RANKING: The World’s Best MBA Programs For Entrepreneurship In 2024

The World’s Best MBA Programs For Entrepreneurship In 2024

MBAs at ESMT Berlin talk during the school’s Demo Day during its Summer Entrepreneurship Program. Winners get €5,000 to jumpstart their vision. ESMT photo


In the 2024 ranking, ESMT reported having the highest number of MBA electives that are entirely focused on entrepreneurship or innovation, accounting for half of its offerings. Some of its more popular options include electives in Design Thinking, Entrepreneurial Strategy, Matchmakers in the Digital Economy, and Start Up Challenge – a double elective that gives students space to accelerate their new business idea from the inception of a product or service to raising capital.

ESMT also reported that 100% of its MBAs took an entrepreneurship elective in the 2022-2023 academic year. Entrepreneurship is infused throughout the curriculum.

“We do not limit the study of entrepreneurship to specific courses. Faculty contextualize teachings for new ventures as well as existing firms so that students learn how to apply academic theory to entrepreneurial practice,” Loades says.

Rebecca Loades, Director of MBA Programs at ESMT Berlin

ESMT also had the highest ratio of incubator and accelerator space per MBA in the ranking, much of that located in its entrepreneurship hub, Vali Berlin. The hub is central to the school’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as a gateway to the wider startup culture in Berlin.

“Berlin is one of Europe’s most vibrant startup hubs, so ESMT’s location in Berlin offers students unparalleled access to this ecosystem, with numerous networking events, pitch competitions, and internship opportunities in the city’s thriving entrepreneurial community,” Loades says. “VALI Berlin is the platform and support for startups and entrepreneurial joiners.”

A sample, but by no means a full plate, of Vali Berlin programs is listed below.

  • The Summer Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) helps students with startup ideas find co-founders, identify trends and problems, build solutions, and pitch to venture capitalists and business angels. On Demo Day, teams pitch in front of an audience and a jury for a chance to win €5,000 to jumpstart their vision.
  • Sustainability Bootcamp is a two-week crash course to think up and develop high-tech, sustainable business ideas that tackle the largest problems of our time, especially in AI and Climate Science. At the end, teams present for a chance to win €1,000 prize money and a spot in the Summer Entrepreneurship Program.
  • NEXT, a five-month B2B acceleration program, is designed to fast-track early-stage ventures with potential to reach the next level.
  • INNOVA Europe is an international competition for startup ideas that tackle sustainability. Vali launched the initiative with PoliMi Graduate School of Management and EDHEC Business School.

Last fall, ESMT established DEEP, the institute for deep tech innovation. It works with entrepreneurs, scientists, research organizations, and their tech transfer offices to commercialize IP and build deep tech companies. DEEP is also host of CDL-Berlin, the 12th global site of Creative Destruction Lab, a non-profit network of business school programs with a mission to help launch massively scalable, science- and technology-based companies.

“The diverse and international environment at ESMT inspires entrepreneurs by exposing them to a wide range of perspectives and helping them build a global network that can be invaluable when launching or expanding a business,” Loades says.

“The faculty at ESMT are well-versed in the intricacies of starting and scaling businesses. Their practical insights and academic excellence provide students with knowledge and experience needed for success as an entrepreneur.”

RANKING: The World’s Best MBA Programs For Entrepreneurship In 2024

Olin Business School students attend a Venture Capital Investment Competition information session. Olin photo


Skallerud came to Olin with a problem – medicine’s cumbersome and inefficient charting – but it wasn’t until he took Olin’s famed Hatchery course that he could start to imagine the solutions. Hatchery is one of the first business planning courses in the country and is taught by Doug Villhard, Olin’s academic director of entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurship professor in practice.

The course starts with a pitch session. Pitchers must then recruit a five-person team to work on their idea throughout the semester, find another team to join, or leave the class. Following each class lesson almost like a template, Skallerud built his team and started formulating his solution. He founded Contrast, an AI-powered platform for streamlining medical charting.

“From there, I threw myself and our team into all the resources possible at WashU. I’m sure I was probably one of the higher utilization people who have ever gone through the entrepreneurship program,” he says.

Problem solving is a cornerstone of Olin’s entrepreneurship program. It’s what business is: Identifying customer problems, big or small, and offering a solution.

BIG IdeaBounce 2023

Doug Villhard, Olin’s academic director of entrepreneurship

But not everyone can start a business, and not every Olin entrepreneurship MBA even wants to. The entrepreneurial mindset at Olin is about giving all students the tools, resources, and vision to see problems wherever their career takes them.

“What an entrepreneurial program really is, it’s about teaching the entrepreneurial mindset. How to look for opportunities and to actually do something about them. And that is incredibly valuable in corporate America,” says Villhard who came to Olin five years ago after a career of building and exiting a number of ventures.

“When I was running companies, the folks promoted to vice president weren’t promoted because they worked really hard or went to the right school. It’s because they started thinking like a founder. They asked how to expand what we were doing and find new markets. They asked how to fix problems and be more efficient. And that’s really what we’re teaching.”


After five straight years atop our ranking, word on Olin’s entrepreneurship chops is getting around. When Villhard first came to the school, he actively recruited entrepreneurial talent, almost like a basketball coach walking around campus looking for tall prospects and asking them to try out, he says.

Now, MBAs reach out to him a year before coming to the school. “Basically we are at a point where we have these hotshot recruits coming in, and I’m not really posting tryouts anymore. It’s happening ahead of time,” he says.

And the program continues to innovate itself. You don’t top an entrepreneurship ranking for five straight years resting on your laurels after all.

Last year, it created the MBA Entrepreneurship Fellowship program which provides up to five full-ride fellowships per year, including apartments and offices for the MBAs. It also launched an accelerator space called the League (short for League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs) focused on students interested in ideas in the digital and tech space.

Over the past five years, it has layered more advanced courses onto its offerings for each way students engage with entrepreneurship. For those who want to help others build and manage their startups, it added a new entrepreneurship through acquisition course to help students identify smaller businesses with potential and secure the financing to purchase them. They’ve also added a series of innovation courses for specific industries, like defense and healthcare, for students who don’t want to necessarily be founders, but want to employ entrepreneurial thinking throughout their careers.

In this year’s ranking, Olin reported that 100% of its full-time MBAs engaged with a startup in some capacity during their time in the program. Much of this comes in consulting projects through core courses. In Business Models in a Global Context, for example, students work with St. Louis startup Strange Donuts throughout the term, and then embark on a global immersion to investigate how the company might expand internationally. So far, the class has taken students to Shanghai, Barcelona, and Paris.

RANKING: The World’s Best MBA Programs For Entrepreneurship In 2024

Olin Business School MBAs working in class. Olin photo


Mentorship is a big resource for Olin’s entrepreneurial MBAs. In our 2024 ranking, Olin was first in the number of mentors available with a ratio of 2.34 mentors for each MBA. It came in second for the ratio of hours mentors worked with students, at 19.4 hours per MBA.

Mentor relationships are both formal and informal, and Olin has made a deliberate effort to expand its network of entrepreneurship mentors.

Before the pandemic, its alumni and mentor base was mostly centered around St. Louis. Zoom showed they could connect MBAs with entrepreneurs around the world. A couple of years ago, Olin invested in a new associate director of entrepreneurship, Rian Edwards, who grew its mentor database from several hundred to several thousand, Villhard says.

Early on, when an MBA has a business idea, Edwards can often connect them with 50 to 100 different alumni in the field to ask questions, solicit feedback, or link them to their networks. Deeper relationships follow from there. “For example, if we have a student with a sustainable fashion idea, Rian will look in the database and connect them to the VP of Patagonia, who is a WashU alumni,” Villhard says.

Olin is also located in one of the fastest-growing startup hubs in the world. PitchBook just last month ranked St. Louis No. 20 in its Global VC Ecosystems ranking, alongside cities like Dubai, Milan and Miami. It was one of just seven American cities to make the list.

More formal mentor/MBA relationships form in the numerous resources available to Olin’s entrepreneurs. One of the biggest is the university-wide Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship with entrepreneurs from all eight of WashU’s academic schools. The center offers everything from workspace to logo design, from funding to trademarks and copyright expertise. Skallerud, in fact, received essential legal advice from the center’s Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Law Clinic.

Skallerud met with dozens of mentors and advisors while building Contrast, he says. Some he connected with through Villhard and Edwards, others through his extensive involvement with the Skandalaris Center.

Though Olin’s MBA is a traditional two-year residential program, Skallerud worked it out to complete in one year so he could finish medical school. Contrast now has five full-time employees, and he will return to building and expanding the company when he finishes medical school in May.

“Without the support and help we got from WashU broadly, and particularly the entrepreneurship resources, I don’t think we would be a company today. Everything from the mentors, the funding, the stipends, the summer intern program through the Skandalaris Center, you name it, it all contributed,” Skallerud says.

“Doug Villhard and Rian Edwards are the true reasons Olin deserves this recognition. They support the community and ecosystem above and beyond, and I truly believe they are the differentiating factors that have led to my personal success and the success of the program.”


One unique aspect of P&Q’s ranking of the top MBA programs for entrepreneurship is the wealth of data we publish along with it. In our data dump, prospective MBAs as well as schools themselves can see how they stacked up in each of the 16 metrics.

For example, Clemson University’s Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business reports that an average of 31.2% of MBAs over the past five graduating classes have launched a business within three months of graduation. Clemson participated in the ranking for the first time this year, debuting at No. 10.

Or, if you’re an MBA looking for support and networking from like-minded students, you may want to check out Michigan Ross where 65% of its full-time MBAs joined and participated in the school’s main entrepreneurship club. Ross also reported that 100% of its faculty were involved in entrepreneurial pursuits in some capacity in 2023.

Or maybe what you need is real-world mentorship from entrepreneurs with a track record. Rutgers Business School at The State University of New Jersey offers the highest ratio of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence per full-time MBA students at nearly 1.2. Rice Jones, meanwhile, reported the highest number of entrepreneur mentorship hours to MBAs at nearly 23 per.

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 you can find here.

We are actively looking to grow our ranking of MBA entrepreneurship programs. We’ll continue to reach out to schools who have so far not participated, as well as new schools who want to highlight their entrepreneurial chops.

If your MBA program would like an invitation to next year’s ranking, please email kristy@poetsandquants.com.



NEXT PAGE: The full 2024 ranking of the top MBA programs for entrepreneurship

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.