Purpose - The purpose of this exploratory research was to investigate whether: entrepreneurship in the higher education context can be distinguished by disciplined-based needs; and curricula can be developed around these needs. Design/methodology/approach - The authors reviewed the literature related to the development of professions in order to establish a sound theoretical base to distinguish disciplines that require stringent criteria, and which potentially would challenge the introduction of a more flexible curriculum that includes contemporary concepts such as entrepreneurship. The research then focused on two other groups of disciplines which lead to entrepreneurial opportunities with distinct needs in (principally) people management and intellectual property law. This discussion was couched in the occupational motivation literature. Semi-structured interviews (n = 31) were conducted with individuals randomly selected from three groups associated with an American Land Grant Research University. Additional survey data were collected from 58 respondents. Findings - The research found support for the categorization of disciplines into the framework of profession-, industry-, or invention-based entrepreneurial ventures. Originality/value - Although this is an exploratory investigation, the framework sets out clear pathways through the entrepreneurial processes and has crucial implications for a variety of stakeholders. For example: curriculum designers will be better able to understand and address the demands and vagaries of multiple disciplines; critical assumptions (that often plague those involved with technology transfer) will be able to be addressed prior to or in the early stage of the commercialization process because inventors will be better informed and prepared; equity stakeholder negotiations (particularly those that involve government-operated institutions) will be more realistic as both parties, over time, become increasingly "market-savvy" and students (tomorrow's entrepreneurs) will be better able to plan for an entrepreneurially-focused career.