Purpose: This paper has three purposes: first, to present a vision of entrepreneurship education that has the student's capacity for autonomous action as its ultimate aim; second, to convince the reader of the timeliness and relevance of such an approach; third, to outline how this can be implemented. Design/methodology/approach: The paper integrates several strands of literature: research on entrepreneurial autonomy, educational psychology, and entrepreneurship education. Findings: The importance of autonomy is suggested by research on entrepreneurial motivation and satisfaction, as well as by a range of societal trends that favour increased self-reliance. Two perspectives, self-determination theory and self-directed learning, provide leads about how to put autonomy centre stage in entrepreneurship education. Several implementation-related issues are discussed. These include trade-offs between guidance and freedom, information and pressure, the self and others, and choice and relevance; the effects of student behaviour on autonomy support by faculty; and the suitability of autonomy supportive entrepreneurship education for different kinds of students and educational settings. Practical implications: Teachers, schools and institutions wishing to adapt this approach need to adopt individualised, empowering approaches. Originality/value: It is novel to conceive of entrepreneurship education as an exercise in the service of the capacity for autonomous action. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.