The University of Minnesota offers a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurship courses through the College of Science and Engineering, College of Design, Carlson School of Management, and the Technological Leadership Institute. Our entrepreneurship courses are geared to students interested in an introduction to entrepreneurship and to budding entrepreneurs seeking to validate their idea and accelerate their startup. Our innovation courses range from helping students develop their low fidelity prototyping skills to helping students learn how to cultivate breakthrough innovation in large corporations.

Toaster recommended courses are organized in the following categories:


Click on a category above or scroll down to find the right course(s) for you!


  Term(s) offered

GCC 5501

Knowledge to Impact: Creating Action with Your Grand Challenge Project Idea

Do you want to learn how to design viable solutions to address a complex social or environmental challenge? Are you interested in taking a course with other motivated students from across the university who care about being changemakers and being mentored by 15 UMN faculty who will be supporting the students in the course? This hands-on course will help you learn the skills to develop solutions to a specific problem that you have worked on in a previous GCC course or a similar project-based class. By the end of the course, you will work with a team of students to create a design and implementation plan for a solution that could take many forms, depending on student interest and the nature of the problem (business or nonprofit plans, policy and advocacy plans, media and awareness campaigns and activism plans are all possible). Resources (funding, training and mentors) will be available for students who wish to pursue their project beyond the classroom into implementation.

Periodic Spring

MGMT 4171-4172

Entrepreneurship in Action

Receive up to $15,000 to conceive, launch and operate real business as part of a startup team

Liberal education fulfillments: Writing Intensive

Every Fall & Spring

MGMT 4008

Entrepreneurial Management

Management of a new venture after founding. Internal/external challenges of managing a startup organization. Working with resource constraints and understanding how business models may change over time.

Every Fall & Spring

MGMT 3001

Fundamentals of Management

Aspects/characteristics of organizations, their members. Why people/groups feel/behave as they do. Processes/methods that improve behavior/attitudes/effectiveness of members. Member/manager skills. Guest speakers, group presentations, films.

Every Fall, Spring & Summer

COMM 1101

Introduction to Public Speaking

Public communication processes, elements, and ethics. Criticism of and response to public discourse. Practice in individual speaking designed to encourage civic participation.

Liberal education fulfillments: Civic Life and Ethics

Every Fall, Spring & Summer

OLPD 4401


Basic understanding and personal experience with how e-marketing can be used as part of an overall marketing and promotion plan.

Every Fall & Spring

ABUS 4151

Innovation for Leaders and Organizations

Innovation as cornerstone of knowledge economy. History of innovation process, importance to individuals/organizations. Strategies to foster innovation. Responsibilities in innovation skill-building/leadership.

Every Spring

ABUS 4501

Building and Running a Small Business Enterprise

Strategies and practical knowledge needed to build and operate a small business. Begins with basic marketing, finance, and leadership principles that apply to the formation of a small business enterprise and continues with growth strategies and exercises to refine the business vision. Class discussions and independent reflective activities will enable students to assess their resources and develop management, leadership, business administration, and conflict-resolution skills. Via group work, students will develop a business plan, strategically identify performance indicators, learn ways to remain competitive and innovative in the marketplace, and prepare to evolve business plans and processes over time.

Every Fall

ABUS 4702

Applied Digital Marketing

Digital marketing represents the fastest growing sector in most marketing departments. But what is digital marketing? Understanding the digital realm of marketing requires a curiosity about how new technologies will change business, while grasping the key strategies that drive tactics and trends. This course is designed to be a primer on the world of digital marketing and ways it will affect both your future employment and larger business trends. Through case studies, discussion forums, and interactive activities, you will learn about the latest research and best practices in the industry to have a solid grasp of the core concepts and tools of digital marketing management, both today and in the future.

Every Fall

MGMT 3010

Introduction to Entrepreneurship

Fundamentals of entrepreneurship. Career paths, including new business start-ups, franchising, acquisitions (including family business succession), corporate venturing, and entre-preneurial services. Legal structures for new business formation. Aspects of business law/ethics.

Every Fall & Spring

MGMT 4170W

New Business Feasibility and Planning

New-business-opportunity identification/development. Students conduct feasibility analysis, create formal business plan, gather feasibility data, and contact potential customers, suppliers, and other primary sources.

Liberal education fulfillments: Writing Intensive

Every Fall & Spring

MKTG 3005

Introduction to Applying Analytical Tools for Solving Business Problems

The ability to make intelligent business decisions based on large data and information is becoming increasingly important for businesses and managers. This course provides a practitioner-oriented introduction of applying analytical tools in business setting. This class entails hands-on computer exercises on real data sets to apply various analytical techniques in common business applications. This course assumes that students have knowledge of fundamental analytical tools and statistical methods. The class emphasizes understanding model assumptions to help students with appropriate model selection; interpreting results in order to make optimal business decisions; designing experiments in a business setting and analyzing the experimental data to advance business objectives.

Every Fall


  Term(s) offered

PDES 2702

Concept Sketching

This class is an introduction to manual sketching techniques, specifically for the communication of conceptual product ideas. The focus of this class is on free-hand perspective drawing. Students begin with basic principles, simple shapes, light and shadow, and later learn how to combine forms to create conceptual objects with realistic perspective. In this class, there are weekly drawing assignments and presentations.

Every Fall

PDES 2777

Product Form and Model Making

This class is a hands-on introduction to prototyping tools, materials, and techniques for product design. Students learn the basics of working with foam-board, foam, and wood to create physical models and will be introduced to different surface treatments and finishes. Assignments are designed to build a sense of craftsmanship and attention to detail. There are multiple individual projects focusing on different materials and techniques. Each project involves practicing oral presentation and group critique.

Every Fall & spring

PDES 3704

Computer-Aided Design 1: Solid Modeling and Rendering

This class provides an overview of computer-aided design (CAD) methods for product designers. The primary software covered in this course include Solidworks and Keyshot. These programs are used to make three-dimensional computer generated models of product concepts and render the models to appear photo-realistic. This class may also cover additional 2D and interaction design software.

Every Fall

PDES 3711

Product Innovation Lab

A hands-on experience in integrated product design and development processes. Elements of industrial design, engineering, business, and humanities are applied to a semester-long product design project. Cross-functional teams of students in different majors work together to design and develop new consumer product concepts with guidance from a community of industry mentors

Every Spring

PDES 3715

Design and Food

This class is a hands-on introduction to principles of design applied to the food industry. Students develop new food concepts working in a kitchen classroom with regular advising from local chefs and food industry experts. The class is structured into four modules: creative design process, flavor and texture, visual aesthetics, and user experience. In each module students learn different design and food preparation methods and apply them to a design challenge. Several restaurant outings are incorporated into the curriculum.

Every Fall

DES 1002

Improvisation for Design

This course explores how the art of improvisation can build collaboration, communication, and creativity skills. In this class we will focus on how improvisation is applied to fields of design, however these skills may be applicable to other disciplines. Through both readings and an interactive curriculum of improv exercises, students will learn specific tools to facilitate idea generation, collaborative team processes, idea selection, sketching and critique.

Every Spring

DES 3131

User Experience in Design

Introduction to theories/principles of human interaction with designed objects. Focuses on affect/emotional quality of designs. Objects, interfaces, environments. Digitally mediated experiences.

Every Fall

MGMT 4080W

Applied Technology Entrepreneurship

Team projects based on commercializable technologies or innovations. Teams present their ideas to investors and industry professionals. Students are encouraged to submit their business plans to Minnesota Cup.

Liberal education fulfillments: Writing Intensive

Every Spring


  Term(s) offered

ANTH 4121

Business Anthropology

Anthropological/ethnographic understandings/research techniques

Every Spring

MKTG 3040

Buyer Behavior

Application of behavioral sciences to buyer behavior. Perception, attitudes, learning, persuasion, motivation, decision-making, social/cultural influences, managerial implications.

Every Fall & Spring

DES 1101W

Introduction to Design Thinking

Theories/processes that underpin design thinking. Interactions between humans and their natural, social, and designed environments where purposeful design helps determine quality of interaction. Design professions.

Liberal education fulfillments: Arts/Humanities, Writing Intensive

Every Fall & Spring

DES 5185

Human Factors in Design

Theories/methods that influence the assessment of physical, social, and psychological human factors. Development of user needs with application to designed products that interact with human body.

Periodic Fall

PDES 3705

History and Future of Product Design

This class covers critical milestones in the history, evolution, and trajectory of modern product design as well as the human relationships to consumer goods, including production and consumption. In some assignments, students have the opportunity to apply the topics discussed towards imagining the future of the product design industry.

Every Spring

SOC 3415

Consume This! The Sociology and Politics of Consumption

How symbols are created, acquired, diffused, and used for organizing personal identity and maintaining group boundaries. Fashion. Socialization. Structure of retail trade. Role of mass media, advertising, marketing/production strategies. Implications of worldwide markets.

Periodic Fall

MGMT 5102

StartUp: Customer Development and Testing

Provides a structured process with faculty and mentor oversight for students at any level and from any college at the University to learn the initial process of customer development by testing market acceptance of a specific new business concept. Students primarily take this course individually and must have an idea or technology that they are interested in pursuing. The goal of the curse is to teach the process to quickly and efficiently test the value and market fit for a new concept.

Every Fall & Spring

OLPD 4426

Strategic Customer Relationship Management

Principles of customer relationship management, brand identity, and integrated marketing communications. Comprehensive framework for how organizations interact with their various publics to create goodwill/loyalty.

Every Fall, Spring & Summer

PDES 2701

Creative Design Methods

This class is an introduction to a variety of tools and methods used in developing new product concepts. The focus of the class is on the early stage of product development which includes user research, market research, idea generation methods, concept evaluation, concept selection, intellectual property, and idea presentation. Students work individually applying the content taught in lecture to a semester-long design project. Students meet in teams bi-weekly to present and critique their work.

Every Fall


  Term(s) offered

SOC 3451W

Cities & Social Change

The core themes of this class will provide an essential toolkit for approaching broad questions about social justice, culture, work, housing and service provision on multiple levels and across the globe. This course will have units on economic development, inequality, the interaction between design and human action, inclusive and exclusive cultural formations, crime and cultures of fear, social control and surveillance.

Spring Odd Year

GCC 3003/5003

Seeking Solutions to Global Health Issues

Often, the most progress on challenging issues such as health and equity is made when you apply an interdisciplinary perspective. The same is true for global health issues. Whether responding to emerging pandemics, food insecurity, maternal mortality, or civil society collapse during conflict, solutions often lie at the intersection of animal, environmental, and human health.

In this course, students will work in teams to examine the fundamental challenges to addressing complex global health problems in East Africa and East African refugee communities here in the Twin Cities. Together we will seek practical solutions that take culture, equity, and sustainability into account. Each student team will be matched with a mentor, including professionals based in Uganda and Somalia. This exploration will help students propose realistic actions that could be taken to resolve these issues. This course will help students gain the understanding and skills necessary for beginning to develop solutions to global health issues.

Liberal education fulfillments: Global Perspectives
Periodic Fall

GCC 3005/5005

Innovation for the Public Good: Design for a Disrupted World

Do you want to make a difference? We live at the intersection of COVID-19, racism, economic recession, and environmental collapse. Now is the time to make an impact.

In this project-based course, you will work in interdisciplinary teams. You'll develop entrepreneurial responses to current social and environmental problems. You'll develop tools, mindsets, and skills to address any complex grand challenge. Your project may address food insecurity, unemployment, housing, environmental impacts, equity, or other issues. Proposed designs for how you might have a social impact can take many forms (student group, program intervention with an existing organization, public policy strategy, or for-profit or non-profit venture) but must have ideas for how to be financially sustainable.

Liberal education fulfillments: Global Perspectives

Periodic Fall

PA 5743

Social Innovation Design Lab: Making Your Idea a Reality

Do you have an idea for an organization, initiative or venture that that could address a social or environmental problem? This course is designed to help aspiring social entrepreneurs and changemakers from all disciplines develop a viable proposal for social change. Course content includes an introduction to human-centered design thinking, change management, leadership skills, non-profit and for-profit business models, and social entrepreneurship frameworks. At the end of the course, students present their project to a panel of experts. Students will be prepared to compete in the Acara Challenge for funding if interested. Students or teams interested in this course should apply by emailing a 1-page resume and project description (1 paragraph to 1 page) of your project/idea to The essay should address your motivation for taking the course, along with describing your idea, where you are with developing it, and what you need to take it forward.

Every Spring



  Term(s) offered

MKTG 3001

Principles of Marketing

Introduction to terms, concepts, and skills for analyzing marketing problems. Factors outside the organization affecting its product, pricing, promotion, and distribution decisions. Cases from actual organizations.

Every Fall, Spring & Summer

MGMT 4050

Managing Innovation and Change In Action

This course focuses on how entrepreneurs create new businesses and how organizations innovate and change. Special emphasis is given to understanding the sequences of events that typically unfold in individuals, groups, organizations, and industries as innovations develop from concept to implementation. The course relies heavily on the concepts and findings from the Minnesota Innovation Research Program, as well as other studies. The course focuses on how the innovation journey unfolds in the creation of a wide variety of new businesses, technologies, products, programs, and services, and what paths along this journey are likely to lead to success and failure. The course emphasizes building diagnostic skills and developing useful principles that may increase the odds of maneuvering organizational innovation and change journeys.

Every Fall & Spring