Venture Capital Target Schools

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Dan Buckley
Dan Buckley is an US-based trader, consultant, and part-time writer with a background in macroeconomics and mathematical finance. He trades and writes about a variety of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, commodities, currencies, and interest rates. As a writer, his goal is to explain trading and finance concepts in levels of detail that could appeal to a range of audiences, from novice traders to those with more experienced backgrounds.

Venture capital target schools often have a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and a connection to startup ecosystems.

Unlike other finance target schools that may prioritize traditional finance or investment banking pathways, VC target schools typically foster environments conducive to startup culture.

This might include resources such as incubators, entrepreneurship centers, and strong tech-focused programs.

Stanford would be an example of a school that is strong as it pertains to being a target for investment banking, private equity, and hedge funds, but less strong compared to a Harvard or Wharton.

However, as it pertains to being a venture capital target school, it is on par or even beyond those schools due to its location and focus.

So, while many top institutions serve as targets across finance subfields (PE, VC, hedge funds), the nature of venture capital – with its focus on startups, tech, and entrepreneurship – means schools in tech hubs or with strong entrepreneurial programs often shine in VC recruitment.

West Coast schools tend to have a greater footing in venture capital than investment banking, private equity, and hedge funds due to their proximity to Silicon Valley.

Also be sure to check out our VC Interview Guide, linked at the bottom of this article.


Ivy League

  • Harvard University
  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • Yale University
  • Princeton University
  • Columbia University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Brown University
  • Cornell University


Top Colleges & Universities Outside the Ivy League

  • Stanford University (Very popular in VC)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • University of Chicago
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Duke University
  • University of Michigan


Business Schools

  • Harvard Business School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • University of California, Berkeley (Haas School of Business)
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  • University of Chicago Booth School of Business


Liberal Arts Colleges

  • Williams College
  • Pomona College
  • Swarthmore College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Wellesley College


  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (Anderson School of Management)
  • Indiana University (Kelley School of Business)
  • University of Washington (Foster School of Business)


Regional Target Schools

  • University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller College of Business)
  • University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business)


International Venture Capital Target Schools

  • London Business School
  • University of Oxford (Saïd Business School)
  • University of Cambridge (Judge Business School)
  • National University of Singapore (NUS Business School)
  • Indian Institute of Management (IIM) – Ahmedabad


FAQs – Venture Capital Target Schools

How do venture capital firms engage with their “target schools”?

Venture capital firms engage with their target schools in various ways:

  • Hosting workshops, seminars, or guest lectures to educate students about the VC industry
  • Pitch competitions
  • Offering internships or fellowship programs
  • Collaborating on research projects or case studies related to VC
  • On-campus interviews for those who offer opportunities to undergraduates

Do students from non-target schools face challenges when trying to enter the venture capital industry?

Yes, students from non-target schools might face challenges such as:

  • Limited access to on-campus VC recruitment
  • Fewer alumni in the VC industry to provide networking, guidance, or referrals
  • Lack of specialized courses or resources focused on VC and startups
  • Potential biases or perceptions about the quality of their academic institution

But with determination, networking, and gaining relevant experience, many break into VC despite these challenges.

What are some tips to getting into venture capital from a non-target school?

To break into venture capital from a non-target school, consider these strategies:

  • Network Relentlessly: Connect with industry professionals via LinkedIn and attend VC events or meetups.
  • Show Relevant Experience: Do it in whatever way possible. Dive into startup ecosystems, or work on tech-related projects. Start something yourself and track its metrics.
  • Seek Mentorship: Find a VC mentor to guide you and provide insights.
  • Demonstrate Industry Knowledge: Start a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or publish articles showcasing your understanding.
  • Consider an MBA: An advanced degree from a top business school can open doors and help you “rebrand” if your pre-MBA work experience is less relevant.

What academic programs or courses at these schools are particularly relevant for venture capital roles?

Courses and programs relevant for VC roles include:

  • Entrepreneurship and New Venture Formation
  • Startup Financing and Venture Capital
  • Technology Commercialization
  • Product Management
  • Private Equity
  • Growth Equity
  • Financial Modeling for Startups
  • M&A in the Tech Sector
  • Intellectual Property Rights

Most undergraduate colleges don’t have large selections of these types of courses.

But they may be more common in business schools.

How does the recruitment process differ for venture capital compared to other financial sectors?

In VC recruitment, there’s a heavier reliance on personal networks or referrals, a greater emphasis on varied experiences like entrepreneurship or tech roles over traditional finance backgrounds, a generally informal approach with a smaller number of structured internship programs, and a tendency for evaluations to be project-based.

Candidates might be tasked with appraising real startups or entire industries.

Many have specific know-how about a certain type of technology or niche, and are able to spot trends.

How do strong entrepreneurial or tech ecosystems at universities influence their status as VC target schools?

A robust entrepreneurial or tech ecosystem amplifies a school’s status as a VC target by:

  • Attracting top talent interested in startups and VC
  • Facilitating real-world exposure to startups through incubators, accelerators, and tech parks
  • Offering networking opportunities with successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists
  • Providing students with hands-on experience in building or scaling startups

Are there specific skills or qualities venture capital firms seek in candidates from target schools?

Venture capital firms often seek candidates with:

  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Understanding of industries, tech trends, and market dynamics
  • Ability to evaluate startups from both a technical and business perspective
  • Good interpersonal and networking abilities
  • Experience with startups, either through internships, personal ventures, or relevant courses
  • A passion for innovation and a (prudent) risk-taking mentality

How often do rankings or perceptions of venture capital target schools change?

As we wrote in other articles in our series, the top-tier target schools, including for VC, tend to remain consistent due to their strong reputation and resources.

But perceptions can shift every few years.

Factors influencing changes include:

  • Emerging startup ecosystems in new regions
  • Success stories of startups from specific schools
  • Changes in curriculum or resources provided by schools
  • Collaborations or partnerships between schools and leading VC firms