Over the last few decades, a generation of entrepreneurs has taken shape, and with it, a demand for higher education in the field of entrepreneurship. In response to this demand, colleges across the South have been introducing graduate programs that better serve the needs of this new breed of businesspeople. One of these programs is the Thomas S. Johnson Master of Science in Entrepreneurship at University of Florida’s Warrington Center.

UF’s MSE program is said to be one of the first of its kind. The one-year intensive program is built to both inform and involve, plugging students in with Gainesville’s growing startup community and equipping them to launch and sustain their own innovative ventures.

Students are able to collaborate with area startups through GatorNest, work together with business, law and engineering students to commercialize university technology through the Integrated Technology Venture Program, and even study abroad in Ireland, Chile, Haiti and South Africa. Students also have access to resources within UF’s own Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, including the Gator Hatchery, an incubator that provides workspace, office support and other resources to assist students in the growth of their startups.

The MSE program even holds a few competitions, like LEAP and the Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition, that give students a chance to raise capital for their startups while they work toward their degree.

And if the idea of tackling all this in just one year seems intimidating, UF offers an online program for the exact same degree, but in a more comfortable, two-year period.

Typical students of the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program are required to have a bachelor’s degree and a prepared proposal for venture upon applying. However, as part of their community outreach initiative, UF offers an abbreviated Veterans Entrepreneurship Program specifically for service-disabled veterans and those who have uniquely distinguished themselves in the military. This nine-month course has only three requirements, and provides veteran entrepreneurs with practical training in venture creation and growth, in addition to a support structure for its graduates. The program is free for accepted applicants.

The deadline to apply for the fall semester is March 16; the deadline to apply for the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program is Feb. 29.

In the meantime, UF plans to celebrate the 100 fastest-growing Gator-owned or Gator-led businesses in the world later this month at Gator100, its annual awards ceremony.