Success Story

Penn State ranked in top 25 nationally for undergraduate entrepreneurship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has been ranked as the No. 23 school for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies in the United States by The Princeton Review in its annual ratings measuring individual schools’ performances. Among schools in the Mid-Atlantic region, Penn State came in at No. 3.

The 2023 ratings were announced by a partnership of The Princeton Review and Entrepreneurship magazine on Nov. 15.

The organizations collected data for the entrepreneurship ratings as part of a focused June-August 2022 survey of more than 300 schools with offerings in entrepreneurship studies and programs. The ratings are based on information provided directly by the universities on more than 40 unique entrepreneurship-focused data points, including course offerings; entrepreneurial course enrollment percentages; student and alumni ventures; business plan and pitch competition availability; and the availability of scholarships and financial aid.

The new Top 25 ranking was based off a comprehensive set of data that was drawn from across Penn State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Smeal College of Business, Smeal’s Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CIENT) major, the intercollege Entrepreneurship & Innovation (ENTI) Minor in the Office of Undergraduate Education, and the Center for Penn State Student Entrepreneurship,  in the Office of Undergraduate Education, and the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research. The full methodology can be reviewed here.

“Penn State is proud to host one of the most accessible entrepreneurship programs in the world with every undergraduate student having access to at least three entrepreneurship courses during their academic career,” said Vice President for Undergraduate Education Yvonne Gaudelius. “Undergraduate entrepreneurship is customized at most Penn State campuses to meet the needs of local students and build networks with regional entrepreneurs and business support services. It’s truly a unique and internationally recognized model.”

The continued and growing success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Penn State aligns with President Neeli Bendapudi’s framework to enable student success both in and outside the classroom, as well as her goal of making Penn Staters the most employable in the nation.

The Smeal College of Business Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIENT) major is one such program at Penn State with a track record of producing students who have gone on to full-time employment or worked as interns at such notable companies as General Electric, EY, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Textron and Transperfect.

The CIENT major is designed for students interested in managing innovation, re-inventing current businesses, supporting a family business, or starting up new businesses with the intent of growing the economy and providing jobs for a diverse workforce.

“Since the initial launch of the CIENT major in 2015, the major has grown significantly,” said Jeanette Miller, associate director of the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship and coordinator of the CIENT major. “We are thrilled to see CIENT major alumni getting noticed by employers for their problem-solving abilities, adaptability and overall business acumen.”

Students at Penn State also have access to their choice of one of 10 different tracks for an Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) minor. Over the last 10 years, more than 20,000 students from 174 majors have enrolled in at least one course offered from the ENTI minor or the CIENT major. Additionally, more than 1,000 alumni earned the ENTI minor in the last decade. The minor is supported centrally by Penn State Undergraduate Education but features interdisciplinary expertise and courses through its 10 concentrations, known as clusters.

The courses develop skills, knowledge and values in problem solving, innovation, opportunity recognition, self-efficacy, leadership, ethics, communications and learning from failure. To meet the students’ broad range of entrepreneurship and innovation interests, core courses establish foundational knowledge, and then students select a concentration cluster aligned to specific areas of study ranging from hospitality and journalism to bio-tech, art and engineering.

“At Penn State, there are entrepreneurship opportunities for every student, and we encourage them to be innovative in all aspects of their personal and professional lives,” said Anne Hoag, director of the Center for Penn State Student Entrepreneurship and associate professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. “We believe that if we can teach students to think like entrepreneurs, they will be successful no matter what endeavor they pursue.”

In addition to the CIENT major and the ENTI minor on the academic side, the Invent Penn State initiative acts as a driving force for the Penn State entrepreneurial ecosystem outside the classroom to create a full-circle, robust learning opportunity for all students.

Invent Penn State presents students with opportunities to learn from entrepreneurial mentors, conduct customer discovery, pitch their ideas and potentially acquire funding to help build their startup.

As part of Invent Penn State, the LaunchBox & Innovation Network is comprised of 21 innovation spaces embedded within Penn State campus communities across the state, providing a wide array of no-cost resources needed by entrepreneurs and innovators. The network offers startup accelerator programs, coworking space, mentorship opportunities and pitch competitions to Penn State students and the wider Pennsylvania community, and has engaged more than 13,000 faculty, staff and students in just six years of existence.

“We provide students with hands-on opportunities and experiences where they get to really explore entrepreneurial mindsets, and all in an environment where they are surrounded by mentors and resources meant to help them succeed,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “The industry knowledge brought by entrepreneurship professors and the mentorship available through the LaunchBox & Innovation Network, in combination with the funding opportunities through our various pitch competitions, really sets up our students for success in their innovative endeavors.”

Last fall, Invent Penn State opened the doors to the all-new Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub, a six-story, state-of-the-art, multi-use home for innovation in downtown State College. The building houses Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank and OriginLabs, a rapid prototyping and fabrication space designed to support Penn State students, faculty, and staff and the local State College community more quickly and efficiently build a working minimum viable product. The building features state-of-the-art entrepreneurial and innovation resources designed to accelerate innovation, technology commercialization, and local startup companies through peer learning, knowledge sharing and mentorship.

“We are seeing sustained success in growing new startup companies through the Invent Penn State initiative,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. “We continue to push the envelope of what is possible with additions to our ecosystem such as the  Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub. What we’ve seen and continue to prove is how environments which encourage innovation and collaboration not only drive economic development and job creation in Pennsylvania, but also act as a large contributing factor to our national ranking.”

To view the complete list of top undergraduate programs across the U.S. and learn more about this year’s ranking methodology, visit Princeton Review’s web page.

About Invent Penn State

Invent Penn State is a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.