What Is the Best Degree Path to Become an Entrepreneur?

best degrees for entrepreneurs

Do you have a deep passion for an idea or a business? Are you willing to persevere through challenges and use every resource at your disposal to bring that dream to fruition? If so, a career as an entrepreneur – someone who establishes and runs a business – could be the perfect choice for you. Entrepreneurship degrees are ranked number one on the list of the top 10 paying degrees in business.

However, entrepreneurs also tend to be a creative bunch. While many of them hold business degrees, many of them pursue other types degrees. These degrees provide them with the skill sets they need for the businesses they want to own eventually. If you’ve ever considered starting your own business, here’s a look at some of the best degrees for entrepreneurs.

Going to School for Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship degrees come in various forms. At the undergraduate level, you could earn a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in entrepreneurship or a related major, like management and entrepreneurship. At the graduate level, entrepreneurship students earn a Master of Science, a Master of Arts or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

No matter at what level of education you begin taking courses in entrepreneurship, you will need to study certain principles and subjects. Classes like global business, product development and capital management will help you make learn to make sound, informed decisions for running your business. During your entrepreneurship studies, you will cover essential topics like finance, sales, marketing, public relations, accounting and human resources.

Other Subjects of Study for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

What Is the Best Degree Path to Become an Entrepreneur?

Depending on your passion and your goal, you may need to study another subject in addition to entrepreneurship. If your dream is to develop innovative new computer systems or information technology, for example, you will need to study computer science, software engineering, IT, or another, related discipline. If you’d like to invent new medical technology, a background in biology or biomedical engineering could prove valuable. Students who want to open their own law, accounting, or investment firms will need to study their respective subject thoroughly to develop both their skills to do the work and their credentials to attract clients or investors.

Passion is only one trait – though an important one – that aspiring entrepreneurs must have in order to succeed. Other important characteristics of prosperous entrepreneurs include resourcefulness, perseverance, the open-mindedness to adjust to changes and a sponge-like nature that allows you to easily absorb new information, Entrepreneur reported. You may need to study other subjects to develop skills and proficiency in your passion, but you cultivate these other important qualities pursuing an entrepreneurship degree.

Effects of the Gig Economy

It wasn’t that long ago that people expected to graduate from high school (and maybe college if they had the wherewithal to go) and then find a job that they worked for the rest of their lives. Those who were fortunate enough to land such jobs planned on working them for 20 to 40 years and then retiring. In other words, they worked these jobs for life.

Those days are long gone, and now due to economic uncertainty and the rise of the entrepreneurial spirit, the gig economy has replaced the old career-for-life model. In the new business model, people no longer expect to work at the same company for 20 years. They may not even work at the same company for 20 days.

Instead their work lives are marked by short gigs. They usually contribute to a specific project, like designing a website or writing web content. These projects could last for a couple of days or for a couple of months. However, at the end of the project, the gig workers are expected to leave the company they’ve been working for and find another gig to work at.

Most gig workers are freelancers and contractors. A recent study conducted by Intuit had predicted that 40% of the workers in America will be gig workers by the year 2020. It’s also likely that the percentage of gig workers will continue to grow as more and more business owners begin to embrace this business model.

This is an important trend to mention in a write-up about entrepreneurial degrees because many of the people who are gig workers now didn’t expect to be following this career path. However, difficulties with the economy and the changing work landscapes have forced many to turn to self-employment to survive.

The ones who thrive as giggers have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit. Many of them have even seen the writing on the wall;  they don’t expect to get a job with a big company after they graduate from college.

Instead, they parlay their degrees into careers that allow them to be their own boss. They are like the freelance illustrator or physical trainer. They work in a specific career field, but not for one company. Above all, they are their own boss.

That being said, many gig workers have a roster of regular clients they work with. However, they are only employed by these companies when their services are needed. Once the project is done, the gig workers will go on to work on other projects, sometimes with the same company, sometimes with other companies.

Business-Related Degrees

Entrepreneurs are businesspeople above all. They understand that the flow of goods and services runs the economy and provides the foundation for all successful businesses. Entrepreneurs also understand that there is a certain set of principles that guide successful businesses.

The best degrees for entrepreneurs are those degrees that teach future business leaders these guiding principles of business. These degrees are typically some kind of business degree but not always.

Here’s a look at the most popular degrees that many future entrepreneurs choose.

1. Public Relations and Marketing Degrees

What Is the Best Degree Path to Become an Entrepreneur?

If no one hears about your product or service, then it doesn’t matter if it’s the best product or service in the world. Your business will go broke. That’s why so many would-be entrepreneurs choose to major in marketing and public relations. The skills they learn allows them to promote their business to the right kind of customers.

Many of these degrees include instruction on traditional marketing and advertising methods, like print advertising, as well as radio and TV advertising. However, these programs also teach students about new promotional options, like social media.

2. An Economics Degree

This degree gives students in-depth lessons on demand theory, as well as market analysis, government regulations in the business world, production, unemployment and more. People who study economics gain a broad overview of the economy. Knowing how businesses influence society can be useful in terms of spotting emerging trends, which allows an entrepreneur to a choose career field wisely. An economics degree gives the entrepreneur the skills to spot these emerging trends.

3. Graphic Design and Branding Majors

These degrees often work hand-in-hand with many of the business majors in this list because graphic designers create the business collateral materials that many business owners use.

Graphic designers also work with brand experts to give a voice to a business’s brand, which is often accomplished through the company’s advertising and marketing materials. These marketing materials play a crucial role in a business’s success, so knowing how to create them gives you a leg up when it comes to advertising your business.

4. English Degrees

English degrees teach you how to write and speak effectively. Given that much of advertising and marketing these days revolves around content creation, the English major has a leg up.

The most successful business leaders in the future will know how to speak and write persuasively. That’s because this skill comes in handy when it comes to landing clients or business investors. It’s truly one of the best degrees for entrepreneurs, particularly in the beginning stages of a business when money is tight and it isn’t always possible to pay a communications director.

5. Accounting and Finance Degrees

These degrees give their holders a foundation in math, but not just any math. It’s a math that teaches the students in these degree tracks how to read a business’s accounting sheet. This, in turn, allows the accountant to predict the future of that business. Accounting is also a good skill for investors to have. Being able to read a balance sheet and understand it quickly allows them to make decisions about investing in new businesses.

6. Psychology Degrees

What Is the Best Degree Path to Become an Entrepreneur?

Psychology degrees count among the most popular degrees for future entrepreneurs because these degrees give their holders an in-depth look at the human psyche. Such information allows psychology majors to understand why people make the decisions they do.

This information becomes useful in the buying process. Psychology majors know why people buy the products and services they do. As such, they’re in a better position to create marketing materials that appeal to different demographics.

7. General Business Degrees

These degrees provide students with a broad education in business. With this type of degree, students usually have the opportunity to take classes that cover a broad spectrum of business topics. They’ll learn about marketing and public relations, finance, accounting and more.

Many times, they have the option to choose an emphasis, like marketing. However, they’re not required to do so.

What Is the Best Degree Path to Become an Entrepreneur?

Passion Projects

It’s important to point out that there are myriad ways to become an entrepreneur. While many would-be entrepreneurs study business, others study a range of subjects.

In the latter case, these aspiring business owners have a specific industry or career track they’d like to go into. Therefore, they may gravitate toward degrees that give the skills they need to go into those careers.

These entrepreneurs may actually wind up double majoring in their passion subject and business. Others will do a major/ minor combination. In these cases, it’s appropriate to say that the best degrees for entrepreneurs are the degrees that prepare the would-be entrepreneur for their future careers.

Here’s an example. An aspiring illustrator will take classes in art, which could include subjects, like painting, drawing, sculpture, art history and illustration and design. These classes give the future entrepreneur the skills he or she needs to create the products that he or she will sell. These skills play a major role in the person’s future career.

That being said, the savvy future illustrator will also take business courses, like accounting and marketing. Learning about these subjects allows the freelance illustrator to conduct the business portion of his or her business. The degree breakdown for the aspiring illustrator would be a degree in illustration and design with either a minor or a double major in business.

Another example would be the person who wants to become a physical trainer who owns a studio of his or her own. In this case, the passion major might include classes in sports medicine, a variety of team sports, anatomy and physiology and nutrition, and then, like the illustrator, he or she would also take business-related coursework. The degree breakdown for the future self-employed physical trainer would be a sports medicine degree combined with a minor in marketing (or some similar combination).

Computer science degrees also provide would-be entrepreneurs with viable skills for a business. Some self-employed computer scientists become consultants, while others become web or mobile app developers. In this case, the student will major in computer science and possibly minor in business or a related topic.

Those who use their educations to parlay them into a career also include those who work in trades, like plumbing or hair care. In this case, the future entrepreneur would go to plumbing or beauty trade school to learn the practical skill sets of the business. This soon-to-be-self-employed professional may even take a job in their field upon graduating from a trades training program.

While they’re working, the future self-employed plumber or hair stylist then pursues an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in business. This allows them build solid skill sets in their trade and at the same time, to make decisions like a business owner would.

In all the examples in this section, would-be entrepreneurs follow their passions to create careers for themselves. They use their degrees to give them the technical skills as well as the business acumen they need in order to succeed as entrepreneurs.

The best thing about this degree track is that those who learn how to make a passion into a business usually love what they do. They don’t experience burnout. They’re excited about going to work each day.

That being said, people who follow this route to entrepreneurship must be disciplined enough to learn about business if they want to maintain their success. That’s why it’s best for them to get a minor in business at minimum but better still to double major in a business subject.

Traditional Degrees Vs. Online Degrees

It is nearly impossible to talk about the best degrees for entrepreneurs without mentioning online degrees. The Internet has changed the way people go to school. In fact, for those who earn a degree online, school can be anywhere.

Truly, sometimes the best degree for entrepreneurs is an online degree because these degrees allow students to go to school while they work. There is no need to quit their jobs to get a degree.

Nowadays, it is possible to study just about any subject online, including subjects, like business and entrepreneurship. The following list represents just a few of the online degrees that appeal to aspiring entrepreneurs.

1. The MBA degree is one of the most popular online degrees. It’s a degree that allows students to dive more deeply into business administration. Those who undertake a Master’s of Business Administration degree learn about business strategy, law, human resources, business communication, ethics and more.

2. Project Management degrees prepare their holders for leadership roles, roles that most entrepreneurs play in their work lives. Their degrees tend to be multidisciplinary, which gives them a broad foundation for business. It’s not unusual for project management degrees to include coursework in business and economics, information systems, accounting and of course, project management.

3. Organizational leadership and entrepreneurship degrees are some more examples of degrees that teach students a wide range of skills. Students who undertake this degree learn about business analysis, project coordination, sales and marketing, human resources, supply chains and more. They will also learn about organizational psychology, which helps them to understand the human interactions in the workplace and how these interaction influence the overall success of the organization.

Self-Employed Professionals

It’s nearly impossible to write up a comprehensive list of the best degrees for entrepreneurs without mentioning the degrees that self-employed professionals get. These professionals often work for big organizations.

However, many strike out on their own: This happens often enough that it’s worth mentioning some of the career fields and degrees that these self-employed professionals are interested in. Here’s a look at a few of these types of entrepreneurial degrees.

The Doctor of Medicine degree (or M.D.) is the degree that many self-employed doctors get. These professionals work in family medicine, cardiology and other specializations. That being said, there are also self-employed chiropractors, naturopath doctors, dentists and more. These professionals gravitate toward health care because the love helping people. However, their entrepreneurial spirit inspires them to try self-employment.

Juris Doctor degrees (or J.D.) prepare their holders for careers in law, usually as lawyers, though some will go into related careers, like legal writing or consulting. These professionals have excellent critical-thinking skills and a deep knowledge of the law. Like the self-employed doctors, they may have a specialty, like family law, bankruptcy or wills, trusts and estates.

Architects and interior designers work in related fields and hold degrees in architecture or interior design. These self-employed professionals design the buildings that fill city streets, as well as their interiors. They often start out in an art degree program and then go on to specialize in architecture or interior design.

What Is the Best Degree Path to Become an Entrepreneur?

Additionally, it’s important to remember that many of these professional degrees are graduate-level degrees. Due to the intensity of the degree, it’s difficult to study business and their chosen subject at the graduate level. Some graduate programs have made it easier for this demographic to learn both at the graduate level. This is where programs that combine subjects, like business and law, are helpful.

However, not all graduate-level programs make room for what is essentially a double major at the graduate level. For future entrepreneurs who want to go the self-employed professional route, there are a couple of options. They can pursue a business degree at the undergraduate level. This allows them to develop the skills they need to run their own businesses, though they’ll have to wait until after they finish graduate school to do so.

They can also earn graduate degrees back-to-back. For example, the future lawyer who wants to be self-employed may do three years of law school followed by an MBA degree or something of that nature.

This route to entrepreneurship requires planning and dedication. However, those who embark on this career track often find that they’re handsomely rewarded for their work.

Final Words on the Best Degrees for Entrepreneurs

For students with the drive to be their own boss and a passion for their intended industry, a career as an entrepreneur can be liberating and exhilarating. They can accomplish great things and enjoy the freedom of working for themselves. However, they must also be prepared to cope with the many challenges that could arise and threaten the stability or even the existence of the business they establish. An entrepreneurship degree program at the undergraduate or graduate level provides these aspiring entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to make good business decisions, successfully market and manage their company or organization and make use of their natural resourcefulness and open-mindedness to adapt to challenges they encounter.

Additionally, many would-be entrepreneurs are able to parlay a passion degree, like sports medicine or art, into a viable business. In these cases, they study both their passion subjects and business. Self-employed professionals often take a similar approach to their careers.

Finally, it’s important to note that many people who are self-employed today are part of the gig economy. Some of them choose this route to employment because they truly love being self-employed. Others are forced into gig work due to economic forces beyond their control.

However, those who have business training are the ones who ultimately wind up thriving as giggers, which is all the more reason for them to learn about the best degrees for entrepreneurs. Often having these degrees can make all the difference in these entrepreneurs’ lives. They’ve learned that the best degrees for entrepreneurs are the degrees that allow them to stay employed, regardless of how much the business landscape changes.

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