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Programme overview

The Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PGDE) is an action-based, part-time programme designed specifically for experienced professionals, scientists, and technologists who want to learn the skills of entrepreneurship and develop their business idea or venture in a structured and supportive environment. It is also for entrepreneurs who want to develop their businesses to the next level while learning the skills and accessing the networks they need.

The programme uses a team of Cambridge entrepreneurship experts, combining the forces of academics and seasoned entrepreneurs, to build a range of skills and knowledge. 

  • discover and evaluate opportunities
  • pitch investors to raise finance, and do win-win deals
  • understand and manage cash flow and finance
  • test ideas and designs for value propositions with real customers
  • gain the first 10, 100, 1000 customers
  • learn how to build a marketing plan to take you from 1000-1,000,000 customers
  • choose a strategy and develop a business model that will support a profitable and sustainable business
  • develop and manage teams of entrepreneurs and innovators
  • network and sell
  • make high-quality decisions
  • become a leader (or become a better leader)

The Entrepreneurship Centre is able to support participants with ventures ready for acceleration to the next level of growth through a range of additional programmes. For example, a number of Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship graduates have secured places on our Accelerate Cambridge programme.

The programme is suitable for entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The part-time nature of the programme is compatible either with continued employment during the programme, or with putting an entrepreneurial vision into action during the year of study. 

Students must normally have at least five years' work experience (and up to 30) to join the programme. You will also have either a 2:1 or better (or international equivalent) in your undergraduate studies, or a good result in past masters or doctoral study. 

The programme is for: 

  • Experienced professionals seeking to start an entrepreneurial venture
  • Entrepreneurs seeking to take their business to a new level of growth
  • Intrapreneurs in a corporate setting seeking to learn critical entrepreneurial skills to support innovative ventures within their organisation 

The part-time nature of the programme is compatible either with continued employment during the programme, or with putting an entrepreneurial vision into action during the year of study. 

Research shows that female entrepreneurs bring significant advantages to the founding teams they lead or work within. We place a high value on bringing female entrepreneurs into our programme.

What do we mean by an "action-based" programme?

Action-based learning involves a cycle:

action > emergence > reflection > deliberation > action

In this programme, each week of the course, after discussion with your Action Learning Set of fellow innovators and creators, you will take an action. This might be a small action like introducing yourself to a potential adviser, or it may be a more significant one such as conducting a Lean Startup experiment or doing a small design Sprint. By bringing an idea you are working on into contact with the "real" world, you will see what emerges, i.e. the outcome of your action. You will reflect on the significance of your finding through the lens of the frameworks and theories we will teach you on the course, and then deliberate (with your Action Learning Set colleagues) on what action to take next.

This style of learning is, we believe, helpful to instill in innovators a habit of taking action in order to create opportunity-which we know is a habit of successful entrepreneurs. Your actions, because you control and choose the actions you take, will be appropriate to the circumstances you find yourself in at the time. The most important outcome is the habit of engaging in this cycle, as much as the opportunity a given set of actions may create.

The programme is delivered through a carefully designed combination of:

  • immersive residential learning and networking in Cambridge (three weeks in total) 
  • working through our online learning content and tools, with an Action Learning Set of fellow innovators and creators (35 weeks)
  • coaching and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs, matched to the individual challenges, who help you review and reflect on the actions you take as you build your skills (10 times per year)

The programme starts with a residential week in Cambridge on 11-15 September 2017. During this immersive residential with Cambridge Judge faculty, you will be exposed to the 10 core themes of the curriculum:

  1. Working on yourself - as a thinker, decision maker and leader
  2. Identifying and evaluating opportunities 
  3. Financial literacy and fluency
  4. Customer development and lean startup
  5. Networking and sales
  6. Marketing
  7. Prototyping and design thinking
  8. Business models and strategy
  9. Teams, management and operations 
  10. Fundraising

Each theme runs across the 12 months of the programme and gives you core academic knowledge, a toolkit of skills, and, most important of all, the innovator's mindset.

During the residential week, you also will form your Action Learning Set with four to six other innovators. Peer-to-peer learning is a critical part of the journey of the programme. Students are carefully matched to a group designed both to expose you to those facing similar challenges and to give you diverse perspectives from other experienced, driven professionals. You commit, as a member of the Action Learning Set, to help keep your colleagues in the "stretch zone" where learning happens and they will commit to support you in a similar way. In addition, you will meet your first Mentor: an experienced entrepreneur. Both your peers and your Mentor will work with you to ensure your learning of concepts, skills and the innovator's mindset is maximised. This is done by ensuring that theory is converted into practical action.

After the first residential week, your self-driven journey begins and you put the finishing touches to an Enterprise Project: an initial idea for a startup, or an idea for a growth strategy for an existing organisation. Throughout October, November, January, February and March, you will work for about 10 hours per week through dynamic, engaging online content - in our Virtual Learning Environment - around the 10 themes. As a result of consulting your peer group and checking-in with your Mentor regularly, you will reflect on the learning experience and decide how best to put the content into action for the highest impact.

From time to time, we may change your Mentor to give you new opportunities to learn from another experienced entrepreneur.

The second Cambridge residential week takes place on 19-23 March 2018. It provides an opportunity for you to bring together all you have learned, reconnect with your peers and Mentor, and, guided by Cambridge Judge Business School faculty, prepare for the "home stretch" of the PGDE. A major emphasis of the second residential is supporting you to connect your venture or project to key stakeholders - through pitching, networking and selling.

Following the second residential week and until the end of the programme (9-13 July 2018), you will continue to work on online content and to interact with, and be supported by, your Action Learning Set and your Mentor. The emphasis of the programme will shift to concepts, skills and mindsets you may need in the future as your venture or project grows. Students return to Cambridge at the end of the programme in July for a final synthesis of your work and planning. This also offers exposure to further thought leadership and skills-building sessions with Cambridge Judge Business School faculty and the chance to celebrate the ways in which you have stretched yourself and developed an innovator's mindset.

Although this is an action-based programme which first and foremost aims to support your development as an entrepreneur or innovator, it also leads to a qualification from the University of Cambridge. Accordingly, there are four assessed modules, each with an essay submission combining reflection on what you have learned and what you have done, with planning and applying frameworks from the programme to support your venture. Each of the four modules and assessments will contain elements of the 10 programme themes detailed above.

Admissions for entry in 2017 have now closed.

Applications for entry in September 2018 will open this October.

Contact us

Tel: +44 (0)1223 761076