Editor's note: For a complete listing of the collegiate entrepreneurial program rankings, visit Top 100 Entrepreneurial Colleges . For detailed listings, sorts and comparisons, plus a complete analysis of more than 75 criteria at 500 collegiate entrepreneurship programs nationwide, go to www.entrepoint.com .
More than 80 years after the first entrepreneurship education program began at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and a decade or so since such programs mushroomed into the thousands, it's clear that entrepreneurship can be taught. But are those who study it more likely to become entrepreneurs? And will they be more successful than other business students?
As part of Entrepreneur's 2005 rankings of the nation's university entrepreneurship programs, we posed those questions to directors and professors at top-level entrepreneurship education centers across the country. Alumni entrepreneurs of some programs were also asked whether their education had made a difference. The answers across the board were overwhelmingly positive.
That may come as a relief to entrepreneurial-minded students, but it still leaves one question unanswered: Where should they go to get that entrepreneurship education? Entrepreneur's annual rankings, now in their third year, help provide the answer.
This year saw some additions to the ranking's variables, according to David Newton, professor of entrepreneurial finance at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and founder and president of TechKnowledge Point Corp., the new-venture research firm that compiles and analyzes the data for the rankings. Programs with multiple entrepreneurship centers for microenterprises, women-owned firms, technology transfer or other specialties were allowed to provide separate descriptions. Adjunct professors--typically experienced entrepreneurs from outside academia--were counted as faculty. New course titles were added as entrepreneurship education offerings expanded. And Newton began distinguishing between business plan competitions that offer modest cash prizes and those that give winners access to financiers with the possibility of significant funding.
In the rankings, the University of South Carolina, Columbia, moved up from the second quartile of national comprehensive programs to the top quartile, while the University of California, Berkeley, slipped from the first to the third quartile. Regional comprehensive programs saw more changes as four formerly top-ranked programs--Ball State University; California State University, Fresno; Iowa State University; and Marquette University--fell to the second quartile. Moving into the top quartile were Brigham Young University, North Carolina State University, University of Colorado at Denver and University of Illinois at Chicago.
Some schools moved up in the rankings thanks to higher scores boosted by one-time events such as a win in a national business plan competition. Others implemented long-term additions to their programs with new classes, faculty or creative initiatives such as outreach programs to attract new students. According to Newton, the University of South Carolina, Columbia, for example, "has really been on the move the past several years in terms of expanding, upgrading and doing some innovative things in their entrepreneurship program."