Not every aspiring entrepreneur can be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. For every startup founder who strikes it big after dropping out of college, hundreds more build their businesses with the help of the resources, networking, and expert support that top business colleges provide.
But not all business schools are created equal for the would-be entrepreneur. That’s why PitchBook — a database for mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital — releases an annual list of best MBA programs for producing founders in the venture landscape.
This year’s top three in PitchBook’s ranking is unchanged from 2020. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 respectively for both the overall MBA programs and MBA programs for female founders. Combined, founders at these schools raised $191.5 billion in first-round venture capital over the last 15 years. The IE Business School, located in Madrid, made an appearance for the first time as one of the most entrepreneurial universities in Europe, according to PitchBook. (Keep reading for more about PitchBook’s methodology later in the story.)
GOOD B-SCHOOLS ARE GOOD FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Not surprisingly, the top-ranked MBA programs in the world are good at making founders. PitchBook’s top five list of MBA programs for founders looks a lot like Poets&Quants’ top five in our latest ranking. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business all scored in the top five on both rankings.
Harvard Business School – No. 4 in P&Q and No. 1 in PitchBook – had 1,857 founders with 1,700 companies and raised about $90.4 billion in venture capital. Harvard’s top startups for capital investment were Grab ($10.1 billion), Gojek ($6.7 billion), and Coupang ($4 billion.)
A little more surprising, perhaps, is that P&Q’s No. 1 MBA for entrepreneurship for the last three years – Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis – didn’t break PitchBook’s list. While PitchBook’s ranking looks at alumni founders over the past 15 years, P&Q’s ranking looks back only a few years.
Two of the top companies from top schools were also behind two of the largest IPOs in the past year, PitchBook noted. Those include DoorDash (Stanford) and Coupang (Harvard). See the top five companies for venture capital in the chart below.
PitchBook’s annual ranking is based on the number of founders in a school’s alumni population over the previous 15 years. Its ranking also tracks universities around the world by how much first-round investment their founders have earned over that time period.
“The data on entrepreneurs, companies and capital raised come from the PitchBook platform. Data on founders' educational background is collected from publicly available and primary sources,” PitchBook reported in a release on its rankings. “Since companies can have more than one founder, and founders could have attended multiple schools, it is possible for the same company to count toward multiple universities.”
See PitchBook's full ranking of MBA programs in the chart below, then go to the next page to see how the schools fared for female founders.