CULLOWHEE – Less than a year after its inception, the master’s degree program in entrepreneurship at Western Carolina University claimed second place in a recent national competition among business schools from across the United States.
Western, home of the nation’s only master’s degree program in entrepreneurship, finished second to Harvard University in the 2004 United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship National Model MBA Program Award competition, held Jan. 15-18 as part of the association’s annual conference in Dallas.
Representing Western at the competition were Jim and JoAnn Carland, the husband-and-wife team who are co-directors of Western’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs in entrepreneurship.
“We feel that it’s quite an accomplishment for our new master’s degree program in entrepreneurship to finish second only to Harvard, with its 31 professors and $25 million endowment,” said Leroy Kauffman, dean of the College of Business at Western. “We came away with our heads held high, and proud of ourselves and our program, which is still in its infancy. The judges encouraged us to apply for the competition again next year.”
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors recently approved Western’s master’s degree in entrepreneurship as an Internet-based program, enhancing the university’s existing residential degree program by also allowing it to be offered in an on-line format.
“By extending the reach of the master’s degree program via the Internet, Western is leading the nation in the creation of entrepreneurial vision and entrepreneurial will,” said Jim Carland. “By ‘will,’ we mean the perseverance required to actually create and grow a venture.”
The perseverance to succeed in the business world comes from self-confidence and knowledge, said JoAnn Carland. “Our primary task as entrepreneurial educators is to impact the self confidence, as well as the creativity and the vision, of prospective and nascent entrepreneurs,” she said. “We don’t think anything else has the economic development potential of small business creation.”
The entrepreneurship degree programs are designed to address a critical need across North Carolina for sustainable economic development through successful small business start-ups by developing students’ entrepreneurial abilities, one of the most frequently cited requirements for a successful career in business and for a healthy and robust economy.
A U.S. Small Business Administration study states that, between 1988 and 1993, companies with fewer than 500 employees created 1.8 million new jobs, while companies with more than 500 employees created only 100,000 new jobs. The agency also estimates that only 40 percent of new business ventures survive through the first five years, largely due to a lack of preparation by the entrepreneurs. Programs such as Western’s are designed to help provide those skills, Kauffman said.
The mission of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship is to advance knowledge and foster business development through entrepreneurship education and research. USASBE is regarded as the premier network for entrepreneurship educators at all student levels, for professional practitioners, for entrepreneurship researchers, and for government policy makers.
For more information about the master’s degree in entrepreneurship or other graduate study programs, contact Western’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies at (828) 227-7398 or (800) 369-9854.