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5 of the Best Colleges for Future IT Business Owners

5 of the Best Colleges for Future IT Business Owners

Monday, August 29, 2016/Categories: information-technology

Sometimes you know from a young age that you want to work in tech. Other times, it takes a career in sales to make you realize you'd rather run your own IT empire.

Schools around the country offer tech-centric programs to help you hone your IT chops. However, if your dream includes starting your own IT business, you might want to consider attending one of these five schools, which offer a top education in technology and entrepreneurship – practically guaranteed to set aspiring tech entrepreneurs on the path to success.

Top Schools for Tech Entrepreneurship

After combing through loads of “best” lists and doing a little digging of our own, we found that some of the top schools in the nation for a solid tech and business education include…

While any of those three schools are stellar choices, the two that stand out as our top picks for future IT business owners are the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of California, Berkeley.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

If you’re looking for a top-notch school for aspiring entrepreneurs, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor might be for you. Ranked seventh for the best undergrad programs for entrepreneurship in 2016 by Entrepreneur, the school has also offered a dual degree from the College of Engineering (@UMengineering) and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business (@MichiganRoss) since 2004.

“With the engineering degree, students are able to build strong technical and critical thinking skills,” says Rob Freidhoff, M.Ed. (@robfreidhoff), director of the at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. “Having the dual degree option enables students to tailor a program where their engineering and business interests may be further explored at the undergraduate level, all while having access to the support networks offered by the College of Engineering and Ross School of Business.”

Pretty neat, right? But brace yourself – it gets even better. Nestled in the College of Engineering is the Center for Entrepreneurship (@UMCFE). According to Matthew Gibson, Ph.D. (@gibson_matt), director of undergraduate programs at the Center for Entrepreneurship, the center was founded almost a decade ago and offers a variety of classes and programs, as well as Startup Immersion Treks to expose students to entrepreneurial ecosystems in cities beyond Ann Arbor.

“The purpose is to allow these students to get involved and see what’s going on in the startup world,” says Gibson. “They are often in some ways life-changing events for these students because they really do get to see what is going on, and it aligns with the things they’re working on.”

There’s also an Entrepreneurship Leadership Program geared specifically toward students who want to start their own business.

“That program takes a small cohort of students, 20 students a year, and we put them in a specialized training program that includes a couple of courses they take with us that are exclusive to them and prepare them for a guaranteed paid internship with an innovative, growing company so they get real experience in the startup world,” says Gibson.

Students also have the option of vying in The Startup Competition. Think of it like “The Voice” for entrepreneurs. Contestants pitch to judges, vying for a spot on one of their teams. The judges mentor the contestants for several months. Along the way, there are elimination rounds where contestants are either voted through or cut – sometimes with the help of the audience – until a winner is crowned. While winning the competition is obviously a huge coup, just the chance to work with the judges gives students an opportunity to learn from top business leaders.

“These mentors are successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, leaders in the community, and people with amazing experience; you just can’t access them elsewhere,” says Gibson.

Check out the College of Engineering’s admissions page for more information and to apply.

University of California, Berkeley

After observing a need for tech graduates who also have a strong business background, staff at the University of California, Berkeley (@UCBerkeley) decided to launch the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program (M.E.T.), which accepts its first freshman class in fall 2017.

Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering (@Cal_Engineer), and Rich Lyons (@richlyons), dean of the Haas School of Business (@BerkeleyHaas), collaborated to combine the strengths of their respective colleges into one streamlined program, according to Karen Rhodes, executive director of marketing and communications.

Students from the M.E.T. Program will graduate with two Bachelor of Science degrees: one in engineering and one in business administration. The curriculum for the program consists of liberal arts, engineering, and business courses – and it can be completed in four years.

“Tech employers have been telling us there’s a significant gap in the talent pool: engineers know technology, but don’t always know how to scale it, and business graduates don’t always understand the technologies they’re charged with commercializing and managing,” says Rhodes. “Graduating with these two degrees will open up a wide range of options for our students. Some will start up their own entrepreneurial ventures; others will bring their entrepreneurial mindset into established companies.”

Students choose between two tracks: Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences or Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. Each track will consist of approximately 30 students in order to encourage collaboration and allow for close mentoring. The program also helps students build connections and real-world experience through internships.

“The M.E.T Program is more than just integrative engineering and business coursework,” says Rhodes. “It also connects students with industry internships, hands-on practice with entrepreneurship, and introductions to alumni networks and startup incubators in Silicon Valley’s innovation ecosystem. They won't need to wait for an MBA to launch their own company.”

The university is now accepting M.E.T. applications for incoming freshman for the fall 2017 semester. Applications close November 30, 2016, so get cracking if you want to be a part of this inaugural class.

Trying to start a business? Whether you’re still a student, a recent graduate, or a grizzled veteran, check out our eBook 3 Common Habits That Bite into Startup Profits for some helpful tips on staying in the black.

About the Contributors

Rob Freidhoff

Rob Freidhoff, M.Ed., is the director of the Engineering Advising Center at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He is a passionate educator; appreciative advisor; web video, social media, and web development enthusiast; and lover of public speaking (yes, it's true).



Matt Gibson

Matthew Gibson is the director of undergraduate programs at the University of Michigan College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Matt is passionate about helping students achieve success through the practical application of entrepreneurship. He combines his unique background in engineering, business, innovation, and education to create meaningful experiential learning opportunities for students across the university.

Karen Rhodes

Karen Rhodes is the executive director of marketing and communications at the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Karen’s professional career has been devoted to building stakeholder engagement in the mission of public higher education, spanning appointments in fundraising, communications, and external relations.

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