Noobpreneur: Does an Entrepreneur Need a Graduate Degree?

Exceptions are always made for successful business owners who did not earn an undergraduate degree, but such cases are extraordinary. In today’s world, it’s a given that a college degree provides numerous advantages like departing valuable information through coursework, making a good impression when seeking funding for a new business venture, and being worth its weight in gold in networking opportunities. In addition, a bachelor’s degree paves the way for later graduate studies.

Simply put, nobody “needs” a graduate degree related to business. Like any endeavor in life, the pursuit of a degree depends on what you make of it and want to get out of it. By nature, an entrepreneur is more of a risk taker than the average business owner. A graduate degree is a big investment in terms of finance and time, and it may take a good deal of time to see a substantial return on such an investment.

Postgraduate student

Desire, Cost, and Networking

Think long and hard when establishing the goals that you want to achieve in obtaining a graduate degree as an entrepreneur. It’s a big undertaking and something not to be taken lightly or on a whim. Obtaining such a degree must fuel your passions in some important way, and you’ll also learn a lot about what you don’t know. The additional skills acquired by obtaining a graduate degree will also lessen the likelihood of needing to hire consultants down the road.

Establishing solid goals helps make it easier to swallow the associated costs of such programs. In-state tuition may be more affordable, but other factors like ease of online attendance or institution prestige come into play as well. Research and apply to a variety of appropriate scholarship opportunities as well.

Networking potential can be a driving factor in obtaining an advanced degree. Such relationships formed while in a community of like-minded students can provided benefits for years to come in multiple areas, and the advice exchanged can be as valuable as the associated coursework.

Pick a Suitable Advanced Business Degree

In any case, if you are an entrepreneur and thinking about getting an advanced degree you possess an extra level of drive that may take you far. At a glance, it may seem like a graduate degree specifically in entrepreneurship may be the best choice for your goals. Such programs are not as widely available as more traditional programs, and some critics would note the risks involved in starting new business can’t readily be predicted or taught.

It may be in your best interest to pursue a specialized master’s degrees that will aid your entrepreneurial efforts to become an expert in a certain niche. MBA degrees prepare a person to take on a managerial role. An MPA focused on the skills needed to implement policies for public good and is more managerial, whereas an MPP focuses more on solving policy programs.

Beyond that, other terminal degrees to consider include an JD/MBA degree if you would rather enforce policies than make them. Such a course of study typically takes four years. Another option is to pursue a doctorate, which can take from three to five years. This is suitable for becoming a consultant, researcher, or teacher. In roundabout ways, these degree tracks can appeal to varying levels of entrepreneurship.

Lecturer in a graduate degree class

Determine the Best Type of Degree Program

Once you’ve decided on the most suitable type of advanced business degree, it is then necessary to weigh the pros and cons of what type of degree program will best suit your needs. This link to an overview of Online MPA Degrees is a great jumping off point to start researching various types of degrees and programs.

Online or Campus Programs

Online business degree programs continue to gain speed, but they also come with fewer networking opportunities. Time saved in commuting can be a major draw factor when trying to run a business. Or it can be beneficial to choose a physical campus located as close as possible to your place of business.

Full-Time or Part-Time Programs

A typical program will take two years to complete, but a part-time program may extend the graduate course of study to five or six years when taking classes at night and on the weekends to allow time to work while attending classes.

Executive Programs

Such programs are designed for those with professional experience than someone in a regular business program. They are part-time two-year programs that allow students to continue working during study.

Accelerated Programs

This type of situation is for those with work experience who want to pursue studies while not participating as part of the workforce. The average time for completion ranges from ten to fifteen months.

Blended Programs

This approach borrows from the best of both worlds by incorporating elements of online and in-person instruction. Advances in technology will continue to ensure this aspect of business study will continue to grow.

Business school incubator program
photo credit: Sebastiaan Ter Burg / Flickr


You don’t “need” a graduate degree as an entrepreneur, but the benefits are there for the taking if you have the desire and means to pursue such a degree. When undertaken wisely, the benefits will always be there for the taking.

What are your thoughts? Does an entrepreneur need a graduate degree?