Two new master's programs that were unveiled at the ASU Innovation Open in February start their first classes this semester.
The Master's in Innovation and Venture Development is a collaboration between the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the W.P. Carey School of Business. The other is a Master of Business Administration for advanced business students that takes just one year.
ASU's Innovation Open is a competition that invites college students from across the nation to compete for their own share of the $300,000 given to winners for their entrepreneurial pursuits.
The Master's in Innovation and Venture Development program plans to give hands-on experience in venture development to students who "desire to start something that makes a difference in the world."
The interdisciplinary degree is being funded by Thomas Prescott, ASU alumnus and former CEO of Invisalign parent company Align Technologies.
Cheryl Heller, professor of practice for the Herberger Institute and the new program's director, said the goal is to foster collaboration across disciplines.
“The program is made to give students this lived experience of starting a venture, which is why we opened it to people from every background because of the exciting nature of the diversity of thinking," Heller said. "It is also what the world is like, you don’t just work with engineers or just MBAs.”
Heller said she hopes the program will create leaders who know how to navigate uncertainty and provide experiences working on teams with diverse skill sets.
“They’ll be the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Heller said.
Instead of defending a thesis like most graduate programs require, students in the Innovation and Venture Development program have to create a venture and provide evidence of an investor or funding.
Torence Lu, a business owner who will be an advisor to the program’s class of 2021, was inspired to join the staff this year to help with the development of products and help jump start the next generation of business owners.
“I’ve been very surprised with how ASU has changed and embraced being No. 1 in innovation, which is why I was glad to accept a position as an advisor,” Lu said.
The program aims to build on students’ work experiences and recruits applicants from those who already hold a master's degree in a business field.
This program was made possible by a $15 million contribution from the ASU and W.P. Carey Foundations, as part of their $1.5 billion Campaign ASU 2020 fundraising push initiated in 2017.
Associate Dean Kim Steinmetz said this will help capable business figures break a final barrier in pursuit of higher leadership positions in business.
“Our students, who were already holding specialized master's, were running up against limited career potential in pursuit of higher leadership positions where the minimum requirement for those positions was an MBA," Steinmetz said. "We provide them with a more efficient way in terms of time and cost to get an MBA.”