Essential Business MOOCs For December

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As the new year approaches, you’re probably reflecting on where you are – and where you’d like to be. That may mean returning to school to refresh your skills. Or, maybe it’s time to kick off a job search. If you’re already imagining exercising greater control or leaving a deeper impact, you’re probably heading towards entrepreneurship.

Just thinking about starting a company can leave anyone feeling uneasy, if not overwhelmed. There’s so much at play: Attracting customers, managing people, and making payroll…just to name a few. And that doesn’t factor in the uncertainty, wondering if you’ll be among the 90 percent whose businesses tank. These days, pondering entrepreneurship can be as depressing as reading a fitness magazine. You can’t escape those images of self-made twentysomethings, decked out in hoodies or birkenstocks, who cashed one big goofy idea into millions (Thanks, Sara Blakely).

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you the idea is easy. It’s the execution – developing, financing, testing, and commercializing – that will sink any great idea. That’s one reason behind the University of Maryland’s new online specialization: “Entrepreneurship: Launching an Innovative Business.”

Among the new MOOC courses that start this December, it’s a real standout. Given the upcoming holidays, there are very few new business courses being offered by the business schools–unless you either want to do a startup or have already done one and need a bit more guidance and help.

COURSES ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP DOMINATE THE BEST MOOCS THAT START IN DECEMBER

In a nutshell, the University of Maryland is offering a specialization certificate for completing three MOOC courses through Coursera. Although college credits aren’t part of this specialization, the program allows students to sample content included in the university’s Online Master of Technology Entrepreneurship. While the MOOCs are free, the cost of the certificate is $49 per course (and another $49 for a capstone project where students pitch real investors). At $196, this series is actually less expensive per course than the paid courses on Stanford’s NovoED (which run $149-$199).

Aside from the capstone project, the expectations are basically the same. To earn a certificate, students complete the same coursework as their peers. The only difference is that they sign up for the “Signature Track,” where they connect their coursework to their identity. They can pay by course or up front. And they can take the three courses in any order (though the program recommends that students start with James Green’s “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies” MOOC).

If you’re a cynic, you’ll probably dismiss this as a marketing gimmick. But the specialization does carry some real heft. For example, 1.2 million students have registered for Green’s course since 2013 – and students on Coursetalk have ranked it among the best business courses. What’s more, the three scholar-practitioners teaching the courses have nearly 100 years of teaching and entrepreneurship experience between them (and one has raised over $100 million in capital for his ventures).

So whether you’re searching for an idea, business model, or financing, check out these three courses, which each start on December 1st (with future sessions being held in January and February). In addition, MIT is offering its own “Entrepreneurship 101” course in December. If you’re looking to brush up on economics, take a look at the University of Illinois’ “Microeconomics Principles,” which earned 4.5 out of 5 stars from student reviewers on Coursetalk.

To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.

New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs / University of Maryland / December 1

Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship / University of Maryland / December 1

Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace / University of Maryland / December 1

Entrepreneurship 101: Who Is Your Customer? / MIT Sloan / December 2

Microeconomics Principles / University of Illinois / December 22

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