Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Iowa is a state of entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration classifies 99% of Iowa businesses as small businesses, and they employ nearly half of the state’s workers. Each one got its start from an entrepreneur with an idea. 

A new major in entrepreneurship offered by the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business will help strengthen and support those businesses and equip students to start their own. The major was approved Feb. 28 by the Iowa Board of Regents and will begin in Fall 2024. Students who complete the coursework will receive a Bachelor's in Business Administration (BBA) degree in Entrepreneurship. 

“For Iowa’s economy to prosper, we need a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and access to educated talent to help those businesses meet the challenges of a global economy,” said Amy Kristof-Brown, dean of the Tippie College of Business. “This new major will prepare students to either launch or join existing companies and foster economic development at the community level.”

She said Tippie has unique strengths that leave it well-positioned to provide a high-quality education in entrepreneurship. The college is home to the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC), which has been providing entrepreneurship education programs across campus and the state since 1996, including a number of entrepreneurial certificate programs. 

Students in the new major can also access the university’s world-class programs in engineering, biosciences, health care, and other science and technology programs to spark new business ideas. 

“The University of Iowa and the Tippie College of Business are at the forefront of innovation in many fields, and this new major will help to evaluate and commercialize many of those discoveries,” said Kristof-Brown. "Students in the new major will have access to comprehensive resources for launching a company and a significant network of alumni, entrepreneurs, and business leaders for mentoring, internships, experiential learning, and job placement.”

Charles Keene, associate dean for undergraduate programs and professor of instruction in marketing, who helped develop the new major, compared it to “an MBA for undergraduates.” The interdisciplinary program will require classes from finance, marketing, management and entrepreneurship, as well as other departments in the college. Students will also complete Tippie’s general business course requirements and the university’s gen ed requirements. Tracks will be offered in entrepreneurial finance, technology entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial leadership, and new ventures.  

“The interdisciplinary coursework is designed to focus on the critical skills necessary to launch and lead successful entrepreneurial ventures that will create economic impact, including bringing new innovations to the marketplace and creating high-quality jobs,” Keene said. 

David Hensley, former Iowa JPEC director and program co-developer, said the curriculum was developed in consultation with members of the Iowa JPEC Advisory Council and other alumni entrepreneurs.

“Their message was clear,” Hensley said. “To prepare Tippie students to build and lead entrepreneurial ventures in the future, it was critical to develop an interdisciplinary program that focused on teaching technology commercialization, finance, strategy, sales, leadership, and innovation.”

He said the major will also make a good second major for students in other programs who want to start their own businesses. 

Media contact: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (o); 319-541-8434 (c);