Academics & Research

Entrepreneurship and the Liberal Arts

Students at the Claremont Colleges are proactive, innovative, and forward-looking. They choose liberal arts, in part, because they want to develop an intellectual foundation for thinking critically and globally, while seeking exposure to multiple disciplines and a diversity of ideas. They are attracted to an environment that challenges them to reach outside their comfort zones and provides opportunities for impactful leadership.

Consistent with this profile, the goal of the CIE and the entrepreneurship program at the Claremont Colleges is to build on the consortium’s tradition for cultivating entrepreneurial students across all majors and disciplines.

While it is obvious that specialized degrees in engineering, science, and business can be leveraged into entrepreneurial careers, the history of the Claremont Colleges suggests that a liberal arts background is similarly conducive to entrepreneurship. The CMC mission, to educate students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership, is one that resonates with students interested in pursuing new ventures. One never knows where new opportunities and ideas will come from. By studying philosophy, history, literature, and mathematics, etc. students acquire skills and reasoning abilities that translate well into an entrepreneurial world that rewards resourcefulness, creativity, critical thought, and an appreciation for culture and context.

There are hundreds of CMC alumni who have started businesses and who lead highly innovative companies. These alumni have literally transformed industries, created thousands of jobs, and changed lives for the better. A quick perusal of the alumni network shows entrepreneurs in a variety of sectors—healthcare, asset management, private equity, pharma, consumer products ranging from golf clubs to high-end chocolate, internet search technology, clothing design, telecommunications, and the list goes on. The men and women leading these ventures were educated in a liberal arts environment where no single major dominates. The scale and success of their accomplishments is amazing and the correlation to the liberal arts is clear.



CMC, in a liberal arts tradition, offers a large menu of courses that are applicable to students interested in becoming “venture ready”—that is, prepared for starting new ventures either after working for a few years post-college or attending grad school. These courses include accounting, economics, leadership, strategy, computer science, science, and engineering. Offerings at the 5C’s augment this list. Students are advised to regularly check the course catalog to be aware of offerings each term. Among the courses that are specific to entrepreneurship and that are offered regularly are the following:

Leadership Courses:

PSYC 141 CM – Leading Entrepreneurial Ventures

The purpose of this course is to explore the leadership challenges that entrepreneurs face as they build their venture. The course will examine the following topics: 1) sourcing entrepreneurial venture ideas; 2) developing and refining venture ideas; 3) translating ideas into business plans; 4) obtaining financial resources; 5) assembling non-financial resources; 6) leading the psychological dynamics of the entrepreneurial team; 7) managing risk; 8) leading during critical transitions as the enterprise grows and matures; and 9) building an enduring organization and culture. These topics will be presented in a venture life-stage framework. The learning experience includes readings, case studies, and presentations by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Prerequisite: One lower-division psychology course or permission of instructor

Offered: Every year

SOSC 147 HM- Enterprise and Entrepreneurs

Concepts and practices applicable to working as or with the manager of an enterprise. Some emphasis on enterprise formation and on management in high-technology firms.

Prerequisite: None

Offered: Every year

Economics Courses:

ECON 193 and FIN 450 CM – Entrepreneurial Finance

The course provides students with an understanding of the economics of entrepreneurial finance and private equity, especially venture capital. We will address financing and strategic issues faced by entrepreneurs in the early stage of a firm. Financial modeling will be used to determine how much money can and should be raised and from what source, and how the funding should be structured. Specific topics include: methods of valuing private firms, simulation to make better strategic choices, financial forecasting, financial modeling, economics of contracts (venture capital partnerships agreements, term sheets, etc.), financing sources, creating value through financing contracting, and exit strategies (initial public offerings, merger, other).

Prerequisites: ECON 134 CM and ECON 086 CM

Offered: Every year

ECON 174 – Entrepreneurial Economics

The course provides students with a deeper understanding of different aspects of entrepreneurship, from a research economist’s or policy analyst’s perspective. Topics include returns to entrepreneurship and behavioral aspects, networks and peer effects, the role of gender and family in entrepreneurship, innovation and intellectual property rights, productivity, and job growth. This class will make use of approaches and analytical tools from several different fields of Economics research, namely Microeconomics, Labor Economics, Industrial Organization, Applied Econometrics, Macroeconomics, and Gender/Family Economics.

Prerequisites: ECON 101, ECON 120 (statistics)

Offered: Every year

ECON 197- New Venture Practicum

This course provides students with knowledge of state of the art theory and best practices associated with new venture development. Students are introduced to an experiential approach to learning what it is like to start a new venture. Students will work in teams and with founders of actual startup ventures. The projects are semester long and during the process, students learn how to build upon a business concept, specify a minimally viable product, perform market validation, develop a business model canvas, test hypotheses regarding the business model, and learn how to achieve product/market fit.

Prerequisite: ECON 50

Silicon Valley Program:

ECON 030 CM – Internship in the Silicon Valley

Taken as part of the Silicon Valley internship program. Students gain experience in an economic, entrepreneurial, information, technology or public policy setting through placement arranged in consultation with the program director.

Offered: Every semester

For program details see:




The CIE is pleased to announce an initiative to encourage student and faculty research in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, broadly defined to encompass multi-disciplinary perspectives.

The initiative has two components—a faculty research grant program and a student research analyst program. The initiative builds on CMC’s tradition of the teacher-scholar model and creating opportunities for students and faculty to work together on applied research.

We welcome participation from the multiple disciplines represented at CMC. Research can range from such topics as individual- or firm-based studies (e.g., psychology of entrepreneurial behavior) to topics such as the impact of technological shocks to job growth and development. Research with a public policy focus is encouraged, as is research that connects entrepreneurship to the arts and humanities.

Student research analyst positions

The research analyst positions provide hands-on experience for students during the academic year.  Students are expected to keep regular office hours at the CIE when they are conducting research, and compensation will be competitive. Students will gain valuable skills, including hands-on experience with state-of-the art research methods, data generation, collection, hypothesis testing, analysis, in addition to learning more about various aspects of entrepreneurship.

Faculty research grants

Faculty grants are awarded on a competitive basis.  Due to limited funds, this grant is offered to full-time tenured or tenure-track professors only. Interested faculty members should submit a research prospectus that outlines the research question and relationship to entrepreneurship/innovation. Selection criteria include the importance of the topic, likelihood of successful publication, and expected quality of the student research experience.

Faculty Grant amount: $5000, made in two installments: $2500 upon award of the grant and $2500 after a final paper is submitted (within one year of the award).  Faculty members who are awarded grants will be matched with student research analysts to aid in their work.