The Wharton School will begin administering a new entrepreneurship and innovation concentration starting in fall 2021.
The concentration will focus on foundational courses that teach entrepreneurial activity, including MGMT 230: "Entrepreneurship," MGMT 212: "Social Entrepreneurship," and MGMT 267: "Entrepreneurship & Technology Innovation." The Management Department website cites the concentration, which will be one of 19 concentrations currently offered by Wharton, as a preparation for those pursuing "careers as autonomous entrepreneurs, family-business entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs in corporate settings."
The new concentration will be administered through the Management Department, although it will provide course offerings spanning seven departments, including Healthcare Management; Marketing; Operations, Information, and Decisions; Legal Studies; and Real Estate.
The decision to offer the concentration follows substantial student interest in entrepreneurship content, Simon and Midge Palley Professor of Management Lori Rosenkopf said. While developing this concentration, Rosenkopf said that the Management Department had surveyed all other departments in Wharton to find if they had any class with entrepreneurial content in it, and ultimately found more classes than they anticipated.
She explained that the classes under the entrepreneurship and innovation concentration will be divided into two labels. Those labeled "A" will focus purely on entrepreneurial or innovative activity inside a firm, while those labeled "B" will focus on aspects outside of the company and on the ecosystem of entrepreneurship — such as investors and patent attorneys.
Rosenkopf said that, throughout her time as the Wharton undergraduate vice dean, a position she held from 2013 to 2019, she would hear frequently from the student advisory board that many Wharton students wanted an entrepreneurship concentration.
Wharton senior Vivek James, who is president of the Wharton Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club, said he thinks the concentration is a good idea, but that ultimately what matters most is how it is implemented.
James added that he thinks the best way to learn entrepreneurship is through experiencing it and expressed his wishes for the entrepreneurship and innovation concentration to follow this route.
"I think the Management Department should be doing everything in its power to help students form that venture during school and effectively utilize Penn's resources," James said. "And I think that can only be done through project based, hands-on classes."
James said that one class that really encapsulates his ideal less-theory-based and more-hands-on entrepreneurship education is MGMT 231: "Venture Implementation," which he said allowed him to do the work behind entrepreneurship — such as coming up with and validating an actual venture.
While MGMT 231 is one of the approved courses for the concentration, James said he thinks it should be made into one of the foundational courses.
"Chances are if you want to concentrate in entrepreneurship, you want to leave Penn with a venture that's going to take up your time after school," James said.