Test scores and acceptance rates are only one measure of a school’s prestige. What students do achieve once they have their diplomas in hand is another way to think about what makes a university education worth the investments of time and tuition.
The schools that are worth investing in are the ones whose alumni get invested in -- by venture capitalists, that is. That’s the thinking behind a recent report from investment data provider PitchBook. It consists of various university rankings based on the amount of VC funding its entrepreneurial alumni receive, the number of companies they found, the number of wildly successful “unicorn” ventures they produce and other metrics.
While the rankings predictably feature several Ivy League and elite private schools, they also highlight a number of public institutions. Pitchbook tracked founders whose companies received their first round of venture funding between Jan. 1, 2006, and Aug. 15, 2016.
Taking into account the number of entrepreneurs and companies a school has produced, as well as the amount of venture capital its undergraduate alumni have raised, PitchBook’s primary ranking puts Stanford University at number one. The Silicon Valley university has produced 1,006 entrepreneurs who have raised more than $18.1 billion.
Here are PitchBook’s top 10 universities (undergrad):
1. Stanford University (private)
2. University of California (UC), Berkeley (public)
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (private)
4. Harvard University (private)
5. University of Pennsylvania (private)
6. Cornell University (private)
7. University of Michigan (public)
8. University of Texas (public)
9. Tel Aviv University (public)
10. University of Illinois (public)
These schools have produced the founders of some of the most prominent startups of the past 10 years, including Groupon, 23andMe, Houzz and CRISPR Therapeutics. Harvard, Stanford and UPenn take the top three slots for MBA programs.
Harvard, specifically, has yielded the greatest number of unicorn companies (in both undergrad and MBA categories) and serial entrepreneurs (MBA only). UC Berkeley, a public school, has seen more of its undergrad alumni become serial entrepreneurs than any other school, with 157 founders, 153 companies and $4.2 billion in capital raised.
Proximity to Silicon Valley, with its high concentration of venture capitalists, of course gives Stanford and Berkeley students an advantage, as do the connections available to Ivy League students. But the fact that alumni of Big Ten schools in the Midwest are some of those raising the most capital, for instance, is promising. Not everyone can get accepted to Stanford, let alone afford to attend.
According to PitchBook, the mean tuition for a top-10 PitchBook University is $30,293. That’s 29 percent lower than the average top-10 U.S. News & World Report university, which costs $42,548 per year. If you or someone you know is an aspiring entrepreneur trying to decide which school to attend, keep in mind that a higher price won’t necessarily translate to more money for your future company.
PitchBook’s rankings aren’t confined to the U.S., either. The analysts note that Israeli universities produce the most venture-backed entrepreneurs per capita than any other country. Entrepreneurs who graduated from the three Israeli universities on PitchBook’s top 50 list -- Tel Aviv University (ranked number 9), Technion (16) and Hebrew University (tied for 33) -- have raised a total of $12.4 billion in VC funding.