Marshall launches entrepreneurial degree

The Marshall School of Business announced Tuesday that it will launch a new Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree through its highly ranked Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurship Studies.

James G. Ellis, dean of Marshall, said the new program will address the increased desire for professionals with entrepreneurial backgrounds.

“There is a growing demand among students with technical backgrounds for a consolidated, MBA-type degree that has a real focus on young enterprises,” Ellis said in a press release. “With the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Greif Center is meeting this need — equipping technically proficient students with critical business skills for long-term career success.”

The experimental program, which can be completed in as little as 12 months, will welcome its inaugural class in fall 2014. There will be approximately 25 students accepted into the program from a four-year baccalaureate program along with working professionals and those with advanced degrees.

Both full-time and part-time programs will be offered, with classes beginning during a brief pre-fall semester. The part-time program can be completed in two years, with many classes being offered at night to accommodate the needs of working professionals. All 26 units needed to complete the degree will be taught at the University Park Campus.

The new program continues the trend at Marshall of introducing new curriculum focused on entrepreneurship to prospective students. Earlier this year, Marshall introduced a master’s focused on social entrepreneurship through the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab.

Andrea Belz, academic director of the new MSEI program and a professor at Marshall, elaborated on the potential of the newly formed program.

“It is a focused curriculum for people interested in launching new ventures, whether it’s an existing company or a startup,” Belz said.

The program will culminate with a capstone course, taught by Belz, called Venture Initiation, that focuses on how to get a business off the ground and turn a concept into reality.

Belz also discussed certain challenges the program seeks to address for its startup-minded students.

“Entrepreneurs get asked a lot of hard questions, in particular during the fundraising phase, such as, ‘What is your Plan B or Plan C, also questions about sales projections, payroll and information technology, to name a few,” Belz said.

She noted how investors in the L.A. area will come and speak with students on the best way to address these challenges.

“We bring in a number of experts from the Los Angeles fundraising market to discuss these issues with students, the best ways to address them and other tips for pitch meetings,” Belz said. “Students can learn what venture capital and other investors look for in potential investments directly from the source. This allows students to answer these questions in the classroom prior to a live pitch meeting and provides a strong foundation for our students     post-graduation.”