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How to design an Entrepreneurship Degree Program

Gedeon (2014) “Application of best practices in university entrepreneurship education” was written as “a direct response to calls for a total re-envisioning of entrepreneurship education and criticism that existing programs lack rigour, content, pedagogy, measurement and an established definition.”

“The best practice for designing a new university degree program may be informed by the field of instructional development or instructional systems design and conceptualised as a topic within the broader field of education (Gustafson and Branch, 2004). Many authors have approached this as a problem-solving process that includes analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation – referred to as ADDIE (Molenda, 2003).”

The primary theoretical approach to understanding the effect of entrepreneurship education arises from the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) and the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991). TPB demonstrates a causal process from personal beliefs about yourself and the world (e.g. Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy), to attitudes about possible future states (e.g. Desirability of being an entrepreneur), to Intentions to bring about such states, to behaviours performed (e.g. starting a new venture). Entrepreneurs have Agency.

The core constructs in TPB help us understand the impact of education on a wide array of student skills, beliefs and attitudes including alertness, agility, self-management, motivation, engagement, internal locus of control, grit, tenacity and ability to deal with risk, ambiguity and uncertainty. Entrepreneurship educators have found great application of this theory for helping develop specific entrepreneurial beliefs, attitudes and intentions in students that lead to successful outcomes, career satisfaction and personal happiness.

Gedeon (2014) describes the Entrepreneurship Education Program Design Framework (EEPDF) which incorporates Fayolle and Gailly’s (2008) Teaching Model Framework for Entrepreneurship Education into a broader best practices ADDIE process that includes the institutional and environmental contextualization within which the education occurs. The EEPDF is then used to identify and document best practices in entrepreneurship education regarding the ontological level, pedagogical techniques, and learning outcomes and goals that programs set. For example, it is fairly clear that experiential learning is a best practice teaching pedagogy for entrepreneurship education, in contrast to other pedagogical techniques such as lectures and exams. (Please see the next section on How to Teach Entrepreneurship and Grant & Gedeon, 2019 “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century University”.)

Valliere, Gedeon & Wise (2014) develop these models further to create “A Comprehensive Framework for Entrepreneurship Education” (CFEE). The CFEE was used to assess, design and evaluate the undergraduate BComm degree program in entrepreneurship at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University and contrast this with the MBA program in Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Management degree at the Brunswick European Law School (BELS) of the Ostfalia University of Applied Science in Germany.

Comprehensive Framework for Entrepreneurship Education Flow Chart

The CFEE provides the most current, robust and theoretically-based model for analyzing, designing and evaluating a degree program (key components of ADDIE) as well as comparing and assessing different approaches to entrepreneurship education best practices. 

Most instructional development models follow the instrumental paradigm which sets goals and target Results for the program and the ADDIE process seeks to ensure that the degree program meets the Results criteria. In order to determine which Results to set, Gedeon (2017) “Measuring Student Transformation in Entrepreneurship Education Programs” uses the CFEE to conduct a Total Quality Management (TQM) approach to analyzing stakeholder groups that included accreditation agencies (EQUIS, AACSB), entrepreneurship award organizations (USASBE, Ashoka, Baldridge), governments, employers, students, faculty, Deans, and various ranking and award programs and magazines. As shown in the paper the vast majority of program ranking organizations (e.g. UBI, Baldridge and various magazines) prioritize things like number of startups, amount of money raised, and number of students (“Output Goals” in the Results section of CFEE). This method tends to favour the largest programs in the country, regardless of whether or not students actually learn anything useful. In contrast, other stakeholders like accreditation agencies and Deans prioritize things like quality of faculty, number of publications and percent of faculty who have started companies (“Input Goals” in the Results section of CFEE).

Gedeon (2017) found that competing stakeholder expectations can be brought into alignment by placing quantifiable student transformation as the primary goal of an entrepreneurship education program. This provides a Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) framework to set program goals and tie into the other important elements of the CFEE model. The specific goal-setting framework comprises the following elements of the Results section:

  1. Primary Goals – Central to Student Transformation (knowledge (“Head”), skills (“Hand”) and attitudes (“Heart”) learning outcomes)
  2. Input Goals – Factors that Support Student Transformation (such as faculty qualifications, resources, facilities, assignments, courses, pedagogy used…)
  3. Output Goals –Related to Success of the Program or External Impact (such as number of students, number of awards won, or number of new companies launched…)

The CFEE has been used to assess, design and evaluate (from the ADDIE process) the best practices in a wide variety of contexts including:

  • BComm Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Degree Program
  • Minor Degree in Entrepreneurship for Business Students
  • Minor Degree in Business for Non-Business Students
  • MBA Graduate Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
  • MSc Graduate Degree in Entrepreneurship
  • University Incubators and Accelerators
  • Corporate Innovation and Venture Capital Program
  • Youth Empowerment Program
  • University-Wide Entrepreneurship Eco-System

The CFEE provides a robust and theoretically-based model for comparing and assessing the different approaches to entrepreneurship education. The CFEE allows a Total Quality Management (TQM) approach to be used to identify and implement entrepreneurship education best practices (Valliere, Gedeon & Wise, 2014).

Goal-Setting Framework (from Gedeon, 2017 p. 4)

Learning Outcomes Palomba and Banta, 2001

   Life Long Learning Skills

NCIHE, 1997; Hesketh, 2000; Cope, 2005; Gedeon, 2014; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016

    Communication Skills

NCIHE, 1997; Hesketh, 2000; Gedeon, 2014; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Cooney, 2012; Valliere, et al., 2014

    Teamwork Skills

NCIHE, 1997; Hesketh, 2000; Gedeon, 2014; Turgut-Dao, 2015; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Cooney, 2012; Valliere, et al., 2014

   Social Capital Skills (Persuasion,

    Negotiation, Networking)

Baron, et al., 2000; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Cooney, 2012; Valliere, et al., 2014

    Creativity and Innovation Skills

    (Alertness, Opportunity Spotting)

Busenitz, 1996; Turgut-Dao, 2015; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Cooney, 2012; Valliere, et al., 2014

    Guerilla Skills (Bootstrapping,

    Acquisition of Resources, Planning

    under Uncertainty)

Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990; Honig, 2004; Ebben and Johnson, 2006; Gedeon, 2014; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Cooney, 2012; Valliere, et al., 2014

    Motivational Skills (Psychological

    Capital, empowerment)

Gedeon, 2011; Hytti, et al., 2010; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016

    Entrepreneurial Thinking Skills

    (Independent and Critical Thinking;

    Self-Management; Adapting)

Hagan, 2004; Hesketh, 2000; Honig, 2004; Oosterbeek, et al., 2010; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Cooney, 2012; Valliere, et al., 2014

Attitudes, Beliefs, Values and Intent


    Entrepreneurial Desirability

Kreugar, et al., 2000; Moberg, et al., 2014; Gedeon, 2014; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Valliere, et al., 2014


Bandura, 1977, Oosterbeck, et al., 2010; Moberg, et al., 2014; Turgut-Dao, 2015; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Valliere, et al., 2014; McGee, et al., 2009

    Internal Locus of Control

Oosterbeck, et al., 2010; Moberg, et al., 2014; Turgut-Dao, 2015; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Valliere, et al., 2014


Baum and Locke, 2004

    Entrepreneurial Intent

Thompson, 2009; Oosterbeck, et al., 2010; Moberg, et al., 2014; Schlaegal & Koenig, 2014; Valliere, 2015; Turgut-Dao, 2015; Bacigalupo, et al., 2016; Valliere, et al., 2014

Clarity of Mission Statement Turgut-Dao, et al., 2015; Valliere, et al., 2014, AACSB, 2016; EQUIS, 2016;
Faculty Qualifications and Behaviours  

   Percent with PhDs (Academically


AACSB, 2016; EQUIS, 2016

    Percent with entrepreneurial


Princeton Review, 2017;, 2015

    Intellectual Contributions ( or Number

    of Publications)

AACSB, 2016; EQUIS, 2016

    SERVQUAL or SERVPERF (Assurance,

    Reliability, Empathy, Responsiveness)

Chua, 2004; Douglas, et al., 2006

Resources to Support Students  

   Student Entrepreneurship Clubs, 2015

    Business Plan Competition Amount, 2015

Incoming Student Population  

  Entry Requirements

AACSB, 2016; EQUIS, 2016; Hesketh, 2000;, 2015

    Number of Scholarships, 2015