Are startups shaping the future for students?

Colleges and universities are taking the next step in entrepreneurship courses with full-scale academic integration and innovative credits

startups-universities-curriculumStartup 101 may sound like a cool campus marketing tactic (and you wouldn’t be wrong) but a few innovative universities are going a step beyond by weaving startup culture into diverse curricula and crediting.

The move to incorporate startup culture is not silly one: According to entrepreneurship research group, the Kaufman Foundation, more than 2,000 colleges now offer at least one course in entrepreneurship, and many more are integrating startups into curriculum.

The move towards entrepreneurship and startup courses is due to market influence, say institutions. As employers seek more soft skills—critical and creative thinking, positive attitude, team mentality–from their candidates, universities are adapting accordingly.

For example, Stanford University is just one of many to teach a class on startups. The university has a class taught by startup accelerator Y Combinator–most known for its’ twice a year investments of 120k for a large number of startups–which serves as a mentorship program for aspiring entrepreneurs and their ideas.

Since 2005, the accelerator has funded over 700 startups, including reddit, Scribd and Weebly. According to TechCrunch, the class at Stanford offers series of lectures aimed at teaching students how to evaluate ideas, raise money, and build to grow. Lectures are taught by “experienced industry leaders” that include Paul Graham, Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen.

What makes this concept potentially viable and not just good branding is the integration with actual curriculum, since Y Combinator serves as a semester signup class.

Beyond branding

The University of Maryland at a College Park (UMDCP) also is growing its own entrepreneurship program that offers both mentorship and course offerings for a variety of majors.

“The breadth of entrepreneurial offering throughout campus is what sets us apart. It’s not just the Business School or the Engineering School, many colleges and departments have entrepreneurship- focused programs and courses,” clarified Holly DeArmond, assistant director of Events and Marketing at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at UMDCP.

The university also gives students academic credit for working on their startups.

(Next page: How to keep pace with startup culture)

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