Entrepreneurial Graduate Programs

Entrepreneurial Graduate Programs

The entrepreneurial activities of schools and colleges at the University of Connecticut contribute to its teaching, research, and service mission both directly through providing educational opportunities in new or emerging fields and indirectly through providing funds to enhance scholarly research, creative activity, innovation, and training. The University is interested in encouraging and providing incentives for academic units to develop academic programs that can both meet the needs of identifiable, targeted new audiences and generate new sources of revenue.

For entrepreneurial graduate programs, success depends on having a clear and market-validated program value proposition and a delivery modality (face-to-face, hybrid, online) aligned with target market demand profile.  Thus, programs need to be intentionally designed to be entrepreneurial and must be approved for this status.


What is an Entrepreneurial Program?

Entrepreneurial programs (EP) are graduate degree or certificate programs for which a percentage of the revenue generated by the program is returned to and shared by the school/college(s) and department(s) that offer the program. To be considered an EP, a program must attract new students who are not simultaneously enrolled in another UConn degree program and must lead to overall net enrollment growth. EPs can be tuition-based or fee-based and can be face-to-face, hybrid/blended or fully online. The Council of Deans approved Guidance on Entrepreneurial Programs on May 8, 2020, which guides our current framework for these programs. This document provides implementation guidelines to assist departments in developing these types of programs.

What Types of Programs Can Qualify?

Designation as an entrepreneurial program requires that the program have specified characteristics and meet certain requirements. Below, you will find explanations of the types of programs that would typically fall into the “entrepreneurial” as well as the “non-entrepreneurial” categories.

Certificates

Entrepreneurial: These target and enroll new students who are typically post-baccalaureate working professionals not simultaneously enrolled in another UConn degree or certificate program.

Non-entrepreneurial: These attract and primarily enroll existing students who are currently matriculated in another UConn graduate degree or certificate program.

Master’s Programs

Entrepreneurial: These are typically non-thesis (Plan B) programs, such as professional science master’s programs, that do not offer graduate assistantships and are designed to be completed either on a full-time or part-time basis. These also include some accelerated master’s programs (such as “4+1”, “fast-track” and “5th year” programs – see more details below).

Non-entrepreneurial: These are typically 1-2 year programs that offer a Plan A thesis option and often provide Graduate Assistantships. Students typically pursue their degree on a full-time basis.

Doctoral Programs

Entrepreneurial: These are professional programs (e.g., DNP) that are research-informed but practice-based. They do not typically offer Graduate Assistantships.

Non-entrepreneurial: These are traditional research-based programs that require significant research and typically fund a high proportion, although not necessarily all, of their students.

 

What Are Accelerated Pathways for Master’s Degrees and Are They Always Entrepreneurial?

Accelerated master’s programs are established pathways for combined bachelor’s/master’s degrees (requiring 30 or more credits for the master's degree) that allow students to complete the master’s degree program more rapidly than if they were to complete a bachelor’s degree and later enroll in a master’s program. Accelerated programs follow 3 or 4 years of undergraduate study, depending on the program and the student. Students in the program have UConn undergraduate degrees and may use up to 12 credits of required graduate coursework taken prior to matriculation (as an undergraduate or a non-degree student) toward their master’s degree, thereby allowing the master’s degree to be earned more quickly than usual. Initial acceptance into accelerated programs can be done informally within a department, or can be done through a pre-Grad application to the program in Slate. In all cases, however, students must also apply to the master’s degree using the Grad application in Slate (typically in the final semester of their undergraduate degree) and be matriculated into The Graduate School. Earlier admission to an accelerated program either informally by the program or through Slate does not constitute admission to The Graduate School.

Accelerated pathways can be entrepreneurial or non-entrepreneurial. To be considered an entrepreneurial accelerated master’s program, a program must lead to students staying at UConn to complete a master’s degree who generally would not have been expected to do so otherwise. In addition, they must meet the criteria for entrepreneurial status described below. If a traditional master’s program adds an accelerated pathway, only net new enrollment/revenue will qualify for revenue-sharing.

What Determines if a Program Qualifies for Entrepreneurial Status?

To qualify for entrepreneurial status, a program must typically meet the following criteria:

  • The program extends the University’s academic reach to include new student audiences not otherwise served by existing programs. It should complement existing programs and not compete with them for students.
  • The program has a strategic marketing plan for actively recruiting students to the program from external applicant pools and/or existing undergraduate students (e.g., through a pro-active accelerated master’s program).
  • The program has and will maintain a pro forma 5-year budget with clearly identified enrollment, revenue, and cost assumptions.
  • Once fully operational, the program will generate sustainable positive net-revenue for the University after covering associated (incremental) variable costs (e.g., instructional and marketing costs) and overhead costs. While there is no standard minimum enrollment requirement, it must be clearly documented that the program will generate positive net revenue. For accelerated master’s programs, this initial target should be around 10 new graduate enrollments per year.
  • The program has an explicit plan to use any net revenue (above and beyond what is used to cover costs) in a manner that promotes faculty research, undergraduate/graduate education, or public engagement, consistent with the University’s stated goals to increase research and scholarship, to offer life-transformative education to all students at the University, and to strengthen our state’s economic growth through innovation, entrepreneurism, and workforce development.

Once granted, the entrepreneurial status of a program is documented in an MOU and subject to periodic review by the Office of the Provost to ensure that the program is attracting new students and meeting enrollment/revenue expectations. Programs that fall short of expectations may have their entrepreneurial status removed.

How does Revenue-Sharing Work for Entrepreneurial Programs?

Revenue sharing for new (or newly designated) entrepreneurial programs or pathways follow these general guidelines:

  • For entirely new programs with no previous enrollments and no similar existing programs, 80% of revenue will be distributed to the school or college and 20% of revenue will be distributed to central administration.
  • For newly designated programs and accelerated pathways where there are pre-existing enrollments or similar existing programs, the revenue return from central administration will be based on revenue generation above a clearly specified an approved baseline. The baseline represents expected revenues from historical enrollments in existing or similar programs. The existing program is expected to maintain enrollment revenue according to the baseline. There are two primary examples that fall into this category:
    • A new entrepreneurial program that is similar to an existing program with a traditional (tuition-based) budget model: If the existing program meets the baseline, 80% of revenue attributed to the new program will be distributed to the school or college.
    • An accelerated pathway in a program with a traditional (tuition-based) budget model: 80% of revenue beyond the baseline will be distributed to the school or college.
  • Revenue sharing at the school and college level:
    • Each school or college should, through its own internal process, determine the manner and extent to which revenue received would be passed on to the entrepreneurial program or the sponsoring department(s).
    • Programs that are associated with multiple schools or colleges must have a formal agreement (MOU) to document revenue sharing rules across units.
  • Programs may request a status adjustment from a traditional to entrepreneurial budget model based on a relevant program change (e.g., change in modality from face-to-face to online that necessitates a change from tuition to fees; growth/expansion of an existing accelerated pathway). These cases are unique and must be justified and approved by the school or college, provost, and budget office. These changes may have an impact on existing ledger 2 funding in relation to anticipated ledger 4 revenue.

Note regarding entrepreneurial programs established prior to Fiscal Year (FY) 2021: Historical revenue sharing rates continue to be honored with the exception of any programs with a return rate below 80%, which were increased to 80% effective FY21. These programs are not required to have a revenue sharing MOU; however, the Office of the Provost may request that an MOU be developed for any existing programs where the financial terms are not clearly documented.

How is the “baseline” calculated?

The baseline represents expected revenue from historical enrollments in existing or similar programs. The baseline is calculated based on the average annual tuition revenue (net of waivers) generated by student enrollment in the existing or similar program over the previous three years.

The established baseline will exclude revenues from students that may have received a master’s degree on their way to a PhD if the school or college can demonstrate that those students were admitted with the sole intent of matriculating into the PhD program.

The baseline is reviewed and adjusted at the end of each fiscal year to reflect any increase in graduate tuition as determined by the University Board of Trustees, using a blended tuition increase rate.

How is “revenue” calculated?

Only tuition revenue (for tuition-based programs) or program fees (for fee-based programs) net of waivers will count towards revenue distribution. Students who have a partial or full graduate assistantship with subsequent tuition waiver will not generate revenue for the entrepreneurial program.

Mandatory student fees that are funded out of comprehensive fee revenue (such as the general university fee, online course fee, graduate matriculation fee, or technology fee) will not count towards revenue distribution. These mandatory fees will be removed from the net revenue prior to distribution calculation.

Only revenue from students directly matriculated into the entrepreneurial program (including identified non-degree students) will count toward revenue sharing. Many departments allow students to take a number of credits that count towards their graduate program while still an undergraduate; these credits do not count for the purposes of revenue distribution. Students enrolled in a traditional graduate program may take courses that are administered by an entrepreneurial program; these credits do not count for the purposes of revenue distribution.

Request Entrepreneurial Status

Requesting entrepreneurial status is “Step 5” of the six steps for graduate program approval. View all six steps through the link below before moving forward.

Steps for Program Approvals

Programs seeking entrepreneurial status must be approved for this status by the Office of the Provost prior to final submission of a proposal through the GPAR system. To make a request for entrepreneurial status, submit the following to Kate Clark, Associate Director of Financial Planning in the Provost’s Office:

  1. Draft GPAR Proposal. A saved draft can be emailed directly to Kate.Clark@uconn.edu from GPAR using the “Email Recipients” feature at the bottom of the “Signoffs/Comments” tab.
  2. Net revenue projections for the program.  The following sample/template can be modified to create these projections: Revenue Forecast - Revenue Forecast Template.xlsx.xlsx

If approved for entrepreneurial status, the Office of the Provost will document all terms in a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the department, school or college, Provost, and the Budget Office. A final, signed MOU will be provided back to the program representative to include in the final submission of the GPAR proposal.

Note: If a GPAR proposal indicates that the program is seeking entrepreneurial status, the system will not allow you to submit the proposal without attaching this final, signed MOU.

Contacts

Unit/Role Contact
Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Peter Diplock, Associate Vice Provost
The Graduate School Mary Bernstein, Associate Dean
Kent Holsinger, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean
Office of the Provost
Academic and Board of Trustees Approval Sarah Croucher, Director of Academic Policy and Faculty Affairs
Revenue Sharing/Financial Terms (MOU) Kate Clark, Associate Director of Financial Planning

Bridget Inzirillo, Director of Academic Finance and Planning

Academic Affairs Jeffrey Shoulson, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs