Three Decades at No. 1: Babson Leads Graduate Entrepreneurship Education
How do you lead the nation in cutting-edge graduate entrepreneurship education for a stunning 30 years in a row?
For Sebastian Fixson, the associate dean of graduate programs and innovation at Babson College, it takes constant progress and a commitment to live the very entrepreneurial ethos the college teaches.
“The ranking is a clear validation of everything Babson is doing. We’ve remained number one in entrepreneurship because we continually renew, rework, and improve our programs,” Fixson said. “Since early on, we’ve explored new methods of experiential learning and integrated teaching to a totally new degree, and we’ve built that out over time so we’re bigger and better than we were 30 years ago.”
And, while earning the No. 1 ranking for Best MBA in Entrepreneurship from U.S. News & World Report for the 30th consecutive year is cause for celebration, it’s also a confirmation of the College’s drive to innovate and expand the way entrepreneurship is taught.
“This is a moment of immense pride and celebration for the Babson community,” Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD said. “The world needs entrepreneurial leaders in all fields to solve big and small problems. From startups to rapidly evolving larger businesses and even municipalities, Babson graduates are creating social and economic value.”
As Babson’s MBA in Entrepreneurship at the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business continues to lead the nation, demand for a Babson education also has grown. Applications for Babson’s MBA programs have increased by 50% since 2020, while admission rates have remained competitive each year.
“To maintain the number one ranking, you can’t sit idle, and we certainly haven’t,” said Beth Bristol MBA’06, the associate dean of graduate administration. “Babson isn’t resting on its laurels. We’re getting better with every year, and that mindset and drive to improve becomes baked into our students.”
Fixson, who also holds the Marla M. Capozzi MBA’96 Term Chair in Design Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said Babson started out on top partially because the College pioneered entrepreneurship education.
“Entrepreneurship as an academic field barely existed 40 years ago,” Fixson said. “Babson, in a sense, has been a major force that helped create it.”
“Entrepreneurship as an academic field barely existed 40 years ago. Babson, in a sense, has been a major force that helped create it.”
Sebastian Fixson, Marla M. Capozzi MBA’96 Term Chair in Design Thinking, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Babson College
The Babson community has continued to push the boundaries of teaching entrepreneurship ever since, using real world practice and the Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®(ET&A™) methodology to improve entrepreneurship teaching.
“One of the things that distinguishes Babson’s MBA program is that the entrepreneurial mindset permeates all of our courses, not only those with Entrepreneurship in their title,” Fixson said.
For example, Babson’s graduate program has developed competitive, rigorous, STEM-designated concentrations—such as Quantitative Finance and Business Analytics & Machine Learning—to address the contemporary needs of a data-driven economy with an entrepreneurial mindset.
“We live in a far more turbulent time in terms of work and a broader economy. Babson’s MBA students already have the entrepreneurial attitude, the leadership behaviors, and the problem-solving skill set to help any business adapt and pivot,” Fixson said. “More and more firms are looking for those skills.”
Babson’s alumni are already in high demand, according to data from the Babson MBA Class of 2022. Leading companies from around the world hired Babson MBA Class of 2022 graduates in the public and private sectors in growing fields, with 24% working in technology, 22% in finance, and 13% in consulting. Babson’s 2022 full-time MBA graduates who secured employment earned an average U.S.-based salary of $116,935. The six-figure salary is a significant increase from previous years, and many graduates earned an additional signing bonus averaging $32,773.
“We prepare our learners to become ambitious, action-oriented problem solvers who can work in any field, any industry,” Fixson said. “If you look at our graduates in contrast to other schools, Babson’s graduates are joining all different kinds of businesses, both in terms of function as well as companies. That suggests there’s a need for what we can contribute.”
And, while Babson’s community of faculty, staff, and students have much to celebrate, Bristol said the real reward is watching the global problem-solving that takes place at Babson every day.
“That’s what makes it so fun to bear witness to this story that’s been 30 years in the making. I’ve been here for 20 years, and it’s not the same place it was when I started,” Bristol said. “The thought leadership that comes from our faculty and the way that they teach our students has entrepreneurship at its core, but it continues to evolve. It’s just really fun to be a part of that process.”