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It’s never too late to become better at business. Rebecca Thiry’s story proves this. She supported her family by working over 15 years as a project manager.

But her busy situation did not stop her from improving her skills by getting an online accredited Master of Project Management (MPM) degree from Western Carolina University’s College of Business.

“Working within a project management office, I desired to learn more about strategic project management skills and how projects align with organizational objectives,” she says. “I want to use the knowledge I have gained from WCU’s MPM program and move into more of a consulting role. I would also like to educate other aspiring project managers, either in a private consulting capacity or at a university.”

MPM graduates like Rebecca Thiry are set to get things done in a rapidly changing world, work with people from all walks of life, and manage teams that can turn ideas into reality. This Project Management Institute-accredited program (PMI®) was designed for such outcomes. Ranked first for affordability, it was developed to produce professionals with the know-how to get things done in the midst of global change or upheaval, unite diverse talents, and organize various teams to collectively turn ideas into reality.

Its non-industry-specific nature is an added bonus. The current cohort represents a range of professional domains. Thiry served as a project manager in the IT and clinical research sectors. Her classmates come from diverse backgrounds too, promoting a “cross-pollination” of ideas in class.

Western Carolina University

Most WCU faculty members are active consultants or proud business owners with deep industry insights to share. Source: Western Carolina University

At WCU’s MPM Program, professors are always ready to lead discussions and answer any questions. “All professors responded promptly and in the most professional manner,” says Thiry. “I never felt like my questions were a burden or bothersome.”

Recent graduate Karalee Waltrip admired the knowledge and experience of the program’s professors. After all, faculty members usually hold either a PhD or DBA, as well as PMP or Six Sigma certification. Most professors consult and use their decades of experience in sectors such as oil and gas, mining, engineering, contracting, or the military. Others run small businesses or work as venture capitalists.

“The professors provided industry insight and were knowledgeable on real-world project management solutions,” says Waltrip, a senior project manager at Omnicell. “Additionally, the program was extremely convenient and flexible for my needs as a working professional and family-oriented student.”

While the Master of Project Management program is focused on cutting edge project management skills, for aspiring leaders of new ventures, Western Carolina University offers another unique entirely online program: the Master of Entrepreneurship. The first of its kind in the United States, it also excels at student support with customized curriculum designed for those looking to build a business, grow an existing one, or lead innovation and change within an organization.

Students can choose from two concentrations: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Leadership. The Entrepreneurship concentration equips students with the tools, experience, and network they’ll need to lead an entrepreneurial venture. Students explore possible markets, examine if a product/service is viable, find funding, and learn to build teams. It’s a recipe for success — many students launch a startup even before graduating.

Those who want to shake things up within their existing organizations should choose the Innovation Leadership concentration. This concentration equips students with the knowledge to develop innovative strategies or start new ventures within an existing firm. In the future, they are set to serve as innovation leaders and change agents, whether in big organizations or small businesses.

Regardless of the route, both paths lead to joining a collaborative, resourceful, and supportive community dedicated to nurturing dynamic entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs ready to strategize the next big thing. Students learn by doing in this AACSB-accredited program. They are encouraged to take part in national, regional, and local pitch competitions to get funds and recognition for their startup ideas.

Recently, current student Ed Carroll won a US$10,000 mini-grant from the NC IDEA pitch competition for Edison Marks. The company packages cybersecurity into personalized, easy action steps — something that excites small businesses.

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All WCU programs prepare students for a rapidly changing world. Source: Western Carolina University

“A good bit of Edison Marks can be attributed directly to the Master of Entrepreneurship program at Western Carolina University,” Carroll wrote in an email to Faculty member, Frank Lockwood.

This is the entrepreneurial spirit the College of Business aims to guarantee. Part of its method revolves around customization. Every student gets to choose which version will best support the impact they would like to make in the world of business. A “can-do” spirit is indicative of WCU’s Master of Entrepreneurship graduates. They leave with the zeal, knowledge, and skills necessary to make new ventures flourish.

In 2020, a record-breaking 4.4 million new business applications were made. 2021 repeated this feat, with 5.4 million new business applications. Choose Western Carolina University’s College of Business and 2022 could be the year your new ventures come to life too. Click here to apply.

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