Innovation is currently one of the most sought-after qualities in business. Yet it's also elusive. How do you encourage innovative and creative thinking in yourself and others? One approach is to study it in college. Yes, there are now colleges and universities that offer degree programs that award innovation majors.
Here are 10 colleges where you can find innovation degrees and majors.
1. University of Central Arkansas
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship major at the University of Central Arkansas gives students the skills needed to start their own businesses, with a special emphasis on developing innovative products and services. The program also encourages networking through internships, study abroad opportunities in countries such as China, Panama, and Italy, and research projects. The faculty has extensive industry and academic experience, with many instructors owning their own businesses or holding positions as vice presidents for major companies. Topics covered in courses include new venture creation, small business finance, marketing, and product development.
2. University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco, voted one of the top 20 entrepreneurial colleges by Forbes, has a wide range of courses and programs dedicated to business, including a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and an MBA program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In these programs, students develop skills in communication, entrepreneurial planning, design, and other areas important to innovative business practices.
3. Bucknell University
The Markets, Innovation, and Design B.S. degree at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, teaches students the relationship between creative design, brand management, market research, public taste, and other areas crucial to creating successful products. The emphasis is on learning how to predict consumers' needs and predict future trends. Through analysis and using both quantitative and qualitative techniques, students learn to take basic ideas and turn them into practical business innovations and products. Opportunities within this program include internships, studying abroad, and participation in the Student Managed Investment Fund, which gives students the opportunity to run a small investment company.
4. University of Colorado
The University of Colorado in Colorado Springs offers a trademarked Bachelor of Innovation degree. This is an interdisciplinary program where students can take classes in a variety of subjects, in areas ranging from the sciences to education to the arts. Students then get to collaborate, taking what they've learned from different disciplines and putting it all together in creative ways. Besides stimulating innovation, this approach gives students practice in working together and collaborating on projects.
5. George Mason University
George Mason University in Virginia offers a bachelor of arts degree in Social Innovation and Enterprise as a concentration within their Integrative Studies program. The focus of this program is to help students develop environmentally sustainable and socially responsible solutions in the business. They encourage students to supplement their studies with public service, internships, and independent research. Some students enter this program as part of a sped-up master's degree in areas such as Public Policy and Global Affairs.
6. Champlain College
The Management and Innovation major at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, teaches students how to develop solutions that have social, environmental, and economic benefits. This program provides small class sizes to emphasize discussions and individual attention. The school's Sarah Ramsey Innovation Lab gives students a place to collaborate with peers and faculty on projects. To help foster practical skills, Champlain College also provides many internship opportunities in the Burlington area.
7. University of Michigan
While most innovation degrees are targeting entrepreneurs or those who want to work in business, the University of Michigan offers a program for educators who want to foster innovation in education. The Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement master's program guides teachers to improve classrooms and encourage creativity in their students. This is a micro master's degree that offers courses such as Designing and Leading Learning Systems, Improvement Science in Education, and Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement Capstone. This is an innovation major for teachers who want to encourage creativity and innovation in the next generation.
8. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The Design, Innovation, and Society B.S. degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to combine solutions from the fields of design, engineering, and the social sciences. Students get hands-on experience addressing real-world problems. This program, part of the school's Science and Technology Studies department, lets students take classes in many diverse fields such as graphic design, computer science, engineering, and management to get a broad view. Many graduates earn master's degrees in fields such as management and industrial design.
9. University of Pennsylvania
Management-Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a concentration offered at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania that prepares students to start their own businesses, work in management, or join startups. Courses include Negotiations, Social Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Venture Initiation, and Idea Generation & the Systematic Approach for Creativity. Students also take courses in economics, communication, leadership, and teamwork. Wharton is one of the nation's leading business schools and this program provides you with skills that are widely sought by today's businesses.
10. Clarkson University
Innovation and Entrepreneurship is one of the B.S. degrees offered by Clarkson University, an independent, technology-oriented university in Potsdam, New York. It ranked this program as one of the top entrepreneurship degrees by Princeton Review in 2013. Besides taking courses in a variety of disciplines, students develop practical skills by participating in research projects, community outreach, and working with faculty on joint projects. Clarkson even provides an innovative way for students to pay for their education through the Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators Award Program, where companies buy equity in students' businesses.
Which of these innovation majors should your organization be recruiting from?