05/09/2012 05:46 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2012

A New Degree for Generation Startup: Master's in Management

Current college students and recent grads are now being dubbed "Generation Startup" by many media organizations. According to one recent study, 54 percent of the nation's recent college graduates either want to start a business or already have started one. Gen Y-ers are very socially minded and want to make a difference in the world, so they're starting both for-profit and nonprofit businesses. They don't shy away from tackling big problems and taking personal risks. However, many recent graduates aren't fully prepared for an entrepreneurial venture. A good idea is important, but without the ability to execute, the venture will fail.

One of the key essentials in starting a business is understanding business fundamentals. Still, most would-be entrepreneurs did not major in business (only about 22 percent of all majors are in business). Instead, many pursued liberal arts degrees. Some pursued a health or science degree, only to decide to start a business or nonprofit in that field, such as a clinic or a software development company.

Thankfully, there is a new graduate-degree option to help this type of young entrepreneur: a Master's in Management (MiM) degree. Many U.S. universities are beginning to offer these specialized, accelerated master's programs that cost much less than an MBA and take less than a year to complete. The MiM degree gives this generation -- whether they want to start a business or work for an existing company -- the ability to gain competitive skills relevant to their chosen profession. Promoting a startup on Facebook might be obvious to young entrepreneurs today, but creating a profit and loss statement is one example of what a MiM will teach.

The MiM degree differs from an MBA in that it was created specifically for those who have received their undergraduate degree within the past 24 months. MBA programs typically look for candidates who have a number of years of work experience and want to seek an eventual C-level position. The MiM program is designed for people with little or no business experience, who need a competitive edge for an entry-level position. Also, MiM programs typically cost about half as much as an MBA program.

Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business just launched a MiM degree program that begins this fall. Over nine months, students study accounting, finance, project management, strategy and marketing. In addition, they get leadership development and important soft skills needed to manage people and engage stakeholders. They also gain actual work experience by applying their knowledge to a real business problem in a capstone consulting project. These projects involve companies of all sizes, so aspiring entrepreneurs are able to work with their teams on a project for a new venture without having to put their own skin in the game just yet.

Young entrepreneurs must be prepared to face the challenges of starting a business with a degree that equips them with the business tools and knowledge needed in today's shaky economy. A MiM degree might be the ideal choice.