The Best Schools For Prospective Entrepreneurs

The best school for prospective entrepreneurs is exactly where many business students and business executives think it is – in the Boston area.

Yes, Harvard University is the No. 1 business school in the United States. Wait a second. Best business school and best school for prospective entrepreneurs isn’t the same thing. Let’s look again. Yep, the best school for prospective entrepreneurs is in the Boston area, but it is not Harvard. It’s Babson. Who? What?

Yes, Babson College in the Boston suburb of Babson Park, Mass., is ranked as the No. 1 undergraduate college for entrepreneurship in the nation. The No. 2 graduate college for entrepreneurship is University of Michigan, according to a 2013 survey by Princeton Review published on Entrepreneur.com. More than 2,000 colleges and universities were surveyed.

Babson, in fact, has been ranked among the best entrepreneurial schools for many years. Its Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship has been ranked highly because of the availability of internships, its students’ post-graduation achievements, the percentage of teachers who are entrepreneurs, the school’s noncurriculum-based entrepreneurial activities, and its curriculum, including courses in marketing, social entrepreneurship, new product development, and venture capital.

Babson’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program cost $43,520 during the 2012-2013 academic year. All teachers are entrepreneurs, 11% of its recent graduates started businesses, and 90% of the young entrepreneurs are still in business. The school’s graduate entrepreneurship program cost $58,884 during the 2012-2013 academic year, all of its faculty are entrepreneurs, 17% of its recent grads started a business, and 54% of them are still in business. (Source: Entrepreneur)

Number of Students that Start Businesses

Interestingly, a much higher percentage of recent graduates of schools ranked lower than Babson on the list of top 25 undergraduate schools for prospective entrepreneurs started businesses.

  • 41% of No. 2-ranked University of Houston’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship’s recent graduates
  • 50% of graduates of No. 3-ranked University of Southern California’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies
  • 67% at No. 5 ranked Baylor (Texas) University’s Baylor Entrepreneurship Program.

Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises was ranked the fourth best undergrad school for entrepreneurs. Oklahoma, Stanford, Washington University in St. Louis, Brigham Young, and Northeastern (Mass.) University rounded out the top 10. The 11th- through 25th-best schools are Missouri-Kansas City, Miami (Ohio), Temple (Pa.), Clarkson (N.Y.), Maryland, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Arizona, Dayton, Bradley (Ill.), Lehigh (Pa.), Texas Christian, St. Louis, De Paul (Ill.), and Baruch (New York).

Grad Students Who Start Businesses

Oddly, the percentage of recent graduates of the top graduate schools for prospective entrepreneurs who started businesses is substantially lower than the percentage of recent graduates of the top undergraduate schools who started a business.

Only 2% of the recent grads of No. 1-ranked University of Michigan’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies launched businesses. The figure was 7% for No. 3-ranked Harvard University’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, 5% for No. 4-ranked Rice (Texas) University’s Jones Graduate School Entrepreneurship Program, and 6% for No. 5-ranked University of Virginia’s Batten Institute.

The sixth- through 10th-ranked graduate schools for entrepreneurs are Stanford, Texas, Brigham Young, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Southern California. The 11th- through 25th-ranked schools are Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, Maryland, South Florida, Louisville, Temple, Missouri-Kansas City, Columbia (N.Y.), Oklahoma State, Utah, New York University, and George Washington (Washington, D.C.).

Best Business Schools Show No Surprises

U.S. News & World Report ranked the best graduate business schools in 2014. Harvard, Stanford, and Pennsylvania are ranked tied for first, Chicago is fourth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) fifth, Northwestern sixth, California-Berkeley seventh, Columbia eighth, Dartmouth ninth, and New York University 10th.

Nine of the 10 schools on this list are not ranked among the top 25 undergraduate colleges for entrepreneurs. Stanford, ranked seventh, is the exception. Five of the 10 cracked the top 25 graduate colleges for entrepreneurs – Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, and New York University.

Penn, MIT, Northwestern, Berkeley and Dartmouth are still excellent business schools for people who aspire to work for large corporations and want to develop business management skills, but it’s unclear why they’re not offering excellent programs for prospective entrepreneurs and people who want to develop the kind of entrepreneurial skills that can help them if they want to start their own businesses and/or if they want to help future employers launch new products, services, and businesses.

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