If you're a business founder or an aspiring one, maybe you've decided to forego business school altogether. After all, some entrepreneurs suggest that an MBA isn't relevant for entrepreneurial activity. You could also argue that online courses are a more affordable, more efficient way to learn comparable skills from comparable teachers. Then there's the oldest of anti-MBA screeds, that the money you'd spend on tuition is money you could use, instead, as startup capital.

Valid as all of the above may be, there's one crucial factor that these perspectives overlook: You can learn a lot by studying startup life in a traditional classroom setting--especially now that so many schools are ramping up their entrepreneurial offerings. Here's a sampling of some of the most intriguing new 2014-15 courses at major business schools: 

Figure Out Your Finances

At Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, an Entrepreneurial Finance course "addresses key questions that challenge all involved in new ventures." Those questions include: 

  • How much money can and should be raised?
  • When should it be raised and from whom?
  • What is a reasonable valuation of the company?
  • How should funding, employment contracts and exit decisions be structured?

At the Yale School of Management, an entrepreneurial finance course covers comparable ground. The course description also addresses the viability of crowdfunding, the ever-vexing choice of debt or equity financing, and how these choices may inform your exit strategy. 

Hire Better with Big Data

At Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, Professor Timothy Judge is offering a staffing course aimed at addressing what's become a universal challenge for businesses small and large: recruiting and retaining top talent.

While offering a staffing-themed course is extremely entrepreneurial in its own right, Judge's class takes it one step further--by exploring how leaders can use analytics (that is, Big Data) to improve their hiring decisions. Judge's course description reads like a potent manifesto: 

Two central themes in this class are that: (a) to capitalize on the promise of staffing we must undertake serious and rigorous evaluation of those decision-making processes using state-of-the-art analytical frameworks and tools; and (b) in nearly all cases, the fruits of such evaluations will lead to fundamental changes in the methods used to recruit, acquire, and retain the best talent.

Embrace Lean Startup Methods

Now that "lean" methodology has taken hold of startup culture, many founders and internal innovation teams grasp the virtue of creating a "minimum viable product" or MVP: an initial prototype they can show to potential customers and investors, in the interest of collecting feedback and making subsequent decisions. 

Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that Dartmouth's Tuck School has integrated the lean methodology into its First Year Project (FYP) courses, in which groups of five students team up to solve actual business challenges for clients.

And while it's not a lean methods class per se, Professor Viva Bartkus's new course at Notre Dame's Mendoza school--the class is simply called "Judgment"--dovetails strongly with lean principles. The course explores the art of solving problems through critical thinking, properly framing and phrasing problems, asking cogent questions, gathering data, and testing potential solutions.

Network with Key Players, Globally and Locally

One time-honored case that entrepreneurs have always made for getting an MBA is that business school is a great setting for networking with big names--and meeting potential mentors who can open doors for you further up the road.

At the Yale School of Management, one such big name--Timothy Geithner, 75th Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury--is co-teaching a new course, called Global Financial Crisis. "The main goal is to provide a comprehensive view of this major economic event within a framework that explains the dynamics of financial crises in a modern economy," reads the course description. 

True, it's a class that's more in the realm of traditional B-school studies than the realm of entrepreneurship. But the larger point here is not the course itself; it's that courses like this allow you to potentially enter the orbit of someone like Geithner. The opportunity to meet well-connected business celebrities is something that any company founder can appreciate.

As a general principle, it's important to remember that universities have the power to lure not only the Geithners of the world, but other government officials whose wisdom and connections can help you. A few months ago I profiled a Boston-based startup called OpportunitySpace, the makers of an online information platform that maps, organizes, and shares the property holdings of government entities. For OpportunitySpace, whose cofounders met at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the connections they made at the school proved crucial to their successful launch. 

So, yes: You can dismiss the utility of traditional business schools (or schools in general) for entrepreneurs.

But it's closer to the truth to say that schools are a great place for entrepreneurs to boost their networking muscle--and to learn the ropes of founding a company.