BABSON CONTINUES 25-YEAR STREAK AS TOP ENTREPRENEURSHIP SCHOOL
There’s at least one “outlier” school that definitely belongs there: Babson College’s Olin School, which sits atop the entrepreneurship rankings for the 25th year in a row. That’s right — even though Babson was ranked only 83rd overall, it marks a quarter-century of fending off the advances of what Dean-elect Keith Rollag calls “well-endowed” challengers like Harvard and Stanford.
“It’s certainly an honor to be No. 1 and also to have a 25-year streak,” says Rollag, who will officially take over as dean at the Olin School in July. Especially when our competition is MIT, Stanford, and Harvard who perennially are battling for No. 2, you can imagine that very year we get a little nervous.”
What puts Babson over the top? Part of it is the “first-in-the-door advantage” Babson enjoys as one of the first schools in the country to focus on entrepreneurship in the 1970s, “when it was something that few people did.” Babson launched its eponymous research conference in 1981, and the Symposium for Entrepreneurship Education in 1984 — “back when it wasn’t even really a discipline.” Nearly 5,000 educators have been through the latter program, Rollag says, helping to further Babson’s mission to promote entrepreneurship education globally.
Even more than all that, Rollag says, entrepreneurship is part of the school’s DNA.
“Not only do we teach entrepreneurship, but it’s really Entrepreneurial Thought and Action, which is actually a trademarked term we have,” Rollag says. “Basically, it’s learning quickly through acting that we’ve built into our entire curriculum, both undergraduate and graduate.”
EVOLUTION ALONG WITH THE CHANGING MARKET
How will Babson stay atop the U.S. News Entrepreneurship ranking for a 26th year? This fall the college will open a new campus in Miami, Florida, in an effort to strengthen the school’s connections with Latin America. In 2019, Babson will celebrate its centennial. And in the meantime, the school will continue to “reimagine” its MBA, exploring ways to “make it more entrepreneurial, more relevant, more adaptable for the future. As the market for graduate education is evolving, we’ll make sure that our MBA is evolving with it.” That will include the school’s continued efforts to strengthen its focus on family entrepreneurship, including hiring more faculty and expanding into the Babson Institute For Family Entrepreneurship.
“So far we’ve been blessed with the No. 1 in Entrepreneurship,” Rollag tells Poets&Quants. “Because the ranking is a peer ranking, a lot of it is reflected in the fact that we’re known for training entrepreneurship educators and being at the center of a lot of the scholarship that happens with entrepreneurship as well.”
Babson and South Carolina Moore are the two “outliers” atop one of the specialization rankings, but other low-ranked schools make appearances, too. The Krannert School of Management at Purdue University — No. 53 overall — was No. 6 in Production/Operations and No. 11 in Supply Chain/Logistics. The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management (No. 69 overall) managed to land at No. 5 in Information Systems. Meanwhile, two unranked California schools made their mark, as well: the University of San Francisco made several appearances, in Finance (No. 19), Entrepreneurship (No. 14), Management (No. 17), and Marketing (No. 20); and Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business landed No. 10 in Information Systems and No. 23 in Finance.
FOR TEXAS McCOMBS, 12 STRAIGHT YEARS AS THE TOP ACCOUNTING SCHOOL
After Babson and Michigan State’s Broad College, which took No. 1 in Supply Chain/Logistics for the sixth straight year, the lowest-ranked school to earn a No. 1 in a specialization was the University of Texas-Austin’s McCombs School, the No, 17 overall school that once again was named No. 1 in Accounting. That makes 12 years in a row, notes Stephen Smith, senior director of the McCombs Master of Professional Accounting program and a lecturer in the school’s Accounting Department — long-term success that he says has come about because “success breeding success.”
“We have had great people come before us to build the program, great students,” Smith tells Poets&Quants. “And we don’t take that for granted — we continue trying to work hard and do what a top program should do.”
The biggest reason for the school’s sustained success, Smith says, is the “we get to pick from incredibly talented students. We’re lucky in that we get tremendous kids that want to come to school here, and we get to pick from the best of the best. When you slice our student population, it isn’t 25% strong, 50% OK, and 25% bad — when you slice it, its a very high percentage that are strong students, and that’s recognized by employers and by our faculty. And it makes the class better.”
A NATIONAL FOOTPRINT FOR THIS TEXAS SCHOOL
Smith says there are a few main reasons Texas-Austin stays atop the Accounting pile. First is the “terrific environment” at the McCombs School. A research institution, Texas-Austin is “world-renowned for that research, especially on the accounting side. That means we stay current and up-to-date, and we push the envelope. And we have teachers that are able to translate that to the classroom. You hear a lot about, ‘That person is a great researcher, but they are terrible in the classroom.’ That is not the case for our accounting faculty.”
Another reason for the school’s success: McCombs’ national footprint with employers. “We have long-term, firm relationships with a lot of employers. Our students have many options to start their career, whether it’s industry, public accounting, financial services, consulting. And this also brings in a lot of students, because anything they want to do, we have an employer that wants resumes.”
Lastly, Smith says, it comes down to the individual attention that accounting students get. The McCombs School gives accounting students access to specialized academic and career advisers, and “that helps enhance the experience for the students while they’re here and gets them started on the right foot.”
See how your favorite MBA programs ranked in Marketing, Finance, Management, and seven other specializations on the next two pages.