Entrepreneurship programs get high marks for second straight year
Virginia Tech has been ranked No. 25 for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in Princeton Review’s rankings for 2022, marking the second straight year the university has received such recognition.
The rankings, which were released on Nov. 16, echo the 2021 rankings, which marked the first time Virginia Tech had received a national ranking for entrepreneurship programs.
“We are thrilled to celebrate Virginia Tech being named a Top 25 school for undergraduate entrepreneurship for the second year in a row,” said Derick Maggard, executive director of the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, the university’s center for entrepreneurship programs. “Virginia Tech has quickly become a globally recognized and ranked destination of choice for student entrepreneurs.”
The announcement of the Princeton Review ranking coincided with further recognition of the quality of Virginia Tech’s undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. Entrepreneur magazine, which partners with Princeton Review to help publicize the entrepreneurship rankings, ranked the university No. 4 in the Southeast region for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. This is the first year that the magazine has broken the rankings down via region.
“The rankings validate our progress in fostering an entrepreneurial culture and advancing Virginia Tech’s role as a global land-grant institution,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Our hands-on entrepreneurial education prepares graduates for opportunities far beyond developing start-up companies, equipping them with the global experience and perspective they need to compete and succeed in an evolving economy.”
Maggard added that Virginia Tech believes that innovation and entrepreneurship “can be a powerful force within organizations of all types and sizes, in established businesses, nonprofits, as well as new ventures.”
A relationship between the Apex Center and the Department of Management, which offers an option and a minor related to entrepreneurship, has helped make the Pamplin College of Business ground zero for entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech. Both the center and the department are based within Pamplin, where innovation and entrepreneurship are “Pamplin Pillars,” or strategic areas of focus for the college.
“This exciting recognition reflects our commitment to high-quality innovative teaching and expertise in the field of entrepreneurship,” said Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast. “We have worked very hard to build and grow a world-class entrepreneurship program in a very short amount of time, and the success of the program is reflected in the rankings.”
“We are grateful to be ranked once again in the Top 25 by Princeton Review,” said Devi Gnyawali, department head for the Management Department. “Virginia Tech’s top 25 ranking for the past two years underscores our growth as a program and the sustained excellence with which our faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders work together collaboratively to build the VT entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Gnyawali added that building and sustaining world-class programs transcends any single entity or program and requires a commitment to collaboration among different entities across the Virginia Tech entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“In the Department of Management, we are proud of our many contributions as we strive to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs through rigorous coursework and experiential learning programs,” said Gnyawali. “Through our rapidly growing major and interdisciplinary minor in entrepreneurship, the development of leading-edge global collaborative programs in technology entrepreneurship between Xidian University in China and Virginia Tech, and emerging new curricular and co-curricular programs at the forefront of entrepreneurship education, we stand posed with our partners across the Virginia Tech ecosystem to build the future of entrepreneurship education.”
Though anchored in Pamplin, the Apex Center, which was founded in 2014, provides students of any major and any class year the opportunity to engage in all phases of the entrepreneurship process and encourages Virginia Tech alumni to interact with the next generations of entrepreneurs.
“Our approach to entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech is unique as we bring together successful alumni-entrepreneurs and investors to work with our students to help advance their ideas and products to the marketplace,” said Maggard. “We engage our alums and industry leaders throughout the entrepreneurial journey to bring experience and expertise to our student entrepreneurs. The fact that we have students from every college and 94 majors represented in our programs is a true testament of what so many students, faculty, and university leaders have contributed to building.”
One of those student entrepreneurs is Naman Singh, the founder of MassApply, a tool that helps students land more job interviews. Singh is a double major in computer science and mathematics and is a member of the Startup Hokies Accelerator. The accelerator, launched by the Apex Center in 2020, puts student entrepreneurs into an environment that builds teams, engages prospective customers, and launches new business concepts.
According to Singh, his success as a student entrepreneur is due in large part to the resources offered by the Apex Center and Virginia Tech. “At the beginning of 2020 all I had was a rough user interface and a mock-up of my platform, but not much beyond that,” he explained. “It was really plugging into the Apex Center, getting connected with resources at Virginia Tech, and getting that immediate feedback that helped us make those next steps.”
Blake Warner echoed the sentiments of Singh. “The entrepreneurship program at Virginia Tech has shaped me professionally and allowed me to provide immediate value to any company I work with or create in the future.” Warner is a management and finance double major and is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Calhoun Discovery Program.
“With the skills I have gained, I look forward to bettering the world around me in the future,” added Warner. “Within the Pamplin College of Business and, more specifically, the Management Department, I have always found the support I need from faculty, and they are truly a priceless resource.”
Singh explained that, while many students have great ideas for a start-up, it takes more than just a great idea to make a successful business. “That's where I think so many people struggle,” he said. “Students have never started a business before, and that's why the access to mentors and consultants at the Apex Center is so great. You really need that help from people who have been there before.”
Maggard added that he believes the legacy of entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech has manifested itself through the numerous alumni entrepreneurs from across the globe who are building companies, nonprofits, or are innovating their respective industries.
“These alumni entrepreneurs serve as a beacon for our current student entrepreneurs and champion what we all know – this is home for startups.”
To learn more about how Virginia Tech is home for startups, please visit apex.vt.edu/startups.
The Princeton Review has posted the full list at www.princetonreview.com/entrepreneur, where it can be accessed for free with site registration. Users can also access detailed profiles of the schools and find more information about the survey, criteria, and methodology for the rankings.
Entrepreneur has posted the full lists at https://www.entrepreneur.com/topcolleges. The results can also be found in Entrepreneur magazine, available on newsstands later this month.