Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way is defined as follows: you are an entrepreneur anytime you initiate transformation through risk-taking actions and value-creating organizations.
Entrepreneurship is driving enormous social and economic changes that are shaping our collective future. The program has three main aims: to create focused pathways through the curriculum that will allow Princeton undergraduates to supplement work in their major departments with a systematic and coherent understanding of, and practice in, entrepreneurship; to leverage, expand, and enhance the University’s offerings across the liberal arts in order to fulfill the previously stated aim; and to promote an interdisciplinary academic community of undergraduate students, faculty members, and others who share an interest and commitment to learning from and contributing to these areas.
Admission to the Program
Undergraduate students interested in the program will be expected to apply, normally at the end of the sophomore year and, in general, no later than the fall of the junior year. At the time of application, students must submit a short application form outlining a tentative plan and timeline for completing all of the requirements of the program. The statement will include an account of the two introductory courses, two core courses and one breadth course (as explained in the Requirements section) that the student proposes to take, and explain how these courses fit into his or her aspirations for learning and practicing entrepreneurship. Students are encouraged to make a special effort in the application to describe their proposal for the practicum requirement (learning by doing, with a high bar of excellence).
Program of Study
The certificate program exposes students to different ways of understanding, conceptualizing, and for some, building enterprises that create value through positive impact on society, whether through a commercial or social venture. Students will develop necessary skills through a set of practicing courses such as “Venture Capital and Finance of Innovation", “Entrepreneurial Leadership” and “Designing Ventures to Change the World”. But they will do so while developing a contextual understanding of the social forces at work through courses that might include, for example, “History of American Capitalism” or “Psychology of Decision-Making,” and more broadly, by developing an informed understanding of the social and global challenges to which entrepreneurship can seek to contribute.
There are four sets of requirements:
- Courses (intellectual foundation)
- Workshop (practical skill acquisition)
- Practicum (learning by doing, with a high bar of excellence)
- Colloquium (shared social experience)
Requirement 1: Five Courses
Two common introductory mandatory courses
- EGR/ENT 200 Creativity, Innovation, and Design
- EGR/ENT 201 Foundations of Entrepreneurship
Two core courses: must be chosen from a list, which may be updated each year by the Executive Committee (choose two of the courses listed)
- ANT 300 Ethnography, Evidence and Experience
- COS 448 Innovating across Technology, Business, and Markets
- EGR/ENT 301 History of Entrepreneurship
- EGR 360 Policy Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century
- EGR 381 Design for Understanding
- EGR/ENT 395 Venture Capital and Finance of Innovation
- EGR 475 Complex and Regulated Ventures
- EGR 487 Advanced Problem Solving Through Design Thinking
- EGR/ENT 488 Designing Ventures to Change the World
- EGR/ENT/ECE 491 High-Tech Entrepreneurship
- EGR/ENT 497 Entrepreneurial Leadership
- EGR/ENT 498 Special Topics in Social Entrepreneurship
- HIS 379 History of American Capitalism
- EGR/ENT/REL 219 Business Ethics: Succeeding Without Selling Your Soul
One contextual breadth course: to be chosen from a list of suggestions or be proposed by students to the program director.
Unlike the above list of core courses, the below list of possible breadth courses is illustrative only. Each student may suggest other courses outside of this list, subject to approval by the program director. Students from science or engineering must use a course from the humanities or social science to satisfy the breadth course requirement.
An illustrative list of possible breadth courses:
- ANT 301 The Ethnographer’s Craft
- ECO 317 Economics of Uncertainty
- ECO 385 Ethics & Economics
- EGR 277 Technology & Society
- EGR 494 Leadership Development for Business
- HIS 481 History of the American Workplace
- VIS 214/ARC 214/CWR 214 Graphic Design
- VIS 439 Art as Interaction
- POL 337 Business Influence in American Politics
- POL 349 Political Economics
- PSY 311 Rationality and Human Reasoning
- PSY 420 The Psychology of Poverty
- NEU 425 / PSY 425 Neuroeconomics
- SOC 346 Sociology of the Cubicle: Work, Technology, and Organization
- WWS 340 / PS 321 Psychology of Decision Making
Requirement 2: One Entrepreneurship Workshop
Workshops (without academic course credits) are offered on practical skills involved in the entrepreneurship process, organized as supplements to credit-bearing courses and offered currently at the E-Hub. These are short-term one-off or sessional workshops, normally of 3-12 hours in duration, and students will be required to complete at least one of their choice.
Requirement 3: Practicum
Entrepreneurs, however smart they are and whatever ventures they pursue, are - above all - doers. They apply their ideas and learning to try to create value for their customers, investors, colleagues, themselves and hopefully our society. They challenge the status quo.
This practicum is intended to give you the opportunity to do your version of that endeavor – a significant firsthand practical experience in seeing what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur in whatever context is most meaningful to you. Whether you are interested in challenging yourself in a for-profit startup, a social-purpose venture, a nonprofit initiative or even an intrapreneurial setting inside an established organization, your practicum should give you the chance to apply some of the frameworks and concepts you’ve learned on campus.
It is not intended as a theoretical undertaking, but a hands-on exposure to the reality of the entrepreneurial odyssey, whether that unfolds in a Silicon Valley-type hi-tech setting or a rural village or underserved urban community someplace. Accordingly, your practicum should expose you to key elements of that odyssey such as customer discovery, design thinking, solution prototyping, team assembly, or market validation – efforts that test and refine your hypotheses about what‘s required to create a financially viable, worthwhile venture.
OPTIONS: There are five primary options for your practicum, each designed with the above objectives in mind. Any of these can provide the experiential foundation for your required paper and presentation (described in the Expectations & Deliverables section below):
- Entrepreneurial Engagement: If you’re considering eLab, TigerChallenge, PSIP (or comparable internship), joining a startup (whether as founder, co-founder, or another role) or playing a role in a corporate or nonprofit intrapreneurial project, that’s great. These can offer rewarding personal exposure with entrepreneurial leadership in various settings in the US and internationally.
- Startup Launch: You have an idea for launching a venture, whether to change the world, exploit a gap in a market, offer a new product or service, earn a living, or something else. This practicum is your chance to put yourself to the test and see what it truly takes to convert that idea into a living enterprise, with the goal of actually getting your solution into its intended market. Several of your predecessors have done just that, often leveraging the contacts and resources available across the broader Princeton entrepreneurial network. As an entrepreneurial leader, you’ll experience what it takes to assemble a team, crystallize a go-to-market strategy, recruit financial backers and develop a basic product for target customers, among other things.
- Solution Development: You have a specific idea for a product or service, but aren’t sure whether it’s ready to be the centerpiece of a venture itself or you just aren’t yet interested in being the primary entrepreneur to make that happen. In this case, your practicum is focused on the rigor of developing your idea through several cycles of practical prototyping, testing with prospective users and/or customers and refining your concept based on those results. You’ll experience the challenges of making your idea real.
- Frontline Insights: You don’t have a venture or solution idea of your own right now, but you are curious about the whole entrepreneurial process in the real world – whether as part of the PSIP program or not. In this practicum, you will be the inquiring observer and reporter – personally interviewing at least a dozen entre/intrapreneurs to learn from them what their experience has been, and what key lessons they’ve learned along the way. Your job, however, is not merely in-depth reportage here; it is to show your own independent analysis of what their experiences reveal about the pluses and minuses of the entrepreneurial journey and its implications for your own thinking and career. Your Advisor can help you brainstorm how to identify and reach potential interviewees.
- Wild Card: Entrepreneurs, like all innovators, challenge the status quo. They shake things up with ideas and strategies that test established wisdom and assumptions. In that spirit, if you have another idea for how you would like to structure a practicum that satisfies the fundamental expectations outlined here, be our guest. Design it, discuss it with your Keller Center Advisor and convince her or him that it’s as rigorous and valuable a leadership challenge as these other types; if they agree,
WHAT THIS PRACTICUM ISN’T: The entrepreneurship practicum is intended to be both experiential and analytical. Thus, a junior paper, senior thesis, or other independent coursework does not by itself satisfy the practicum requirement. However, these efforts may facilitate your designing a related experience and analytical agenda that does. If you have a proposal in that vein, please discuss it with your Advisor.
EXPECTATIONS & DELIVERABLES: Whichever form of practicum you select, you will be expected to devote substantial effort to it outside of your normal classroom efforts. It should demonstrate your own creative thinking, independent initiative and analytical rigor, applied to an entrepreneurial opportunity that resonates with your own interests and aspirations.
Juniors will explain their proposed practicum in the form of a poster presentation at the Keller Center’s Colloquium in the spring semester. Seniors have two final deliverables for their practica:
- a 10-page paper (due 2 weeks before the Colloquium); and
- a 5-minute formal oral presentation to a group of reviewers at the Colloquium itself.
Your practicum is fundamentally a theory-to-practice endeavor. Thus, your paper needs to demonstrate specifically how you tried to apply at least three of the frameworks, tools or concepts (resources) from across three different entrepreneurship courses you’ve taken thus far (one resource from each of three courses). What did you discover in seeing each concept in action? Did it work? If so, why? If not, why not? How would you modify it in the future based on your experience?
Your oral presentation at the Colloquium can be in the form of pithy slides (Powerpoint) or perhaps another creative format that allows others to learn from your learning experience and you to explain and defend your own conclusions in front of an audience of peers, faculty and outside observers. You can expect detailed feedback on your pass-fail “stand and deliver” summary from at least one Keller Center faculty member in addition to your Advisor.
The practicum is also intended to be a personal journey into the real world of entrepreneurship. Your final deliverables should identify what assumptions or hypotheses you tested in your practicum and how, what surprises – if any – you encountered and how this experience has affected your own plans for your future.
YOUR ADVISOR: Whichever type of practicum you choose, your plan needs to be approved in advance by your Entrepreneurship Certificate faculty Advisor. Once approved, you will need to check in periodically with her or him on your progress and any unexpected issues that may arise. You and your Advisor will agree on the frequency and format of those check-ins.
FINAL THOUGHT: This practicum is an ideal opportunity for you to see for yourself, in a real-world situation, whether entrepreneurship might be a path for you. Think creatively about how you can craft this experience to test your thinking, explore your passions and learn how entrepreneurs do what they do best to change the status quo others merely accept.
* This clarification of practicum requirements applies to all students who do not yet have formal approvals of their proposed practica by their Keller Center Advisor. If you are already working on an approved practicum, you can proceed as originally planned. And if you are in any doubt, please reach out to your Advisor for guidance.
Requirement 4: Colloquium
Students are required to present their practicum, or a combination of their academic work and practicum, at least twice before graduation:
The required sequence is:
- April/May of Junior year: Practicum proposal presented as a poster at the Certificate’s annual Colloquium
- April of Senior year: Written analysis presented to evaluation committee no less than 2 weeks before annual Colloquium
- April/May of Senior year: Oral presentation of practicum at the Certificate's annual Colloquium
This social event also serves to foster community and conversation among the certificate students. The mentorship of faculty in certain practicing opportunities and of alumni in others will also help to build a greater sense of interaction across the Princeton community of people with entrepreneurial interests.
Certificate of Proficiency
A student who fulfills the requirements of the program with satisfactory standing receives a certificate of proficiency in entrepreneurship upon graduation.