Entrepreneurial studies major puts money in student pockets

Julie Frank

Julie Frank

Since 2003, SDSU has offered students a minor in entrepreneurial studies, and this past spring, the Board of Regents approved the major portion of the program.

The major is “designed to enhance entrepreneurial talent by providing students with the knowledge, skills and experiences to think entrepreneurially and create value in … society,” according to the Entrepreneurial Opportunities’ Web site.

“There was a lot of student interest,” said Barb Heller, coordinator of entrepreneurship, about how the major got started. “The next step was designing curriculum.”

The lengthy process was filled with plans approved by both SDSU and the Board of Regents and a lot of paperwork.

“I believe that SDSU should have this major because, it can inspire many more future Entrepreneurs who will be playing major key roles in their communities and lives in general,” said Zach Koepp, an entrepreneurial major from Okoboji, Iowa. After graduation, Koepp wants to return to home to start his own branch of the family business and looks forward to dictating his own schedule.

According to Heller, the major was initially designed for the University Center in Sioux Falls and for nontraditional students. However, it is available at both the University Center and SDSU. Heller said the major also attracts a variety of students from colleges all over campus. People interested in the entrepreneurial field are encouraged to double major. Currently, students majoring in hospitality, Spanish, construction management and business economics are also earning an entrepreneurial degree.

Heller estimates 10 students are currently enrolled in the entrepreneurial major. They are required to complete 61 core credits and 29 electives. If double majoring, students can use the other major’s credits as part of the 29 entrepreneurial electives.

“I think that it is important for SDSU to have this major because entrepreneurs keep our economy going,” said freshman entrepreneurial studies and agronomy major Tyler Steinkamp. “It is hard to start a business in this day and age because there are so many regulations you have to follow. This major will prepare you for the extreme load of this time.”

Courses are not instructed by traditional professors, but professionals who have practical experiences in a specific area such as taxation or accounting.

“I feel very strongly about entrepreneurship,” said class instructor Larry B. Swain. “I think it is one of the best things to happen at SDSU.” Swain is currently the director of the Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity and has started 16 businesses.

He said the new major includes something the minor and certificate do not, planning, such as marketing or business planning.

The major puts money in student pockets even if they do not start their own business after graduation, because what they learn can be taken with them.

Students have the option to receive a bachelor’s degree or pursue one of two specializations. The social entrepreneurship specialization is for students interested in starting or managing a socially oriented organization, including both non-profit and for-profit organizations, according to the Entrepreneurial Opportunities’ Web site. These graduates tend to improve communities and tackle social issues.

The minor instructs students on how to start and own a business, be a community leader, turn technology into a product and more.

Students can also receive a specialization in technology management. The focus is on understanding how to combine technology with products and entrepreneurial practices.

SDSU also offers an entrepreneurial certificate.

“It shows employers they (students) have taken that extra step,” Heller said.

The certificate program consists of 12 specialized courses in topics like accounting, selling and marketing. Students need to take 10 in order to earn the certificate.