AMHERST, Mass. – For the first time, UMass Amherst has earned recognition in Princeton Review’s annual selection of Best Graduate Entrepreneurship Programs. In the publication’s 2021 list, the university ranks 40th among 50 colleges and universities.
Based on survey data from more than 300 schools, the rankings encompass a broad brush of entrepreneurial activities inside and outside the classroom. The catalyst for student entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst is the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. The center serves the entire campus through a wealth of activities and resources.
“Our mandate emphasizes participation and synergies on a pan-campus level,” said Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center. “We may be physically based in Isenberg School of Management, but our mission is campus-wide.” A former member of the UMass Amherst Foundation, Thomas was hired several years ago because of his extensive relationships with the campus’s deans and administrators. Since then, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and campus leaders have supported the center’s campus-wide vision, including creation earlier this year of a 13-member pan-campus team to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. “We want innovation and entrepreneurship to be more,” Thomas said. “To accomplish that, you have to start walking like you’re number one.”
Thomas noted that entrepreneurship courses and scholarships, faculty who focus on entrepreneurship, student competitions, student mentorship by entrepreneurs, and ventures by alumni and non-alumni all fall within the center’s purview. Its annual Innovation Challenge propels student start-ups through pitch contests and a final competition judged by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Last year, the finals awarded $65,000 in seed money to student start-ups. The center brings student innovators together from different disciplines for entrepreneurial collaborations and offers networking and mentorship with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics, as well as an incubator space for student start-ups.