The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine have named University of Michigan’s graduate program in entrepreneurship one of the best in the nation, the university announced this week. Coming in at the No. 2 spot—the highest it’s ever been ranked—this is the third year in a row that the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business has landed in the top five.
“We’re excited,” says the Zell Lurie Institute’s executive director Tom Kinnear, despite acknowledging that a list created by people who “sell ink by the barrel” might not be scientific. “Twenty years ago, we weren’t ranked at all. Ten years ago, we were in the top 20. Now, we’re No. 2.”
Offered since 1972, the graduate entrepreneurship program had 2,192 participants during the 2011-2012 school year. In addition to teaching students how to be better entrepreneurs, the university oversees three student-run venture funds (the Wolverine Venture Fund, the pre-seed Frankel Commercialization Fund, and the Social Venture Fund), an incubator of student startups called TechArb, an array of business plan competitons and coaching, official entrepreneurial efforts in the law school and the medical school, and a busy tech transfer office that spins out about 10 companies a year based on U-M research and technology.
That full, campus-wide experience is what Kinnear says makes studying entrepreneurship at U-M unique, especially compared to the top-ranked Babson. “Babson is basically just a business school, but our students get to experience the breadth of interaction across departments and schools inside the university,” he adds. “Only a few universities in the world can do that, and it’s a real advantage to us.”
Of course, Kinnear points out at U-M “can’t turn stones into entrepreneurs,” but he says that if a student has entrepreneurial leanings, the university is a great place to nurture those inclinations. And even if a student doesn’t start a business right after graduation, Kinnear believes they’re building better future employees by teaching them to think outside of a narrow bureaucratic mindset. “Our faculty and outside coaches are very hands on, and that’s pretty unique,” Kinnear says, suggesting that it might be easier to find out your business idea isn’t going to succeed inside a classroom rather than out in the real world after expending a lot of time and money. “You don’t have to go to school to be an entrepreneur but, boy, can we help you.”
The Ross School of Business and the School of Engineering also announced a new entrepreneurial program this week geared toward inventors. Weaving together three semesters of practicums with entrepreneurial courses, the … Next Page »