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Top MBA Programs for Producing Founders: 2017-2018 Report

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Recently, PitchBook released its latest 2017-2018 Top 50 Universities Report. The ranking focused on those universities that produced the “ultimate building blocks of the venture industry: founders.”

This ranking is vastly different from rankings of top schools for entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, and Entrepreneur Magazine, all of which focus on factors like peer assessment surveys, curriculum, and entrepreneurial study options. Instead, PitchBook looked at a single criterion: founders of companies who received venture capital (VC) funding between January 1, 2006, and August 18, 2017, and where they went to school.

The report provides a fairly detailed breakdown of top undergraduate programs, companies (by capital raised), MBA programs, female founders, unicorns (companies that have attained the coveted $1 billion evaluation), and more. This article will focus solely on the results that relate to MBA programs, including information on female founders and unicorns.

Top MBA Programs

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the top 10 MBA programs to produce founders who received VC funding were ranked as follows:

  1. Harvard Business School (HBS): 1,203 entrepreneurs, 1,086 companies, and $28,495M raised
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB): 802 entrepreneurs, 716 companies, and $18,259M raised
  3. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School: 666 entrepreneurs, 585 companies, and $16,001M raised
  4. INSEAD: 455 entrepreneurs, 406 companies, and $7,795M raised
  5. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management: 445 entrepreneurs, 417 companies, and $5,680M raised
  6. Columbia Business School: 441 entrepreneurs, 410 companies, and $5,465M raised
  7. MIT Sloan School of Management: 437 entrepreneurs, 384 companies, and $7,797M raised
  8. University of Chicago Booth School of Business: 405 entrepreneurs, 368 companies, and $5,470M raised
  9. University of California – Berkeley Haas School of Business: 344 entrepreneurs, 314 companies, and $5,191M raised
  10. UCLA Anderson School of Management: 247 entrepreneurs, 232 companies, and $3,957M raised

HBS stands out immediately for producing founders who receive VC funding. Harvard produced twice as many founders as its next closest competitor, and those founders pulled in $10M more in funding for their 1,000+ companies.

As for the reason behind Harvard’s success, there are multiple elements that contribute to its production of entrepreneurs. The school is home to the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, which offers programs for budding entrepreneurs including curricular offerings (over a dozen courses), a New Venture Competition (which offers $300,000 in cash prizes), the Rock Accelerator, the Harvard Innovation Lab, and even a Loan Reduction program that supports graduating entrepreneurs with a one-time, need-based award of $10,000 to $20,000. HBS’s extensive alumni network also provides students with connections with managing directors, partners, and founders of top VC firms including Bain Capital Ventures, Apax Partners, and Accel Partners.

Another standout for the 2017-2018 year was INSEAD. The only non-U.S. MBA program to appear in the top 10, it also moved up a spot this year over last. INSEAD grew from 393 entrepreneurs, 348 companies, and $6,131M in capital raised to 455, 406, and $7,794M respectively.

INSEAD’s students are supported by the INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship (ICE), which was founded in 2003. The center offers MBA students a chance to participate in the INSEAD Venture Competition (IVC), Entrepreneurship Bootcamps, and the Entrepreneurship Teaching Innovation (ETI) Fund, which supports the development of the “Your First Hundred Days” elective for budding entrepreneurs.

Another MBA program of note is MIT Sloan School of Management, which was fourth in capital raised on this year’s PitchBook ranking. This could indicate more successful companies coming out of MIT or a higher percentage of VC funding available to Massachusetts’ graduates.

Some of the unique entrepreneurship opportunities available from other top programs include Stanford GSB’s Startup Garage, an intensive, hands-on project course for MBA students, as well as MIT Sloan’s Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, which includes an accelerator, coaching, and various events. Finally, the Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Center offers resources, events, and courses for MBAs looking to explore, develop, launch, and scale a startup.

Top Female Founders & Unicorns

PitchBook also reviewed the top MBA programs for female founders. Once again, HBS and Stanford GSB ranked first and second, respectively, with 202 and 119 female founders. Columbia Business School ranked third with 77, Wharton ranked fourth with 71, and MIT came in at fifth with 60 female founders.

As for the unicorns, the top five MBA programs are similar to the previous lists.

  1. HBS: 22 entrepreneurs, 17 companies
  2. Stanford GSB: 14 entrepreneurs, 11 companies
  3. Wharton: 11 entrepreneurs, 8 companies
  4. INSEAD: 8 entrepreneurs, 7 companies
  5. MIT Sloan: 6 entrepreneurs, 6 companies
Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.