From Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, some of the world's most famous and successful founders are college dropouts. That might lead some people to believe that most startup entrepreneurs don't bother to get a degree. But those people would be wrong.
Despite the hype around a few incredible dropout success stories, the vast majority of startup founders complete college, and a whole host of tech scene veterans (with the notable exception of Peter Thiel) say that, given the huge uncertainty inherent in the startup game, it's generally wise for aspiring founders to finish their degrees.
If you're determined to take their advice and graduate before you pursue your startup dreams, where should you study? PitchBook wants to help you choose.
Every year the funding database sifts through its vast trove of data to product a report detailing which schools produce the most VC-backed founders, but this year's iteration draws on more data than ever before. PitchBook tracked founders of companies that received a first round of venture funding between 2006 and August of this year and slices that data in a greater number of ways.
If you're looking for a deep dive, just download the free report to find out which undergrad universities (and MBA programs) produce the most unicorn founders, the most female entrepreneurs, and the most serial entrepreneurs. Or if you're looking for a quick and dirty sense of the results, here are the top ten schools producing the most funded founders overall:
- University of California, Berkeley
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Harvard University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Cornell University
- University of Michigan
- University of Texas
- Tel Aviv University
- University of Illinois
An Ivy League education not required.
While the number one slot on this list will shock absolutely no one and the rest of the top ten contain plenty of big name schools, PitchBook is at pains to point out that, while the most famous schools might produce the most successful founders, the vast majority of entrepreneurs bagging VC funding have more down-to-earth names on their degrees. Here's an illustration:
At the end of day, idea-founder fit matters more than an name brand education, PitchBook senior analyst Garrett Black explained in an email.
"It stands to reason the eight schools in the official Ivy League account for 10.7 percent of total capital raised and 7 percent of companies - talking undergrad numbers here - to get at least a first round of venture financing, as pedigree accounts for a lot when it comes to backing a first-time entrepreneur," he wrote.
"That said, great teams can come from anywhere, and VCs aren't predicating decisions solely on an Ivy League pedigree. It's largely a matter of how much a given individual is suited for their particular plan," he added. So your biochemistry degree from Harvard won't do as much for you if you're pitching a fashion startup, while your impressive senior project in econometrics might just catch a VC's eye if you're pitching a retail analytics business, even if you did it at a lesser known school.