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April 14, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Best Colleges for Social Entrepreneurs (According to CNNs Editorial Straw Poll)

Top University Programs for Social Entrepreneurs

Here is CNN’s list of top schools for social innovators and entrepreneurs:

Babson College (#26 on Gray Pinstripes Ranking)
Columbia Universitty (#10 on Gray Pinstripes Ranking)
Cornell University (#12 on Gray Pinstripes Ranking)
Duke University (#16 on Gray Pinstripes Ranking)
New York University (#8 on Gray Pinstripes Ranking)
Stanford University (#4 on Gray Pinstripes)
University of Arizona (********I don’t think they made the gray pinstripes top #100 ********* Also, they don’t feature it as a core component of their website)
University of California at Berkeley (#6 on Gray Pinstripes)
University of Colorado at Boulder (#37 on Gray Pinstripes)
Yale University (#3 on Gray Pinstripes)

Looking for universities with a strong X without Borders (Doctors, Engineers, Designers, etc…), Net Impact, or Ashoka U (a big university outreach program from the Ashoka). For instance the here are some Ashoka University Changemaker campuses from 2009, 2010, and 2011:

Arizona State University
Babson College (one of the top programs for entrepreneurs more generally and the president at Babson is taking their program in new and interesting directions)
College of the Atlantic (???)
Cornell University (Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise & Stuart Hart is influential in both sustainability and the emerging markets space)
George Mason University (also an advantage given it is located just outside Washington DC)
Johns Hopkins University (Center for Social Concern & Hopkins Social Innovations Partnership, which I believe is housed with the Center for Social Concern–also located relatively close to Washington DC)
The New School
Tulane University (this program is making big strides, particularly in international development type work, including the Levy-Rosenblum Institute at the Freeman School of Business)
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Maryland (Located near Washington DC).
Duke University (CASE at Duke) a consistent top player in the social entrepreneurship space

Nathaniel Whitemore, who worked in the social entrepreneurship program at Northwestern University points to these programs from Northwestern, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and Vanderbilt University.

Arizona and Babson seem odd inclusions. Although Babson does have a highly ranked entrepreneurship program. However, I’m not sure how that translates into institutional, cultural, and professional support necessary to put it much less Arizona in the top 11 included.

Gray Pinstripes MBA Rankings for the Top Sustainable and CSR Masters in Business Administration Programs

Here are the top 25 of 100 from the Beyond Gray Pinstripes study from the Aspen Institute:

1) York
2) Michigan
3) Yale
4) Stanford
5) Notre Dame
6) UC Berkeley
7) RSM Eramus
8] NYU
9) IE Business School
10) Columbia
11) University of Virginia
12) Cornell
13) George Washington University
14) University of North Carolina
15) Simmons School of Management
16) Duke
17) Wisconsin
18] Duquesne (Donahue)
19) University of New Mexico (Anderson)
20) University of Denver (Daniels)
21) University of San Diego School of Business Administration
22) Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business
23) Nottingham University Business School
24) Ohio State (Fisher)
25) Portland State University School of Business Administration

My Evaluation of Gray Pinstripes Ranking
Initially, I don’t really have much of a way to evaluate the inclusions from nations other than the US.
The Beyond Graypinstripes Study includes a full 1 to 100 ranking and is so more robust and credible than the CNN version. Admittedly, Gray pinstripes does include a slightly different focus. Although its important to note that Grey Pinstripes seems to have a bias for green tech & corporate socially over more traditional social entrepreneurship.

My Critique of CNN’s “Best Colleges for Social Entrepreneurs”

CNN has created a listing of what it believes to be the top universities for social entrepreneurs, however it was created by the FSB staff and doesn’t explain the nature of the inclusion. Also, is this about corporate social responsibility, clean and sustainable technology, micro enterprise, or some other focus to social entrepreneurship????

Further, the omission of University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), the University of Virginia, Brown University, the University of Texas (Austin), and the University of Indiana seems pretty odd as well. I think using this list without looking at the US News Rankings Nonprofit MBA Rankings as well as Grey Pinstripes wouldn’t be wise. (Note: also has a custom engine which allows you to specify what you want out of a graduate program and it provides the most viable answers according to its ranking algorithm) The Gray Pinstripes study has a distinct criteria which they explain on their website–also its not limited to only 11 results. Also, the nature of the list makes it look like a ranking….when it really isn’t.

Also, there are so many different types of social entrepreneurship that these eleven can only be taken as interesting or nice suggestions. Which criteria did they use? Which list of programs did they start from? Its also a little unclear which specific program at the university they classified as “social entrepreneurship.” How do we know some universities inclusion aren’t based on the collective authors/editors attendance of said university? Also, some of the descriptions read like….they offer two classes in social entrepreneurship….I’m confused why that program deserves a ranking or inclusion in a list. Such journalistic irresponsibility or sloppiness by a major media organization with sufficient funds to make a decent analysis seems a bit shoddy.


Leave a Comment
  1. Jonathan Kalan / Apr 14 2010 10:24 pm

    Very good! Check out our post on almost the same thing
    “New Roles In New Sectors- CSR & Social Enterprise Jobs and Where to Find Them”

  2. compassioninpolitics / Apr 14 2010 11:22 pm

    Thanks Jonathan,

    Your article along with the link to the Financial Times ranking of MBA Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs will hopefully prove helpful to readers:
    Best in corporate social responsibility*

    1 Univ. of Notre Dame: Mendoza

    2 Nottingham University Business School

    3 Yale School of Management

    4 University of Virginia: Darden

    5 University of California at Berkeley: Haas

    6 IE Business School

    7 Brigham Young University: Marriott School

    8 Esade Business School

    9 University of Michigan: Ross

    10 University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler,dwp_uuid=3d473b3c-dda6-11dd-930e-000077b07658.html

    It also reaffirms my criticism of the CNN “top schools list” by leaving off the University of Michigan, UNC, and perhaps even Notre Dame. I think Michigan may be due inclusion simply because it has CK Prahalad the author best seller & thought leadership on base of the pyramid markets. Additionally the University of Michigan has
    which demonstrates real expertise in the professors and the opportunities for students to engage in research. It is important to note, however, that the Michigan program looks to have its focus on emerging markets (aka BOP style social entrepreneurship)–so if you aren’t looking to work/go overseas Michigan may not be the program for you.
    Its offering of dual degree programs and its robust academic offerings in public administration, however, does open some other doors for more domestically focused social entrepreneurship.

  3. compassioninpolitics / Apr 15 2010 5:27 pm

    In terms of international development program looks to be impressive:

    Their projects seem to be quite impressive, which also suggest the program has a practical orientation (at least if you find a way to get involved with these ongoing projects or create your own). Since 1998 they have had “34 projects in 25 countries”–with $52 million in funding (on an average thats $4.33 million a year):

    Note: Tulane also has a more traditional social entrepreneurship program. I can’t tell how much overlap and interaction between the two programs.

    Best of luck in your search….feel free to ask questions below….

  4. compassioninpolitics / Apr 27 2010 12:08 am

    I would re-emphasize the omission of the program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from the CNN list seems odd. I found the 2006 report from Grey Pinstripes which highlights their program–as such–the CNN list seems rather incomplete.

    Alas, happy trails as you search for the best program in social entrepreneurship for you.

  5. compassioninpolitics / May 3 2010 3:17 am

    Finally, if you are looking at social entrepreneurship from a policy perspective–the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon is pretty impressive:

  6. compassioninpolitics / Jul 20 2010 9:34 pm

    I think Michigan would be high on my radar as well–here is the website for their Social Venture Creation class which isn’t impressive from a web design perspective–but demonstrates that Michigan University is serious about social entrepreneurship. (they also have strong programs across disciplines including MBA and engineering–which tend to enhance the culture and community of entrepreneurship) Michigan also has the William Davidson Institute and had CK Prahalad on faculty.

  7. Nathan Ketsdever / Nov 22 2010 8:46 pm

    Duke University, the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and North Carolina (Chapel Hill) continue to get major kudos for their programs. ******

    I’m currently investigating UC Davis’ entrepreneurship program–which doesn’t seem to have a social component.

  8. compassioninpolitics / Dec 16 2010 10:19 pm

    Compass Partners supports these 5 universities with incubation for 15 students at each university:
    1) American
    2) Georgetown
    3) GWU
    4) Indiana University
    5) Tufts University

    “Following a rigorous application and interview process that started with nearly 700 students, American, Georgetown, George Washington, Indiana and Tufts University each now have a passionate group of 15 Fellows who will work together over the next two years to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems.”


  9. compassioninpolitics / Dec 19 2010 1:43 am

    NYU program is impressive (it has both undergraduate & graduate opportunities)–it does seem to focus on the non-profit side from the website:

  10. Nathan Ketsdever / Mar 31 2011 5:41 pm

    Portland recently launched a social innovation incubator–I can’t tell what the focus is exactly (internet, social change, or some particular niche):

    Also, the University of Washington seems to have a fantastic technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

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