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The evolution of entrepreneurship on college campuses

Exploring the evolution of entrepreneurship on college campuses — a timeline.

About a year ago, a great Wall Street Journal piece came out covering “what college can teach an aspiring entrepreneur.” That article also presented some statistics we at Kauffman helped assemble, including a timeline of the evolution of entrepreneurship on college campuses.

This has been an important topic to Kauffman, especially as the Foundation ran in the past the Kauffman Campuses Initiative. While that initiative is now concluded, we have continued to follow closely the topic of entrepreneurship among young people – especially millennials, a generation set to become biggest generational cohort in the U.S.

Below you will find some measures showing the striking rise of entrepreneurship in universities across the country, as well as a timeline covering the evolution of entrepreneurship on college campuses.

This timeline ends in 2013, the year Kauffman concluded the Kauffman Campuses Initiative. If we do another timeline, what do you think we should include for 2014 and 2015?

The Rise of Entrepreneurship in College Campuses

  • Degree and diploma offerings in entrepreneurship have grown by 5 times.
    • In 1975, colleges and universities offered around 100 formal majors, minors, and certificates in entrepreneurship. By 2006, that they offered 500 of those programs (source).
  • The number of freshmen who want to be an entrepreneur has doubled.
    • In 1975, 1.5 percent of college freshmen reported wanting to own a business. In 2008, that number was 3.3 percent (source).
  • Course offers in entrepreneurship have grown approximately 20-fold.
    • In 1985, there were about 250 courses offered in entrepreneurship at college campuses across the nation. In 2008, that number was 5,000 (source).

Entrepreneurship in College Campuses, a Timeline

  • 1975
    • Colleges/universities offered around 100 formal majors, minors, and certificates in entrepreneurship (source).
  • 1985
    • About 250 courses in entrepreneurship (source).
  • 2000
    • Colleges and universities are receiving major endowments for entrepreneurship education (source).
    • 30 percent of colleges and universities offer assistance to students and entrepreneurs (source).
  • 2003
    • 300 million invested in entrepreneurship education in U.S. colleges and universities through the Kauffman Campuses Initiative and matching funds, between 2003 and 2013 (source).
  • 2005
    • 3.6 percent (more than twice as many as in 1975) of college freshmen report to want to own a business (source).
  • 2006
    • More than 500 majors, minors, and certificates (source).
  • 2008
    • More than 5,000 entrepreneurship courses.
    • Over 400,000 students a year take them.
    • Around 9,000 faculty members teach it (source).
  • 2011
    • Launch of the Thiel Fellowship, which pays 20 aspiring entrepreneurs $100,000 to not attend college and work on their projects (source).
  • 2012
    • About one-third of business incubators are based at universities (source).
  • 2013
    • As of 2013, several schools require all students to take classes introducing principles of entrepreneurship. These include institutions as diverse as Arizona State University, University of Texas El Paso, and College of Wooster (source).