Do You Need an MBA or MS to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?

Mark Talmage-Rostron
June 24, 2024 · 10 min read

Discover the advantages of getting an MBA or MS as an entrepreneur. Learn if you really need a business degree to succeed in the business world.

It's an age-old debate. Are you born an entrepreneur, or can it be taught? Entrepreneurial skills are not solely innate; they can be cultivated and honed over time. While some individuals may possess inherent traits such as creativity, resilience, or a certain knack for spotting opportunities, many of these abilities can be acquired through education, hands-on experience, and a commitment to personal growth.

So, as a whole, you do not necessarily need a degree such as a Master's in Business or Master of Science degree to be a successful entrepreneur. While these advanced degrees can provide valuable knowledge and skills in business management, strategy, finance, or technical areas, many successful entrepreneurs have achieved their goals through practical experience, self-education, and networking. The decision to pursue an advanced degree should be based on individual goals, industry requirements, and resource allocation.

Alternative education options such as online courses, workshops, or mentorship programs tailored to entrepreneurship can also provide valuable insights and skills.

Ultimately, success in entrepreneurship hinges more on qualities like innovation, resilience, adaptability, and effective execution rather than formal educational credentials. But just to add to the confusion, there is no doubt that earning an entrepreneurship degree such as that offered by Nexford University can be a real shot in the arm for budding entrepreneurs looking to build their business from startup to enterprise in the business world.


Would an MS or MBA be more useful for Entrepreneurship?

Whether a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) is more useful for business entrepreneurship depends on various factors, including your specific goals, industry, and personal preferences.

But experts would maintain that an MSE is better than a business degree such as an MBA, and that's because MS programs offer specialized knowledge in specific fields such as technology, engineering, data science, or other areas highly relevant to entrepreneurship. If your entrepreneurial venture revolves around a particular industry or requires in-depth technical expertise, an MS can provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in that domain.

Many entrepreneurial ventures, especially in technology-driven industries, require advanced technical skills. An MS program can equip you with these skills, whether it's coding, data analysis, engineering, or other technical competencies crucial for innovation and product development.

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MS programs often involve research components that encourage innovation and critical thinking. This can be beneficial for entrepreneurs looking to develop groundbreaking products or services, as it fosters a mindset of inquiry and problem-solving.

While MBA programs are known for their extensive business networks, MS programs also offer valuable networking opportunities within specific industries or academic circles. Building connections with professors, fellow students, and industry professionals can provide access to mentorship, partnerships, and potential investors relevant to your entrepreneurial venture. And some MS programs are shorter and less expensive than traditional MBA degree programs, making them more accessible to individuals seeking to minimize time and financial investments while still gaining specialized expertise.

Ultimately, the decision between pursuing an MS or MBA in entrepreneurship depends on your specific goals, interests, and the nature of your entrepreneurial venture. Consider evaluating your skill gaps, industry requirements, and long-term career objectives to determine which educational path aligns best with your entrepreneurial aspirations.

Why Choose an MSE?

To paraphrase the great bard. To MSE or not to MSE? That is the question. Choosing a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) can be advantageous for several reasons, particularly if you're interested in pursuing a career in engineering or related fields.

An MSE program offers in-depth, specialized training in engineering principles, techniques, and practices. You'll gain advanced knowledge in your chosen engineering discipline, whether it's electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, or another field.

The program can open doors to higher-level positions within engineering firms, research institutions, government agencies, or other organizations that require advanced technical expertise. It can also increase your earning potential compared to having only a bachelor's degree.

Many MSE programs include opportunities for research and collaboration with faculty members on cutting-edge projects. Engaging in research can enhance your problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and innovation potential, which are valuable assets in the engineering field and beyond.

An MSE can provide you with a versatile skill set that is applicable across various industries and sectors. Whether you're interested in traditional engineering roles, technology startups, consulting firms, or research institutions, the technical expertise gained from an MSE can be highly transferable.

And MSE programs often provide opportunities to connect with faculty members, industry professionals, and fellow students through seminars, conferences, and networking events. Building a strong professional network can be instrumental in advancing your career and accessing job opportunities or collaborations.

Do You Need an MBA or MS to Be an Entrepreneur?

Of course, camps will be divided over this telling question, but a good few would agree that you do not necessarily need an MBA or Master of Science (MS) degree to be an entrepreneur and build a successful business.

While advanced degrees can provide valuable knowledge and skills, many successful entrepreneurs have achieved their goals through practical experience, self-education, and networking.

Entrepreneurship is often more about creativity, innovation, resilience, and effective execution than formal educational credentials. However, pursuing an MBA or MS academic program can offer benefits such as acquiring business management knowledge, building a professional network, gaining specialized skills, and enhancing credibility, depending on your goals and the specific requirements of your industry.

Ultimately, whether you need an MBA degree in business or an MS to be successful as an entrepreneur depends on various factors, including your individual circumstances, aspirations, and the nature of your entrepreneurial venture.


While obtaining an MBA or Master of Science (MS) degree as a business education can certainly provide valuable knowledge, skills, and networking opportunities that may benefit aspiring entrepreneurs, it is not a prerequisite for success as some founders have realized that they may not need one and just relied on years of work experience.

Entrepreneurship is a multifaceted journey that encompasses qualities such as creativity, resilience, adaptability, and effective execution, which can be cultivated through practical experience, self-education, mentorship, and networking. While pursuing an advanced degree may offer certain advantages, particularly in terms of acquiring business acumen or specialized expertise, success in entrepreneurship ultimately hinges on one's ability to identify opportunities, innovate, overcome challenges, and bring ideas to fruition.

Therefore, the decision to pursue an MBA, MS, or any other form of education should be carefully weighed against individual goals, resources, and the unique demands of the entrepreneurial path. Ultimately, success as an entrepreneur is determined more by one's mindset, skills, determination, and ability to seize opportunities, regardless of the degree.


How Does a Masters in Entrepreneurship Differ from an MBA?

Although if you look at the nuts and bolts there is somewhat of a shared ground between the two, a Master's in Entrepreneurship (ME) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) differ primarily in their focus, curriculum, and intended outcomes.

ME masters degree programs are specifically designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and mindset needed to start, manage, and grow a business venture. The focus is on entrepreneurship theory, opportunity recognition, business planning, venture financing, and entrepreneurial leadership. On the other hand, MBA programs offer a broader education in various aspects of business management, including finance, marketing, operations, strategy, organizational behavior, and leadership. While entrepreneurship may be a specialization or elective within an MBA program, the curriculum covers a wider range of business functions and is not solely focused on entrepreneurship.

ME programs typically include courses such as entrepreneurial finance, new venture creation, business model innovation, entrepreneurial marketing, venture capital, and entrepreneurial strategy. The curriculum may also incorporate experiential learning opportunities such as business plan competitions, internships with startups, or incubator programs. On the other hand, MBA programs offer a comprehensive curriculum covering core business disciplines such as accounting, economics, finance, marketing, operations management, and strategic management. Elective courses or concentrations in entrepreneurship may be available, but students also study topics relevant to corporate management and leadership in established organizations.

The primary goal of an ME program is to prepare students to launch and manage their own businesses or to work effectively in entrepreneurial environments, such as startups, venture capital firms, or innovation hubs. ME programs emphasize hands-on learning, creativity, innovation, and risk-taking. On the other hand, MBAs are designed to develop well-rounded business leaders capable of addressing complex challenges in a variety of organizational settings. While entrepreneurship may be one career path for MBA students, others may pursue roles in consulting, finance, marketing, operations, or corporate management.

In summary, while both a Master's in Entrepreneurship and an MBA can provide valuable knowledge and skills for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start a business, they differ in their specific focus, curriculum, and intended outcomes. ME programs are tailored specifically for individuals interested in starting or managing entrepreneurial ventures, while MBAs offer a broader education in business management, with entrepreneurship as one of many potential career paths. The choice between an ME and an MBA depends on individual goals, interests, and career aspirations.

Is an MSE worth it?

Whether a Master of Science (MS) in Entrepreneurship is worth it depends on your specific career goals, interests, and circumstances, but there are some factors to consider when evaluating the value of pursuing an MS in Entrepreneurship.

An MS in Entrepreneurship provides specialized education tailored to starting, managing, and growing a business venture. If you have a strong interest in entrepreneurship and want to deepen your knowledge in this area, an MS program can offer valuable insights, skills, and resources specific to the entrepreneurial journey.

MS in Entrepreneurship programs often provide opportunities to connect with experienced entrepreneurs, industry experts, mentors, and fellow students. Building a strong entrepreneurial network can be invaluable for gaining insights, advice, potential partnerships, and access to funding sources.

Many MS in Entrepreneurship programs offer experiential learning opportunities such as internships, consulting projects, business plan competitions, and incubator programs. These hands-on experiences allow you to apply theoretical concepts in real-world settings, develop practical skills, and test your business ideas in a supportive environment.

While not always necessary, having a master's degree in entrepreneurship can enhance your credibility as an entrepreneur, especially if you're seeking investors, partners, or clients. It demonstrates a commitment to learning and mastering the principles of entrepreneurship, which can inspire confidence in stakeholders.

Even if you're not planning to start a business immediately, an MS in Entrepreneurship can provide you with valuable skills and knowledge applicable to a variety of careers. Entrepreneurial mindset, creativity, problem-solving, and innovation skills are highly valued in today's dynamic job market and can open doors to diverse career opportunities.

However, it's essential to weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing an MS in Entrepreneurship, including tuition expenses, time commitment, and opportunity costs. Consider researching the specific program offerings, alumni outcomes, and job placement rates to determine if the investment aligns with your career goals and aspirations.

What's the cost of an MSE?

The cost of a Master of Science (MS) in Entrepreneurship can vary significantly depending on factors such as the institution, location, program duration, and whether you attend full-time or part-time. On average, tuition for an MS in Entrepreneurship program in the United States can range from $20,000 to $60,000 per year for domestic students, with potentially higher costs for international students. Additionally, you'll need to consider other expenses such as textbooks, materials, housing, transportation, and personal expenses, which can add to the overall cost of your education.

It's essential to research and compare tuition rates and associated costs at different universities offering MS in Entrepreneurship programs to make an informed decision based on your budget and financial circumstances. Additionally, exploring scholarship opportunities, grants, assistantships, or tuition reimbursement programs offered by universities or external organizations can help offset some of the costs associated with pursuing a master's degree in entrepreneurship.

One of the most convenient and cost-effective ways of doing an MSE is online at a US accredited university like Nexford. Its MSE program provides the tools, skills, and networking for budding entrepreneurs to thrive, as well as gain lifelong relationships, essential knowledge, and strategies to drive their startup’s growth and success. And it's highly affordable. The program starts from $430/month which works out to roughly $7740 for 18 months.

How valuable is an MSE for both building a business and employability?

A Master of Science (MS) in Entrepreneurship can be valuable for both building a business and enhancing employability in various ways.

An MS in Entrepreneurship equips you with the knowledge and skills needed to start, manage, and grow a business. You'll learn about business planning, market research, financial management, marketing strategies, innovation, and leadership.

Many MS in Entrepreneurship business masters programs incorporate experiential learning components such as internships, consulting projects, business plan competitions, or incubator programs. These opportunities allow you to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings, test business ideas, and gain practical experience.

An MS in Entrepreneurship provides specialized expertise in entrepreneurship and innovation, which can differentiate you in the job market. Employers value candidates who demonstrate entrepreneurial skills such as creativity, initiative, problem-solving, and adaptability. In addition to specific entrepreneurial knowledge, you'll develop transferable skills such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and project management, which are highly valued across industries and sectors.

And having a master's degree in entrepreneurship can enhance your credibility and signal to employers that you have a deep understanding of entrepreneurial principles, strategies, and best practices.

About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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