How Colorado's Colleges and Universities Are Fostering Entrepreneurialism

October 16, 2018

It’s no surprise that Colorado—a state founded on rugged individualism and a rigorous work ethic—is a hotbed for entrepreneurialism. As conventional business culture has warmed to the idea of small, startup enterprises, the demand for entrepreneurial coaching on college campuses has only increased.

The economic impact of this can’t be underestimated: About 97% of all Colorado businesses are small businesses, and about a third of those were started in the past five years. Private and public colleges that offer bite-sized entrepreneurial education is nothing new, but lately, major players in higher education have started folding entrepreneurial coursework into their mainstream business programs—becoming de facto nurseries for startups.

The private University of Denver’s Office of Entrepreneurship increased its certificate to a minor program almost two years ago, and it’s been wildly successful. The program teaches everything from beginning with a business concept through bringing it to market—and students get to keep whatever revenue they earn. The program’s 30-plus, boot camp-style classes include subjects such as tax filing, coding, crowdfunding, ethics, intellectual property fundamentals, and more. “[Today’s] students are very warm to the approach of I don’t want to just sit around and learn about it [starting a business]; I want to do it,” said Dr. Stephen Haag, who launched the program. He adds that more than a dozen of the businesses born from it—in fields such as wellness, technology, and even a bakery—are still operating today. “Find your passion and we’ll show you how to spin a business around it,” Haag said.

On the public side, PERA-affiliated schools are also jumping onto the startup bandwagon. Colorado State University (CSU), which started its entrepreneurial program in 2010, opened its coursework to all majors this fall. The school’s was also expanded to a minor after demand increased.

With so many calls for school systems and governments to be run “more like a business,” it’s easy to see how early and mid-career professionals could apply entrepreneurial skills to the public sector, and many of these programs are open to graduates who are interested in continuing education options. “A large percentage of our students…work in small and emerging firms, as well as large firms that are looking for an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Dawn R. DeTienne, PhD, a professor of entrepreneurship at CSU.

With that startup mentality in mind, here are some other universities around Colorado that can help you hone your entrepreneurial brain (those with an asterisk happen to be in the PERA system):

Adams State University*

The Alamosa-based school offers an area of emphasis for four-year students getting a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Colorado Christian University

The private university’s 12-credit certificate program is open to students who are pursing a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Business Administration, Information Systems Management, or Organizational Management in Christian Leadership, Human Resource Management, or Project Management.

Colorado Mesa University*

The Grand Junction college offers entrepreneurial classes to all majors, and even has an Entrepreneurship for Creatives course geared toward more artsy types. CMU students can also pursue a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship; an Entrepreneurship minor; or a Certificate in Entrepreneurship.

Colorado School of Mines*

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a think tank for Mines’ students that holds workshops and competitions, and fosters a variety of ventures and projects.

Fort Lewis College*

The Durango-based school offers a minor in Entrepreneurship to its Business students (music business majors excepted).

Metropolitan State University of Denver*

MSU in downtown Denver offers a major, minor, and certificate in Entrepreneurship; both the certificate and the minor are open to non-business students, and all cater to the nontraditional student by offering online and night courses.

Regis University

Regis’ Anderson College of Business encourages its students to think with an outside-the-box mentality, and its Innovation Center provides a space for them to do just that.

University of Colorado*

CU’s Entrepreneurial Studies Certificate, which includes three courses, a 60-hour internship, and required networking and event attendance, is open to Leeds School of Business students only.

University of Northern Colorado*

UNC offers an Arts Entrepreneurship Certificate, which requires six applicable credits from the major of the student (it’s open to all) and six from the Monfort College of Business.

Western Colorado University*

The Gunnison school offers an Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship program to all business majors.