Essentials of Entrepreneurship

Essentials of Entrepreneurship is an intensive two-week summer program for a select group of high school students currently enrolled in 9th to 11th grades. This immersive experience challenges students to engage with peers, use innovative thinking, and learn the basics of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.


Essentials of Entrepreneurship provides an immersive introduction to the journey of creating a new venture. With a two-week schedule filled with lectures, recitations, and activities, students will learn how a successful startup is created, as well as obtain core techniques in the areas of user research, opportunity testing, MVP developing, marketing, scaling and exiting. Ultimately, the program will challenge students to collaborate with peers, use innovative thinking, and develop a pitch for an early-stage startup. 

Whether students plan to start their own company or become an innovator within an established organization, this program will encourage students to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset that can be applied across numerous fields. 

Each summer, Wharton Essentials of Entrepreneurship students:

  • Attend lectures and presentations from notable Wharton faculty, lecturers and PhD students  
  • Learn core techniques in the area of user research, opportunity testing, MVP developing, marketing, scaling and exiting  
  • Collaborate in teams to develop a pitch for an early-stage startup 
  • Explore historic Philadelphia and experience college life on Penn’s Ivy League campus 


All participants who complete the program will earn a Wharton Global Youth Certificate of Completion. 


Academic classes are held Monday-Friday with extracurricular activities available in the evenings and on the weekends. Students move in on Sunday pre-program, and move out the final Saturday of the program. For more information on campus life, visit our residential experience page.  

While each day varies in format, a typical day includes:  

  • 9:30-10:00 Morning Check-in 
  • 10-10:15- Break 
  • 10:15-11:15- Topics Lecture or Guest Speaker 
  • 11:15-11:30- Break 
  • 11:30-12:30- Topics Lecture 
  • 12:30-1:45- Lunch 
  • 1:45- 2:45- Group Work or Business Simulation 
  • 2:45-3:00- Break 
  • 3:00-4:00- Small Group Exercise or Business Simulation Debrief  
  • 4:00-4:30- TA office Hour and Takeaways of the Day 

Session topics may include:  

  • Innovation and Opportunity 
  • Idea Generation  
  • Customer Discovery  
  • Business Model Generation  
  • AB Testing 
  • Entrepreneurial Strategy and Financing  
  • Tech Entrepreneurship  
  • Social Entrepreneurship  

Students will also have the unique opportunity to attend our Wharton Global Youth Speaker Series, which features presentations and conversations with notable Wharton faculty. The topics covered in these presentations span the breadth of Wharton teaching, allowing students insights into additional topics and cutting-edge research not specifically addressed within their program’s focus area. Previous speakers and topics have included:  

  • Dean of The Wharton School, Professor Erika James: Crisis Management 
  • Professor Michael Roberts: Finance 
  • Professor Ethan Mollick: The Future of AI  
  • Professor Katherine Klein: Social Impact   
  • Professor Michael Platt: Neuro Economics 
  • Professor Barbara Kahn: Marketing 
  • Professor Maurice Schweitzer: Negotiation and Deception 
  • Professor Olivia Mitchell: Financial Literacy 

In the evening, students will have a number of extracurricular activities to choose from. Students can also opt to work on their final project with their group, meet with the program TAs, and/or relax at the dorm.  

Please note, some days may not follow this schedule as there could be a site visit off campus or a simulation in lieu of lecture/recitation schedule.  



High school students currently enrolled in grades 9-11 looking to advance their entrepreneurial mindset. No formal business background is required. International applicants are welcome.


Admission to Wharton Essentials of Entrepreneurship is selective. Selections are based on a record of academic excellence and a genuine interest in developing entrepreneurship skills. Interested students are strongly encouraged to submit an application by the priority deadline.

Please note that participation in the Essentials of Entrepreneurship program does not guarantee admission into Penn.

Instructional Team

Academic Director: David Hsu

David Hsu is the Richard A. Sapp Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Stanford University with undergraduate majors in economics and political science. After a few years working in industry, he received his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, followed by his Ph.D. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Hsu’s research interests are in entrepreneurial innovation and management. Within that domain, he has investigated topics such as intellectual property management, start-up innovation, technology commercialization strategy, and venture capital. His research has appeared in leading journals such as Management Science, Journal of Finance, Strategic Management Journal, and Research Policy. He is past department and associate editor of Management Science. In 2008, Hsu was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Industry Studies Fellowship. At Wharton, he teaches two MBA electives, Entrepreneurship and Technology Strategy. At Penn, Hsu is Associate Faculty Director of the Weiss Tech House, which encourages and supports students in the creation, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies. 

Program Leader: TBA

Teaching Assistants 

Teaching Assistants consist of both undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania. TAs facilitate small-group discussions, ensure student understanding, assist with final project development, and hold office hours to answer student questions and share their Penn and Wharton experiences. 

“This program gave me my first insight into college, and it made me incredibly passionate about pursuing a career in business. Be sure to get to know your professors and peers, and keep building your network throughout the program." - Richa S., Manila, Philippines