Best Colleges for Start-Ups

As a general rule, startup cities cluster on the coasts. The heart of West Coast entrepreneurship lies in Silicon Valley, spreading north to Seattle and south to Los Angeles, while East Coast hubs are in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Not surprisingly, about half of the schools on our list are located in these six cities; the rest are scattered throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Mountain West states. Nearly all of these entrepreneurial powerhouses are large research universities, as big schools often have the vast and dynamic business, engineering, and liberal arts programs needed to stimulate the flow of ideas.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.


University of California - Berkeley


Located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship is home to world class entrepreneurship education and scholarly research. For nearly 25 years, the center has hosted the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum twice each semester, allowing students and engaged community members to meet with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


At the end of 2006, there were 25,600 active companies founded by living MIT alumni. Together, they employed 3.3 million people and generated nearly $2 trillion in revenue for the year. The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship provides expertise, support and connections for MIT students. MIT also hosts a $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, one of the top business-plan contests in the world.


Stanford University


Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies was founded in 1996 through a partnership between two faculty members from the graduate business school. The center addresses the need for greater understanding of issues facing entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial community. Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner offers 3,000 videos and podcasts, all of which are free to the general public.


University of Southern California


The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies was the first facility of its kind, and the school enrolled over 3,100 students in 2014-15. USC hosts five venture competitions, awarding over $250,000 in prize money.


University of Pennsylvania


Penn’s esteemed Wharton School also operates a San Francisco campus. Wharton-San Francisco is only 40 miles away from Silicon Valley and draws many of its students from the region. Wharton grads include innovator Elon Musk, business magnate Warren Buffett, and real estate mogul Donald Trump.


Cornell University


Like many schools, Cornell infuses entrepreneurship throughout all of their programs. Entrepreneurship at Cornell is supported by a committed advisory council of over 90 members, overseen by Deans from all thirteen participating schools and colleges. Startuptree compiles a list of startups enacted by Cornell alumni; these companies have secured over $4 billion in funding.


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor


Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) seeks to empower the entrepreneurial spirit among engineering students on campus. A highlight of the CFE is “The Startup,” an annual competition where students pitch mentors to join their teams. The competition is highly competitive, and teams increase their funding with each successive round they make it through.


Babson College


Babson was founded in 1919 to foster business innovation, and the school is widely considered a bastion of entrepreneurship education. In the 2014–2015 academic year, more than 2,100 undergraduate and 900 graduate students attended Babson, with students hailing from more than 80 countries. Dedicated in 1998, The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship has more than 2,000 students, and 90% of Babson students take at least one elective in entrepreneurship.


University of California - Los Angeles


The Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is one of the homes of the ‘Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.’ This innovative program supports veterans who were injured during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.


Brigham Young University


The Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (CET) is a supportive, nurturing environment for BYU students interested in startups. In September 2015, a BYU student won $125,000 at Start Madness, a first-year event held by Beehive Startups in Provo.

CET founders are business professionals who support the entrepreneurship program at BYU; there are currently more than 140 founders. Founders provide donations and lend their entrepreneurial experience in the classroom.


Harvard University

Harvard’s business program has always incubated prospective entrepreneurs; since 2003, the Rock Center has become the centerpiece for Harvard’s entrepreneurial initiatives. With over 1,800 students currently enrolled and thousands of alumni working in business, the Rock Center is well-equipped to support your startup efforts. More than half of Rock Center graduates create startups after graduating.


University of Texas

Founded in 2001, the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship brings together university resources, leading entrepreneurs, innovative industry partners, students and faculty from across The University of Texas at Austin to encourage and facilitate the development of successful entrepreneurs and to develop and communicate new knowledge about entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial process. Austin is home to home to dozens of startup resources, including investors, co-working spaces, maker spaces, incubators, accelerators, and several entrepreneurial and tech meetup groups.


Northeastern University

The Center for Entrepreneurship Education is a university-wide program that integrates entrepreneurship and innovation courses. Since 2009, Northeastern has hosted IDEA, a student-run venture accelerator to help students start businesses. It provides a variety of resources, including student coaches and alumni mentors.


Carnegie Mellon University

The Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was founded in 2012 to help students develop their entrepreneurial vision. CMU’s students were already doing quite well, as more than 300 companies have emerged from CMU since the turn of the century. In the past decade alone, 11 startups led by CMU graduates were acquired by major companies.


New York University

NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute was formed to help create startups. With 60,000 students, the mission of the Entrepreneurial Institute is to shepherd successful startups and to capitalize on technology created by NYU students and faculty.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School develops transformative entrepreneurial leaders. From partnering with new accelerators in Chapel Hill to funding the UNC Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, UNC provides students with resources to help them turn their creative visions into a marketable product.


Saint Louis University

Since 1973, Saint Louis University has been teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs. Their Internationally-renowned Center for Entrepreneurship is known for doing things “differently.” They host the national Entrepreneurial Pipeline of Competitions.

It all starts with the Pure Idea Generator Challenge where college students from around the nation have 30 minutes to formulate their best ideas to a proposed problem while riding Big Eli, a 3-story Ferris wheel on the roof of a 12-story downtown St. Louis building. Then it moves to the Pitch & Catch investor pitch deck competition where the students give their investor pitch from the pitchers mound of a baseball ballpark with their PowerPoint presentations on the Diamond Vision in center field and a dozen multi-millionaires sitting around home plate waiting to “catch the pitch.”


Syracuse University

Syracuse is one of the few schools in the nation with a formal academic department devoted to entrepreneurship. The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises department offers $160,000 in cash for startup competitions like The Panasci Competition, the Whitman Alumni Club Student CNY Business Start-up Award, and the Whitman Entrepreneurial Idea Award.


Yale University

The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) is a university department that helps entrepreneurs and innovators start scalable ventures with programs, workshops, events, and funding.
The YEI Student Venture Incubator is more than just a space to work: currently, more than 80 active YEI companies have raised over $135 million in funding and created over 350 jobs.


University of Washington

Founded in 1991, The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship infuses entrepreneurship into all disciplines at the University of Washington. Microsoft and Amazon are just a quick drive from campus and their influence on the university extends across departments. One of the unique competitions offered by the Buerk Center is The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, which was established to solve environmental and cleantech problems.


University of Arizona

The McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship was established in 1984 and is one of the first institutions of its kind. Students in the McGuire program receive a year of experiential education, leading to the McGuire New Venture Competition and Showcase, where they compete for $45,000 in prizes.


Brown University

Founded in 1988, Brown’s Entrepreneurship Program provides an array of student resources. The Brown Venture Fellowship (BVF) is a one-year program designed to accelerate the development of Brown’s top commercial and technical student entrepreneurs.


University of Colorado - Boulder

The Leeds School of Business has a proud history. Formed in 1906 as part of the University of Colorado, Leeds is the eighth oldest business school in the United States. As part of Leeds, the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship has worked for over two decades to support entrepreneurial students. Deming sponsors the $100,000 CU Cleantech New Venture Challenge.


University of Maryland - College Park

The Dingman Center at Maryland was one of the first programs in the country to teach entrepreneurial studies. The Dingman Center Angels is the nation’s largest university-run angel investor network.


Indiana University - Bloomington

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University established the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in 1998. The Kelley School first offered an entrepreneurship program in 1989, and entrepreneurship courses at Indiana date back to 1959.