Do you dream of spending your college years starting the next Google or Facebook?
These days, entrepreneurship is booming at colleges and universities across the country, and here are 27 schools that will offer you ample opportunities to jumpstart your new venture through business plan competitions, mentorship, incubator programs, lecture series, and more.
27. Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd’s STEM-focused curriculum creates the perfect environment for aspiring tech entrepreneurs. Its HMC Entrepreneurs Network provides opportunities for current students to connect with entrepreneurs around the country.
26. Loyola University – Chicago
Loyola University in Chicago offers a concentration in entrepreneurship for undergraduates, an entrepreneurship minor, and also offers students the opportunity to become a part of the Loyola Collegiate Entrepreneurial Organization which organizes events throughout the campus for aspiring entrepreneurs. The school’s urban location in Chicago also provides students with the opportunity to gain experience interning working in the city’s growing entrepreneurship scene which has spawned Groupon, Grubhub, among other soaring startups.
25. Olin College
Although Olin is a small school, its engineering-focused student body generates plenty of innovative ideas. Combine technical skill and creativity with the business skills possessed by its neighboring school, Babson College, and it creates an ideal atmosphere for starting the next big thing. The Foundry, Olin’s entrepreneurship club, hosts a startup fair, regular tech talks, and runs its own incubator program.
24. Illinois Institute of Technology
The Illinois Institute of Technology takes entrepreneurship very seriously. The Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center and Entrepreneurship Academy provide support services to help students turn their business ideas into reality, host elevator pitch competitions, and organize events for Global Entrepreneurship Week which brings speakers and panelists to campus to discuss their ventures.
23. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
WPI students can minor in entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurship. The Venture Forum hosts talks and workshops related to tech entrepreneurship, the Accelerator Fund provides early investment in ventures coming out of the school, and the Robert H. Grant Invention Awards and Elevator Pitch Competition provide additional funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs.
22. University of Wisconsin – Madison
Students at the University of Wisconsin can major in entrepreneurship, get a certificate in entrepreneurship, or pick a la carte from the university’s entrepreneurial courses including “Art Enterprise: Art as Business as Art,” “Venture Creation,” and “Entrepreneurial Growth Strategies.” Students can also participate in the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition which gives away $50,000 in prize money to student ventures annually.
21. Indiana University – Bloomington
Students at Indiana University – Bloomington have the option of majoring in Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation, a field that includes courses such as “Venture Ideas,” “New Venture Planning,” and “Law for Entrepreneurs.” Combine its entrepreneurial academic programs with events like Startup Weekend, an annual event described as a “three day startup crash course” and Indiana University makes a great choice whether you want to pursue entrepreneurship in or out of the classroom.
20. Northwestern University
With over 17 groups related to entrepreneurship, Northwestern offers students plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities (you can see a diagram here). Some of the highlights include an incubator program, an annual entrepreneurship conference, and a mentorship program. The Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation also offers NUvention courses that cover the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.
19. California Institute of Technology
Although Caltech is small, it is a major powerhouse for generating top technical talent. Combine the quality of the student body with its California location, and there is great potential for any aspiring entrepreneur.
18. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Students majoring in business at UNC – Chapel Hill have the option of concentrating on entrepreneurship, but even for students who choose not to study entrepreneurship in the classroom have many opportunities to get involved in the school’s vibrant entrepreneurial community. The university’s ample entrepreneurial offerings include 1789 Venture Lab which is a workspace for student entrepreneurs, a business accelerator, and a business plan and venture capital competition.
17. University of Washington
The hub of entrepreneurship at the University of Washington is the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship which hosts the UW Business Plan Competition, a quarter-long build your own business program (BYOB), and Startup UW, the campus entrepreneurship club . UW also offers an entrepreneurship minor for students across the university.
16. Washington University – St. Louis
The Washington University Student Entrepreneurial Program (StEP) provides students with the opportunity to own and operate a business while they are students. Students in the program get a number of benefits including storefront space, parking, use of the University name on business materials, telephone and network services, and more. The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has helped implement over 80 entrepreneurship courses throughout the university, sponsors an internship program, and the Olin Cup Competition, the campus business plan competition.
15. Brown University
Between Brown’s Idea Lab, Venture Lab, and West Coast Accelerator Program, Brown is a perfect school for an aspiring entrepreneur. Its close proximity to RISD also offers students access to some of the top designers in the country who can form perfect business partners.
14. Syracuse University
Syracuse’s Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship provides entrepreneurial opportunities for students across the university. The center hosts a campus-wide business plan competition, an internship placement program, the Entrepreneurship Club, and the Couri Hatchery which provides a co-working space and mentorship program for students trying to get their venture off the ground.
13. University of California – San Diego
Forbes named San Diego the best city in America to launch a startup. Students at UCSD have all the benefits of the surrounding community and a major research university, being able to choose from over 18 organizations to help support its entrepreneurial students including a local coworking space, an annual business plan competition, Entrepreneur’s Academy, Pitchfests, and an on-campus incubator.
12. Dartmouth College
Dartmouth is moving full steam ahead at encouraging student entrepreneurs. Its newly established Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer provides programs and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs such as hosting the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), a network of over 45,000 Dartmouth community members offering support, mentorship, startup competitions, among other resources for the Dartmouth community. In addition, the Dartmouth Ventures contest and competition gives away $70,000 per year to student ventures.
11. University of Southern California
USC offers six venture competitions per year including the Greif New Venture Seed Competition, the Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize Competition, and the Y-Prize: New Media Business Plan Competition. The university’s two entrepreneurship clubs, the Entrepreneurship and Venture Management Association and the USC Entrepreneur Club (e-club) organize talks, lecture, roundtables, networking session, and entrepreneurial trips and treks throughout the year.
10. Tufts University
Open to students within any major, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies Program offers a diverse array of entrepreneurship classes to students with varying interests. Students have the opportunity structure their own minor related to entrepreneurship, and there are many opportunities to get involved with entrepreneurship out of the classroom as well. Between the Tufts Ideas Competition, the Tufts 100K New Venture Competition, two entrepreneurial lecture series, an impressive student/alumni entrepreneurial network, and the university’s location in the Boston metro area, and entrepreneurial hub, Tufts students have an abundance of resources.
9. University of Pennsylvania
Penn launched its Wharton Business Plan Competition in 1998, and today it is one of the most established university-wide competitions in the country. In addition to offering prize money to student ventures once a year, the competition supports students year round in developing their ideas and hosting workshops and speaker series with accomplished entrepreneurs. Penn also runs the Venture Initiation Program, an incubator, and gives away a handful of awards and fellowships each year to entrepreneurial students.
8. Princeton University
Princeton’s Entrepreneurship Club hosts two business plan competitions a year, Princeton Pitch and Tiger Launch, giving away over $50,000 in prizes. TigerTreks offer Princeton students the opportunity to travel to NYC or Silicon Valley to visit startups and network with entrepreneurs. Then there is Hack Week, the Hackathon, a speaker series, an impressive alumni network, and an undergraduate academic certificate in Technology and Society to round out its impressive offerings.
7. University of Maryland – College Park
Last year, the University of Maryland – College Park launched the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offering spaces around campus for idea development, course offerings known as “Fearless Ideas Courses” focusing on entrepreneurial themes, and weekly pitching and brainstorming sessions. The Academy is in addition to the already robust entrepreneurship scene which already included the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship’s Fearless Founders Program which helps students develop their ideas, build and test them, and then launch them into the marketplace. The Center also hosts a twice annual pitch competition, and Cupid’s Cup, a national business plan competition (said to be “the nation’s toughest business competition) hosted at the university.
6. University of Texas – Austin
In the early 1980s, Michael Dell started Dell while a freshman at the University of Texas – Austin, and ever since then the campus’ entrepreneurship scene has been going strong. The university offers a semester-long practicum to help startup teams get their ideas off the ground. The 3 Day Startup Program where students develop startup concepts under the mentorship of local entrepreneurs over the course of a weekend is hugely popular as is the Austin Technology Incubator. a highly selective on-campus incubator program. For students looking for a more academic experience, the certificate program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a great option offering courses such as “Global Entrepreneurship,” “The Liberal Arts Entrepreneur,” and “Advertising on the Internet” among many other options.
5. Yale University
Yale’s Entrepreneurial Institute sponsors a Venture Creation Program, Social Venture Creation Program, Tech Bootcamp, and Innovation Fund which provides pre-seed funding of up to $100,000 per student venture. YEI’s 10-week summer program provides ten student ventures per year with $15,000 in grant funding and dedicated mentors in a related field of business. In addition, the Yale Entrepreneurial Society sponsor an annual elevator pitch and business plan competition.
4. University of California – Berkeley
Berkeley’s Bay Area location in and of itself provides students to a multitude of opportunities to meet entrepreneurs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and potentially score jobs, internships, and business partners. Combine that with the school’s impressive angel investor network, annual business plan competition, network of incubators and accelerators, startup competition, venture capital investment competition, a residential startup house, and many more programs and opportunities, and any entrepreneur would be impressed.
3. Harvard University
Harvard was the alma mater for many entrepreneurial legends such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Today, Harvard continues to make entrepreneurship a priority with its I^3 Innovation Challenge, an annual business plan competition which awards 600K to student entrepreneurs. Harvard’s Innovation Lab fosters innovation across the university by hosting a speaker series, workshops, and conferences, mentoring students trying to launch their ideas, and hosting an incubation program. Additional programming events include the Harvard i-Lab Startup Scramble, the Intrapreneur Lab which gives students a paid summer internship to where they learn entrepreneurial skills, and a Startup Career Fair. Harvard’s central location in Cambridge, one of the country’s biggest entrepreneurial hubs, also provides ample access to mentors, jobs, internships, and potential tech-minded business partners at its neighboring school, MIT.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
No list of entrepreneurial schools could be complete without MIT, perhaps the founding school of the student entrepreneurship movement. MIT practically invented the college business plan competition with the launch of the MIT 100K Competition in 1990. Between the competition, The Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, The MIT Enterprise Forum, Entrepreneurs Review, and the Entrepreneurship Program at the MIT Media Lab, there are few places in the world with more resources to learn about entrepreneurship and jumpstart your business.
1. Stanford University
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford is in America’s entrepreneurial epicenter. Besides countless opportunities for students to intern and work at local startups, Stanford offers students plenty of opportunities to attend lectures from world-famous entrepreneurs, tour local startups, participate in an annual business plan competition, and find business partners and mentors within its extremely entrepreneurial campus community.