The Princeton Review released its Top 50 schools for Entrepreneurship Programs for 2015 annual survey results last week, listing DePaul’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program as 15th, and the graduate program as 20th best in the country.
“DePaul has a history of being involved in these rankings for a long time, and it’s very exciting for us to be recognized among our peers to be leading in this area,” said Dr. Terri Lonier, executive director of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul.
The university was one of 14 to be ranked on both lists, and the only one on both lists from Chicago.
“I don’t think it comes down to any single reason, I think it’s because we have so much to offer DePaul students in many areas of entrepreneurship. It’s our outstanding faculty, it’s the diverse numbers of classes we can offer,” Lonier said. “It’s our track record with alumni who have started successful entrepreneurial companies. And it’s also the events and the hands-on learning opportunities that we can offer at the center.”
Both Lonier and Professor Harold Welsch emphasized the two parts of entrepreneurship at DePaul. There is the academic side, which contains the classes, the undergraduate and graduate programs of entrepreneurial study; the theoretical aspects. The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center handles the hands-on aspects of entrepreneurship, with programs, seminars, workshops, competitions and outreach to the community.
“The ranking really affects both dimensions. It gives legitimacy to both the academic discipline, and it enhances the credibility of the center in that more people are aware now of the services that we offer, and more people would like to learn about entrepreneurship,” Welsch said.
Students involved with entrepreneurship at DePaul raved about the programs put on by the Coleman Center.
“I really value the meet-ups. I get to hear from everyone’s experiences. Everyone is more than happy to help out” said Peter Szczepanski, a senior computer science major, and the chief technology officer of DePaul CEO, the school’s entrepreneurship club.
Other students loved the access they received from professors.
“Professors are very supportive. I’ve never taken an entrepreneurship class, but I’ve gone to three plus professors for guidance on ventures,” said Riley Masunaga, a senior marketing major.
Masunaga came to DePaul from Hawaii specifically for its entrepreneurship program. He won the bronze award at the DePaul Innovation awards, and was the Coleman Scholar in 2012.
“They did a lot to support me in the ventures I’m involved with and the positions I’ve had,” Masunaga said.
Current students aren’t the only ones excited about DePaul’s boost in the rankings. Gio Perez, who graduated in spring 2013 with an entrepreneurship degree, is now working at a small, 5-year-old company with his brother, and was enthusiastic about the entrepreneurship program at DePaul.
“I think the ranking could benefit the school and attract even more quality students,” Perez said. “But it goes to show all the hard work everyone has been doing leading up to this. The reason we’re now 15 is the work the staff is doing and what the students are doing to drive the program forward.”
While at DePaul, Perez was a resident adviser, a S.T.A.R.S. mentor, founded skydiving club FreeFall DePaul, took his notary, and worked in real estate.
“Students are understanding that career paths take many twists and turns,” Lonier said. “Many are seeking to become self-employed or start their own companies either as a temporary option until they find full-time employment or as an intentional career choice.
“Being able to take classes and participate in activities at the center helps decrease the learning curve, and increase the chances of success.”
Lonier said Launch DePaul, the university-wide student business competition, is happening again in spring 2015. Last year, the prize pool comprised $10,000. Stay updated with the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center’s activities by subscribing to their free email newsletter called “On the Radar” via their website, colemanent.org.
For students interested in getting involved, attend the Welcome Back Networking Reception at 4p.m. on Sept. 24, on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center. Or come to the Crain’s Small Business Startup event hosted by DePaul in the Daley Building Lower Level at 1 p.m.