Entrepreneurship Expands

East Carolina University’s College of Business (COB) will offer a new undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship through the Miller School of Entrepreneurship beginning in fall 2019.

The Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship program will be campus-based and require 120 hours of coursework. Students will take courses in topic areas such as entrepreneurial finance, sales and marketing, and strategy, as well as opportunity assessment, business planning, small and family business management, and new venture launch. The program will also include 18 hours for students to develop a specialty area of interest to help guide them through the business plan and new venture launch courses.

According to Dr. Mike Harris, director of COB’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship, the new degree is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in the entrepreneurial skillset and mindset needed to develop and launch a new venture. The primary target audience, he said, is students with a strong interest in entrepreneurship and related activities. These may include students involved in venture creation, product/service commercialization, or a career in an entrepreneurial organization.

“Upon graduation, we expect some of our students to become viable entrepreneurs and start new businesses,” said Harris. “Others will use their skills and knowledge to forge an entrepreneurial career in either small businesses, family businesses or even large corporations.”

The BS in Entrepreneurship degree will replace the current entrepreneurship and small business management concentration in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration — Management degree. This concentration remains in place as an option for any student currently enrolled in the COB. COB will continue to offer the multidisciplinary Entrepreneurship Certificate, which is designed for non-business majors.

Dr. Paul Schwager, COB dean, said the new degree would play a major role in helping ECU transform the region by promoting job creation and economic development.

“Experiential learning will be featured substantially in this curriculum,” Schwager said. “Multiple courses, such as entrepreneurial strategy, small business management and family business, will feature interactive projects with regional clients.”

The Miller School of Entrepreneurship, Harris said, is helping to establish an entrepreneurial ecosystem that focuses on both academics and outreach. To complement what goes on in the classroom, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship has started a number of outreach programs to instill an entrepreneurial mindset in eastern North Carolina. The Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, which named its second winner in February 2019, encourages ECU student teams to formulate and pitch their ideas with a chance of winning seed money. The Summer Innovation Academy soon will return to ECU and is designed to foster entrepreneurship before college at the high school and middle school levels.

“With the RISE29 Golden LEAF grant and the Rural Prosperity Initiative, students who receive their BS in Entrepreneurship degree will have plenty of opportunities to take their entrepreneurial ideas back to their communities and create new business ventures,” Harris said.

“Kim and I are beyond thrilled with the progress and excitement around the Miller School of Entrepreneurship,” said Fielding Miller, CAPTRUST CEO and an ECU BSBA ’84 alumnus. Miller and his wife, Kim (ECU ’83), gave a gift of $5 million in2015 that led to the creation of the Miller School.

“Getting the bachelor’s degree program approved was part of the original vision, and it validates the Miller School’s offerings are strategically important to the region,” added Miller. “Creating new businesses means creating good jobs and nothing is more vital to the future success of eastern North Carolina.”

ECU will be the third university in the University of North Carolina System to offer a BS in Entrepreneurship degree.