Online Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship program tackles industry needs

May 18, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Applications are currently being accepted for fall enrollment in a new online offering from Penn State that is designed to help students build the skills to successfully innovate in today’s business environment with its increasing competition, globalization and rapid technological advances.

Offered jointly by the Penn State Smeal College of Business and Penn State World Campus, the 33-credit Master of Professional Studies in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship is designed for leaders and aspiring leaders from organizations of all sizes, from start-ups to blue-chip companies.

Penn State also offers a standalone 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which can lead into the master’s degree.

“Innovation requires broad knowledge of engineering, marketing and sales, business strategy and technology,” said Shawn Clark, clinical professor at Smeal and faculty director for the programs. “The ability to understand your business, the environment and how to innovate appropriately given all the variables is essential.”

The application deadline for fall 2018 enrollment is July 1. Learn more about the program online or connect with the program at

Clark, who also directs Smeal’s Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, recently answered several common questions about the Master of Professional Studies in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Q: What makes a focus on corporate innovation and entrepreneurship relevant in the current business climate?

Clark: Companies today understand that they must innovate to survive and flourish. They increasingly need managers, executives, and employees who have the ability to think about, plan and lead innovation.

Q: How is the Penn State program unique?

Clark: The Master of Professional Studies in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship differs from other programs by offering strong, practitioner-based education in corporate innovation, entrepreneurship and business fundamentals. What also makes the program distinct are the many curricular tracks — business management, engineering innovation, supply chain management, accounting, marketing analytics, business analytics, engineering innovation — students may choose from to complement their entrepreneurial interests and career goals.

Q: Who is the ideal student?

Clark: The program is a good fit for two types of people. It is perfect for engineers, technologists and scientists who are, or who anticipate, fulfilling managerial or project-management roles that require knowledge of both innovation and business. It is also perfect for anyone in a business role who is responsible for driving or managing innovation, including launching a new business venture in or outside the enterprise.

The program will not only support and help educate future chief innovation officers, directors and managers of innovation, it will also benefit those individuals and teams associated with this critical leadership role, and those involved in innovation in general.

Q: What capabilities will students gain?

Clark: Students will emerge with the business, leadership and organizational skills needed to lead and facilitate corporate innovation in its many forms, new venture creation, effective change management, and entrepreneurial business planning.

Students will acquire the skills needed to succeed in today’s dynamic work environments, gain a firm understanding of business and technology issues and problems, and be prepared to become leaders of innovation.

It is the combination of skills, topics, concepts and methods, and the tremendous flexibility of the curriculum, that make Penn State’s program unique.

Q: What versatility is built into the master of professional studies?

Clark: The master’s degree offers a highly customizable interdisciplinary program that allows students to earn one or more graduate certificates along the way. In addition to studying the best practices of innovation and entrepreneurship, the flexible, portfolio-based curricular tracks of the program open doors to learning the fundamentals of business, such as in accounting, supply chain management, and business analytics.

Q: What is the cadence of the master’s program?

Clark: It is designed to be completed in two years and can be started in the fall, spring and summer. In general, students take two courses per semester, including during the summer.

For students who have the time and motivation to accelerate their learning, the program may be completed sooner. Other students, who find themselves in demanding work roles, may wish to take longer. In all cases, students may move at the pace that is manageable to ensure their success.

Q: Once completed, where can this degree lead students?

Clark: Students will gain insight, experience, and skills necessary to fulfill many unique corporate roles that pertain to fostering organization, product, process and project innovation.

The Master of Professional Studies in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship is designed to develop the next generation of innovation leaders, and may lead to any number of leadership roles, including jobs in product development, marketing, R&D, consulting and elsewhere.

Students graduating from this program will be ideal for serving as business analysts, directors of innovation, project managers, business process managers, directors of creative engagement, brand managers, R&D engineers and management consultants.

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Last Updated May 18, 2018