Nov 29, 2021 - News

Best Illinois schools for entrepreneurs

Students at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management gather at the Evanston campus.
Students at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management gather at the Evanston campus. Photo: Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Financial database PitchBook released its annual list of the top 50 colleges for business founders last week, and both the University of Illinois and Northwestern made the Top 25.

Why it matters: Good founder schools attract would-be entrepreneurs who create new businesses that add to Chicago's first class startup community.

Between the lines: This is a national list, but we wanted to zoom in and learn more about the best business schools in our area. We spoke to some experts and here's the list we came out with:

🥣 Northwestern: Kellogg School of Management

  • If you are completing post-graduate work, Kellogg continues to be one of the best in the country. And they do it without a ton of students, enrolling under 1,300 full-time students a year.

🧠 The University of Chicago: Booth School of Business

  • The U of C didn't make the top 50 list but scores much higher when you drill down to MBAs only. In recent data, Booth graduated 51 founders who have each raised more than $1 million in startup funding; Kellogg had 47.

🌽 The University of Illinois: Geis College of Business

  • This may be the best university in Illinois for undergraduate business studies. The Geis College of Business was ranked No. 7 this year by U.S. News and World Report for public undergraduate business programs.

💻 IIT: The Kaplan Institute

  • The overlooked design school recently launched the Kaplan Institute for tech and innovation. They have a stellar reputation for producing founders and attracting entrepreneurs to teach at the school.

📃 The College of DuPage

Honorable mentions: The DePaul Driehaus School of Business, The Loyola University Chicago Quinlan School of Business and Lake Forest College.

The other side: You may not need college to be an entrepreneur.

  • "A founder's educational path is less important to us than how well they know the industry that they're building in," Chicago Venture's Lindsay Knight tells Axios.
  • "That usually has less to do with formal education and more with real-world experience."
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