The University of Michigan's (U-M) undergraduate and graduate programs were respectively ranked No. 1 and No. 8 in the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur's recent list of the Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs.
As identified by Princeton, the undergrad program's strongest characteristics were its 68 entrepreneurship-related courses and the $20 million its graduates have raised for the 807 startups they've launched in the last five years.
The undergraduate entrepreneurship faculty at the U-M has a strong record as well – 63 percent of the faculty has started, bought, or run a successful business.
Undergraduate entrepreneurship courses are offered through all U-M colleges, and extracurriculars and additional training are available to students through the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurship (ZLI). ZLI is a program through U-M's Ross School of Business that provides programs and staff to support student entrepreneurs and companies at all stages of development. ZLI executive director Stewart Thornhill says emphasis on action-based learning is what makes the undergrad program stand out.
"What we have is a comprehensive program where students can start companies, invest real money in real companies, and manage their own portfolios," Thornhill says. "Ever since we've participated in rankings, we've continued to add to the program. You can do a minor in entrepreneurship in any college, not just Ross."
Princeton took note of U-M's graduate program for its 60 entrepreneurship-related graduate courses and successful alumni. Graduates have started 194 companies and have collectively raised over $129 million in funding over the last five years.
Thornhill says entrepreneurship education is a relatively new field, but it's important for students to study. Many people want to run their own business one day, he says, and studying entrepreneurship will help them with their future endeavors.
"It may not be the first thing or second thing they do after school, but I think many people have a lifelong goal (to own their own business)," Thornhill says. "By getting the skills in school and waiting to see the right opportunity, they'll have the knowledge in the back of their mind to be successful."
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurship.