Ross Tops Ranking In Entrepreneurship

by John A. Byrne on

Michigan's Ross School of Business is ranked 13th among the best business schools in the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

Michigan’s Ross School of Business

If you want to start up your own company and go to a business school to do it, where should you go?

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in the heart of Silicon Valley?

MIT Sloan where MBA students and engineers regularly mingle?

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business which also is an integral part of the technology eco-system just outside San Francisco?

If your answer is either MIT or UC-Berkeley, you should know that neither school makes the latest Top 25 ranking of the best graduate programs in entrepreneurship published yesterday (Sept. 19) by Princeton Review and Entrepreneurship magazine. And if you picked Stanford, you should know that there are five schools on the 2013 list that this ranking contends is better–which should give any reasonable applicant pause.

In any case, this year’s winner–the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business–nudged aside perennial No. 1 Babson College, which finished in second place among graduate programs (Babson did hold on to its No. 1 status for undergraduate programs). Ross and Babson were followed by No. 3 Harvard, No. 4 Rice University, and No. 5 University of Virginia’s Darden School.

STANFORD AND HARVARD ON THE LIST FOR THE FIRST TIME

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all this year was the presence of both Harvard Business School and Stanford. In previous years, these two schools–generally acknowledged to be the best two MBA experiences in the world–failed to make the list. That’s because they refused to cooperate with the ranking, believing that it lacked any real credibility. This is also why UC-Berkeley, MIT, Wharton, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School are among the powerhouse MBA schools not on the list this year.

Ostensibly, HBS and Stanford had a change of heart. With more attention than ever now being devoted to MBA entrepreneurship, these two prestige schools felt it was a disadvantage not to be on the list, regardless of the fact that Harvard and Stanford didn’t kill it.

The results come from a Princeton Review survey of schools from April through June of this year. Without describing the methodology in any detail, the creators of this ranking say that more than 30 data points were analyzed to tally the final list of top ranking programs and schools. No response rates to the survey are provided, either. The “black box” nature of the methodology is why many schools refuse to fill out the survey–and therefore are not included in the ranking.

The survey asked school administrators 60 questions covering: their schools’ levels of commitment to entrepreneurship inside and outside the classroom, the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, and the number and reach of their mentorship programs. The education services company also asked schools about their scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects, and their support for school-sponsored business plan competitions. It’s not clear how much weight is placed on any one of these measures in the methodology.

SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN U.S. NEWS & PRINCETON REVIEW’S RANKINGS

In contrast, the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best MBA programs for entrepreneurs doesn’t not require cooperation from the ranked schools. The U.S. News ranking is solely based on its annual survey of deans and MBA directors who are simply asked their opinion of the best programs. That more open list contrasts sharply with the Princeton Review/Entrepreneurship ranking. The Top Ten includes four schools not even on yesterday’s Top 25 list: MIT, Wharton, Berkeley, and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business (see table on following pages). The U.S. News ranking system also contains significant flaws that has attracted such critics as Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker to attack the methodology.

Though this annual list has fairly significant credibility issues, the business schools can’t resist issuing news releases trumpeting their inclusion on it and prominently mentioning the ranking on their websites. Given this year’s emergence of Michigan as the outright winner for the first time, the school was understandably the first out of the gate with a statement on it.

“We have created a culture at Ross where entrepreneurship is a major focus of our curriculum and a core value,” said Ross Dean Alison Davis-Blake in the statement. “As more and more students look to entrepreneurship as a way to make a positive difference in the world, we are proud to be the leader in entrepreneurial education and will continue to innovate in the field.”

“This ranking is a badge of honor and a resounding endorsement of our unique and effective methodology,” added Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “As the nation’s top program for graduate entrepreneurship, we set the bar for entrepreneurial education across the U.S. and complement the University’s flourishing entrepreneurial community. We do it through a matrix of multidisciplinary coursework, action-based learning, staff and faculty seminars, and alumni networking.”

(See following pages for ranking results over the past five years)

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  • Michael

    After seeing firsthand the wide array of offerings from Michigan Ross’ Zell Lurie Institute, I can definitely see why they are ranked #1. The entrepreneurship program there is an absolute beast.

  • Yakov

    Interesting article on entrepreneurship and showing methodology differences between Princeton Review and U.S. News. Though I am somewhat concerned of Princeton Review’s less than transparent methodology. Financial Times explains its methodology in details.

    Ross does a good job with its Lurie institute, action based learning, faculty and funds to guide aspiring student entrepreneurs. It would be telling to see some long range data of alumni on entrepreneurship track. Well done. Ditto to Darden and its good performance in entrepreneurship.

  • JohnAByrne

    Betsy,

    Totally agree. Michigan is doing a great job in this area. Thanks for making a very valid and important point.

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