The 15 colleges producing the most homegrown entrepreneurs

Abridged to the top 15 institutions, New York City had by far the highest number of institutions producing the most local businesses, with eight. Chicago has the second-most, with two. 

Many students go to college to find themselves as worthy candidates for a lofty job down the line. Despite the cacophony of noise around the value of a degree, business employers still prefer job candidates with one. However, college isn’t just about finding a job; it’s about creating one.

While the nation’s few select elite colleges may produce the most startup companies, colleges whose graduates create the most business within the respective community enjoy benefits far beyond bragging rights or prestige.

Colleges and universities enjoy the fruits of their graduates’ labor in multiple ways. Companies launched within the same city or state from which they graduated can stimulate the economy. In 2022, startups created 3.7 million new jobs nationwide, according to Statista. Additionally, graduates-turned-employees within arms reach of their alma mater are more likely to engage students with the community and perpetuate entrepreneurial-minded students.

Keeping in mind how beneficial having a buffet of companies around a campus can be, Switch On Business, a site dedicated to entrepreneurship, researched which colleges and universities around the nation have the highest proportion of local business founders hailing from their institutions.

The researchers first used LinkedIn to find the 250 colleges that produce the most founders overall. Then, they utilized, a company that provides information about businesses, to calculate the number of founders from each college that launched a business within the same city or state between 2014 and September 2023.

More from UB: Interest in career pathways beyond the status quo is growing. Should higher ed be worried?

Percent of graduate founders that launched a local business

Within the same city

Abridged to the top 15 institutions, New York City had by far the highest number of institutions producing the most local businesses, with eight. Chicago had the second-most, with two.

  1. Hunter College (New York City, N.Y.) – 54.55%
  2. Georgia State University (Atlanta, Ga.) – 46.32%
  3. Baruch College (New York City, N.Y.) – 44.58%
  4. University of Houston (Texas) – 41.23%
  5. DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.) – 40.45%
  6. Fashion Institute of Technology (New York City, N.Y.) – 40%
  7. New York University – (New York City, N.Y.) – 39.64%
  8. Florida International University (Miami, Fl.) – 39.52%
  9. Pace University (New York City, N.Y.) – 38.1%
  10. School of Visual Arts (New York City, N.Y.) – 36.67%
  11. The New School (New York City, N.Y.) – 36.11%
  12. University of San Francisco (Calif.) – 33.13%
  13. Portland State University (Ore.) – 34.21%
  14. Columbia College Chicago (Ill.) – 33.33%
  15. University of Nebraska Lincoln – 33.33%

Within the same state

California had the most institutions whose graduates began startups and entrepreneurial ventures within state borders, with 10. Switch on Business accredited Utah Valley University for producing so many home-grown entrepreneurs thanks to Utah’s low corporate tax rates and accessible business-loan financing.

  1. Utah Valley University – 80%
  2. Texas State University 73.03%
  3. California State University – 72.21%
  4. Chapman University (Calif.) – 72.15%
  5. Santa Clara University (Calif.) – 71.43%
  6. San Jose State University (Calif.) – 70.74%
  7. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – 69.23%
  8. Loyola Marymount University (Calif.) – 68.94%
  9. Kansas State University – 68.69%
  10. University of California – 68.49%
  11. James Madison University (Va.) – 66.23%
  12. Academy of Art (Calif.) – 68.49%
  13. San Diego State University (Calif.) – 65.71%
  14. San Francisco State University (Calif.) – 65.63%
  15. Hunter College (N.Y.) – 63.64%

Hunter College was the only institution to appear on both rankings.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

Most Popular