Skip to main content

New Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate

A&S Council approved new program for undergraduates 


Photo: Duke students engage in collaborative Innovation and Entrepreneurship projects.

Aspiring inventors, artists, academics, entrepreneurs and social innovators will now find greater opportunities to pursue their interests through the Duke curriculum through a new undergraduate certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship.

The proposal to create the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) certificate was approved by the Arts and Sciences Council Thursday by a vote of 18-4 with 2 absentations. The program will launch in Fall 2014 and, with its emphasis encompassing multiple areas of innovation and creativity, is expected to draw students from across the university.

"This certificate is for everyone, without regard to their major area of study or future career goals," says Kathie Amato, managing director for education at Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative and principal architect of the certificate program, who noted the program will be home to faculty and students from engineering and the environment to the arts and humanities.  "Innovation and entrepreneurship skills are foundational to all vocations and the focus of the experiential certificate is on allowing students to connect what they are learning in the classroom with meaningful contributions out in the world."

"This undergraduate certificate is the foundation of I&E's education pillar, as it provides a place for students to more fully explore these two areas that are becoming increasingly important in our world," says Eric Toone, vice provost and director of Duke I&E. "It is exciting that for the first time Duke undergraduates will be able to earn a curricular designation that signals their commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship."

The certificate follows in Duke's commitment to multidisciplinary study of large, complex issues and putting that knowledge to the service of society. At the council meeting, Amato noted two areas in which large numbers of students are already engaged in I&E work. "Many students are already interested in STEM education both in the United States and around the world," she said.  "They are seeking ways to pull what they are learning in the classroom and applying it to the world at large.

"There's also another group of students passionate about water. The I&E certificate will give them opportunities to come up with ideas and see how they might have an impact."

The certificate follows Duke's new Version 2 Certificate model, which emphasizes experiential learning. The certificate connects exploration of the theories of innovation and entrepreneurship with hands-on practice in both areas.  Students take four courses -- covering topics ranging from ideation and design to the fundamentals of launching a venture -- and complete two thematically related learning experiences, one exceeding 300 hours and the other 150 hours.

Students also demonstrate their proficiency of the core learning objectives through the establishment of an e-portfolio, which provides comprehensive documentation of their experiences within the I&E certificate program. The e-portfolio will be one measure of assessing the students' experiences and whether the program is reaching its stated goals.

To learn more about participation in the program, Duke I&E staff will hold an information for interested students from 5:30 to 6:30 pm on April 16 in Gross Hall 103. For additional information about the certificate, visit or contact Hayley Young at