The Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) is a four-year program that integrates design and entrepreneurial thinking into the Rutgers–New Brunswick student experience.

IDEA empowers students to explore their interests, apply their creativity, enhance their skillset and learn about different fields of study that can help them determine their career path. It is a mix of the arts, sciences, humanities and engineering paired with design, innovation, experimenting, and above all else – having fun.


The entrepreneurial community at Rutgers harnesses cutting-edge faculty research and New Jersey’s rising innovation ecosystem. Together, we are shaping the next generation of innovators. 

As Rutgers prepares the future workforce through programs like IDEA, we recognize major innovations and discoveries will be found at the cross-section of interests and different fields of study.  

As a student in this program, you will be encouraged to be creative, generate ideas and learn new skills that will prepare you for future and your career. 

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How It Works

People are the engine that drives entrepreneurship at Rutgers from our human-centered approach to addressing wicked problems at local, state, and global levels to the many opportunities students will have to network with alumni entrepreneurs and industry and community partners across all sectors of healthcare, technology, sustainability, and cultural institutions.

Hands-on and experiential learning opportunities encourages students to experiment and change course to discover their interests and strengths as they choose a course of study at Rutgers, and, ultimately, pursue a career path after graduation.

You will have unique access to:

  • Experiential learning opportunities, such as conducting research alongside faculty mentors and gaining early exposure to alumni entrepreneurs and industry employers
  • Paid internships and apprenticeships
  • Interdisciplinary coursework and design challenges that encompass agriculture, arts, climate change, conservation, culture and design, healthcare, infrastructure, natural resources, and technology.
  • Entrepreneurial leadership programs
  • Dedicated academic and career counseling
  • Career design connected to students’ interest and skills to prepare for jobs of the future
  • The Hatchery, a dedicated design thinking and ideation studio centrally located in the Archibald S. Alexander Library
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The Experience

  Semester 1: You Are Here
The program begins with an immersive co-curricular experience that works with your first-year curriculum. You will be introduced to Rutgers faculty researchers that are tackling society’s largest challenges. You will explore your own interests, learn how to frame a problem, and begin to design your unique path through Rutgers.

  Semester 2: Innovation and Design Byrne Seminar
During the second semester, you will work with leading Rutgers Faculty to investigate an important national or global problem through a 1-credit Innovation and Design seminar.

This out-of-the-box learning experience will challenge you to discover new areas of study beyond your intended major and better prepare you for the careers of the future by focusing on the development of an adaptive and entrepreneurial mindset.

The first-year experience culminates in a full-time, paid 8-week internship that brings together the classroom and the workplace.

You will work in small project teams and harness the power of innovation and design to tackle a real-world problem while receiving valuable mentorship from faculty as well as local alumni entrepreneurs, and business and non-profit leaders.

  Semester 3: Innovation Labs
In the first semester of your sophomore year, you will have the opportunity to develop and test your own ideas through faculty-mentored research or by joining an Innovation Lab, where you will learn successful entrepreneurship strategies and how to start your own venture.

  Semester 4: Design Your Story
Storytelling is one of the best ways to communicate your findings with impact, and also helps you uncover new insights. At the end of the semester, you’ll be asked to share your story about your experiences and the work you’ve accomplished through IDEA with others in a creative way (consider a video, pitch, documentary or podcast).

Your story will be defined by the grand-challenge solutions you worked on with your teams, work-study assignments you participated in, cross-discipline collaborations, and your partnership with mentors from academia and the business community.

You will also work with advising staff and counselors to help identify the kinds of problems you are most interested in solving. When it’s time to officially declare a major, you will feel confident that the path you select will empower you to reach your fullest potential.

  What Comes Next
In your junior and senior years, mentors and advisory staff will help you access faculty research positions, corporate and nonprofit internships, entrepreneurial opportunities, and other experiences in your areas of interest.

Have an innovative idea? You will be able to build a startup team and work on the concept and solution through the various entrepreneurial programs on campus and apply for co-working space in "The Hatchery," a dedicated space where you can meet, create, and receive mentoring support from our featured "entrepreneur in residence."

By the time you graduate from Rutgers, IDEA will have developed you into a visionary thinker, change agent, and innovative leader who values diverse ideas and finds solutions.

  Pay It Forward
You will be encouraged to continue engaging in IDEA through several leadership opportunities. IDEA Undergraduate Innovation Fellows will help to design and shape the future of IDEA, and become familiar with the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Rutgers–New Brunswick. Learning Assistants and Peer Mentors will serve as mentors for IDEA students, both inside and outside the classroom.


What's your IDEA?