Paul Schwager

East Carolina University’s College of Business is offering a new bachelor of science in entrepreneurship degree to students debuting in the fall of 2019.

According to the professor and director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship at ECU’s College of Business, Michael Harris, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship opened in 2015 and had a concentration in entrepreneurship, but not a degree in the subject.

Harris said the goal when opening the Miller School was to eventually create a degree in entrepreneurship for students to take advantage of and to additionally offer a comprehensive approach to teaching entrepreneurship.

“It was a concerted effort to make sure we created a degree that contained all the elements of a high-quality program to allow students an opportunity to understand and apply the entrepreneurial process,” Harris said.

Harris said some of the courses and topic areas students can expect to take when completing this degree are innovation and opportunity assessment, entrepreneurial finance, professional selling and entrepreneurial strategy.

There will be an internship course and consulting classes where students are able to work with local clients around the Greenville area, as well as a capstone course called “New Venture Launch” where students can apply the entrepreneurial process learned in previous courses while developing their own ideas, according to Harris.

“In the capstone course, you get to understand all the steps to launch the business,” Harris said.

Harris said the degree will emphasize the entrepreneurial process so students have the opportunity to create ideas and develop them throughout the program. He said students will sometimes come in without an idea but will want to solve some sort of problem, and the Miller School and new entrepreneur degree will cater to those students.

“We can help them understand how to turn problems into opportunities and opportunities into ideas that turn into viable ventures,” Harris said.

According to Harris, students who are not enrolled in the degree can still pursue an entrepreneurship certificate which is open to any undergraduate at ECU. The certificate requires four courses including Money Management for Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Essentials, Entrepreneurial Business Planning and Entrepreneurial Opportunities and Marketing.

Harris said the degree is ideal for incoming freshman, however even rising sophomores could match some of their current coursework and pursue the degree if they chose to. He said the college is encouraging minors within the degree where students choose 18 hours from an existing minor or certificate outside of the Miller School which will count towards the degree.

Harris said ECU is proud to have the only named school of entrepreneurship in the state, The Miller School, and it be the third school in the state of North Carolina to offer the bachelor of science in entrepreneurship degree.

“We think it’s really unique as we put together the programs in the school,” Harris said. “We’re really trying to create something special.”

According to Harris, the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge (PEC) is another opportunity for any student at ECU to participate in, he said the program is entering its third year this upcoming fall.

According to ECU’s website, the PEC is a three-round business pitch competition which begins in October where students can earn cash and prizes adding up to more than $75,000.

Paul Schwager, dean of the College of Business, said he is thankful for the Miller School and its staff for serving as a “catalyst” for various positive outcomes across ECU and the region. He said the Miller School was a gift from Fielding and Kim Miller.

According to an East Carolina University News Services press release, Fielding Miller and his wife, Kim, both attended ECU and donated $5 million for the creation of the Miller School in 2015.

“Kim and I are beyond thrilled with the progress and excitement around the Miller School of Entrepreneurship,” Fielding Miller said in a released statement. “Getting the bachelor’s degree program approved was part of the original vision, and it validates the Miller School’s offerings are strategically important to the region.”

Schwager said the College of Business and the new entrepreneurship degree will provide the foundation for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.

“Students with this degree will be able to take the entrepreneurial mindset the new degree offers and apply it in a variety of ways, either with their family-owned businesses, their endeavours or at their place of employment.” Schwager said.

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