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More MBA Programs Trying More Ways to Teach Entrepreneurialism

A new study from the MBA Roundtable finds that more management education programs are using an increasingly wide variety of approaches to teach entrepreneurialism, and also expect student interest in the field to keep growing.

The study was conducted in 2012 by the MBA Roundtable, a nonprofit organization focused on MBA curricular design and innovation. Among its primary findings:

  • Entrepreneurship is more personal and relationship-based than other forms of business, and MBA entrepreneurship programs reflect that. The study found 91 percent of programs use at least some form of experiential learning, with only 9 percent exclusively classroom learning. They are also more apt to emphasize soft skills, such as communication, team building, and sales pitch development. They also rely more heavily on practicing entrepreneurs to teach and mentor students, and are more cross-disciplinary across campus, forming partnerships with engineering, law, life science, and medicine.
  • There continues to be debate over whether the major outcome should be new venture creation/economic development or developing a broader entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Curricula are expanding to reflect a wide range of situations that could benefit from entrepreneurship: Topics such as technology commercialization, intrapreneurship/ corporate entrepreneurship, managing growth, and social entrepreneurship are included in more than 45 percent of programs. As a result, many entrepreneurship programs are placing graduates in executive positions in early stage start-up companies.
  • Sixty percent of MBA programs expect student participation in elective entrepreneurship offerings to increase over the next three years, and are supporting this growth using increased use of incubators and adding concentrations and/or certificates.

"Entrepreneurship education has become a growth area within MBA programs, and this study supports that growth by providing more in-depth information on how MBA programs are expanding their entrepreneurship offerings," says Sarah Gardial, MBA Roundtable president and dean of the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business.

A full summary of the findings is available online at

The 2013 Entrepreneurship and the MBA study was a four-part research study that was developed and sponsored by the MBA Roundtable and administered by Percept Research of Charlotte, NC. The study included a literature review; 25 in-depth interviews with representatives from leading MBA schools; a benchmarking Web survey; and thought leadership exchanges at MBA Roundtable’s Curricular Innovation Symposium at the Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson in April 2013. The Web survey was fielded by Percept Research in April and May of 2013. Representatives from 677 MBA programs around the world were invited to participate, including members and non-members of the MBA Roundtable.  A total of 137 full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs completed the survey, with 85 percent U.S.-based and 15 percent based outside the U.S.

The study was sponsored in part by the Darden School of Business' Batten Institute, the University of Louisville Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship, and the University of Texas at Austin's Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship.

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