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FT’s 2017 Ranking of MBAs for Entrepreneurship

Financial Times has published its 2017 list of top MBAs for entrepreneurship, which looks at how entrepreneurial alums from each program tend to be as well as how their business school education contributed to their experience as entrepreneurs.


This year, the top ten schools are:

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2. MIT Sloan School of Management
  3. Babson College Olin Graduate School of Business
  4. Cambridge Judge School of Business
  5. University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business
  6. Dartmouth Tuck School of Business
  7. City, University of London Cass Business School
  8. Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business
  9. Oxford Saïd Business School
  10. Chicago Booth School of Business
  11. Columbia Business School

Stanford and Babson were similarly dominant last year, ranking first and third respectively. MIT, meanwhile, made an impressive ascent from the eleven spot in 2016 to the two spot this year. 

Overall, two of last year’s top five schools failed to make the top ten this year, and two of this year’s top five schools were absent from the top ten last year. 

Part of the reason for this volatility in the year-to-year rankings is that an important factor in FT’s methodology is what portion of the MBA class starts a company within three years of graduation – something that can change significantly from one year to the next. 

In the 2016 rankings, for example,  a modest 26 percent of MIT Sloan’s class started companies, but in 2017’s rankings an impressive 36 percent did. 

Still, there are some overarching patterns that emerge from one set of rankings to the next. First, Babson’s alums tend to have the highest rates of entrepreneurship overall, with 52 percent starting companies this year (and 46 percent doing so last year). 

Second, Stanford’s numbers are consistently impressive. Although the 36 percent of Stanford GSB grads who started companies this year (and 34 percent last year) is less dramatic than Babson’s numbers, it appears that GSB grads who do start companies tend to be highly successful. 

It turns out that among Stanford alums who start businesses, over three-quarters say that their business is their primary source of income. At Babson, this figure is a more modest 45 percent. 

So what’s the secret – why do MBA grads fresh out of Stanford seem to be such successful entrepreneurs? According to FT, it may come down to their network. 

Stanford had exceptionally high scores in two categories that play an important role in the FT MBA entrepreneurship rankings: how valuable the school was in raising funds (according to alums), and how valuable the alumni network was.

 FT’s methodology suggests that there are at least two important factors in determining whether a given MBA program is a good fit for entrepreneurs. One is how entrepreneurial the program’s students tend to be overall – how many students go on to start their own business. 

The other is how much potential the school’s network has when it comes time to actually secure funding for a new company. And schools that have both entrepreneurial students and good networks for entrepreneurs are the ones that tend to rise to the top of FT’s rankings. 

For more information about how schools stack up in different categories, see the complete MBA entrepreneurship rankings from Financial Times.