new program will likely include a minor.

As U-M introduces a campus-wide program in entrepreneurship, Zurbuchen says the institution will phase out the previous format.

“It will be possible to create specializations so that you might be able to get a minor and focus on social entrepreneurship in poor urban areas, or you might also specialize in high-tech entrepreneurship, focused on the process of creating a new venture based on new technology,” says Zurbuchen, also the associate dean for entrepreneurial programs at the College of Engineering.

Zurbuchen will work with all 19 U-M schools and colleges to set the curriculum and parameters. The program will likely be based off of a new set of core courses using the skills and specialties from across the campus (i.e., business basics from the Ross School of Business, innovation from the social sciences and arts units, and tech innovation from the College of Engineering).

“With that common vocabulary, we will create the basis for electives and in-depth specialty courses and ­— most importantly — hands-on experiential courses in which we teach by actually doing entrepreneurial projects,” Zurbuchen says.

He adds the university will coordinate and grow entrepreneurial co-curricular activities such as the TechArb student business incubator, the startup career fair, various business plan and idea competitions, and some 16 innovation-related student clubs across campus.

“Our goal is to create the best creativity toolset in the world for students who want to learn how to ‘be the difference’ anywhere in the world,” Zurbuchen says. “A lot of this, we won’t have to build. We just need to bundle.

“Entrepreneurial activities have grown tremendously here over the past decade. This isn’t a top-down effort. This energy is coming mostly from the bottom up, and that’s how revolutions happen.”

Today, U-M offers close to 40 undergraduate entrepreneurship classes taught by professors from 17 different departments. An estimated 600 undergrads are enrolled in the classes or university-sponsored offerings.

Earlier this year, the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked U-M the top university in the nation for graduate-level entrepreneurship programs.

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