Newswise — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new online master's degree in entrepreneurship and innovation offered by Indiana University's Kelley School of Business is designed to address changes in coming decades within organizations while also fostering an "entrepreneurial mindset" should students decide to pursue their own business dreams.
Younger professionals increasingly will look for nontraditional career options as many companies move away from present business models. Research suggests that by 2050, nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population will be employed not as full-time employees but as independent contractors -- particularly within the professional ranks.
Those earning the new Master of Science in entrepreneurship and innovation degree being delivered online by the school's Kelley Direct program should find more choices at graduation. These include leaving a company to go out on their own, becoming a more valued executive who highlights opportunities within their company or moving on to more innovative ventures.
"There’s increasing interest in every level of entrepreneurship, and we have the largest and most respected group of entrepreneurship faculty in the world," said Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management. "Offering the online master’s in entrepreneurship is a natural next step for us.
"Our faculty are leaders in entrepreneurship research, and our curriculum has an amazing breadth and depth, including corporate entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and international entrepreneurship," Kesner added.
Donald F. Kuratko, the Jack M. Gill Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship and executive and academic director of Kelley's Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, led the design team for the new degree program. Unlike other entrepreneurship programs that simply teach students how to go out and start new businesses, he said the new degree is based on a theoretical foundation that integrates other functional disciplines.
"What we're trying to get across with this new degree is we want to break away from the old, traditional thinking of entrepreneurship as only starting new businesses," Kuratko said. "It's really about this mindset that most people have but very rarely tap into. We want to instill this mindset in our students and unlock the possibilities of what they can do on their own.
"We want to make sure that this degree provides a theoretical foundation so that students truly understand what they are getting into and why they are getting into it. And if things do go awry, they're able to dissect back and see what went wrong; that's extremely important."
Philip T. Powell, chair of Kelley Direct and a clinical associate professor of business economics and public policy, acknowledges that the school may be "heading upstream" against traditional and trendy approaches, such as Erie Ries' "The Lean Startup."
"This isn't about launching a business. This not about a 'feel-good' degree. This is academic rigor that might be even tougher than our MBA," Powell said. "This is an online degree, but our students are going to have several action-based learning experiences where they'll have to show up in person and stand and deliver."
The same faculty who teach at Kelley's nationally ranked residential MBA program will do the majority of the teaching in the new degree program, but angel investors and top corporate executives also will be part of the learning process.
In fact, they will grade students on their final projects that determine whether they will graduate from the program or need to repeat the coursework -- also known as the "spine sweat experience." West Coast firms expected to be involved include Silicon Valley Bank, Guardian Equity Growth, XSeed Capital, Storm Ventures and Sungevity.
"We go to Silicon Valley with the current MBAs in residence here, but they just take a trip for an immersion," Kuratko said. "We're taking our students out there and they're going to present to the top venture capitalists and angel investors. ... They're going to produce something and will need to have it validated."
Students also will take this knowledge back into companies where they work and conduct innovation projects that a senior executive will have to approve and accept a timeline for implementation -- and not simply accept it and throw it in a drawer.
"We're making our students prove themselves out there, and we like that challenge," said Kuratko, who expects these projects will create new pathways for placement and advancement. "Even in your own company, if you had the courage to do this, your senior executives are going to be looking at you in a whole new way and with a new career path."
While the courses are delivered largely online, students also will work on-site with each other at the IU Bloomington campus during Kelley Connect Weeks. Most students also go abroad as part of Kelley Direct's AGILE -- Accelerating Global Immersion Leadership Education -- curriculum. To understand entrepreneurship in new environments, these students complete consulting projects for small business clients in emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Admissions requirements are the same as for all other Kelley graduate programs -- in-residence and online. The program also offers flexibility and access to the school's alumni network of more than 100,000 graduates. Students have up to five years to complete their coursework at a cost of about $38,000. They also can earn the M.S. degree in connection with Kelley Direct's online MBA degree.
U.S. News & World Report and Fortune consistently have ranked Kelley's entrepreneurship program No. 1 among public universities.
While many business schools offer an MBA concentration in entrepreneurship, Kelley believes it is the first accredited business school to present an online Master of Science degree on the subject in the country. Kelley is the only school to involve students' own vice presidents or venture capitalists in deciding final grades.
"Students want options because they want freedom and autonomy in what they do. The only answer to that is entrepreneurship and innovation," Kuratko said.