Babson’s MBA Program Ranked #1 for Entrepreneurship 24 Years in a Row

For the 24th year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has named Babson’s MBA Program No. 1 for entrepreneurship. This ranking places Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business ahead of Stanford Graduate School of Business (No. 2), Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management (tied at No. 3), and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business (No. 5). Twenty-four years is a long time to lead the world in any area, and to do so in entrepreneurship education—a field that is constantly evolving—requires regular innovation.

Olin Dean William Lamb explained it this way: “Entrepreneurial thinking is at the core of everything we do, no matter the focus or type of program. As we continue to evolve to fit the needs of advanced learners worldwide, it is with great pride that we are again recognized for the college’s renowned entrepreneurship education.”

Entrepreneurship and Babson College

The ranking, which is part of the 2018 list of Best Graduate Schools, places Babson’s full-time MBA at No. 69 overall and its part-time program at No. 71. Indeed, entrepreneurship is where Babson stands out. We talked with Mark Potter, PhD, professor of finance and associate dean of the graduate school, to get his perspective on Babson’s ongoing prominence in this area of business education.

“Several dimensions of Babson’s focus on entrepreneurship are unique,” said Potter. “First, we view entrepreneurship not just as starting a new business, but as a culture of innovation and growth regardless of the type of organization—from large companies that want or need to be more entrepreneurial, to non-profits, and of course to startups! Second, with this in mind, the culture of entrepreneurship is interwoven into the majority of courses and activities at Babson. Third, we focus extensively on working as a team to support and enable our students—so staff, faculty and program management work in a close partnership to deliver a cohesive experience designed around the students.”

For example, in Potter’s finance course, students talk extensively about venture finance and IPOs, as well as how to improve the financial analysis of a project in a larger organization. There’s also the fact that all of Babson’s faculty have worked or currently work outside academia, experience that they bring to their teaching to integrate entrepreneurship into learning.

“We [also] have Signature Learning Experiences that are integrated entrepreneurial education experiences throughout the program—modules that involve assessing a roll-out and pricing of a new pharmaceutical product in a developing nation, designing and conducting a feasibility analysis of a product or service, and a comprehensive business simulation exercise, to name a few,” Potter said. “In sum, we practice what we preach. Our faculty have experience, and our curriculum is delivered in a unique way.”

Babson’s Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Three particular opportunities further illustrate the depth of Babson’s entrepreneurial focus.

  • The Butler Venture Accelerator Program: Held at the Blank Center, this program provides support, resources and connections for student startups. Students meet regularly to share updates and ideas, give each other advice, provide inspiration, and gain experience. So far, they have piloted a program of 24 entrepreneurs.
  • Rocket Pitch Event: This annual event invites entrepreneurs from across the campus to present a three-minute, three-slide PowerPoint presentation about their startup. It’s a chance for students to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom and to get a start at creating a new venture.
  • Entrepreneurial Thought & Action: This Babson methodology teaches students to take action and make the most out of every hour. It encourages students to push their startup to the next level in incremental steps or to use the entrepreneurial mindset to solve problems in a large organization.

Entrepreneurial Thought & Action (ET&A)

David Mungai, MBA ’17, says this methodology has had the most significant influence on his b-school experience. While Mungai knew that he wanted to transition from corporate finance to entrepreneurship before beginning the Babson MBA program, he hadn’t charted his path—and that ultimately worked to his advantage.

“You don’t need to be an MBA to be an entrepreneur, and some will argue that getting an MBA is a waste of time—you are better off learning on the job—and I don’t disagree, but that wasn’t the case for me,” Mungai shared. “There were some skills that I knew I was lacking, and while going through the Babson MBA program, I better understood what I was good at and what I needed to refine in order to start and grow my business. What impressed me the most was the school’s teaching philosophy of Entrepreneurial Thought and Action. My perception of other business schools was that they were preparing their students to work in large companies and entrepreneurship wasn’t emphasized. At Babson, the approach is multifaceted and benefits you whether you work for a small, medium or large company, or are an entrepreneur.”

For Mungai, Babson introduced him to new avenues of entrepreneurship and provided a network of people with different areas of expertise that he could lean on. While at school, he could “experiment with very little risk to me or my business and explore different ways to approach problems with other entrepreneurs,” he said. “I am better prepared now than I was when I started.”

Becoming an Entrepreneur

In the end, for MBA students considering a career path in entrepreneurship, Babson offers many opportunities for growth and learning. Professor Potter offered this advice to such individuals:

“Recognize that you can—and should—think and act like an entrepreneur regardless of career area or path. Innovation, growth, advancing ideas and even failing are important aspects of personal and professional careers. Second, surrounding yourself and networking with others in your “ecosystem” is a critical lever for success. And last, entrepreneurship CAN be taught effectively so consider the possibility of entrepreneurship courses, sessions or programs from high-quality institutions.”

About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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