Though Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg make it seem fashionable to drop out of college and start a business from scratch, it’s important not to overlook the value of a college degree. The right education can go a long way in helping you achieve your entrepreneurial dreams, especially if you attend an institution with a proven track record of building business masterminds.
The following colleges and universities offer fantastic entrepreneurship programs that will help and encourage you to launch a business. You can also check out this list of business resources for young entrepreneurs!
University of Michigan
Founded in 2008, the University of Michigan’s Center For Entrepreneurship (CFE) is a magnet for talent and innovation from all industries. Its mission is to inspire and transform undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and researchers alike into entrepreneurial thinkers and doers, which is accomplished through a variety of classes and programs.
Here are some highlights of the CFE’s offerings:
- Entrepreneurship Minor
- 15 centers and programs
- Over 30 entrepreneurial student-run organizations
- Over 68 classes
- Pitch competitions
- Two high-impact accelerator programs
- A number of student fellowships
The university also has strong internal and external ecosystems, so entrepreneurs can become part of the larger community and take advantage of important connections with entrepreneurial staples like Y Combinator. The Princeton Review ranked the University of Michigan’s program number 1 in the country.
In addition to events like Entrepalooza, the Michigan Business Challenge, and Dare to Dream, Michigan’s Ross School of Business has several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion. For women, Ross has a BBA chapter “to educate and create awareness of business issues pertaining to women and to create a sense of community…” The school also has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion whose sole focus is promoting empowerment for minority communities in business.
As one of the top schools in the nation, it’s no surprise that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has incredible entrepreneurship and business programs. The hub for this activity is the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, whose mission is “to advance knowledge and educate students in innovation-driven entrepreneurship in a manner that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.”
Their mission is accomplished through a mix of the following:
- Academics (classes, MBA E&I track)
- Programs (StartMIT, MIT Delta v, NYC Startup Studio, student clubs)
- Events (Silicon Valley Study Tour, speaker series, awards)
- Infrastructure (entrepreneurs in residence, research, professional advisors network)
- Outreach (boot camps, cross-campus partnerships)
The most recent available data estimates the institute’s alumni have launched 30,200 active companies, employing around 4.6 million people, and generating nearly $2 trillion in annual revenues. The institute is extremely supportive of female entrepreneurs, consistently shining a light on the obstacles women in business face and their ultimate successes.
Berkeley’s world-renowned Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology was originally opened in 2005 by Ikhlaq Sidhu to serve Engineering undergraduates. “Since 2005, SCET has created the foundation of Berkeley’s entrepreneurship ecosystem including SkyDeck, the Fung Institute, the Engineering Leadership Professional Program, Global Venture Lab, and an extensive ecosystem of Silicon Valley and Global partners,” according to its website.
Moreover, the center has become famous for developing the Berkeley Method, an institutionally recognized method of teaching technology entrepreneurship through inductive learning and journey-based instruction.
Berkeley’s strength is tech entrepreneurship — bolstered by a network of 500 investors and industry partners, as well as two specialized programs: the Engineering Leadership Professional Program and the Silicon Valley Innovation Leadership Week.
However, Berkeley-Haas, the school’s entrepreneurship program, has also received recognition as a generally strong program for young entrepreneurs. Businessweek ranked Berkeley-Haus fourth in entrepreneurship and US News rated it second in Social Entrepreneurship.
University of Texas at Austin
The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal was founded in 2001 by Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher. His vision was to provide resources for those with entrepreneurial spirit and encourage innovation. The center’s resources are broken into four key areas:
- Education through the Entrepreneurship Minor
- Work with startups by taking the Startup Accelerator Course
- Build your idea by finding mentorship, networking, conducting market research, and more
- Get funded by winning startup competitions like DisrupTexas and Pitch Texas, or by earning a fellowship/grant
Actually, the center is just one of many large-scale resources available at the University of Texas at Austin. The school also has an Office of Inclusion, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship which holds programs specifically for women in business, like the Women’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development, an incubator program beginning this year.
Not only does New York University have one of the best business schools in the country, the Stern School of Business, but it also boasts a plethora of resources to help students of all backgrounds cultivate their entrepreneurial interests.
The main resource for this is NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute which leads “a university-wide initiative to accelerate the pace of technology commercialization and the launch of successful startups founded by NYU’s 60,000 students, faculty, and researchers.” The Institute can be traced back to the 2010 Innovation Venture Fund.
The fund, which provides seed capital to promising student-run startups, still exists today but is supplemented by numerous other resources, such as the following:
- Leslie eLab, a space connecting entrepreneurs through collaboration and lecture series
- Tandon School of Engineering’s Future Labs, which help tech-related businesses
- MakerSpace, a collaborative workshop
- Many more physical and digital resources
NYU also hosts an annual $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge, which is one of the largest and most innovative competitions and startup accelerators in the world. One recent recipient of the Innovation Venture Fund is Alexandra Diracles, a 2014 graduate whose company, Viacode, engages middle and high school students with computer science by pairing it with creative outlets they already use.
One of the oldest programs on this list, Stanford University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES) was founded in 1996 in order to “address the need for greater understanding of issues facing entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial community.”
CES supports students interested in entrepreneurship through ground-breaking research, courses on entrepreneurship, innovation, and early-stage investing, as well as experimental courses and programs like the Stanford Venture Studio and Startup Garage.
The center is a part of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, which boasts a large number of extremely impressive alumni. For example, 2008 graduate Celina Johnson is the COO of Man Crates, a successful gift company for men; and 2003 graduate Jenny Eu founded Three Trees Foods, whose products are now sold in stores across the two coasts.
Michigan State University
Entrepreneurship is ingrained in the curriculum of Michigan State University’s colleges. More than just courses and specialized academic programs, the university offers copious opportunities for students to compete for start-up funding and learn the ropes of launching a business through its well-respected entrepreneurship programs.
In 2012, the university launched its Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which has transformed MSU into one of the nation’s best entrepreneurial institutes. The Institute offers programs like the Burgess New Venture Challenge, Startup Weekend, and Innovate State, which gives students a taste of the steps to creating a company.
Students can also benefit from the school’s entrepreneurial community through physical spaces like the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab, as well as an expansive network of alumni and university partners. To support women in entrepreneurship, MSU has some events exclusive to female entrepreneurs, such as the Women In Entrepreneurship WE Pitch Competition. The school also hosts get-togethers and meetings for female entrepreneurs.
Another option for students with entrepreneurial spirit, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has an entire department dedicated to management and entrepreneurship through which undergraduates can specialize in “Management,” “Entrepreneurship and Corporation Innovation,” or “International Business.”
Outside of its academic resources, the Kelley school has a physical space where students can gain tangible experience in building a business. The Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship offers a number of co-curricular events, services, and events through its Entrepreneurial Innovation Ecosystem. Some examples include the Shoemaker Innovation Center, which offers counseling and mentorship, The Mill, an incubator space, and the Clapp Idea Competition, in which students can win $20,000 to finance their projects.
One of the big selling points for Indiana University’s program is its strong focus on women in entrepreneurship, which is evident through unique resources like the Center for Excellence for Women in Technology. According to the website, the center is “the nation’s first and only large-scale interdisciplinary, university-based initiative to encourage and promote the participation, empowerment, and achievement of women students, faculty, staff, and alumnae in technology.”
Babson College launched entrepreneurship as an academic focus nearly 50 years ago, and has since grown the program to include over 80 different entrepreneurship courses. “Babson’s innovation was to break entrepreneurship education out of its silo and integrate it across the curriculum so our students can learn to apply their entrepreneurial skills from a foundation of strong functional business knowledge,” reads the website.
Now, one of the best program’s in the country, Babson offers fantastic resources like the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, where students of all entrepreneurial interests can find support. The center hosts a slew of signature events, including the Rocket Pitch challenge, the intensive 10-week Summer Venture Program, and the Butler Launch Pad, which provides workshops, office hours with experts, seed funding, and a free workspace.
Babson has produced countless successful alumni like Wanderu co-founder and CEO Polina Raygorodskaya and Diana Yuan, the co-founder and Vice President of Talent at indico.
Harvard’s Business School has more to offer than just the name. The alumni list is filled with success stories ranging from former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson to former President George W. Bush to the first female CEO of Time, Inc., Ann S. Moore.
One of the reasons the Harvard Business School produces such trailblazing entrepreneurs is because of its fantastic resources, namely the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship whose goal is to help students “navigate the multitude of programs and resources available to students and alumni in the HBS and Harvard Ecosystem and in locations around the globe.”
Harvard has always valued entrepreneurship among its students, but only cemented a hub for entrepreneurship in 2003 when venture capitalist Arthur Rock donated $25 million to the school.
The center hosts programs like the New Venture Competition , the Rock Accelerator, and the Harvard Innovation Lab. Students can also benefit from consultations with the school’s entrepreneurs in residence and the variety of entrepreneurship-related academic courses.
Another notable feature of Harvard’s program is that it separates programs into different entrepreneurial paths: founder, joiner, and investor. As a result, you can take very tailored classes and easily transition post-graduation.