Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New entrepreneurship master's degree leverages know-how from two top schools

Two top-ranked U-M schools are teaming up to establish a unique professional master's degree in entrepreneurship.

The Board of Regents on Thursday approved a proposal by the College of Engineering and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business to offer a joint program that specializes in training students to turn ideas into inventions and inventions into successful businesses.

Pending approval by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan in October, the program will accept its first students to start in fall 2012.

"By leveraging the strengths of two leading programs, the University of Michigan is well positioned to deliver an academic degree for today's rapidly evolving business climate. This is a tremendous addition to the entrepreneurial climate flourishing across the university," President Mary Sue Coleman said.

Evolving landscapes in both business and engineering are demanding new ways of educating tomorrow's successful venture creators, program developers say.

"The real-time, global economy demands an ever quicker pace and increasing integration between engineering and business. This joint program is one of the ways Michigan Engineering is responding to this evolution and training students to spark change and succeed," said David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering.

During this one-year, 36-credit-hour program, students will participate in science- and engineering-focused courses in parallel with business-focused courses. The program will provide students with the tools and confidence necessary to become business-savvy technology innovators.

"One of the university's greatest strengths is its ability to foster interdisciplinary collaboration," said Alison Davis-Blake, the Edward J. Frey Dean and Leon Festinger Collegiate Professor of Management at the Ross School. "A degree that aligns two world-renowned schools like Ross and the College of Engineering in a quest to promote entrepreneurship is timely and valuable for students, faculty and the economy.

"The Ross School has long been on the front lines of innovation and entrepreneurship, and this endeavor adds another dimension to that commitment."

The program will cultivate the thriving entrepreneurial culture at U-M. In 2010 alone, nearly 300 discoveries from across the university went through the Office of Technology Transfer, leading to 153 patent applications and 10 spinoff companies. And 50 student-run companies have utilized the TechArb student business accelerator, which is managed by the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Through popular business plan competitions such as the Michigan Business Challenge and 1,000 Pitches, and student entrepreneurship organizations such as MPowered, the spirit of innovation is spreading from the grassroots level. In 2010-11, nearly 50 teams from across campus participated in the 28th annual Michigan Business Challenge and a record 3,000 took part in 1,000 Pitches.