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5 College Degrees That Prepare You for Small-Business Success

Liberal arts degrees are a better foundation for entrepreneurship than many despairing graduates realize.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Think you need an MBA in order to be a successful entrepreneur? Think again. There are many aspects to founding a successful business, and a foundation based on “business” (which is highly subjective) is just one of them. In fact, almost any degree you can imagine can bolster small business success if you look at it from the right angle.

Art history majors, English majors, and geography majors, unite! Your degree is perfect preparation for entrepreneurial success. I'm surprised at how many things I use daily that I learned while in college. Here are a few of the most “unorthodox for business success degrees” worth having and how to put them to work for you.

Go ahead and tell your parents and Sallie Mae to relax. Maybe you really knew what you were doing at 19 years old after all.

Related: How to Save for Your Kid's College Tuition If You're Not Felicity Huffman or Lori Loughlin





Accounting or finance

You might take a couple of 101 finance courses while getting an MBA, but is that going to prepare you for charting your finances to investors? Is it going to show you how to run the numbers while running a business? Understanding the financial aspects of a business can make it or break it. You can also consider starting your own financial consulting company where the sky’s the limit for revenue.

Related: Can't Afford an MBA? Read These 6 Books to Educate Yourself Instead


Writing and English

There’s not a single business out there that doesn’t need the skills of a professional writer. If you specialize in a field like search engine optimization, blogging or other aspects of technical writing, you’re golden. You might even want to open your own SEO company or monetize blogs for a living. Otherwise, you’re a step ahead of the competition when it comes to drafting business plans or appealing (in emails) to investors.

Related: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup



This degree isn’t just for pageant contestants anymore. “Communication” is a very diverse field and includes spoken, written, and non-verbal cues. Getting a strong foundation on basically how to work with people -- and subtly manipulative them to do as you wish -- is the ultimate tool for entrepreneurs. Even if you don’t get a degree in it, you certainly need to excel at communication in order to succeed.

Related: 4 Simple Ways to Communicate Better With Your Customers


Computer engineering

If you majored in this, you already have a knack for tech savviness that can take any business to the next level. From web development to analytics, taking charge of your hosting needs to mobile readiness, you can save a lot of time, hassle and trouble if caring for even a sliver of your business’ web needs is in the bag. Likewise, you can start-up a tech company (Silicon Valley address optional) and make the most of the digital era.

Related: 8 Things Computer Engineers Can Do to Stay on Top of Their Game



Yes, there’s plenty more you can do with a philosophy degree than “just teach”. Learning critical thinking skills, thinking outside the box and elegant debating are all crucial for a small business owner. It gives you a foundation for connecting with others, seeing different perspectives and, ultimately, getting to know what makes people (like customers) tick.

Take your degree and see how it fits into entrepreneurial success. You’re sure to find a few connections and capitalizing on them is what will give you that competitive edge.

Related: 5 Epic Leaders Who Studied Stoicism -- and Why You Should Too