Entrepreneurship is a learn-by-doing discipline. However, there are skill sets that are needed in order to fully jump into the world of starting a new venture or pushing new initiatives through an existing company.  ESTEEM's curriculum has been specifically designed to build business skills through the lens of entrepreneurship, delivered by faculty members who have lived it. Whether it is Entrepreneurial Accounting, Business Law, or Leadership, the ESTEEM curriculum has been honed to teach students what they need to know to get new things started.

Unlike other programs that may rely heavily on weekly assignments or midterm and final projects to show students how to apply their skills, the ESTEEM Program has strategically integrated the curriculum with the year-long capstone project. The capstone project serves as the real-world sandbox where students take their classroom skills and apply them to an actual technology commercialization effort. The timeline of the capstone project matches the sequence of classes through the year, and in many cases, assignments in class are used to advance a student's capstone project. In addition to the business classes, students also take technical electives, furthering their STEM training, and continuing to be educated on the cutting edge of science, engineering, and technology. At the end of the program, students are granted a Master of Science (M.S.) in Engineering, Science, and Technology Entrepreneurship.

The curriculum is divided into three parts, which take place over the course of three semesters (Summer, Fall, Spring):

  • Business Courses: These are the courses that the class takes together as a cohort, covering entrepreneurship business fundamentals.
  • Technical Electives: Each student is required to take 6 credit hours that build on their technical background, often times directly related to their capstone project. These classes are selected from the College of Engineering and the College of Science, and serve as a way for students to continue to build their technical skills.
  • Capstone project: The capstone project is also a formal part of their curriculum.

For the 2022 - 2023 academic year, important dates are as follows:

  • ESTEEM Opening Activity June 15 - 17, 2022
  • ESTEEM Orientation: June 20, 2022
  • Summer semester: June 15 - July 29, 2022
  • Graduate School Orientation: August 16 - 16, 2022
  • Fall semester: August 23 - December 16, 2022
  • Mid-term Break: October 15 - 23, 2022
  • Spring semester: January 17 - May 12, 2023
  • Mid-term Break: March 11 - 19, 2023
  • Commencement Weekend: May 19 - 21, 2023

Summer Semester

  • Capstone Project (Summer)

    We introduce students to capstone projects via a series of lectures that focus on outlining capstone expectations and sharing best practices. Students then devote significant time going through the project matching process. Once matched, students delve into learning about their project’s identified problem, value proposition, and proposed technology solution.

    Faculty: Ellen Dutton, Germán Estrada Mendoza, Neil Kane

  • Design Entrepreneurship

    Visualization can be a powerful way to inspire confidence in investors. This process-based course introduces various techniques to communicate design intent. Topics covered include: rapid visualization, product development, user experience, works and looks-like prototyping, infographics and data-visualization, design narrative, photo and video editing, and process documentation. Through experience and tangible outcome, students will obtain a measurable shift in their understanding of product development, while improving presentation skills and aesthetic judgment. The goal of this course is not to turn ESTEEM students into designers, but to instruct them on the importance of design decisions to the product development process.

    Faculty: Ann-Marie Conrado

  • Entrepreneurial Accounting

    The Entrepreneurial Accounting Course is focused upon the basic concepts and standards underlying financial accounting systems as they relate to entrepreneurship. Several important concepts will be studied in detail, including: revenue recognition, inventory, long-lived assets, present value, and long term liabilities. The course emphasizes the construction of the basic financial accounting statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

    Faculty: Michael Meyer

  • Personal Marketing

    This course is designed to teach ESTEEM students how to manage their Capstone Master Thesis Experience and how to personally market yourself. We will drill into the Capstone experience and discuss topics such as key deliverables, professionalism, cadence of meetings, accountability, time management, communications, and conflict resolution. Other topics include negotiations, interviewing stakeholders, organizing stakeholder interviews, action registers, and relationship management.

    Faculty: Ellen Dutton

Fall Semester

  • Business Law

    Law relating to startup and ongoing operation of businesses. Intellectual property law, including patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks. Business organizations, contract, and product liability law. Focus on issues related to inventions stemming from early embryonic ideas, including university research and breakthrough technologies.

    Faculty: James Farrington

  • Business Presentations

    This highly compact course offers a look at the principles and techniques involved in effective technical presentations for business audiences. Following a brief review of both theory and practice, students are asked to prepare a two-minute elevator pitch, summarizing their intellectual interest and business plan. That assignment is followed by a more comprehensive technology review for potential business partners. This is a three-week course open only to master's degree candidates in the ESTEEM program.

    Faculty: Chad Harms, Connie Snyder Mick, Jeffrey Bernel, Patrick Clauss, Randal Harrison

  • Capstone Project (Fall)

    After extensive research, students produce a technology report that presents the technical foundations of the project. Next, students explore market and intellectual property issues. Once our students gain a firm understanding of the project's context, they then create a series of hypotheses related to the business model. The students next test these hypotheses via stakeholder interviews. Finally, students complete a formal presentation to a committee of professors and project sponsors.

    Faculty: Ellen Dutton, Germán Estrada Mendoza, Neil Kane

  • Entrepreneurial Finance

    This course examines the elements of entrepreneurial finance, focusing on technology-based start-up ventures and the early stages of company development. The course addresses key questions which challenge all entrepreneurs: how much money can and should be raised; when should it be raised and from whom; what is a reasonable valuation of the company; and how should funding, employment contracts and exit decisions be structured. It aims to prepare students for these decisions, both as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

    Faculty: James Leady

  • Entrepreneurial Insights Seminar

    This 0.5 credit S/U course is intended to provide students the opportunity to engage with and learn from experts related to the field of entrepreneurship.

    Faculty: David Murphy

  • Entrepreneurial Work Management

    The overall goal of this course is the development of skills and processes related to the management of one's professional life. This course is designed to introduce some basic principles, approaches, and tools related to planning and executing work-related projects. Topics include project planning, agile methodologies, personal professional development, and visual problem solving.

    Faculty: Sam Krause

  • ESTEEM Technical Elective: Innovation in Cancer Research

    This course will begin by exploring the fundamental hallmarks of cancer. Once the foundation has been laid for a general understanding of what cancer is, you will be introduced to a wide array of cancer research that is being done at the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI). This showcase of HCRI's research will serve as an introduction to the innovative and integrative research efforts that the dedicated researchers are conducting to confront the complex challenges of cancer. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, this course will also highlight cancer research that has led to startup formation and commercialization. By the end of the course, students should have a broad understanding of what cancer is and what is being done to understand and treat it at Notre Dame as well as in general.

    Faculty: Khoa Huynh

  • ESTEEM Technical Elective: Object Design and Fabrication

    Students will become certified users of Solidworks design software while gaining fundamental knowledge on object fabrication modalities including 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC milling.

    Faculty: Matt Leevy

  • Launch Strategy I

    This course will provide an understanding of planning and road mapping frameworks to help build an actionable bridge from search-mode to execution-mode as startups look towards launching and scaling the venture. Launch Strategy I will focus on the go-to-market aspects of the venture and will set a foundation for Launch Strategy II where students will actively develop the financials supporting their launch strategy for their ESTEEM capstone project.

    Faculty: Sam Miller

  • Leadership

    The ESTEEM Leadership Course spurs students to develop, refine, and implement an individualized understanding of what it means to be an effective leader. Course readings, materials, activities, and assignments expose students to various conceptions of effective leadership; require students to develop personal definitions of leadership; and provide students with opportunities to apply and test their views on leadership through real-life scenarios. Class materials include classic texts from the field of leadership studies, as well as current literature on this topic. One or more guest speakers will provide students with a chance to gain insights from experienced leaders. And Harvard Business School Case Studies will be used to analyze and assess the actual implementation of key aspects of leadership. Ultimately, students will examine their own ESTEEM capstone project as a means to illustrate the types of leaders they hope to be.

    Faculty: Regan Jones

  • Technical Marketing

    The Technical Marketing course will focus on the application of modern marketing techniques in the design, development, and commercialization of embryonic and high risk technologies. Core marketing principles, models, theories, and frameworks will be explored. The use of these principles in the context of the innovation cycle, from invention to venture for start-up companies and from invention through commercialization in established companies, will be emphasized.

    Faculty: Michael Kitz

Spring Semester

  • Capstone Project (Spring)

    Students prepare a comprehensive commercial launch strategy that addresses the core aspects of the proposed business model. Students also produce a detailed financial forecast to support the launch strategy. Additionally students continue to conduct stakeholder interviews as they refine the launch strategy. The semester and program culminates in a final formal presentation that details the work the student has done on the capstone project.


  • Corporate Innovation

    The ability to innovate is crucial for business survival and growth in the current climate of rapid technological advancement and changing consumer preferences. Without innovation and entrepreneurship skills, more and more companies are failing when faced with market challenges. In this course, you will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship into the strategy, capabilities, and culture of an organization.


  • Data Analytics

    Faculty: Brandon Erlacher

  • Entrepreneurial Insights Seminar

    This 0.5 credit S/U course is intended to provide students the opportunity to engage with and learn from experts related to the field of entrepreneurship.

    Faculty: David Murphy

  • ESTEEM Technical Elective: Object Design and Fabrication

    Students will become certified users of Solidworks design software while gaining fundamental knowledge on object fabrication modalities including 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC milling.

    Faculty: Matt Leevy

  • ESTEEM Technical Elective: Web Tools for Startups

    This course will focus on topics of modern website and app development. We will begin by exploring static web site design and development utilizing contemporary design trends and modern technologies. We will then focus on creating dynamic web applications. A brief overview of User Interface and User experience (UI/UX) design will be surveyed. Finally, we will cover building a web application with JavaScript. Discussions of design fundamentals and engineering trade-offs will be complemented by projects in which students will develop their own websites and apps. These techniques are used by companies such as Groupon, Airbnb, Netflix, Medium and PayPal which have all adopted a JavaScript-based approach, and are very useful to those interested in smaller tech startups.

    Faculty: Nick Johnson

  • Ethical Issues in Business and Technology

    Entrepreneurs incur a wide range of responsibilities, from the effects of their products on their customers, to the culture of their organization, to articulating a mission for their organization that goes beyond simply turning a profit. This course will explore some of the ethical issues inherent in running a business. Issues covered will include the importance of organizational culture for ethical decision-making, ethical issues in testing and clinical trials, ethics in leadership, and alternatives to shareholder value as the exclusive metric of company performance.


  • Funding New Ventures

    This course examines methods that an entrepreneur would consider for financing an early stage venture. Topics include bootstrapping, microloans, bank debt, crowdfunding, angel investment, and venture capital funding. Students learn how to formulate a funding strategy for an early stage business, prepare financial projections, create a plan for use of funds, and gather appropriate and complete materials for due diligence by a lender or equity investor. This course is designed to build on the foundation established by previous ESTEEM courses to generate real-world, real-time analyses of scientific and technical projects from the greater Notre Dame community that are seeking institutional funding for possible commercialization. The class will utilize all of a student's accounting and finance skills.


  • Launch Strategy II

    This course will build on the fundamentals presented in Launch Strategy I and will challenge students to develop a professional quality launch strategy for their ESTEEM capstone project. Students will present their progress intermittently and receive feedback from faculty and peer students to refine their Launch Strategy. The outcome for the course will serve as the basis for the Launch Strategy component presented in their capstone project portfolio.

    Faculty: Sam Miller

  • Product Development

    This course will cover modern techniques and strategies for product development. We will cover some systematic processes and creative processes that businesses use to create new products and services, reduce risk, and enhance the chance of success.

    Faculty: Michael Kitz

  • Product Management for Startups

    Product management sits at the intersection of engineering, design, and business strategy. This class explores the product development lifecycle through the cash-strapped lens of start-ups. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can expect to learn relentlessly practical and fluid execution strategies for delivering hardware and software products given new and uncertain markets. In this course you will learn some techniques for prototyping, testing, and delivering products the quick and dirty way. Through readings, lectures, case-studies, and real-world demonstrations students will be exposed to the realities of product execution.

    Faculty: Will McLeod

  • Sales and Sales Management

    Sales and Sales Management for the Entrepreneur (SSME) is intended for ESTEEM students who at some point in their career will participate in some entrepreneurial venture or who seek a sales career with a company or who want to develop selling skills to help them with their start-up companies. Someone once said: "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." Sales skills are needed at all levels of entrepreneurism including: selling potential investors on investing; selling banks to loan needed seed and on-going capital; selling potential suppliers to provide favorable supply chain terms; selling potential partners and employee candidates on the validity of career options with the new venture; and, selling consumers or businesses on the start-up product or service.Additionally, SSME will be of value to those who seek a career in sales or sales management. Further, the course also includes a module designed for those who seek a career working for a non-profit with a focus on how to sell individuals as well as companies and foundations to invest in the desired cause. Additional elements of the course focus on: selling yourself -- tips for interviewing and selling yourself to hiring managers; recruiting, hiring, training, empowering, evaluating, incentivizing and developing sales teams and sales leaders.

    Faculty: Chris Stevens

  • Social Entrepreneurship

    Social Entrepreneurship will be a seminar style class (in full cohort) with an emphasis on readings, classroom discussion/presentation and case study analysis. The course will examine 1) The history of the social enterprise movement and this form of "disruptive innovation;" core definitions and debates around around definition; challenges to its effectiveness and sustainability, 2) For-profit and non-profit structures (similarities and differences); Hybrid-structures; Earned Income strategies; B-Corporations, 3) The Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP): Engaging the Poor as Consumers and Producers, 4) Micro-Enterprise Development and Micro-Finance Models, and 5) Funding Social Enterprises and Impact Investing.

    Faculty: David Murphy