Empowering Yale Student Innovators: A Closer Look at Yale's Entrepreneurship Courses
Written by Hailey O'Connor, YC ’24
Entrepreneurship and innovation-themed courses are at the center of Yale’s growing innovation ecosystem and reflect students' increasing interest in launching, joining, and funding startups. These courses — many available to any Yale University student regardless of school affiliation— serve as a curricular starting point for aspiring student entrepreneurs as well as those interested in learning more about how to apply innovative thinking to solve the world’s greatest challenges.
In tandem with student resources and co-curricular programs led by Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, the University offers a wide range of Yale courses for students to explore innovation and entrepreneurship. This past academic year, Yale offered 62 courses across the various schools in these subjects. The course listings ran the gamut of undergraduate majors, from English to Economics to Biomedical Engineering. Additionally, numerous courses were available at the School of Management and other professional schools.
Among the introductory undergraduate courses available this semester is the English Department’s “Superintelligence, Entrepreneurship & Ethics” and the Engineering and Applied Science Department’s “Introduction to Engineering, Innovation, and Design.” Introductory entrepreneurship and innovation courses are intended to be an entry point for students looking to venture into the innovation community and many schools offer a version through their professional school lens.
For students who already have a keen interest in these subjects, there are several advanced-level seminars available for enrollment. This semester, some students may have found themselves applying for Yale Engineering Lecturer and Tsai CITY Fellow Jorge Torres’ ENAS 403 “Funding It: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Venture Capital” seminar.
“Our offerings give Yale students a foundation in entrepreneurship and innovation … students could wait until they graduate to explore and build, but doing so in the context of an academic environment enriches that exploring and building,” says Torres, whose seminar will run in the spring as well.
“Funding It” is one of the many courses students can take in the spring semester — other course offerings include “Creativity, Innovation, and ‘The New’” in the Architecture Department and “Medical Device Design and Innovation,” which is an interdisciplinary course bridging several departments.
Additional courses for students interested in biomedical and healthcare innovation are offered through Yale’s Center for Biomedical Innovation and Technology (CBIT).
“‘Creating Healthcare Ventures’ and ‘Medical Software Design’ provide students the opportunity to dive deeper into user needs and complex clinical, market, and regulatory issues involved in developing a healthcare solution.”, says Yale CBIT Director and Tsai CITY Venture Advisor Margaret Cartiera, Ph.D. ’07.
The School of Management's "Program on Entrepreneurship" not only reinforces Yale's culture of entrepreneurship but also extends its reach through innovative curriculum development, focusing on three key objectives: rigorous teaching, fostering and endorsing student-launched ventures, and nurturing the innovation community. Entrepreneurship is centralized through lectures, social events, and collaborations between faculty and students. Associate Professor of Finance and Program on Entrepreneurship faculty member Song Ma emphasizes the program's aim to "create synergies" among students and faculty.
With over 15 courses available within the program, one feature is the "Startup Founders Practicum" led by Jennifer McFadden, the associate director of the Program on Entrepreneurship. In this practicum, students collaboratively develop their startups, embodying the program's broader goal of fostering an entrepreneurial mindset.
Beginning in Fall 2024, Yale SOM will offer a one-year master’s in technology management for graduates of Yale College’s engineering program who want to launch careers at the intersection of business and technology. The application for the inaugural class will be open for students who anticipate graduating in 2024 or have graduated in the last three years.
Students can complement their coursework with co-curricular activities, such as joining the Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES).
According to co-president Teo Dimov ’26, YES serves as the "entrepreneurial glue" of Yale, offering a gateway for students to explore entrepreneurship through lectures, programming, and collaborative projects.
YES boasts over 350 members, representing all schools across the campus, and even engages with the Yale community before students officially begin their academic journey, as demonstrated by the success of their pre-orientation program, LAUNCH, which attracted 130 student participants last year.
In addition to co-curricular activities at Tsai CITY, Yale CBEY, and YES, there are several opportunities for Yale students to join innovation teams as student employees. Yale Ventures hires associates throughout the year to work as extensions of their team, working directly with faculty-led projects through the Yale Ventures accelerator funds.
Interest and support for innovation and entrepreneurship courses, co-curricular, and work experience continue to grow. Yale’s overarching mission to “improve the world today and for future generations” underpins the University’s support of innovators. In these course offerings, students are welcome to find an entrepreneurial community among peers and faculty.