The Best Colleges for the Next Billion-Dollar App

Ink Billion Dollar App Main Image

College can be a time of personal development—and app development. Many students launch tech careers in their dorm rooms, and some even sell their product and idea for billions of dollars soon after graduating (sometimes even before they get the diploma).

To find our list of the Best Colleges for the Next Billion-Dollar App, we took a look at colleges that produced at least two founders of some of the most popular apps and startups of today. While the universities didn’t necessarily produce the ideas, they can lay claim to the students who went on to start billion-dollar companies.

Map: The Best Colleges for the Next Billion-Dollar App

 

Harvard University

Niche Academics Grade
A+

Acceptance Rate
6%

Undergrads
6,652

Thanks to David Fincher’s The Social Network, we all know how Facebook came about. But other companies that were the brainchild of Harvard students include Twitter (co-founder Noah Glass*), AirBNB (co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk), and Gilt (Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson).


MIT

Niche Academics Grade
A+

Acceptance Rate
9%

Undergrads
4,480

E*Trade (co-founder William A. Porter**), Dropbox (founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi*), and GrubHub (co-founder Mike Evans) all have founders and co-founders from this institute in Cambridge, Mass.


Rhode Island School of Design

Niche Academics Grade
A

Acceptance Rate
25%

Undergrads
1,971

AirBNB co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia met each other as undergrads at this school in Providence, where they were both studying industrial design.


Stanford University

Niche Academics Grade
A+

Acceptance Rate
7%

Undergrads
7,003

Snapchat’s founders Evan Spiegel* and Bobby Murphy created the app while they were undergrads at this university in Stanford, Calif., and if you Google who these founders are, you’re utilizing a search engine created by two Stanford Ph.D. students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In fact, fellow search engine Yahoo! was also developed by Stanford alumni, so it’s hard to do anything on the Internet without running into something created by a Cardinal. Other famous companies with Stanford brains behind their products include Expedia, Instagram, Jawbone, Netflix (co-founder Reed Hastings**), Tesla Motors (co-founder J.B. Strauss), Tango (co-founder Eric Setton**), and WhatsApp (co-founder Brian Acton).


University of California – Berkeley

Niche Academics Grade
A

Acceptance Rate
22%

Undergrads
25,018

At this unofficial hippie school, students are hip to tech trends before they’re in style. Case in point: Berkeley grad Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. Other notable graduates include Shazam co-founders Chris Barton and Philip Inghelbrecht**, and Tesla Motors co-founder Marc Tarpenning.


University of Chicago

Niche Academics Grade
A+

Acceptance Rate
16%

Undergrads
5,377

In addition to Nobel laureates, Rhodes Scholars, and Fields Medalists, U of C also boasts the co-founders of Pinterest (Evan Sharp) and GrubHub (Matt Maloney**).


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Niche Academics Grade
A-

Acceptance Rate
63%

Undergrads
31,118

Any time you watch a stupid cat video on YouTube, you can thank site co-founders Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, both graduates of Urbana-Champaign. Other notable grads who’ve made a deep tech impact include Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons, Tesla Motors co-founder Martin Eberhard, and PayPal’s Max Levchin.


University of Michigan

Niche Academics Grade
A

Acceptance Rate
37%

Undergrads
27,046

Eric Lefkofsky and Bradley Keywell, co-founders of Groupon, and Larry Page, co-founder of Google, were undergraduates at this school in Ann Arbor. And where did Page go on to get his master’s degree? Stanford, of course.


University of Pennsylvania

Niche Academics Grade
A+

Acceptance Rate
13%

Undergrads
10,324

You and your friends’ addiction to Farmville can be attributed to Zynga, social game services provider co-founded by Mark Pincus, who has a degree in economics from Penn’s Wharton School. Other Wharton alumni include Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk, who also received his econ degree from this Ivy.


Yale University

Niche Academics Grade
A+

Acceptance Rate
8%

Undergrads
5,393

Aside from Pinterest’s connection to the University of Chicago, the two other co-founders of the visual discovery tool include Yale alumni Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra.

 

*Denotes students that dropped out.
**Denotes master’s and Ph.D. students.

All statistics are from 2012-2013 IPEDS data.