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The Entrepreneurial Studies Institute (ESI) provides resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners start, manage and grow successful business ventures.  Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of entrepreneurship and the steps required to start a business.  In addition, many students earning a degree in entrepreneurship work with others to identify business opportunities, join entrepreneurial ventures, or work for an established organization.  Entrepreneurship graduates are often in demand by growth-oriented companies wanting to incorporate entrepreneurial vision and innovation in their firms.


ESI offers courses, certificates and associate degrees designed to prepare aspiring entrepreneurs for success in business.

Learn more about majoring in Entrepreneurship.

Faculty and Staff

If you would like to learn more about the Entrepreneurial Studies Institute or you would like to discuss an individual learning plan, contact us, we are here to help.

Department Chair
Carlene Cassidy
CRSC 339

Resources for Students

Business Counseling and Academic Advising

Meet with a faculty advisor for guidance on how to manage and start your business, develop your business idea, courses to take, degrees and certificates, or any other content areas related to Entrepreneurial Studies.

Best of Business Competition

The Best of Business Competition takes place each fall and is an opportunity for AACC students to showcase a unique or original idea. This event is an opportunity for you to get creative and identify opportunities in the marketplace that solve a problem or create a convenience.

Visit ESI's Best of Business Big Idea Competition on The Nest for opportunities to receive pitch coaching, to pitch your idea, and to win cash prizes.

Business Pitch Competition

All AACC students* (credit and noncredit) are invited to compete in AACC's Business Pitch Competition with more than $100,000 in cash, scholarships and in-kind prizes! There is up to $50,000 in seed funds up for grabs, scholarships that pay for all AACC courses, books and fees, and space in the student business incubator. In addition, all award recipients will receive free mentoring.  

Business plan deadlines and presentation dates will be during the spring semester.  Finalists will be invited to present their business plans to a panel of judges consisting of experts from the business, legal, government, and education communities. Presentations will be Shark Tank style.

AACC is partnering with Capital One to provide business plan consulting at no cost to AACC students who plan to compete in this year's competition.  Dates and times will be announced in January.


Business plans must be submitted online. Plans will be limited to ten pages and must have the generally accepted components in a business plan. The plan may be for a new start-up venture, a new product, or market development in an existing venture that is less than three years old. 

*Students who enter the competition must be in good standing according to the AACC student handbook. Students who completed course work at AACC in the fall 2017, or are currently enrolled during the spring 2018 semester in at least one credit or non-credit course at AACC are eligible to compete.

Teams may also enter. At least 50 percent of the team, and preferably more, must meet the above enrollment criteria.

Entrepreneurs Club

You’ll have the opportunity to attend business conferences and networking events, listen to seminars and talks by prominent business officials, tour various local businesses, take trips and participate in various hands-on skill-building projects that help out the local community.

Learn more about the Entrepreneurs Club.

The Hatchery - Where Students Start Successful Businesses!

The Hatchery and Business Resource Center and the Student Business Incubator are designed to assist students who wish to start a new venture or grow their existing business. The Center is fully equipped with a business library, private and work group spaces, a conference room, Wi-Fi access, computers with Internet access as well as software applications helpful to those starting new ventures.

Careers Building Room 326

Entrepreneurial Studies Phillip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Scholarships

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Do you own your own business? Are you an AACC student?

If so, apply for The Phillip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Entrepreneurial Studies Scholarship to receive financial support for your studies. There are several scholarships available to help you complete your education at AACC, to transfer to a four-year college or university, and to prepare for your business.

Learn more about the Ratcliffe Scholarship.

Helpful Resources


We’re here to help.

Entrepreneurial Studies Institute

Carlene Cassidy, chair


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Ratcliffe Scholarship