Giant Leaps in Entrepreneurship Education


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Many people know the success of Purdue’s award-winning Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which has grown into one of the largest multidisciplinary entrepreneurship programs in the country. Alumni and students rave about it, but what many don’t know is the program itself began and evolved/grew/developed much like a start-up.

In 2005, Dr. Nathalie Duval-Couetil was hired with the directive to create a multidisciplinary entrepreneurship education program that would serve 1,000 Purdue undergraduate students within three years. With minimal startup funding and some valuable advice from Purdue administrators, faculty and advisors, Dr. Duval-Couetil knocked on many doors, pitched the program, advocated for more funding, identified talent (instructors) and recruited students.

“The logistics and realities of building a program are not always pleasant, but every day we could see the value it added to student experiences which was extremely motivating,” says Dr. Duval-Couetil.

As a result, today the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program serves approximately 1,800 students across campus each year. Through the program, Purdue students earn a credential, similar to a minor while completing five courses, some of which may overlap with requirements in their major.

The first course, ENTR 20000 Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation, was first offered in the fall of 2005 and the program grew rapidly from there. Today, the program offers nine sections of the introductory course to approximately 400 new students each semester. The second core course, ENTR 31000 Marketing Management for New Ventures, offers seven sections each semester and an alternative core course, ENTR 31500 Business Planning for Social Entrepreneurship, was offered for the first time in the spring of 2018.

In addition to Entrepreneurship option courses such as Internship and Career Preparation and Women and Leadership, students can currently choose from 89 approved option courses available from across all colleges. Students can also select from 35 approved capstone offerings, including three offered within Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program. These include a capstone course focused on preparing for an entrepreneurial career, one focused on new venture creation, and another focused on consulting for entrepreneurial firms.

The first three certificates were awarded to students in December 2006 and since then the numbers have grown dramatically. At the May 2019 commencement ceremonies, over 300 students from across campus will receive their Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation enables students from a variety of backgrounds to grow by placing them into an environment where they have to learn to work together to be successful. This class set-up forced me to evaluate my own strengths, interests, and knowledge and understand the value I offer to teams. What I learned about ideation, market research, product development, and finance are valuable whether you plan to create your own company or work for one. But beyond this, the entrepreneurship program provided me with the communication, teamwork, and reflection skills that will allow me to develop in all areas of my life for years to come,” says Julia Shamo, ENTR Student and Graduating Senior, Krannert School of Management.

Alumni of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program have gone on to start their own successful businesses and others have worked their way up in companies using their innovative and entrepreneurial mindset to transform them. These alumni are now leaders in fields that range from technology startups and supply chain to finance to sales and many, many more.

“The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program gave me the tools to be innovative and try something in my career that I many not have had the courage to do without my education at Purdue.  I believe that the entrepreneurship program can give that gift to every student that goes through it,” states Brad Niemeier, 2012 College of Health and Human Sciences and ENTR alumnus and Founder & CEO of Azzip Pizza, LLC.

While the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program has grown in “Giant Leaps”, the innovative spirit remains in the program’s mission to provide the highest quality entrepreneurship education to Purdue students by focusing on team-based, experiential learning that enables them to develop the entrepreneurial mindset that will prepare and inspire them to go and make their own “Giant Leaps”.