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These Are The Top Universities For Funded Founders

Illustration of graduation cap with money tassel.

Every year or so at Crunchbase News, we tally up which U.S. universities graduate the highest number of recently funded startup founders. And each time, we see mostly predictable results, with a few surprises in the mix.

This time around, we saw minimal flux at the top of the list. The leading universities for funded founders are Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Harvard. The top business schools are Harvard, Stanford and Wharton.

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However, we did see some state universities — UCLA and University of Michigan, in particular — climb the ranks since our last survey in 2021. Among business schools, meanwhile, MIT’s Sloan School of Management posted a notably stronger showing.

Our latest dataset looks at founders of companies that raised their last private funding rounds in 2022 and 2023 and pulled in $1 million or more to date.1 We lay out the top 36 schools they attended in the chart below:

A lot of founders also attended business schools, which we rank separately. Below are 15 of the top business schools for recently funded founders.

Some noteworthy findings

We’ve compiled several iterations of these lists over the years, and each time a few apparent emerging trends pop up. Here are some of the details that stand out in the current ranking:

  • UC Berkeley edged out Harvard in nonbusiness rankings: Among U.S. business schools, Harvard has by far the largest number of alumni with recently funded startups. Across the rest of the university, however, it is not so dominant. For 2022-23, UC Berkeley actually edged out Harvard, with 297 funded founders, compared to 281. The list of Berkeley alumni-founded companies includes some large funding recipients such as Databricks and Dialpad.
  • Cornell shines bright: Cornell isn’t a top-of-mind name when thinking of powerhouse producers of startup founders. However, its grads consistently rank in the top 10 in our funded-founder rankings. The university’s most recent showing – fifth place among nonbusiness schools — was especially strong. But while grads are making an impact as entrepreneurs, Crunchbase data shows that virtually none of them are sticking around Cornell’s hometown of Ithaca, New York, preferring New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, and other large startup hubs.
  • Michigan, UCLA and UT rank high among public schools: Large, prestigious public research universities graduate a large portion of future-funded startup founders, but certain states outperform. Besides the aforementioned UC Berkeley, we saw three other state schools — University of Michigan, UCLA and The University of Texas at Austin land in the top 15 on the non-business-school list. Of those, UCLA saw the biggest gain in founder total since our 2021 survey.
  • MIT (and Sloan) on the rise: Just 162 short years since its founding, the erstwhile Massachusetts Institute of Technology is having a moment. This year, the school was picked as the top “dream college” by American high school seniors, enamored with its prestige and famously rigorous science, comp sci and engineering curriculum. The university trails only Stanford in our nonbusiness school list. Its Sloan School of Management, meanwhile, made a big jump in the business school rankings, landing in fourth place.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

  1. Does not include companies whose last funding round was post-IPO, grant, private equity, debt, or secondary financing.

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