US universities educating the most unicorn founders

03 September 2019 2 min. read

The most unicorn company founders studied at US universities, according to a report from digital mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages.

There are over 300 $1-billion+ valued startups, commonly referred to as “unicorns,” across the globe.

With most unicorns originating in the US, China, and India, it’s unsurprising that many unicorn founders studied at universities in those countries.

Stanford, with its proximity to Silicon Valley, was the most popular university for unicorn founders, with 63 having studied there. Harvard ranked second, with 39 founders, while the Indian Institute of Technology ranked third with 36 unicorn founders.

UC Berkeley, Columbia, MIT, and UCLA all ranked in the top 10 for unicorn founders, giving the US six of the top 10 universities overall. India had two (Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management) and China had two (Tsinghua University and Peking University).

Where do most unicorn founders study

Notable omissions from the top 10 included Yale and Princeton, though they figured in the top 30, while no European university breached the top 20.

The Mojo Mortgage report also looked into what unicorn founders were studying at university. The results were unsurprising, with business and STEM degrees dominating.

93 unicorn founders had an MBA, accounting for nearly 20% of the prestigious group of entrepreneurs. Computer science was the most popular subject overall, with 75 holding bachelors, 40 holding masters, and 12 holding a PhD. With the vast majority of unicorns being digital tech-related, the computer science concentration is a given.

Economics, business admin, mathematics, and electrical and mechanical engineering degrees also figured into the top 10.

What’s the most popular subject for unicorn founders to study?

Overall, 462 unicorn founders had undergraduate degrees, while 230 also had a postgraduate degree, according to the report. 13 entrepreneurs had either not gone to university, or dropped out part way through.

The US had the highest concentration of unicorns in the world, at 115. California was home to the most companies (71), with 31 in Silicon Valley and 37 in San Francisco.

China had 111 unicorn firms, while India, the UK, and South Korea rounded out the top five – though the trio had only 45 unicorns collectively.

Unsurprisingly, most unicorn founders were American (225), while 96 were Chinese, and 69 were Indian.

The average age of a unicorn founder was 41.15, with the largest amount clustering between 35-39. The overwhelming majority of founders were between 30-49.