BYU, University of Utah entrepreneurship programs ranked in top 20

Published: Monday, Sept. 24 2012 6:22 p.m. MDT

The Spencer Fox Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah is undergoing expansion on Thursday, August 30, 2012. A recent Princeton Review survey of more than 2,000 schools ranks BYU's and the University of Utah's entrepreneurship programs among the top 20 in the country.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Entrepreneurship. Put it next to funeral potatoes, powder skiing, and clean living. The Beehive State now boasts two top 20 graduate and and two top 20 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs based on an annual survey conducted by the Princeton Review.

The 2012 survey results, announced Monday by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, listed BYU third among all graduate entrepreneurship programs, down one spot from 2011, while the University of Utah made the list for the first time, coming in 15th. On the undergraduate list, BYU climbed a spot to sixth, and the University of Utah dropped one to 17th.

BYU was one of two schools to have both its undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs ranked in the top 10. Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., finished first on both lists.

The U. was one of nine schools that had both its undergraduate and graduate programs ranked in the top 20 on both lists, joining BYU, Babson, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona, Temple, North Carolina, Missouri-Kansas City and Depaul.

More than 2,000 colleges and universities were queried last spring for the in-depth survey, which focused on the following three areas: academics, students and faculty and opportunities outside the classroom.

Specific factors within these areas included the total number of entrepreneurship courses taught, the availability of internships and mentorships, the percentage of students in the most recent graduating class who had launched their own business since graduating, the percentage of faculty who had started, bought or run a successful business and the amount of prize money offered by each school’s business-plan competition.

More than 90 percent of the entrepreneurship faculty at both BYU and the U. are entrepreneurs, and both schools earmark hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for entrepreneur scholarships and business-plan prize money.

BYU’s undergraduate program is now in its 23rd year. Half its recent graduates have started a business.

BYU’s focus on student entrepreneurs is what sets its program apart, said Stephen Liddle, academic director of the university's Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology,

“Some programs do a great job with technology transfer and helping to commercialize university research,” Liddle said. “At BYU our focus is to inspire students to start businesses as soon as they’re ready, and this could be while they’re a student. To this end, the program encourages students to explore and experiment with ideas early on. We also invest a lot of time and effort in developing a mentorship network. We bring in entrepreneurial role models who can help our students see the potential landmines.”

For its part, the U. has spun off more than 100 start-ups over the past seven years, helping to fund legal expenses, accounting and finance services, websites and working space for student and faculty ventures, the bulk of which are based in Utah.

Troy D’Ambrosio, director of U.'s Pierre Lassonde Entrepreneur Center attributed the graduate program’s inclusion in this year’s rankings to an increase in the number of students, faculty, scholarship dollars and successful start-ups.

“While it hasn’t been a specific goal of our program to be included in these rankings,” D’Ambrosio said, “we’re very excited that it’s happened and see it as a recognition of our efforts to build this program. Beyond the rankings, there are three things which differentiate our entrepreneurship program from others out there: first, our unique experiential learning opportunities; second, a core program which involves students from business, law, science and other disciplines; and third, scholarship dollars from the Pierre Lassonde endowment.”

As the results of this survey shows, Utahns looking to enhance their entrepreneurial street smarts with a first-class formal education need not look far.

Top 5 Undergraduate Programs 1 Babson College 2 Baylor University 3 University of Houston 4 University of Southern California 5 Washington University in St. Louis 6 BYU 17 University of Utah

Top 5 Graduate Programs 1 Babson College 2 University of Michigan 3 BYU 4 Rice University 5 The University of Texas at Austin 15 University of Utah

David Ward is a writer living in Salt Lake City. Contact him at davidbward@gmail.com

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