The Most Entrepreneurial Schools (for real)

Posted by Jessica Alter /July 16, 2014 / Hot Topics, Research, Statistics

Top Colleges CollageA little over six months ago we published a list of the most entrepreneurial company alumni networks and ever since it’s prompted questions around other rankings, in particular, universities/colleges, that are producing entrepreneurially minded graduates. This isn’t a list of the schools that have the most people on LinkedIn with “entrepreneur” in their title or other backward looking metrics. Rather, it’s forward-looking. It’s a list of of the schools who currently have alumni that are ready to start new companies – including repeat entrepreneurs.  So, while many are usual suspects, there are definitely several surprises (and don’t worry, we’ve spared you viewing this as a slideshow).

The Top 30 List

  1. Babson College
  2. Stanford University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Harvard University
  5. Carnegie Mellon University
  6. University of Pennsylvania
  7. Dartmouth College
  8. University of California, Berkeley
  9. Columbia University in the City of New York
  10. Duke University
  11. Princeton University
  12. Brown University
  13. California Institute of Technology
  14. Cornell University
  15. University of Chicago
  16. Northwestern University
  17. Yale University
  18. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
  19. University of California, Los Angeles
  20. Wesleyan University
  21. The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC)
  22. New York University
  23. Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
  24. Tufts University
  25. Santa Clara University
  26. Georgetown University
  27. University of Michigan
  28. Brandeis University
  29. Lehigh University
  30. Bentley University

Honorable Mentions

You’ll notice none of these schools are “specialty schools.”  We excluded several schools that were purely business schools or purely art schools – in part because it wouldn’t be an apples-to-apples comparison (e.g. just comparing them to Stanford Graduate School of Business) and in part because most have under 2500 current students. That said, as a company we believe deeply in encouraging designers to harness their entrepreneurial desires, so we want to give credit to two schools who definitely have the entrepreneurial spirit.

We also want to give credit to a few business programs who were omitted for the same reasons mentioned above but deserve mention:

Surprises and Insights

Babson – While landing atop several entrepreneurial lists, many feel Babson is far too overlooked. With a deep focus on entrepreneurship and impressive graduates like: Alberto Perlman, Founder of Zumba Fitness; Daniel Gerber, Founder of Gerber Foods And Matt Coffin, Founder & former President of (sold for $380 million to Experian in 2005) it’s no wonder they top the list. Expect big things from alum,  as their base grows. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Carnegie Mellon and MIT are often thought of as the engineering powerhouses and no doubt they are. But RPI alum have given us email, the modern TV and the digital camera. Notable alum include: Gary Burrell, founder of Garmin; Raymond Tomlinson, inventor of email and Marshall Brain, founder of HowStuffWorksIDC and Technion - It’s not hugely surprising that 2 of Top 30 schools are located in Israel (think Waze, PrimeSense and Wix). But let’s remind ourselves that this is a country just barely bigger than the state of New Jersey.  Notable founders from Technion and IDC include: Andi Gutmans, Developer of PHP and Cofounder of Zend Technologies; Yossi Vardi, Founder of ICQ & Angel Investor; Oded Poncz, Founder of LabPixies and Ubimo; Eyal Gura, Founder of PicScout, The Gifts Project and Zebra Medical.  Public vs. Private – Over 85% of The Top 30 are private universities/colleges. Even with network effects, it’s an extroidianarily high percentage. It begs the question, do these schools churn out more entrepreneurial people or do they attract people that are better suited for entrepreneurship to begin with?


We looked at the overall size of a school’s current student body and the number of people who have applied to join FounderDating as a cofounder (not just members overall) that attended that school. This includes all programs and “schools” that are part of that college or university (e.g. if a member has two degrees from a school we only counted that once). To assuage any concerns there were over 100K data points and thousands of schools. We then excluded: schools with under 3000 currently enrolled students and/or schools that have one specialty (i.e. art/design schools, MBA-only).


  • Yes, it’s fairly N.America driven although anyone anywhere can apply to join and we have a large presence in the UK and Israel
  • Yes, there are network effects – when one person from joins they pull in others from their alma mater, but they still have to be entrepreneurial.
  • It would be helpful to further do the analysis by field of study or major.  Maybe that will be next…

You’re an entrepreneur? Boost your school’s rank or get them on the list.