Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Strategy

  • Darden has been recognized as having one of the leading entrepreneurship programs among all graduate business schools. As part of the required curriculum, strategy lays the foundation for a deeper understanding of corporate and entrepreneurial success.

    The School offers more than 25 electives in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy, and 100% of MBA students take entrepreneurship courses while at Darden!

    Darden also encourages students to be innovative and to start new ventures through a variety of entrepreneurial activities — students may choose to enter any of four major entrepreneurial competitions, participate in the Venture Capital and E-Boot Camps, and join the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club. The i.Lab Incubator also provides $10,000 in funding and resources for students to launch ventures at Darden. Click on the "Club & Events" tab below to learn more about these opportunities.

  • Required Courses



    Entrepreneurship at Darden is about “applied business innovation”: how to create new value not only through new products or services, but with novel technologies, business concepts, organizing structures, transaction/financing mechanisms, distribution channels, and market segmentation. This selection of courses emphasizes the art and science of “creating something new from little.” These courses challenge students to think about how one can create value and build a productive business organization with available resources (e.g., intelligence, insight, energy, initiative and personal relationships). Entrepreneurship is highly consistent with Darden’s focus on “creating, leading and transforming businesses” insofar as it is a vital ingredient of each.

    * Courses offered in the First and Second Year. All other courses are offered only in the Second Year.

    Please note: courses are subject to change each year. Consult the course directory for the most up-to-date course offerings.

    Darden faculty created the following entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy concentrations to help Second Year students develop course plans:


    Students fulfilling this concentration graduate with an understanding of their affinity for being entrepreneurial and an understanding of the fundamentals of effectual and causal thinking and when each is appropriate. They also graduate with a set of skills based on academic study and experiential work that allows them to be confident in starting a new venture. Contact: MJ Toms.

    Corporate Innovation

    Students fulfilling this concentration graduate with the mindset and skill set to succeed at identifying and implementing innovation in a corporate setting. Faculty Contact: Jeanne Liedtka.

    Business Development and Growth

    Sustainable success requires organizations to innovate and grow to maintain or increase profitability. Students in this concentration will learn the fundamentals of managing innovation, organic growth, and acquisition and integration of mergers and acquisitions. Faculty Contact: Jeanne Liedtka.

    Visit the Experiential Entrepreneurship Opportunities page for information on a variety of entrepreneurial clubs, events and innovative courses.

    Alexander Bazhinov (MBA '15) describes his experience starting his own company with the help of the i.Lab Incubator, and how Darden prepared him to do it.

    In the following video, Jacqueline Wilde (Class of 2012) talks about why she decided to get her MBA knowing that she wanted to be an entrepreneur. She discusses Darden's entrepreneurship courses, faculty, the i.Lab Incubator and more.

    Still have questions? Feel free to contact the following alumni to ask specific questions about entrepreneurship at Darden. For additional contacts, please visit the Darden Student and Alumni Ambassadors list.

    Whitman Walker (MBA '12)

    Undergraduate education: UNC-Chapel Hill

    Undergraduate major: Electronic Communication, Business Journalism

    Company: Samsung

    Position: Global Strategy Group

    Location: Seoul, South Korea

    “Darden’s diverse community, global perspective and generalist approach to management supplied me with the skills necessary to work in a high level, international strategy role at Samsung. In addition, Darden’s high level of engagement and focus on intelligent decision-making prepared me to succeed within a diversified and complex multinational corporation.”

    Emily DeSanctis (MBA '11)

    Undergraduate education: Tulane University

    Undergraduate major: French major; Business and English minors

    Company: Stylher

    Title: Co-founder & COO

    Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

    "My First Year at Darden gave me the fundamental knowledge and tools to feel confident about starting my own business. Throughout my Second Year, I really took advantage of the entrepreneurial outlets that Darden offers including electives, business plan competitions, and club-sponsored opportunities to pitch our ideas to investors. The relationships I’ve made with classmates and faculty have evolved into life-long friendships and a network of accomplished businessmen and women I know I can call on as I move forward in my entrepreneurial endeavors."

    Joe Chard (MBA '11)

    Undergraduate education: Oberlin College

    Undergraduate major: Philosophy

    Company: Nomuda Games

    Title: Co-Founder and CEO

    Location after graduation: Virtual (for business), D.C. (for life)

    “Entrepreneurs are the ultimate general managers, and Darden offers a world-class general management education. The rigorous and comprehensive curriculum gave me tools that I could directly apply to starting and growing my business. The wealth of resources available at Darden gave me the confidence boost that I needed to start my company, Nomuda Games, and fulfill a life-long dream. Both faculty members and my classmates provided invaluable support along the way – exactly the kind of intangible resources that Darden offers above and beyond the coursework, facilities and entrepreneurial opportunities like the Batten Incubator.”