Foster Launches New 12-month Master of Science in Entrepreneurship

Begin year zero of your startup with a Master of Science in EntrepreneurshipIt’s a constant refrain in entrepreneurship classes: What’s the customer pain you’re trying to solve? “It’s not a random question,” says Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. “I’ve had to answer it myself several times, in relation to the new programs and competitions we’ve started at the Center.” Bourassa-Shaw had one customer pain that she’d been thinking about for some years: How could the center respond to the needs of early-stage entrepreneurs who know that they’re missing business skills and knowledge, but won’t take two years out of their lives to complete an MBA (which often isn’t a good fit)?

The solution is now a reality: a new 12-month, daytime University of Washington Master of Science in Entrepreneurship degree beginning June, 19 2017 at the Foster School of Business. The program, which will cost $24,900 in tuition for in-state students, takes an innovative approach by combining intensive entrepreneurship education with time for students to work on their own startups and ongoing mentoring from an impressive group of Seattle entrepreneurs.

“We call this program Year Zero of Your Startup,” says Bourassa-Shaw, who will serve as the co-director of the program, along with faculty Ben Hallen, assistant professor of entrepreneurship. “We’re looking for recent engineering or science graduates who’ve fallen in love with their senior capstone projects or people who’ve been out of college for 5 to 10 years who want to jump ship and start working on the ideas they’ve had in their heads for some time. There are no GMAT or GRE scores required to apply to the program, but neither will there be career services. You’re here, after all, to create your own job!”

The real strength for the new Master of Science in Entrepreneurship is Seattle. Serial entrepreneur and angel investor TA McCann is entrenched in the community and will be a mentor for the MS in Entrepreneurship program. “Having very large companies like Amazon or Microsoft, mid-sized companies like Zillow or Expedia, and lots and lots of small companies creates a really good dynamic for people to be attracted to Seattle,” says McCann. “It’s also a damn good place to live.”

Master of Science in Entrepreneurship offers key advantages“It’s about turning a spark into a business,” says faculty director Ben Hallen. “We want you to come in excited about something, having seen a problem. We’ll work with you on how to figure out the solution to that problem and then how to turn that into a viable, ongoing, high-impact business.”

The application opened in early January of 2017 for the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, and the next task, Bourassa-Shaw says, will be “admitting students who have the determination, passion, and self-awareness to be successful. Ours isn’t a standard graduate application—and this program isn’t for everyone. We’re looking for prospective students who can’t wait to get going on their ideas.”

Coursework mimics the startup process (from ideation and formation to execution and scale) and incorporates lean thinking. Students will attend workshops with a peer group that is similarly focused on the startup experience. The relationships forged in this program will open up opportunities to compete in Buerk Center competitions and join the ranks of previous student teams who’ve gone on to raise nearly $400 million dollars in investments.

“I’m confident that the students who enroll will quickly acquire the vital business skills that many entrepreneurs typically only learn through trial and error,” says Liz Pearce, CEO of Liquid Planner. “Seattle is the perfect place for this program and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Those interested in the program can sign up for regular updates and find additional detailed admissions information right now. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship blog and Instagram page feature additional reasons why the program might be the right fit for you.


2 Responses

  1. Peter Lyons

    Give me a BREAK! Looking to add this credential to yourself with a “degree” (and incur more debt) is – well – insane. People who are motivated to become self-employed or inventors don’t need a “master of science”, they need to simply learn how to get moving – go to the library and study up on how to be an entrepreneur FOR FREE. Connect with SCORE and SBA for tons more free education and resources. Online are vast seemingly endless sources for capital, guidelines on formation, product or service development, negotiation of agreements & deals, and local meet-up groups, “networking” event oppty’s, etc etc etc. It isn’t a degree that’s needed to be an entrepreneur, it’s ACTION. NOW – not 12 months from now. Just my $0.02 🙂

  2. UW Buerk Center

    You’re absolutely right about entrepreneurs starting companies all the time without the benefit of a degree or an accelerator or mentors or funding or a peer group. The SBA and SCORE are there for anyone to connect with, and there are certainly hundreds of bookstore titles and long, long lists of online resources. If that’s right for an entrepreneur he or she should go for it. We wish them all the best, and we’ll applaud their successes.

    But we also know, from our research into accelerators (, for example, that the effects of having the constant back and forth of a peer group, of having experienced startup mentors available to help with functional areas or with general startup issues–really makes a difference. We created the new degree because we were hearing from the Seattle community that there was a need for this–with the idea that the program would ultimately save entrepreneurs time, money, and grief. We spent a lot of time considering the pricing of the program so that it is not just competitive, but a standout among similar offerings. We all value action.

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