For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Maryland (UMD) earned a top 10 ranking in The Princeton Review’s annual survey of top schools for entrepreneurship. In the 2021 rankings released today and featured in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine, UMD placed No. 6 for undergraduate entrepreneurship education—climbing one spot from last year—and No. 3 among public universities. UMD additionally was listed at No. 23 for graduate entrepreneurship education, marking the ninth consecutive year that the university has been named a top 25 program.
“The consistently high rankings in innovation and entrepreneurship are a natural byproduct of many years of strong relationships and collaboration across all 12 schools and colleges, student organizations, research and economic development groups, and other key partners,” said Dean Chang, associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at UMD. “This broad and exceptional I&E ecosystem is what sets UMD apart in preparing students to tackle our world’s biggest challenges, two of which we currently face in systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Southern Management Leadership Program (SMLP) and the Maryland COVID Resiliency & Response I-Corps short course are two examples of how UMD is approaching those dual challenges. The I-Corps course, which kicked off this month, brings together academic teams, entrepreneurs and small business owners to work on an innovation related to the pandemic, start an innovative for-profit or nonprofit venture to address COVID or provide solutions for established businesses to provide a new product or service. The Southern Management program identifies promising leaders among minority, first-generation and low-income students attending community colleges and provides them with scholarships and mentoring at UMD.
“Our students have taught us that innovation is inextricably linked to diversity,” said SMLP Director Harry Alford. “The students are resourceful, exhibit an entrepreneurial mindset and represent various races, nationalities, religions, ethnicities, genders, worldviews and experiences. The world is shifting and in need of diverse entrepreneurs solving the problems of today and tomorrow. SMLP and UMD exemplify the programming required to foster the next wave of innovation.”
Since breaking into the Top 10 in the 2016 rankings, UMD has steadily climbed each year—a rise coinciding with UMD’s campus-wide initiative to engage all 40,000 students in innovation and entrepreneurship. This collaboration is spearheaded by the Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and encompasses not only business (through the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship) and engineering (Mtech) but also all schools and colleges and key partners like the Office of Undergraduate Studies (living-learning programs, general education, SMLP), student organizations (Startup Shell, Bitcamp), economic development (I-Corps, UM Ventures) and social innovation (Do Good Institute, Technica, Ladies First, AgEnterprise Challenge).
In 2019–20, 15,850 Maryland students took at least one course related to innovation and entrepreneurship, including 712 students pursuing an entrepreneurship minor. One online entrepreneurship course alone taught 1,948 undergraduates about starting new ventures while satisfying a general education requirement. Beyond traditional entrepreneurship, UMD offers over 100 courses in innovation-related areas like creativity, entrepreneurial mindset, social value creation, business principles and design thinking.
The Princeton Review tallied its rankings for top entrepreneurship programs based on a survey conducted from June through August 2020 of more than 300 schools about their entrepreneurship offerings. While most entrepreneurship rankings include only UMD’s extensive business or engineering entrepreneurship programs, the Princeton Review additionally reflects UMD’s efforts to include its entire student population.
The survey methodology looked at each school’s commitment to entrepreneurship education inside and outside the classroom. Among the many criteria were the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors; the number and reach of mentorship programs, scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies; and the level of support for school-sponsored business plan competitions.