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Business schools across the U.S. realize how crucial innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and critical thought are to pushing the business world forward. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, the country’s top business schools have also identified the increasing influence factors such as new technology, globalization and sustainability have on the world economy.
Accordingly, it is important for these schools to employ a dynamic approach to education, adapting their curricula to meet emerging trends and equip students with the progressive skills necessary to succeed.
Innovative Business Schools in America are recognized annually for their commitment to rethinking traditional business education. These programs are dedicated to pushing boundaries and creating an environment of creativity, innovation, and collaboration that prepares future business leaders.
Here we examine the 50 most innovative U.S. business schools in each case highlighting the qualities that make the institution so leading edge. We’ve chosen not to list these fine business schools in any particular order based on the fact that they all can stand tall on their own unique strengths.
Our first step was to consult previously published lists on the subject; yet while these resources yielded useful results, they weren’t conclusive. For example, QS TopMBA.com’s “Innovation MBA Rankings” list is specific to MBA programs and only includes 20 U.S. business schools.
Similarly, Forbes’ “The 10 Most Innovative Business School Courses” article focuses on classes – not schools more broadly – and features a limited number of entries. Hence, we had to dig deeper.
We opted to identify what exactly makes a business school progressive. While keeping in mind business innovation itself as a core concept, we settled on criteria such as technological innovation, the fostering of new ideas, cognizance of issues like sustainability, cutting-edge research, proximity to business epicenters, and pioneering faculty members.
In addition to our referencing the aforementioned lists, entries were sourced by searching for schools that fit some or all of the above criteria. We cross-checked all potential options with authoritative “Best MBA” and “Best Business Schools” lists, looking at each school individually and weighing up their innovation credentials and academic rankings before finalizing our selection and order.
The lists referred to were:
TopMBA.com, “Innovation MBA Rankings”
Masters in Business Degree Guide, “Top 20 Most Innovative MBA Programs, Ranked by Acceptance Rate”
Forbes, “The 10 Most Innovative Business School Courses”
College of Business, Stony Brook University – Stony Brook, New York
Based in the hamlet of the university’s name in New York State, Stony Brook University’s College of Business places innovation – right alongside entrepreneurship and work experience – at the heart of its educational outlook. The school takes an interdisciplinary approach to help foster leaders who can create innovative and accountable business processes.
Accordingly, the College of Business Innovation Center bolsters the MBA program, encourages innovative technological research, and serves as a platform for budding creators and future movers in business enterprises.
Furthermore, thanks to the college’s outreach program, students can gain real-world business experience working within the surrounding Long Island community – via internships and advisory roles. The school is also affiliated with several local business incubators; the Long Island High Technology Incubator is one such facility, billing itself as “the place where new technology businesses grow.”
Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Troy, New York
The Lally School of Management is based on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s campus in Troy, New York, in the epicenter of the state’s “Tech Valley.” With a forward-thinking approach to business education, Lally aims to produce tech-savvy leaders capable of incorporating new technology and its processes into their organizations’ business strategies.
Lally’s master’s program in technology commercialization and entrepreneurship, for example, includes core classes on how to tap into fresh technologies. The course also offers a wide range of particularized science and technology electives, from computer science to biomed engineering.
Meanwhile, Lally’s MBA program prides itself on catering to innovation advocates and technologically astute students and champions the use of leading-edge technology. According to TopMBA.com, Lally’s “all-encompassing commitment to innovation in business” is what sets it apart from other business school MBAs.
Stuart School of Business, Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, Illinois
The Stuart School of Business is split between the Illinois Institute of Technology’s main and downtown campuses in Chicago, Illinois. Stuart’s Center for Strategic Competitiveness strives to promote sustainability and financial workability while nurturing originality, enterprise, and worldwide business alliances. Moreover, the school as a whole is “committed to educating tomorrow’s global innovators through the unique concept of strategic competitiveness.”
Stuart’s Center for Financial Innovation serves as a dedicated multimedia resource that documents and promotes economic change, while the Knapp Entrepreneurship Center helps students create businesses or get new ideas off the ground.
At the same time, the school’s academic program includes master’s degrees in marketing analytics and communication, mathematical finance, and environmental management and sustainability. It also offers a Ph.D. in management science as well as dual degrees, the latter in association with a few of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s other schools.
School of Business Administration, University of Vermont – Burlington, Vermont
In January 2014, the University of Vermont’s School of Business Administration heralded a new sustainable entrepreneurship MBA program dedicated to bringing forth innovative future business leaders attuned to the new world of diverse and productive business practices.
The school – which can be found on the University of Vermont’s Burlington campus – also places increased importance on hands-on experiences, with its new Bloomberg Lab boasting cutting-edge technology and top-flight resources.
Furthermore, the School of Business Administration’s students have access to the most up-to-date operating systems and software available. The University of Vermont’s Center for Leadership and Innovation additionally offers a range of business-focused leadership certificates and management sessions.
Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management, Stevens Institute of Technology – Hoboken, New Jersey
The Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey bills itself as “the innovation university.” What’s more, the institute’s Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management is similarly dedicated to the pursuit of creative thought and critical analysis.
Howe blends technology and industry, preparing students on its undergraduate and graduate courses for high-tech settings, existent issues, and the constantly moving world of modern business. The school utilizes a collaborative, research-grounded approach, teaching students practical business theory while also representing up-and-coming industry concerns such as social media-based commerce, emerging technologies, big data analytics and the control of innovation within business.
Howe also boasts that its “proximity to Manhattan creates a natural setting for exploring synergies between business, management and technology.”
D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University – Boston, Massachusetts
Through its diverse research, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business’ Institute for Global Innovation Management aims to “advance the understanding of and the management of innovation in a global economy.” What’s more, bachelor’s students at the Boston school who concentrate on entrepreneurship and innovation may gain real-world knowledge of micro-financing in Latin America and South Africa.
Those studying at D’amore-McKim can furthermore take advantage of the School of Technological Entrepreneurship, which offers well-rounded entrepreneurial programs that ensure learners are on the cutting edge of technological innovation.
Aside from all this, in April 2014 D’Amore-McKim announced a new master’s in innovation program that entrepreneurship- and innovation-focused professor Tucker Marion described as “an intensive one-year course of experiential study.” The master’s covers areas such as technology, entrepreneurship and new ideas, aiming to develop what Marion terms “explosive growth.”
Daniels College of Business, University of Denver – Denver, Colorado
In 2010, Forbes ranked the Daniels College of Business’ Deutsche Bank microfinance MBA class as one of the ten most innovative in the country. Working with the global banking firm, Daniels offers students a first-hand taste of the world of microfinance.
What’s more, in the past this has included social entrepreneurship-boosting trips to Cambodia and Azerbaijan, enabling learners to deal with real-world microfinance loan applications. Daniels’ MBA curriculum also features a concentration in innovation and entrepreneurship that aims to shine a spotlight on the essence of being an entrepreneur.
Daniels strives to imbue its students with a sense of “entrepreneurial spirit” by stressing the importance of innovation and the use of creative thinking across the board. The school additionally highlights the fact that the surrounding Denver and Rocky Mountain areas boast a large number of leading-edge businesses, making for a wealth of possible intern positions and networking connections.
Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University – Raleigh, North Carolina
In 2010 Forbes included the Poole College of Management’s “product innovation lab” on its “The 10 Most Innovative Business School Courses” list. Forbes explained that the venture “brings together business, engineering and industrial design professors who challenge MBA students to work on sponsored projects.”
The publication added that one of the scheme’s earlier endeavors was “a video conferencing system for patients in rural areas needing physical therapy.” Based on North Carolina State University’s Raleigh campus, Poole boasts a Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship that works in spheres such as strategic and personnel management and creative enterprise.
Poole also furthers significant research and hosts a yearly Leadership and Innovation Showcase. Plus, its global innovation management dual master’s is a business innovation-driven program for tech-savvy students that could include a summer at China’s prestigious Zhejiang University; and a master’s in global luxury management is available, too.
Rady School of Management, University of California, San Diego – La Jolla, California
The University of California, San Diego’s Rady School of Management can boast of a decade-long culture of innovation that encourages business students to “never stop starting up.” In April 2014 the school announced plans to establish its Center for Social Innovation and Impact, which will significantly boost Rady’s socially-orientated projects, emphasizing the effects of business on the wellness of society at large.
Rady’s Centers of Excellence include the Rady Behavioral Lab, which concentrates on research into decision-making, and the Beyster Institute, whose focus lies in fostering a culture of ownership. The school’s California Institute for Innovation and Development, meanwhile, strives to grow and fortify the university’s wider system of enterprise.
As for programs, in 2010 Forbes highlighted Rady’s biotechnology industry, structure and strategy MBA elective as being particularly innovative, explaining, “Students conduct an analysis of a local biotechnology company, covering areas such as bioethics, financing, intellectual property and marketing.”
Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University – University Park, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business in University Park, Pennsylvania offers an MBA program covering several areas of concentration, including strategic leadership, supply chain management, and innovation and entrepreneurship. The year 2013 saw sustainability and social innovation added to the list of concentrations as well.
“With an official sustainability concentration, we aim to provide students with more avenues to gain competencies in sustainability and renewable energy, which have been increasingly marketable in today’s business environment,” explained MBA faculty director Doug Thomas. What’s more, Smeal’s Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship aims to promote enterprise at all levels – from multinational organizations to fledgling, small-scale companies.
Smeal’s research facilities include the Center for Supply Chain Research, the Institute for Real Estate Studies and the Institute for the Study of Business Markets, which covers emerging business-to-business marketing trends and unites industry professionals.
College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, Illinois
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Business boasts the first public business school resource of its kind to have been certified LEED Platinum. Costing in excess of $60 million, the cutting-edge Business Instructional Facility achieved this certification in 2009, the same year the Market Information Lab was founded.
This facility is among the most patronized university labs in the nation and boasts the latest electronic data resources and high-tech software in order to prepare students for the challenging world of modern finance. The facility also features the Deloitte Auditorium, named after the business services giant.
The school’s ideal is to “innovate, educate [and] engage,” and its forward-thinking specialized master’s programs include M.Sc. degrees in technology management and financial engineering – the latter of which is a fairly new area tackling increasingly complicated financial issues using pioneering math and programming knowledge.
Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, Georgia
Located on the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Technology Square in downtown Atlanta, the Scheller College of Business is right in the midst of the city’s high-tech business hub. Scheller employs an innovative style of business teaching, stressing the increased role evolving technology plays in modern firms, and prides itself on producing leaders who possess a “unique understanding of how technology and globalization affect business – today and in the future.”
The school’s facilities include the Center for Business Strategies for Sustainability – which aims to contribute toward a sound future through change, commerce and technology – and the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship.
What’s more, featuring among Scheller’s academic options is its exciting Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results course of study, which utilizes diverse teaching methods centered around the marketability of technology.
Eller College of Management, University of Arizona – Tucson, Arizona
The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program has been deemed the “crown jewel” of the Eller College of Management, and the program’s home, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, was among the first such facilities of its kind in the U.S. when it was founded in 1984.
Far more recently, in 2014, U.S. News & World Report rated Eller – which is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson – as the 11th-best school in the entire nation for graduate entrepreneurship study. Indeed, its alumni have gone on to generate ideas such as Park Genius, a mobile app that lets customers pay for parking on the go.
All Entrepreneurship Program students can meanwhile take advantage of the scheme’s innovation lab, which is an area specifically for “collaboration, brainstorming and innovative work methods.” The UA McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship was named academic Innovator of the Year at the 2013 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards.
Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee
Based at Vanderbilt University’s Nashville, Tennessee campus, the Owen Graduate School of Management was in 2014 deemed the joint 25th best business school in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Working with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Owen offers one of the most comprehensive healthcare-focused MBAs nationwide, and the program may also take in concentrations like accounting, strategy and operations.
Added to this, Owen’s groundbreaking eLab research facility covers modern business concerns such as how consumers act on the web and conducts various online experiments and surveys. Other on-campus research centers are the Owen Entrepreneurship Center and the Financial Markets Research Center, which hosts a yearly symposium at which business figures, government supervisors and economic researchers are able to talk about current issues and concerns.
Owen’s innovation-specific programs include its Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship in Action accelerator scheme and the shorter strategic innovation executive education course.
Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University – Provo, Utah
In 2010, Forbes listed the Marriott School of Management’s Cougar Capital program as the 11th most innovative business school course nationwide. “Students learn about private equity and venture capital the hard way: by having real skin in the game,” explained the magazine.
Based on Brigham Young University’s Provo, Utah campus, the school features a highly ranked accounting program that has won two American Accounting Association Innovation in Accounting Education Awards. What’s more, Marriott’s Rollins Center for Enterprise and Technology believes that “entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy.”
Accordingly, the school aims to produce positive businessmen and women inclined to make brave decisions with foresight and imagination. Marriott’s well-regarded Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy Jeff Dyer co-wrote the best-selling business book The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, published in 2011.
Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University – Kennesaw, Georgia
In 2006 Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business set up the Center for Business Innovation and Creativity, which aims to equip students with the constantly evolving core skills required for effective modern business leadership.
The center promotes imaginative troubleshooting, valuable communication skills and cooperative group leadership. Its expert faculty also delivers the management of innovation executive education program, and this stresses the importance of the continual innovation of established company game plans and procedures.
Coles is one of the top-rated business schools worldwide that offers accounting and business degrees. It also runs a tailored executive MBA program that incorporates expert teaching and a chief executive’s perspective to deliver its curriculum.
The University of Texas at Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management is highly rated by numerous publications for its progressive programs and high-caliber research. Based in Richardson, Texas, the school runs a master’s in innovation and entrepreneurship program that aims to spur students on to corporate innovation in challenging, leading-edge business roles or to set up their own enterprises.
Naveen Jindal’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship focuses on the support of cooperative initiatives, using concepts and technology to help bring new businesses to life and develop existing firms.
The school’s additional centers include the Leadership Center, the Center for the Analysis of Property Rights and Innovation, and the Center for Finance Strategy Innovation, which seeks to promote “more productive and innovative uses of capital.”
McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University – Washington, D.C.
In 2009 Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business relocated to its current hi-tech home, the Rafik B. Hariri Building. Built with sustainability in mind, the new facility was awarded LEED Silver certification in 2010. McDonough is based in Washington, D.C. and so is ideally placed to stay abreast of the shifting trends in national and global business.
Boasting “world-class scholars” and “pioneering research,” the school supports forward-thinking initiatives in entrepreneurship, global business and women’s leadership. Furthermore, its research centers include the KPMG-endorsed Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, which conducts cutting-edge investigations into consumer marketing.
McDonough also offers a management, leadership and innovation major that aims to foster imaginative thought, enterprise and valuable communication skills. Forbes additionally highlights McDonough’s “innovative” business, government and the global economy program, which generates debates dissecting politics and trading.
McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin – Austin, Texas
The Energy Management and Innovation Center of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin is placed right at the cutting edge of U.S. energy research. Its goal is “to empower leaders to more effectively manage energy demand and resources while enabling innovative technologies grounded in sound business principles.”
Innovation is also integral to McCombs’ Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, while full-time MBA students can choose a concentration in innovation leadership that includes real-world experience. Bloomberg Businessweek describes McCombs as “an engaged and purposeful community… where great minds come together to inspire innovation and change the world.”
The school is known for its first-rate faculty, trailblazing research, and a range of specialties that are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Among these strong points are accounting, information systems and entrepreneurship programs.
Foster School of Business, University of Washington – Seattle, Washington
Forbes placed the current Foster School of Business MBA elective program entitled Women at the Top on its 2010 “10 Most Innovative Business School Courses” list. Based on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, the school is highly ranked, particularly for its business administration research.
Through its Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, Foster prides itself on producing pioneers who challenge the existing state of affairs and “change the way business is done.” The Buerk Center also features the Environmental Innovation Challenge, which asks learners to address urgent ecological issues and develop novel and marketable solutions.
Aside from this, the school facilitates a CFO forum that encourages academic staff and current business leaders to share information, while on-campus centers include the Global Business Center and the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking.
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University – Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana
The Kelley School of Business has a base at two Indiana University campuses, in Bloomington and Indianapolis respectively. Kelley’s Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation offers wide-ranging programs featuring significant hands-on exposure to actual entrepreneurship, and it also boasts the biggest entrepreneurship faculty anywhere on the planet.
Undergraduates looking to learn from all that experience could major in entrepreneurship and corporate innovation, which targets students geared toward small- to mid-sized startups, while an MBA in the same is also available.
Elsewhere, Kelley’s global experiences MBA options strive to make constructive changes in the world and imbue learners with an enlightened international point of view, offering them a first-hand taste of other cultures and emerging markets. Plus, the school’s discovery, innovation and ventures enterprise evening MBA program brings students into direct contact with local entrepreneurs and professionals and encourages original business choices.
Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, Indiana
Part of the University of Notre Dame’s campus in Indiana, the Mendoza College of Business is well known for the socially responsible aspect of its programs. The school’s principled research centers are the Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business, the Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership and the Institute for Ethical Business Worldwide.
Mendoza also features the innovation-focused Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship, which aims to promote new commercial ideas in addition to improving the way current businesses operate. Elsewhere, Forbes highlights Mendoza’s business on the frontlines course as being particularly innovative.
The program has sent students to places such as Lebanon, Uganda and Egypt, giving them a hands-on taste of “peace-through-commerce” in countries trying to “rebuild their economies after a war or violent conflict.”
Goizueta Business School, Emory University – Atlanta, Georgia
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is one of the top-ranking schools of its kind nationwide. Describing itself as a “thought leader,” Goizueta boasts outstanding staff members, an expansive business point of view and experiential education opportunities.
Veteran management professor Patrick Noonan claims Goizueta is a “pioneer among business schools,” and part of the institution’s Executive MBA program seeks to prepare students for complex and unclear business issues and thus separate themselves from other graduates.
Goizueta’s compulsory Innovation in a World Gone Digital course focuses on how information technologies, social media and the web affect business change and the different means through which new technology shapes innovation. Facilities at Goizueta include Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, the Marketing Analytics Center and the Center for Alternative Investments.
Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland – College Park, Maryland
The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in College Park has an impressive 11 Centers of Excellence. These aim to expose students to the complicated and constantly shifting world of modern business, where originality, enterprise and analysis are key.
The school’s Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change, for example, is dedicated to progressive study and research that nurtures innovation and socially responsible business leaders. Besides this, the Center for Digital Innovation, Technology and Strategy investigates the influence upcoming digital innovations have on business planning. Indeed, CIO magazine included the school as part of its “10 Tech-Centric MBA Programs” list in 2011.
The tech trade publication explained that the institution “offers a range of IT-centric courses to prepare students for careers in the management, design and implementation of information systems.” The business school also holds weekly Innovation Fridays, where learners get to meet entrepreneurs and brainstorm ideas.
Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Carlson School of Management is split between the Carlson Building and Herbert M. Hanson, Jr. Hall on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. Added in 2008, cutting-edge Hanson Hall is connected to the equally advanced Carlson Building by a light-filled skyway and features a learning lab and up-to-date technology-fitted classrooms.
In addition to such facilities, the school’s Carlson Global Institute aims to promote management knowledge, helping to develop business leaders who are internationally in tune. Moreover, Carlson’s Center for International Business and Research is dedicated to sustainability and new markets and promotes the education of diverse foreign languages.
The school’s management of innovation and change class, meanwhile, centers on how innovation happens, utilizing research into products, processes and technology. Plus, MBA students can work hands-on in the unique Carlson School Enterprise programs.
Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
Well situated in business-imbued downtown Chicago, the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago has an ethically driven, socially responsible approach to business education. In 2014 Forbes spoke to Quinlan’s Center for Risk Management director Serhat Cicekoglu, describing him as an authority on risk and innovation management.
Cicekoglu pointed out that a “static approach” to the issue of enterprise risk management can be “a huge threat to corporate sustainability.” Furthermore, the Center for Risk Management is holding a short innovation-focused program at Quinlan at the end of 2014.
Quinlan’s teaching revolves around social enterprise and responsibility, emerging markets, supply chain management and risk management. The school incorporates thorough research and an ethical, adaptable approach to business.
The George Washington University School of Business – Washington, D.C.
Well situated in the center of Washington, D.C., The George Washington (GW) University School of Business is a champion of conscientious leadership in its successful graduates. The school’s global MBA is especially forward-thinking in that it enables students to complete a real world-based overseas consultancy program.
Learners take on a consulting assignment for a worldwide company, conducting assessments in the U.S. before jetting to the company’s head office to present their findings in countries such as China, Turkey and Argentina. Elsewhere, the Office of Technology Transfer, within the Office of Entrepreneurship, hosts a yearly GW Innovation Competition – with a focus on physical and life sciences in 2014.
In 2013 the university as a whole also partnered with Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland to launch the DC I-Corps Node program, concentrating on “commercializing high technology and life sciences research and inventions.”
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Working with a range of other departments, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School holds a yearly Sustainability and Innovation Symposium that delves into issues such as global warming, food and money scarcity, access to health care, and the price of energy. Still, addressing such problems isn’t the symposium’s only goal, as solutions are proposed from a sustainable business development standpoint.
This ethos continues at Kenan-Flagler’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise, which teaches business innovators how to add value while being environmentally responsible. Elsewhere, the institution’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies provides students with the tools to exploit business opportunities and gain coaches or mentors.
According to the school, “UNC Kenan-Flagler has a long history of award-winning innovation in entrepreneurial pedagogy,” while assistant professor Lisa Jones Christensen highlights its “over a decade of experience conducting applied cutting-edge research.”
Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland, Ohio
Designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry, the undulating metal facade of the Weatherhead School of Management’s strikingly modern Peter B. Lewis Building radiates ahead-of-the-curve thought. Fittingly, Weatherhead was the first management school to feature a design and innovation department, which promotes originality, new technology and collaborative enterprise.
Based on Case Western Reserve University’s Cleveland, Ohio campus, Weatherhead boasts of consistently developing forward-thinking business leaders. What’s more, Forbes highlights the school’s MBA-level sustainable value and social entrepreneurship program for encouraging ideas such as the responsible yet profitable use of a company’s resources.
Weatherhead additionally offers innovation and strategy certificates that “provide managers with the latest concepts and tools for flexible, innovative thinking that achieves optimal results.”
John M. Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis – St. Louis, Missouri
Two of the John M. Olin School of Business’ core values are “innovation” and “creativity” – virtues it believes are crucial to the direction of the “new” economy. Located at the Washington University in St. Louis’ Missouri campus, the institution is passionate about innovation being inherently teachable, and accordingly, it is featured as a key management theme in the school’s Executive MBA program.
Olin’s facilities include the Institute for Innovation and Growth, which aims to serve as an impetus for amplifying pioneering investigation and teaching at the school. Olin describes itself as an “institution of leaders” and, under its “research-driven thinking, applied” mantra, places particular emphasis on research initiatives. The school’s research facilities include the Boeing Center for Technology, Information and Manufacturing and the Center for Research in Economics and Strategy.
Thunderbird School of Global Management – Glendale, Arizona
Based in Glendale, Arizona, the Thunderbird School of Global Management is recognized for its industry-leading global management MBA program. Utilizing a progressive, innovative approach, the program provides students with a considered, thoroughgoing overview of global management theory and practice.
Thunderbird also offers a course in innovation and creativity that concentrates on developing students’ “innovative entrepreneurial spirit” – something it holds is a “building block” of a smoothly running economy. On top of that, Thunderbird’s green energy program takes learners to Germany, where they get a taste of high-tech sustainable energy practices.
The school’s faculty – which it describes as “world-class” – features pioneering leaders and industry specialists from around the world. Thunderbird additionally prides itself on its strategic, technology-backed teaching methods.
Boston University School of Management – Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston University School of Management revamped its MBA program in 2012 to place greater importance on digital technology, scientific disciplines and alternative energy solutions – sectors at the very heart of innovation. New dean Kenneth Freeman explained that the course makeup would be “transforming” to reflect these fast-growing areas of industry while moving away from “the traditional sectors of the past,” with the new approach applied to both teaching and research.
The school’s Strategy & Innovation department emphasizes an “interdisciplinary approach,” and accordingly its research interests encompass advancements in technology, innovation techniques and forward-thinking design.
The School of Management’s faculty members, meanwhile, are described by the institution as “leaders in their fields and on the cutting edge of intellectual thought.” Teaching staff include investment strategist and author Zvi Bodie and leadership development specialist Kathy E. Kram.
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University – Ithaca, New York
“We don’t just teach innovation. We live it.” The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s mantra is no doubt a nod to its pioneering, real-world immersion program for full-time MBA students. The Ithaca, New York-based school – part of Cornell University – describes the program as “an intense, hands-on semester of the integrated course and fieldwork in a specific industry or career interest.”
Meanwhile, Johnson’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute identifies “knowledge, networking and opportunity” as the three most important elements of a fresh-thinking business enterprise. These values are expressed within the school’s faculty, too: in 2012, for example, its new applied sciences campus in New York City saw innovation and technology expert Soumitra Dutta appointed as dean.
Johnson also prides itself on its advanced research projects, the findings of which can be utilized by students setting up their own businesses.
Fuqua School of Business, Duke University – Durham, North Carolina
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business offers forward-thinking MBA specializations such as entrepreneurship and innovation, energy and environment, and social entrepreneurship. Based in Durham, North Carolina – with additional facilities in Dubai, London, St. Petersburg, New Delhi and Shanghai – Fuqua bills itself as “rethinking the boundaries” of business schooling.
Duke is known for pioneering research, and the same goes for Fuqua, which is home to facilities like the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment (EDGE). The former describes its research as “world-class” and highlights its contribution “both to the advancement of knowledge and the practice of entrepreneurship.”
EDGE, meanwhile, serves as a versatile educational focal point that promotes ideas leadership and industry interaction while stressing the importance of rising 21st-century trends in such areas as natural resources, energy and the environment.
Darden School of Business, University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Virginia
In 2014 the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business took on the largest number of startups it has ever fostered under its progressive Business Incubator program. Based at the W.L. Lyons Brown III (i.Lab) facility, the initiative offers practical support to MBA students launching their own businesses, from early-phase development to attracting investment.
The lab itself is managed by the Charlottesville-based school’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which falls under the wing of Darden’s Batten Institute. Dedicated to new ideas and bettering the world “through entrepreneurship and innovation,” the institute is managed by executive director Mike Lenox, who believes that “entrepreneurship and innovation are core to Darden’s… educational experience.”
The Darden School of Business’ credentials are held in high esteem by both the Financial Times and the Princeton Review, with both authorities frequently placing the institution among their top ten business schools.
UCLA Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, California
The UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies aims to encourage business enterprise and innovation by delivering a “foundation on which creativity can flourish and individuals can succeed.” Moreover, Anderson’s Advanced Technology Management Institute adds to the school’s cutting-edge qualities by championing advanced technology and “helping entrepreneurs compete in a world of constant innovation.”
In May 2014 the Los Angeles-based school helped launch the first annual Energy Innovation Conference, while it has also hosted thought-driven events such as the yearly California Clean Innovation Conference, Innovation China 2013 and a series of “innovation workshops.”
Central to UCLA’s appeal is its Technology and Innovation Partners Program, which collaborates with a number of institutions and communities on initiatives that look into propagating and commercializing technological innovation at the university.
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Based at Carnegie Mellon University’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campus, the Tepper School of Business features the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, which places importance on delivering innovations and nurturing fresh-thinking future leaders who can “inspire change.”
The Center for Entrepreneurship and the university’s innovation-geared Project Olympus have, moreover, created the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and this aims to “bring research innovations and promising ideas to the global marketplace.” The school conducts pioneering research into corporate finance, business operations and global macroeconomics, the findings of which are used in numerous business and scholastic theories.
Working with Carnegie Mellon’s engineering and design schools, Tepper offers a master’s in integrated innovation for products and services degree that urges students to devise creative, high-value products. The school’s campus is also home to the technology-driven PNC Center for Financial Services Innovation.
UC Davis Graduate School of Management, University of California, Davis – Davis, California
California’s UC Davis Graduate School of Management boasts that it is “dedicated to preparing innovative leaders for global impact.” Its faculty members can lay claim to pioneering research, real-world business experience and high-caliber instruction, while the school’s MBA program promotes “innovation, collaboration and excellence.”
Campus facilities include the Center for Investor Welfare and Corporation Responsibility, the MBA Consulting Center, and The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This last institute strives to combine science, engineering and business, uniting students, sponsors and industry leaders in order for them to share knowledge and explore marketable interests.
Elsewhere, the school’s Sustainable AgTech Innovation Center champions clean technology, sustainability and the acceleration of new endeavors. Plus, the yearly Big Bang! Business Competition gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to put their business ideas to the test with potential investors.
Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Based in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business offers an innovative global MBA degree inclusive of a three-month session in Asia. By visiting companies and embarking on cultural outings in Korea, China and Japan, students are afforded a real-world international viewpoint on financial and social etiquette.
The school’s MBA program also features a Multidisciplinary Action Projects component, which places learners in actual national and international “corporate, entrepreneurial and nonprofit projects,” challenging them to develop solutions that address various organizational demands.
This research-driven institution prides itself on preparing graduates to head up international units, contemplate the part business plays in the world at large and evolve organizational habits that encourage innovation. What’s more, Ross’ faculty members work with global corporations to maintain the school’s cutting-edge credentials.
Yale School of Management, Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut
According to TopMBA.com, the Yale School of Management “has always been an innovator in the training of professional managers,” fostering a “spirit of innovation” that students can apply to the challenging world of modern business.
Based at Yale University’s New Haven, Connecticut campus, the Ivy League business school’s full-time MBA program includes a compulsory international study aspect that strives to prepare leaders for “a world of increasing connectedness” and “increasing complexity.”
The Yale School of Management stresses the importance of “innovation, startups and venture capital,” with a series of classes covering topics like technology, entrepreneurship, sociology and sustainability. The school also utilizes cutting-edge technology such as HD video conferencing, wireless screen sharing, customized classrooms and a high-tech media control center.
Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College – Hanover, New Hampshire
Based in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College’s highly regarded Tuck School of Business has been a pioneering institution ever since it granted the first business master’s degree in the U.S. in 1901. The Ivy League school’s faculty includes influential innovation advocate Chris Trimble and award-winning professor Vijay Govindarajan.
Trimble and Govindarajan helped proliferate the trailblazing concept of “reverse innovation” and co-wrote 2010 McKinsey Award joint runner-up article “Stop the Innovation Wars.” Govindarajan, meanwhile, has been described as one of the world’s most pioneering innovation and strategy specialists.
Tuck offers a broad range of innovation-focused entrepreneurship and new ventures MBA electives – from entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy, to strategy in innovation ecosystems. Plus, Tuck’s executive education syllabus features the “leading innovation: from idea to impact” program, which aims to create new moneymaking approaches, industries and inventions.
NYU Stern School of Business, New York University – New York City, New York
The NYU Stern School of Business promises “an education in possible,” which essentially means equipping students with the knowledge to “transform 21st-century problems into [business] opportunities” of real value. Based in Manhattan, New York, where international business and policy collide, NYU Stern is ideally situated to keep up with the ever-evolving trends of global commerce.
Full-time MBA specializations include entrepreneurship and innovation, social innovation and impact, and global business, with the institution’s faculty – one of the largest specializing in aspects of international business – instigating pioneering research that influences its globally focused courses.
The school’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s mission is “to develop serial innovators” who deal with “a business world of non-stop change” by challenging perceived boundaries to innovation. Accordingly, the center aims to inspire solutions that may have previously seemed impossible.
Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley, California
Through its Institute for Business Innovation, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley “promotes interdisciplinary research, instruction and corporate outreach on matters of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.”
Haas positions itself as an innovation leader, a stance backed by its strict selection policy, the superior academic benchmarks it sets and a “fresh thinking” approach. This is demonstrated by the school’s utilization of the rich San Francisco Bay Area business environment, which – combined with the school’s outlook – guides students to “seize opportunities,” think creatively and question perceived wisdom.
Haas’ MBA program is designed to help turn students themselves into innovative leaders, with a compulsory applied innovation course giving them the chance to gain real-world experience in problem-solving within major consultancies. Full-time students also have a wide range of cutting-edge focus areas from which to choose, from energy and clean technology to corporate social responsibility.
Columbia Business School, Columbia University – New York City, New York
Columbia Business School (CBS) prides itself on remaining at the sharp end of business education, a quality it attributes to “constantly evolving.” The school’s emphasis on innovation means programs are continually updated to prepare graduates for the ever-changing business world.
What’s more, this is something that it is well positioned to do owing to its location in New York City, arguably the international center of business. Based at Columbia University’s Manhattan campus, CBS offers the pioneering Program on Social Intelligence, arming students with practical business leadership knowledge.
According to TopMBA.com, CBS’ “greatest strength” is its faculty, which has produced progressive research applicable to the industry. On campus, meanwhile, the Innovation + Creativity in Business Society aims to promote “creative problem solving and idea generation” by nurturing a business leaders’ community that specializes in creative commercial solutions.
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business – Chicago, Illinois
As the first business school in the U.S. to have begun offering executive MBA and Ph.D. in business programs, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business – the second-oldest institution of its kind in the country – is no stranger to innovation. In 2012 Chicago Booth placed first in Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking of full-time MBA programs in the U.S., which was the fourth straight time it had done so.
Describing itself as the university’s “venture creation engine,” Chicago Booth’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation aims to “spark innovation and entrepreneurship both on and off campus.” Its curriculum is intended to further students’ practical entrepreneurial skills outside of the classroom, with “real-world settings” complemented by “experiential courses and labs.”
Chicago Booth is also known for its host of forward-thinking research centers and its international campuses in London and Hong Kong.
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University – Evanston, Illinois
Based in Evanston, Illinois, with satellite campuses in central Chicago and Miami, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management takes an innovative approach to business education. In 2012 it launched the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, which equips business leaders with the knowledge to turn new ideas into products.
Kellogg’s partner schools in Beijing, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv and Toronto also help give the institution a truly global outlook. Working with Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Kellogg furthermore offers dual MMM degrees that center on technology and design innovation.
Plus, the school’s Center for Research in Technology and Innovation – founded in 2001 – specializes in predicting and developing solutions to challenges faced by today’s and future business innovators.
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Based in Philadelphia, the Ivy League Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is recognized as an influential business institution dedicated to fresh ideas and innovation. Building on its status as “a pioneer in business education for more than 125 years,” in 2010 the school founded the Wharton Innovation Group to capitalize on the educational opportunities presented by globalization and technological advancement.
The group aims to “catalyze innovation” and incubate “new ideas,” while the school itself has developed award-winning technologies and cutting-edge academic programs. In 2011 the school also launched the Wharton Innovation Fund, to encourage ideas that “show promise for making a substantial impact on business or society as a whole.” Wharton’s in excess of 92,000 alumni include business mogul Donald Trump and former Apple CEO John Sculley.
Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University – Stanford, California
The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) in Stanford, California offers perhaps the most exclusive MBA program in the country, while in 2014 the prestigious institution was named the joint best nationwide by U.S. News & World Report.
Since 2000 the school’s Center for Social Innovation has been cultivating “leaders who can solve the world’s toughest social and environmental problems,” finding “innovative solutions to complex problems.” Stanford GSB describes its faculty as “cutting edge” and its alumni as “passionate professionals” inspired to “create change.”
It also prides itself on a continually updated and forward-looking curriculum and groundbreaking research. In 2006 a $105 million gift from Nike co-founder and Stanford GSB graduate Phil Knight helped facilitate the school’s new $375 million Knight Management Center campus. And in 2014 the school topped TopMBA.com’s “Innovation MBA Rankings” list.
Harvard Business School, Harvard University – Boston, Massachusetts
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Ivy League Harvard Business School bills itself as “consistently on the cutting edge of business evolution.” In 2014 U.S. News & World Report ranked the school joint first in the country, while its MBA program has been considered the best worldwide by Business Insider, CNN Expansión and the Financial Times.
Opened in late 2011 and funded by the Harvard Business School, the Harvard Innovation Lab fosters entrepreneurship and “innovative ventures across the university” and the wider community. Moreover, the highly-rated business school’s Leadership Initiative carries out ahead-of-the-curve research and promotes global leadership and leadership development, while its Health Care Initiative “pursues the most innovative research at the intersection of business and health care.”
Famous graduates include the 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush and business magnate and former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.
MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts is well known for its contributions to the fields of physical science and engineering. In a similar manner, the MIT Sloan School of Management is recognized for its pioneering academic input.
MIT Sloan values invention, innovation and progress, with world-renowned business theories such as the binomial options-pricing model, the Modigliani-Miller theorem and the Black-Scholes-Merton options-pricing model all having been developed at the school. According to its website, “MIT Sloan has pioneered theories and practices that have changed the way business is done – for the better.” Backed by groundbreaking research, MIT Sloan also takes “innovative ideas and [makes] them work in real-life situations.”
The school’s esteemed faculty includes Nobel laureate in economics Robert C. Merton, a key contributor to the aforementioned Black-Scholes-Merton formula and a pioneer in the field of continuous-time finance.
Frequently Asked Questions
A business-related college can be considered ‘innovative’ when it uses creative approaches in order to improve the quality of the learning experience for its students. This could include developing courses that include interactive, hands-on activities, implementing new ways to deliver lessons, encouraging its faculty to find new and interesting ways to teach, and utilizing the latest technologies to support collaboration and student engagement.
Additionally, creating programs that focus on sustainability, entrepreneurship, solutions for current and emerging social problems, and creating connections with industry leaders can all be seen as signs of an innovative business-related college.
Are business-focused colleges changing with the times?
Yes, business-focused colleges are changing with the times. These colleges are responsive to the changing needs of employers and the rapidly evolving business landscape by offering more specialized courses and programs that prepare students for the jobs of the future.
Many of these colleges are now incorporating online learning, multi-disciplinary learning, and even artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies into their curriculums. These changes in teaching methods, courses, and programs help business-focused colleges stay competitive and attractive to employers.
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