Students at work in the Entrepreneur Center

Students at work in the Entrepreneur Center

For the second year in a row, Montana State University's College of Business Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management minor was named one of the best entrepreneur programs in the country by Entrepreneur magazine. and Entrepreneur magazine ranked the MSU College of Business Entrepreneur Program, recently re-named the Alderson Program in Entrepreneurship following a gift from graduate Jim Alderson, among the country's top 10 programs that offer minors or entrepreneurial emphasis. The listing can be found online at:,6454,,00.html?mode=type&list=NC.

The Alderson Program in Entrepreneurship is joined in the top minors or emphasis in entrepreneurial studies listing by Arizona State University, Purdue University, Loyola Marymount and Drexel, among others.

"We are very excited to have the Alderson Program in Entrepreneurship ranked in the Top 10 in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine for the second year in a row," said Rich Semenik, dean of the MSU College of Business. "This is a very rigorous ranking--half of the schools who were in the Top 10 last year dropped down to a lower ranking."

This is the third year that the magazine has provided an annual ranking of the entrepreneur programs at colleges and universities throughout the country. Other listings honored in the magazine include the Top 50 regional ranking and programs offering limited curriculum. Each area includes a top 10 listing and a second tier of honored programs.

The magazine says it uses a two-stage ranking process first utilizing student survey focus groups. The programs are then classified using some 75 different variables such as breadth of topics in courses, number of courses offered, alumni opinion surveys as well as overseas or international aspects within the programs.

The MSU College of Business offers a minor in entrepreneurial studies. The program is linked to the Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West, which opened its doors in the TechRanch building in the MSU Tech Park in 2001. Students in the program take specialized entrepreneurship classes and interact with area entrepreneurs who seek assistance from TechRanch. Semenik believes the opportunity to work with technology gives the MSU program a boost.

"The reason the MSU program has risen to prominence so quickly is that students work directly with technology-based companies and MSU scientists on highly challenging business and market development issues," Semenik said.

John O'Donnell, executive director of TechRanch, concurs that the MSU students benefit from hands-on work experience with real companies.

"Students can feel their impact and add true value to the entrepreneurs' efforts," he said.

The program was the recipient of a recent donation from Bozeman native Alderson, an MSU graduate who gained national prominence when he helped the U.S. government uncover $1.7 billion by blowing the whistle on a nation-wide health benefit fraud. Semenik said the gift will put the MSU program's funding on par with some of the most prestigious programs in the country by funding programs in the MSU Entrepreneurship Program.

"The gift will benefit MSU students by providing scholarships, field research grants, curriculum development and specialized course work," Semenik said.

"I was just very excited when I visited the College of Business and saw the potential for this program," Alderson said. "I wished I was a student again so I could go through it."