Q: What should I consider when considering your M.E. program?

A: Our program began in 2003 as the first masters of entrepreneurship degree in the nation, and continues to be the only program of its kind in the country. The M.E. program is primarily designed for individuals who want to pursue their own business venture, but it is also a good fit for those who may be seeking to enhance academic credentials for teaching, persons in the military, and others who want to learn more about this growing discipline for purposes of further career and professional development.  For those who do not intend to launch a venture (or grow an existing one), assignments can be completed using hypothetical scenarios.  For others, assignments will result in the creation of deliverables that are intended to me of immediate use (e.g. financials, marketing collateral and PR assets, plans for the management team, and the like). You may be hoping to own your own business, develop an innovative idea, or grow a business or idea you have already started working on. The M.E. program will give you the knowledge and tools you need to increase the likelihood of a successful venture.

Q: Can you tell me more about the cost of attending?

A: Graduate school is a significant commitment with rewards that some may attempt to characterize as strictly a financial investment. Yet, from another point of view, attending the right program is more about a “process.” You enter as one person, and graduate as a changed individual (there are some assumptions here, including the student’s sincere efforts, the right curriculum and goals, etc.).

Nevertheless, we do understand value and affordability are important when selecting a graduate degree program. The M.E. program is a part time program that is delivered 100% online, allowing students to enroll in six credit hours per semester (delivered as a first eight week session course, and a second eight week session course) and continue to work full time and juggle their other personal and professional commitments.  Importantly, this means that there are no commuting costs and hassles.  Faculty are also sensitive to the ever-increasing costs of traditional books and other materials, and they therefore work hard to leverage free or other low-cost options. Our program can be completed in-state for less than $10,000 (and out-of-state for under $30,000. Out-of-state students using military benefits can also complete the program for less than $10,000).

Q: Can you tell me more about the M.E. curriculum?

A: Our program covers the entire entrepreneurial process from idea to harvest using an integrated approach and focusing on your specific aspirations. If you are an entrepreneur or want to be an entrepreneur, this program is for you. We teach students how to build real value in an entrepreneurial venture as well as lead that venture. Our program also serves current and former military members as well as those looking to become qualified as entrepreneurship instructors.

The program faculty are entrepreneurs themselves, and serve as coaches to help direct students to engage in activities that support the achievement of their individual aspirations. In addition, students in each course work together to build a learning community to help provide feedback, leading to learning, in part, through the process of discussion, sharing resources, and the considerable talents that each may bring to the table based on the diversity and backgrounds of the student body.

Q: Are there any prerequisites a potential M.E. student should have taken, prior to enrolling into the M.E. Program?

A: No, there are no prerequisites necessary.  Wherever possible, courses have been structured in a modular format that can stand alone as self-contained units of instruction.  In some cases, however, once a student is in the program, course sequencing is necessary.  The logic for the sequencing that is included within the program itself follows common sense.  For example, students fare better at creating a business plan once they have been exposed to entrepreneurial marketing, strategy, and developing pro forma financials (all of which “fold in” to the business plan course).

Q: Do I need to come to campus during any point of the program? How do the courses work?

A: The Master of Entrepreneurship is 100% online and there are no requirements to come to campus during the duration of the program.

Courses are eight weeks long, so students will take one course the first eight weeks of a semester and a second course the second eight weeks of the semester.

Courses are designed and delivered by individual instructors who have experience as entrepreneurs. A variety of technologies are used to connect students with one another, and the instructor, in any given course. While subject to the discretion of the instructor, it is widely recognized that students may be working from remote locations around the world (mostly from the U.S., however).  As such, instructors tend to design asynchronous rather than synchronous learning experiences, meaning you can complete the weekly coursework on your schedule, rather than everyone needing to log in to the course at the same time.

Students have access to virtual meeting tools, and “virtual” meetings (just as would be the case with in-person meetings in a seated class) are normally scheduled in accordance with the mutual convenience of students and faculty.

Q: Are the majority of the projects in the M.E. program done individually or in groups?

A: The M.E. Program is designed to help you with your own business venture. Therefore, most projects are completed individually with vetting by peers, subject matter experts (outside of the course environment), and instructors who oversee this process. There are some team assignments, keeping in mind that “projects” may be applied in nature, or they may be for purposes of creating a foundation in terms of KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, Aptitude). We do pride ourselves in being very practically oriented as a whole (e.g., “just not that into” MBA-like case studies as compared to having students engage in activities that they can immediately use, such as developing financials, marketing materials, staffing and ownership plans, networking, all specific to THEIR business aspirations.

Q: Are the respective exams and quizzes taken online or must the student schedule proctored exams?

A: All assignments can be done from home (or wherever you are, assuming an Internet connection) and submitted online.  No proctoring is necessary. That being said, we tend to focus on projects with practical value (rather than quizzes projects/activities should be the focus and as “real-world” in their orientation as possible).  Nevertheless, this does not preclude quizzes or exams since they can be effective tools for monitoring student learning.

Q: Can I take any courses I want each semester or is there a planned sequence of courses?

A: Some ME courses are structured to build on one another, while others are designed as stand-alone, self-contained units of instruction. The order in which courses should be taken is based on the semester in which the student is admitted to the program.  Any deviation from the applicable table below that applies to your own respective point of entry (fall, spring, or summer) could lead delays by virtue of disrupting the sequencing that is necessary.  The combination of stand-alone courses along with those that are part of a planned sequence is designed to maximize the achievement of course and program objectives.

Fall Admits 

Five Semesters Fall 1 Spring 1 Summer 1 Fall 2 Spring 2
1st 8 week session ENT 600 ENT 601 ENT 640 ENT 650 ENT 670
2nd 8 week session ENT 630 ENT 610 ENT 645 ENT 660 ENT 655

Spring Admits 

Five Semesters: Spring 1 Summer 1 Fall 1 Spring 2 Fall 2
1st 8 week session ENT 601 ENT 640 ENT 650 ENT 670 ENT 600
2nd 8 week session ENT 610 ENT 645 ENT 660 ENT 655 ENT 630

Summer Admits* 

Six Semesters: Summer 1 Fall 1 Spring 1 Summer 2 Fall 2 Spring 2
1st 8 week session N/A ENT 600 ENT 601 ENT 640 ENT 650 ENT 670
2nd 8 week session ENT 645 ENT 630 ENT 610 N/A ENT 660 ENT 655

*Summer admits will begin their enrollment with ENT 645 (2nd 8 Week Session, which runs from late June-mid August).  In their second year students who are admitted in any given summer will take ENT 640 during the 1st 8 Week Session (mid-May to early July).

Q: Are students assigned an advisor to the M.E. program?  Can students choose their advisor?

A: All M.E. students’ formal advisor is the Program Director.  However, students may also be advised by the Graduate Programs Manager or by other faculty members teaching M.E. courses.  Advisement can be a rather wide-ranging endeavor.  At a base level, it may entail relatively straightforward information such as which course to take next (which we try to address with announcements and planning tools such as the matrices mentioned above).  At the other end of the spectrum there are “advising” activities such as rendering professional advice, which tends to require a great deal of expertise (as such, this is the best use of faculty time).

Q: What are the admission requirements to the program?

A: Applicants to the Masters of Entrepreneurship program are diverse.  To support the diverse applicant pool, we want prospective students to present their best case for admission.  Students may submit any or all of the optional materials.  To maximize the likelihood of admission, an applicant should submit convincing evidence that she/he will persist until graduation and complete the program, while being an asset to the peer interactions and a robust participant while in the program.  Further, we would naturally like to anticipate achievements that may be likely after the program is completed.

Consider the “mix” of the evidence that you should possibly submit.  For example, a strong resume from an applicant who already has a business and wants to take it to the next level may be a rather convincing way to make up for a less than amazing undergraduate academic performance as indicated in transcripts (that could be have been earned “years ago”).  On the other hand, someone with little or no experience would at least be expected to have a strong background in whatever endeavors that had been pursued to date (such as a respectable GPA from someone who is pursuing a graduate degree immediately following the completion of an undergraduate program).

We do not require standardized test scores, although if you have them, they could support your “best case” as discussed above.

Required Items:

Preferred Items:
•Essay, addressing topics such as: rationale for entering the program, how you will the meet the challenges of graduate level academic study, your passion to persist throughout the program until graduation, goals and aspirations after earning the degree.
•Letters of Recommendation

Additional Optional Items:
•Interview with the program director or other faculty member

Entrants will also be required to submit an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) as one method of emphasizing the need to not share others’ ideas or information outside of the course/program environment.

Q: How do I apply? Can I check the status of my application?

A: All applications are completed online through the Graduate School at http://gradapply.wcu.edu. After you apply, you will be able to log into your account and view the ongoing status of your application.

Q: What is the application deadline?

A: We do not have formal program application deadlines. The Graduate School imposes a deadline of one week before the start of each term. We recommend submitting your application as soon as you can before the semester in which you hope to begin classes.

Q: Do you allow an accepted student to defer the initial start date of the program?  If so, how long can an admitted student defer?

A: The Graduate School allows for this, but the final decision is up to the Program Director.  The Graduate School allows program directors to approve deferment for up to one year before the student would have to reapply.  For example, a fall admit can defer to spring, summer, or to the following fall.  A spring admit can defer to summer, fall or to the following spring. You may also defer one semester at a time (from fall to spring, and then later on again defer from spring to fall).  Generally, a program director would encourage a student to apply only when he or she is ready, and only request a deferment due to a “surprise” or hardship.  Students should avoid creating extra burdens on themselves and others if they apply and knowingly do not intend to actually get started!

Q: Exactly how much does the program cost per semester?

A:  You can view updated tuition and fee information at http://tuition.wcu.edu (click on the for category distance tuition, the find the subcategory for graduate business tuition). Tuition and fees are inclusive and by credit hour.  Tuition and fee rates are subject to change each academic year and are ultimately governed by the legislature and UNC system.

Q: Are there grants or scholarships available?

A: There are no longer federal grants or unsubsidized loans available to graduate students, although students who need federal loans are still encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.gov). The Graduate School offers distance tuition grants to online students. The university also offers some scholarships and provides links to external scholarship opportunities at: http://finaid.wcu.edu.

Q: Do you have statistics concerning the number of graduating M.E. students who initiated their own start-up business, once they have graduated? How many are still in business after 5 years?

A: We do hear from many students over time directly about their entrepreneurial successes and challenges.  However, tracking such statistics precisely is always a formidable task. For one thing, all data on business longevity are confounded by the fact that businesses (and owners) often morph to do something else as their experience increases. Failure means not getting back up to try again by starting another business, or otherwise transitioning to a situation that does not meet an individual’s own career/professional/personal goals.

Further, since larger-scale entrepreneurial endeavors may involve being part of a management team, some M.E. Program graduates may be leading very productive lives and making contributions while not necessarily serving as the (only) founder of a business.

We have found that our LinkedIn account for the M.E. Program has been an effective way to “almost” answer this question.