male grad student standing by academic building

Business Development Fellowship Program

Grow new career paths with MBA-level coursework and networking. 

Key to the program is hands-on experience in developing the skills needed for a career in industry or to create new business ventures.

Note: Please check back to apply for our 2024/25 cohort.

The Business Development Fellowship program offers UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral researchers in all disciplines hands-on experience in developing the skills needed for a career in industry or to create new business ventures. This program will help you:

  • Learn business skills. No concrete idea is required—come to learn.
  • Prepare for a career in industry—or define your research project early on.
  • Gain an “edge” and a taste of business your peers won’t have during the job search.

You will:

  • Study alongside MBA students.
  • Gain a first-hand look at the entrepreneurial experience.
  • Develop the commercial potential of your research.
  • Explore career opportunities in industry. 
photo of a man wearing bright yellow vest and hardhat, in a field with equipment
Sajjad Karimi |is a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Davis Air Quality Research Center. He was a 2022/23 Business Development Fellow.

My engineering background helps me to solve technical problems, but the knowledge I gained during the fellowship taught me to be a stronger leader who can establish and manage a business. I believe my experiences as a Business Development Fellow and my educational background have developed a synergy that gives me a better vision and insight into my profession.

Snapshot: Your Year as a Fellow

  • Five Graduate School of Management courses taken with MBA students. Each course meets for 3 hours a week and includes group work. 
  • You'll spend 15–20 hours per week working on the program.
  • Grow your entrepreneurial mindset at the UC Entrepreneurship Academy in September.
  • Option to attend Big Bang! workshops and enter the business competition.
  • Attend monthly luncheons featuring a guest speaker and networking with our Keller Pathway Fellows.
  • Due to the intensity of the program, you must complete your academic program coursework before starting the fellowship program.
  • Program Requirements 2023/24

UC Entrepreneurship Academy | September 19–22, 2023; all day with some evening events | UC Davis Conference Center

Think. Do. Discover. Speaker Series | November 7, 2023; 5-6:30 p.m. | All Pride, No Ego | A Conversation with Author, Advocate and Corporate Leader Jim Fielding | RSVP >

Monthly Fellows Luncheons (up to two excused absences allowed) | Noon -1 p.m. | Guest speakers TBA | Gallagher Hall

October 11, 2023
November 15, 2023
November 29, 2023 | Note: Panel / Dinner 5:30–8:30 p.m.
January 10, 2024
February 14, 2024
March 13, 2024
April 3, 2024
May 8, 2024

Closing Dinner | May 28, 2024 | 5–6:30 p.m. | Gallagher Hall, Executive Board Room

Graduate School of Management Courses | Fall, winter and spring quarters | Class schedule provided at the start of each quarter.

Lab Tours | Every fellow will schedule a date and time to give a tour of their lab and meet with Prof. Andrew Hargadon | Dates TBD

  • How to Apply
  • The Business Development Fellowship program is open only to UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral researchers. 

    If you are accepted to the program, ask your advisor to email Senior Program Manager Niki Peterson a letter in support indicating that this program will take priority should scheduling conflicts occur. Please delay applying to the program if time constraints are a challenge.

    Selection Criteria
    • Due to the heavy workload of the Business Development Fellowship program, applicants must have completed their coursework for their master's or doctoral degree.
    • Fellows must have the support of their advisor(s) to participate. See Sample Letter of Support.
    • Priority selection goes to applicants with a career goal to work in industry, launch a startup or commercialize their research.
  • Coursework

Business Development Fellows take five courses in technology management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and participate in interdisciplinary practicums alongside MBA students and under the guidance of Graduate School of Management faculty, investors and entrepreneurs. You'll gain knowledge, skills, and abilities in the following areas:  

  • Dynamics of innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Innovation strategies and work practices
  • Interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Evaluating technology/market opportunities
  • Product, process and new venture design
  • IP patenting and licensing strategies
  • Writing and communicating business plans
  • Building and managing interdisciplinary teams
  • Modeling finance and investment strategies
  • Rapid prototyping and testing strategies

Below is an example of the classes included in the program; actual courses are based on the Graduate School of Management's course schedule and availability.

Fall Quarter
MGT 251 | Management of Innovation

Describes the processes of creativity and innovation and provides students with the means to craft interdependent innovation strategies, work practices and cultures for managing innovation in organizations.

Winter Quarter
MGT 244 | New and Small Business Ventures
Student teams develop complete business plans for their own start-up ventures.  Process includes: elevator pitch, business strategy, comprehensive bottoms-up financial projections, capital requirements, product differentiation, competitive, alliance, and go-to-market strategy development, investor presentation, and comprehensive written business plan. 

MGT 246 | Negotiation in Organizations 

This course is designed to help students develop the ability to effectively negotiate in a competitive business environment. It focuses on negotiation skill-building in the areas of individual conflict management, team management, performance appraisal, corporate impression management and inter-organizational project management. The course will be taught largely through in-class simulations to provide an opportunity for experiential learning. The simulations will also allow students to develop a personal style of negotiation by discovering what works best for them in different situations.

Spring Quarter
MGT 290 | Entrepreneurship Clinic
Provides the necessary analytical and design tools to create and evaluate business ideas and refine potential business models based on emerging technologies. Students learn to work closely in small, interdisciplinary teams to synthesize technical, strategic, and marketing needs and resources into designs for new ventures. Topics include rapid market research, financial modeling, prototyping, and venture investment. Throughout the course, students will work in teams to develop and refine a set of new venture concepts, culminating with a well-developed venture pitch for investors. Instruction and experimentation are integrated and overseen by both faculty and practicing professionals (investors, entrepreneurs, and executives).

MGT 241 | New Product Development
Why do some companies consistently outperform other companies in developing successful new products and services? Why do so many new products fail in the marketplace? This course introduces students to the major activities involved in developing new products and services. Emphasis is on learning practical skills and techniques that can help students be successful in a product development environment. Students will learn how to understand customer and user needs, and translate them into meaningful product concepts; manage product development programs and teams across multiple functions. Do financial analysis of programs and make economic tradeoffs in the development effort. Choose product development methodologies appropriate for the business and products. As part of the course, students may work on a new product development project. More details available in the syllabus.

  • FAQs
  • Who can participate in the Fellows program?
    The Business Development Fellows program is open to UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates and postdocs in all disciplines.

    We generally accept doctoral students, post-coursework. Masters students are admitted conditionally, based on their coursework load. 

    How do you select participants? 
    Acceptance is based on your application, a letter of support from your advisor and your interview. Every applicant is scheduled for an interview. We look for candidates who are motivated to learn outside the lab and the classroom and who want to develop new skills and methods of thinking about their research and learning.

    Where does the program take place? 
    Courses are held at Gallagher Hall, Graduate School of Management, unless otherwise noted on the course syllabus.

    How much does the program cost? 
    Through the support of the Graduate School of Management, accepted fellows attend the program at no cost. Fellows are responsible for supplying/paying for course books and materials. 

    What are the courses? 
    Fellows participate in five Graduate School of Management courses over the academic year. The course schedule changes year to year, but an overview includes: 
    • Management of Innovation 
    • New and Small Business Ventures
    • Negotiation in Organizations 
    • Entrepreneurship Clinic
    • New Product Development

    When are the courses held?
    There are generally two courses in fall, two in winter, and one in spring. Classes are three hours in duration, once a week, throughout the quarter. 

    What if I can only attend some of the classes? 
    We admit fellows based on their commitment to the program and expect all fellows to attend classes regularly. 

    Do I receive credit for the courses? 
    Graduate students receive a transcript for their courses. As graduate students, you are enrolled in each course and receive an official course grade. 

    Postdocs are not enrolled students at the university and so do not receive official course credit. Postdocs will be graded in their course but you do not receive an official university transcript. 

    Can I transfer credits from the program? 
    Enrolled students who receive an official transcript may be able to transfer course credit to an MBA program. Transfer credit is determined by each university differently, so you will need to have your transcript evaluated. 

    How much time does the Fellows program require?
    Anticipate spending 15–20 hours a week on the program, on top of your regular research / lab duties. 

    Two courses a quarter equals six hours of class time. On top of that, estimate another 12–14 of homework, group work and projects. 

    What kind of letter of support do I need? 
    Because of the outside time commitment, we ask that your advisor write a letter indicating they support your participation in the program. Your advisor should be on board with your participation, as you will likely need flexibility with your research and lab time to participate in the program. 
    Sample Letter of Support

    What is the UC Entrepreneurship Academy? Am I required to attend? 
    The UC Entrepreneurship Academy is the premiere academic program for commercializing science and engineering innovations.

    The academy is taught by investors, entrepreneurs, university faculty and industry experts who serve as mentors and guest speakers. You’ll gain the knowledge and networks needed to move your research or idea out of the lab and into the world, where it can truly make a difference. 

    The academy takes place in the early fall. Business Development Fellows are required to attend the academy. There is no fee to attend. 

    What is the Big Bang? Am I required to participate in it? 
    The Big Bang! is the annual UC Davis business plan competition. We encourage all fellows to participate on a Big Bang! team. The work you do in the Graduate School of Management courses will often translate to your Big Bang! team. We recommend including an MBA student on your team. 

    Who are in the fellows courses? 
    The courses you take are part of the Graduate School of Management's MBA curriculum. You will be in a class with MBA students. In a class of 30, you can expect 21 will be MBA students and nine will be Business Development Fellows.

    What is the benefit of taking courses with the MBA students? 
    Wonderful things happen when scientists and engineers, and graduate students/postdocs in the humanities and the social sciences come together with MBA students. Business Development Fellows discover new concepts, possible business ventures, and alternate methods of thinking about an idea. 

    What other events take place during the year? 
    In addition to the coursework, monthly Fellows Lunches and the Big Bang!, we typically host five or six educational and networking events during the year. These are optional for you to attend. However, we recommend that you participate to enhance your experience as a Business Development Fellow.

    How much are the course materials? 
    Depends on the course, but similar to any grad school class. 

    How long has the program been going on? 
    We have offered the program annually since 2004. 

    Is it possible to audit a course for an evening to get feel for what they are like? 
    Upon permission from the instructor, some courses may be audited for an evening.