Sponsored Content | Brand Spotlight Partner What's This?

What Are the Top Schools for Entrepreneurship?

Photo by RDNE Stock project | Pexels

Choosing the right school for entrepreneurship can be a pivotal decision in a budding entrepreneur's journey. We've gathered insights from founders, CEOs, and other leading experts to share their experiences with various business and entrepreneurial programs. From Columbia University's entrepreneurial ecosystem to the dual-degree MBA/MA program at Johns Hopkins, explore the diverse perspectives and personal experiences of 17 professionals.

Columbia University

There isn't a single correct answer, but it does help to go to a school that makes it easy for students to engage in entrepreneurship and encourages them with better or easier access to resources that help them succeed. Columbia University is located in arguably the best city on the planet (New York) to network with entrepreneurs in various fields and has a very strong student population active in startups and entrepreneurship through organizations such as CORE and ADI.

Columbia organizes year-round programming to encourage entrepreneurship through competitions such as Startup Columbia, and innovative residential communities such as the Residential Incubator, where students not only get to live within a smaller community of students but also partake in organized discussions and activities with like-minded students and other university professors and employees. Columbia also has two very active sub-organizations, Columbia Engineering Entrepreneurship and Columbia Startup Lab, which serve as a resource for all members of the Columbia community.

I was also introduced to the Dorm Room Fund (DRF) through the entrepreneurship community at Columbia while working on an AI-healthcare project as a sophomore. Two years after graduating from college, DRF was instrumental in helping me kick off a successful fundraise for my current startup. One of our earliest engineering team members was also an upperclassman whom I met at one of these organized programs.

Mohnish Chakravarti, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Rails

University of Southern California

Entrepreneurship is one of those areas where the resources a school offers outside of the classroom are at least as important as what they offer in the classroom. Schools that have strong ties to the business community and can connect their students to business mentors, advisors, and investors give them a huge leg up in starting their own businesses.

The University of Southern California is a terrific example. USC is one of the top schools for entrepreneurship in the country, and a lot of that is because of resources like the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which connects students to business leaders and industry professionals. As someone who has mentored and advised a number of USC students in their startup ventures, I've seen what a massive difference these kinds of resources can make in a student's entrepreneurial success!

Lisa Tsou, Startup Funding Strategist and Advisor, The Winning Pitch

Concordia University

Even though I completed a finance degree, I would say my alma mater, Concordia University's John Molson School of Business, has one of the most progressive entrepreneurial programs in Canada. It has also fostered an engineering-focused entrepreneurial program, something desperately needed in our tech-focused world. During my time over 25 years ago, I only witnessed an environment where applying theory into practice was encouraged.

Ajay Pangarkar CTDP, FCPA, FCMA, Award Winning Author, Learning Metrics, and Performance Strategist

The Open University

Did you know that The Open University educates the largest number of CEOs and entrepreneurs compared to any other educational institution?

Once you hear it, it makes sense.

Flexible studies, no entry requirements or previous qualifications needed... it seems as though it's the exact profile of an entrepreneur!

My personal story of studying with the OU has been nothing short of exceptional. I started my first undergraduate (Bachelor's Degree) at the age of 16. I had finished school, not even received my GCSE results, and been accepted to start my apprenticeship (a separate course) with immediate effect.

So, 16-year-old me had started working, part-time studying via my apprenticeship, but I was now also studying for a degree with the OU!

Later, I began to rise through the ranks within my corporate jobs thanks to my continued studies and development, and succeeded much faster than most of my peers - and I was still able to study online, after work, and on my own time!

I later started my first company, which meant that by studying online in my free time, I was still able to achieve everything I wanted to both in the business world *and* education.

The OU has been phenomenal for my professional development, and I have since gone on to complete a postgraduate (Master's Degree) and am looking at my next course to study in the fall.

Aside from the OU, there are also various online short-form courses via Udemy, Reed Courses, and even short executive courses from largely reputable institutions such as Oxford University, Cambridge University, Harvard University, and more available, which removes various barriers to entry including accessibility and qualifications, which, as we know, many entrepreneurs struggle with.

It's safe to say, the OU is quickly becoming the school for entrepreneurs!

Catalina Valentino, Chief Exec & Co-Founder, ELIXR

The University of Arizona

I believe my time spent at the University of Arizona in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program was hands-down the best experience I had in college. The business school offers a year-long program for students to ideate and form start-ups from the ground up. My experience through the program taught me how to pitch my ideas, how to discover pain points, and provided valuable lessons through real-world building.

Now, the business idea that I crafted was a software business that I ended up not pursuing after I graduated in 2020, but there have been many success stories that came out of my class or classes before me. One that has stood out to me as of late has been WildJoy, an experience-based business that was formed on campus to showcase the amazing things happening in the state of Arizona.

With the skills and spirit that I picked up from the program, I am now working on my own businesses outside of my day job and hold the experience that I gained from the University of Arizona close to my heart. It was a time when I got to explore my ideas, pitch them to investors, and learn how to effectively communicate in a way that got people to believe in the businesses I work on.

Cameron Allen, Founder, Tech Sales, Investor

Mississippi State University

As an alumnus of Mississippi State University, I strongly recommend the Center for Entrepreneurship & Outreach at Mississippi State University in this regard. Many of my fellow graduates with successful entrepreneurial ventures currently serve the budding entrepreneurial needs in the form of angel investments. Furthermore, the center empowers creative and innovative minds to identify and capitalize on market opportunities through its extensive training programs and workshops.

Kavitha Gurrala, Assistant Professor-Operations and Marketing, Woxsen University, India

San Diego State University

The best school for entrepreneurship can vary based on individual needs, but my general recommendation is San Diego State University, particularly through its Lavin Entrepreneur Program. This program offers a unique blend of practical experience and academics, providing students with the tools to start and scale their ventures effectively. Having interacted with several alumni and being an alumnus myself, I can vouch for the hands-on approach and the valuable networking opportunities offered by the university.

Jack Perkins, Founder and CEO, CFO Hub

Harvard Business School Online

Choosing the right school for entrepreneurship is vital, and Harvard Business School Online (HBS) stands out for those focused on innovation. The program emphasizes practical applications of business theory, equipping students with the tools to start, manage, and scale ventures effectively.

My specialization in entrepreneurship and innovation at HBS taught me crucial skills such as negotiation strategies, entrepreneurial essentials, and design thinking—skills that I immediately integrated into my daily practice. More importantly, the curriculum challenges students to think critically about today's business landscape, promoting innovative thinking through a wide range of case studies. The HBS interactive platform also cultivates a community of like-minded individuals, enhancing the learning experience and broadening professional networks.

HBS was transformative for me, deepening my understanding of business dynamics and fostering my ability to identify and implement business opportunities. These lessons have been fundamental to my role as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, shaping my approach to mentoring and investing in startups.

For those eager to transform innovative ideas into thriving businesses, Harvard Business School Online provides a robust foundation and a supportive community of aspiring entrepreneurs around the globe.

Leon Eisen, Venture partner, NetworkVC

Arizona State University

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is consistently ranked as one of the top schools for entrepreneurship in the United States. This top ranking is due to its comprehensive curriculum, renowned faculty, and strong network of alumni who have successfully launched their own businesses.

As a graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business, I can attest to the school's dedication to fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and providing students with the necessary tools to succeed in their ventures. Through courses such as Entrepreneurial Finance and Management, I gained a deep understanding of the financial and operational aspects of starting a business.

The school also offers various resources, including mentorship programs and networking events, which allowed me to connect with successful entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. I credit my success as a business owner to the education and support I received at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Ryan Nelson, Founder, RentalRealEstate

Baruch College

If you're thinking about the best school for entrepreneurship, it really depends on what you're looking for. I went to Baruch College in New York City, and it was awesome for a couple of reasons. First off, being in NYC is a game-changer because you're right in the thick of so many startups and tons of people hustling with their own projects. It's all about networking. The professors at Baruch made a huge difference, too. A lot of them aren't just academics; they're out there in the business world, running their own gigs or working at enterprise companies. So, the topics they teach aren't just from the textbook; it's real, practical knowledge they're sharing straight from the front lines.

Chase Williams, Managing Partner, Market My Market

University of San Francisco

One of the top schools for entrepreneurship in California is the University of San Francisco School of Management. I attended this institution for my MBA from 2004 to 2006, and it was a transformative experience that greatly influenced my career. The program excelled in blending theoretical business models with practical, real-world applications, which is crucial for any budding entrepreneur.

The faculty at USF are experienced professionals who bring a wealth of knowledge and insights from various industries. Their guidance was invaluable, particularly in areas like venture financing and startup dynamics. The opportunity to learn from such seasoned experts provided a solid foundation in understanding what it takes to launch and manage a successful business.

During my time at USF, I was able to start developing the network that would later support the launch and growth of Parachute. This network, combined with the rigorous business training I received, was instrumental in my entrepreneurial journey. The practical skills and knowledge acquired at USF have been directly applied to my role at Parachute, helping to shape the company's strategy and operations effectively.

Elmo Taddeo, CEO, Parachute

University of Rochester

Creating the right environment is crucial for promoting entrepreneurial growth and fostering innovation. This approach should be adopted in educational institutions at all levels. Reflecting on my time at the University of Rochester, I found the exposure to multiple startup competitions, such as the Hult Prize, to be exceptionally influential. Such experiences can ignite a passion for innovation and shape future entrepreneurs.

Himanshu Bhatia, CEO and Founder, Ricovr Healthcare

University of California, Los Angeles

As a graduate of the undergrad and MBA programs and currently working in venture capital, I wholeheartedly endorse UCLA as an outstanding environment to develop entrepreneurship. The school has outstanding faculty, numerous chances to gain practical experience, and a central position as a growing tech hub to provide unparalleled experiences for students.

The Business Creation Option (BCO), part of the Anderson curriculum, is a standout feature where students work in teams to launch a startup, navigating the venture from ideation to commercialization with direct mentorship from faculty and seasoned entrepreneurs. This program encapsulates the hands-on, experiential learning approach that is critical for any aspiring entrepreneur, offering a practical alternative to the traditional MBA thesis.

The Anderson Venture Accelerator—a 10,000-square-foot incubator space—provides students not just with a physical location to work on their startups but also with invaluable resources, including mentorship from Anderson alumni and access to Los Angeles' vibrant investment community. Within this ecosystem, students can prototype, pitch, and pivot their ventures with direct feedback from experts, an opportunity that is hard to find in other academic settings. This direct link to the Silicon Beach area, home to over 500 tech startups, capital firms, and entrepreneurial hubs, positions Anderson students at a strategic vantage point, allowing them to dive deep into one of the most influential tech landscapes in the world.

UCLA alumni have gone on to start numerous unicorn companies and become leaders at high-growth startups. The school's tailored approach to entrepreneurship, backed by a strong, supportive network, makes UCLA Anderson an unmatched choice for emerging entrepreneurs aiming to make a significant impact.

Jonathan Lee, VP Operations, Adamant

George Mason University

When it comes to entrepreneurship, I highly recommend George Mason University. It's located just outside of D.C., which is a huge plus. I graduated from there in 2016 with a business management degree, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

The entrepreneurship electives were fantastic. They gave me the chance to practice pitching and presenting ideas on a regular basis, which was invaluable. Being so close to D.C. meant we had opportunities to collaborate with big names like Y Combinator. But the real game-changer for me was the innovation lab incubator. Once my business plan was accepted, I got to work alongside other driven entrepreneurs, bouncing ideas off each other and using incredible resources like the maker space with 3D printers and other tools that helped with prototyping. By the time I graduated, I felt more confident to pursue my own startup ideas. I had a solid grasp of creating business plans, evaluating ideas, and delivering presentations that really made an impact. Its prime location near Washington, D.C., and the wealth of opportunities that come with it make GMU an ideal choice for anyone wanting more support and guidance on their startup journey.

Ben Bozzay, Founder & Senior Fullstack Developer, Tech Lockdown

Cornell University

As a Cornell alum, I can safely say that the university is one of the premier hubs for entrepreneurship nationwide. With immersive programming, deep integration with Cornell Tech in NYC, and initiatives like Entrepreneurship at Cornell, the university combines all of its reach and resources into a single ecosystem supporting business formation and value creation at scale. Many students launch startups while on campus, supported by a massive group of engaged alumni who coach, mentor, and have built funding mechanisms like Red Bear Ventures or Triphammer Ventures to invest in Cornell-founded startups. All of the above contribute to a culture of business building, inspiring students like me with an idea to make it real, make it matter, and turn it into a winning venture. I'll always be grateful that my founder journey began at Cornell.

Jamey Edwards, President & Chief Strategy Officer, Cairns Health

St. John Fisher University

Entrepreneurship is an area of study that has become increasingly popular at many universities. At St. John Fisher University in Rochester, NY, we focus not just on entrepreneurship for students interested in launching their own businesses but also on developing entrepreneurial thinking as a required core competency that is essential for any organization, regardless of size and where it is in its lifecycle.

St. John Fisher University students benefit from personal mentoring offered by our faculty and our entrepreneur-in-residence, and from our deep connectivity with the entrepreneurial ecosystem located throughout the Rochester metropolitan area. Through coursework and a number of co-curricular activities and events, students have opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship, hone their skills, develop business pitches, participate in hackathons, compete in entrepreneurial competitions, attend workshops on topics like design thinking, and more. We will soon launch a new, robust, interdisciplinary minor in entrepreneurship, which will be open to students in any major.

Daniel Connolly, Dean, School of Business, St. John Fisher University

Johns Hopkins University

The dual-degree MBA/MA in Design Leadership program at Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art is a phenomenal program for aspiring entrepreneurs. This program gave me a great depth and latitude of praxis to explore my interests in designing innovative healthcare technology as well as understanding the world of venture capital.

I launched my first entrepreneurial endeavor, A-Level Capital, a student-led venture capital fund powered by Johns Hopkins students and alumni, while I was attending the program. My career in venture capital only got started with the help of my incredible classmates, subject-matter expert professors, and the vibrant communities of alumni from the two institutions. Combining a business education with a design degree was the ultimate combination to learn in order to be a successful entrepreneur and investor. Plus, Johns Hopkins' mission of "business with humanity in mind" was an attribute that greatly aligned with my values, meaning I received an incredible business school education that prioritized people, the planet, and financial success.

Elizabeth Galbut, Managing Partner, SoGal Ventures