The World’s Best MBA Programs For Entrepreneurship In 2023

Washington University’s Olin Business School has ranked first for the fourth time in the Poets&Quants entrepreneurship ranking of full-time MBA programs. Washington University in St. Louis photo

BEYOND THE OLIN B-SCHOOL WALLS

One of the things that makes the MBA at WashU—and other schools on this list—so special is the interdisciplinary aspects and opportunities presented in congruence with the university and community. Not many know that better than II Luscri, the managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship and vice provost for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at WashU.

“Some B-schools feel very separate from their University—philosophically and geographically,” Luscri says. “Olin is located right on the main campus and there is an intentional approach between the leadership of Olin and the leadership of the university-wide Skandalaris Center to make sure collaborations and connections can not only happen but also thrive. Olin students can and do take advantage of the resources in WashU’s world-class schools and often find themselves on teams or in classes with students from medicine, law, engineering, etc. This doesn’t happen everywhere and really enhances our students’ startups and ideas.”

That interdisciplinary focus has always been key to WashU’s program. And now it’s something the university is doubling down on. “We are trying to bring more interactions and connecting opportunities to our community earlier in the academic experience, including a strong partnership with the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Association (MBA student club),” Luscri says. “Their recent event this year led to some new partnerships and teams forming around early-stage ideas that we are sure will pay dividends.”

Luscri says his department also revamped the WashU Venture Network to be an asynchronous program, which has helped increase the university’s startups to investors within and outside the WashU community. “We also have a developed program now for students to engage in this process to help with due diligence and get the real, hands-on experience they want to help prepare them for careers in this space,” Luscrii adds.

Above all, like Villhard, Luscri says entrepreneurial interest among MBAs continues to surge. “I’ve never seen this much interest from our MBA students,” Luscri says. “They have been reaching out before they even officially start to share ideas and ask for connections and support. The exciting part is that there is an increase in those who have ideas along with those who want to be part of startups and help companies grow.”

A RANKING OF 37 TOP MBA PROGRAMS FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The entire ranking is filled with schools that are approaching entrepreneurship teaching in unique, interesting, and effective ways. We highly encourage interested students to poke through our entire data dump, which includes full data on each ranked school in all 16 methodological categories. For example, over the past five graduating classes (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021), Michigan Ross reported an overall average of 22.2% of its graduates launching a business immediately after or within three months of graduation. WashU followed with 20%, while Stanford had 16.8% and Babson had 13.5%.

If you’re looking for a school that has loads of entrepreneurship-focused electives, Harvard Business School has nearly half of its elective offerings focused on entrepreneurship. That’s followed by CEIBS with about 47%. Carnegie Mellon, IE Business School, and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business all have around 34 to 35% of electives focused on entrepreneurship. But if having a robust community of students interested in entrepreneurship is for you, MIT, Michigan Ross, and Duke Fuqua all had nearly 70% of its 2021-2022 MBA student population involved in the school’s main entrepreneurship club.

A lower-weighted component of our methodology, but still interesting is the percentage of MBAs taking positions at startups (private companies less than ten years old) over the past five years. Esade leads that category, reporting nearly 22% of its graduates between 2017 and 2021 took first positions after graduation at startups. Boston University followed with 15% and IE Business School reported 14%. Among all 37 ranked schools, seven reported an average of at least 10%.

SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS INTERESTED IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP

We also included data about accelerator and incubator space available for MBA students, mentorship opportunities, and award money and funding available. Data was placed in ratios and percentages. For example, at UC San Diego, there were about 942 square feet of incubator or accelerator space available for each enrolled MBA. That was much higher than the second-highest school, Arizona State University, where the ratio was around 283 square feet per MBA student.

Similarly, with award money, Rice had $5,352 in startup award money per enrolled MBA student during the 2021-2022 academic year. Carnegie Mellon followed with $4,032 available per student. Among all ranked schools, nine had at least $1,000 available per MBA student. In terms of purely raw numbers, Rice University had more than $1.8 million in award money available for MBAs in 2021-2022. Carnegie Mellon had $1.5 million and Chicago’s Booth School of Business had $1 million. Among all schools, there was more than $11 million in entrepreneurship award money available for MBAs in 2021-2022.

The upshot? It continues to be an excellent time to focus on entrepreneurship while earning an MBA. Schools continue to pour resources into the space and compete with one another to create top-shelf environments for budding entrepreneurs. There might not be a safer and more supportive place to pursue entrepreneurship than the modern B-school.

On the next page, you’ll find our full ranking of 2023’s Best MBA Programs for Entrepreneurship.

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