The Best Colleges For Successful Entrepreneurs

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business campus

For prolific entrepreneurship, there are two hubs in the U.S. that stand above the rest: the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston. According to annual data released today (August 31) by PitchBook, four schools from those two areas stand above the rest in producing alumni that have gone on to launch companies that have raised around of venture capital. Leading the pack is Stanford University, located almost a literal stone’s throw from some of the country’s most prolific tech companies and venture capitalists. The Palo Alto, California-based school has produced 1,178 entrepreneurs that have raised a venture capital round. Following behind Stanford is the University of California-Berkeley — located about 40 miles away and across the Bay from Stanford — with 1,137 entrepreneurs that have raised investment funds.

The results suggest prestige and location are two important factors when it comes to building an extensive network of successful alumni founders. Stanford University’s acceptance rate hovers around 5% while UC-Berkeley’s is around 17%. While both schools were close in successful entrepreneurs, when you consider the enrollment of undergraduates, Stanford’s numbers are even more impressive. The school enrolls around 7,000 undergraduates annually while UC-Berkeley’s numbers hover around 29,000 undergrads.

Following the Bay Area schools are two Boston-based schools — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. MIT comes in third with 941 venture capital-backed founders. Harvard follows with 900. Rounding out the top five is the University of Pennsylvania — located in Philadelphia — which has produced 838 venture capital-backed funders. The loan international school to pop into the top ten is Tel Aviv University, which can claim 640 entrepreneurs that have raised venture capital funds. Somewhat surprisingly, of the top 10 schools for producing the venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, five are public schools.


PitchBook sliced its data in a few other ways, including schools with the most “unicorn” founders. Unicorns are privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion. Some of the most prolific current unicorns include Uber, Airbnb, WeWork, Pinterest, and Dropbox. Stanford also tops this list with 24 founders of 18 unicorns that have raised a combined $7.6 billion. Harvard jumps both MIT and UC-Berkeley in this category with 16 entrepreneurs founding 15 unicorns with a combined total of $6.7 billion. MIT follows with 13 entrepreneurs that have founded 9 unicorns raising $3.8 billion. UC-Berkeley slides into the next slot with 10 entrepreneurs launching nine unicorns with a combined capital of $4.8 billion. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign rounds out the top five with eight entrepreneurs founding six companies with a combined $3.6 billion in VC-backing. The University of California-Los Angeles and University of Michigan are the only other two public universities making the top 10.

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