Let’s cut to the chase. No ranking of something so dynamic and evolving as a university is perfect. No matter the ranking or approach, flaws can be poked into the fabric of any ranking. And to be clear, rankings should serve as a starting point and one data point of many in searching for a university or degree program. That said, we’ve spent the past few years piecing together what we believe to be the most relevant methodology for a ranking focusing on entrepreneurship from the view and interests of our readership.
These days business schools and entrepreneurship programs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and philosophies. Some offer full-on master’s degrees in entrepreneurship. Others offer tracks or certifications in entrepreneurship. And others stick with a general management MBA approach but still load up the curriculum with entrepreneurship electives — and in some cases — the core curriculum may focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Many schools focus on helping their students launch businesses while earning their MBA. They might offer startup competition funding, fellowships to work on startups when their classmates are in high-earning summer internships at consulting firms, or mentorships with alumni or local residents that have become serial entrepreneurs. Other programs focus on the intrapreneur. Or people that want a more traditional job path in a large or small company but want to focus on innovation and entrepreneurship within the company.
MEASURING WHAT COUNTS IN A SCHOOL’S COMMITMENT TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP & INNOVATION
We set out to measure those qualities — and others — through the Best MBA Programs for Entrepreneurship, our ranking in partnership with Inc magazine. The ranking was created by the following categories:
- Percentage of MBA students launching businesses within three months of graduation between 2017 and 2019 (20%)
- Percentage of MBA elective courses with 100% of the curriculum focused on entrepreneurship or innovation (20%)
- The ratio of MBA students to accelerator space available to MBA students (10%)
- The ratio of MBA students to entrepreneurs-in-residence available to MBA students (10%)
- Total startup award money available to MBAs (10%)
- Percentage of MBA students in the school’s main student-run entrepreneurship club (10%)
- Percentage of full-time MBA faculty teaching an entrepreneurship or innovation course (5%)
- Percentage of MBA students taking venture capital or private equity roles within three months of graduation between 2017 and 2019 (5%)
- Percentage of core MBA courses with at least 50% of the curriculum focused on entrepreneurship or innovation (5%)
- Percentage of MBA student-run clubs focused on entrepreneurship or innovation (5%)
Percentages and ratios were used instead of raw numbers to account for the size of each program. Once we had a methodology ready, we opened both the survey sent to schools and methodology to comments and suggestions early last spring. After reviewing all comments and suggestions made by entrepreneurship directors and deans at participating schools, we send back follow-up questions and numerous phone conversations to nail-down a set methodology and school survey.
In April, the surveys were sent to the schools. Of the 50 schools participating, 22 did not submit surveys and declined to participate in the ranking. For those schools, we gathered publicly available data from school websites and marketing materials. Once the data was gathered, we sent it back to the schools to corroborate the metrics. In a few cases, some schools declined to verify the data on the basis that they had not previously collected some of the information we asked them to certify.
FULL TRANSPARENCY: ALL DATA AND METHODOLOGY IS AVAILABLE
Other publications with entrepreneurship rankings focusing on business schools include U.S. News, The Princeton Review, and The Financial Times. All have their flaws. The U.S. News ranking, similar to their undergraduate business school rankings, is not much more than a popularity contest. Deans and senior faculty are asked to rate programs on a one-to-five scale. The Princeton Review uses a convoluted and bogged-down methodology that considers raw numbers instead of accounting for program size, which greatly favors larger schools with more graduates. And The Financial Times isn’t much more than an extension of the alumni survey FT uses for its actual MBA rankings.
To be sure, no ranking is perfect. And the full methodology and data used to compile the rankings should be considered by readers. That’s why, along with the ranking and reporting that goes with it, we also publish our exact methodology and all data collected to calculate the rankings. So poke through the articles and data and learn about all 50 of these fantastic programs doing innovative work in the area of entrepreneurship education.