Do All VCs Have Degrees From Top Schools?

Question: Do all VCs have degrees from the very top schools? Is it a job requirement? I will graduate soon from an honors program at a state school. The conversation usually goes well when I pitch my background, internship, and areas of expertise then takes a turn for the worse when I say where I went to school.

If you are trying to get a VC job straight out of school, the answer is probably “yes.” It’s a really tough position to get and there is a bias toward the top schools. If you also consider that the coasts tend to dominate the venture world, you get a lot more visibility if you are from one of the east or west’s top schools. Most VCs become VCs after doing “something else” whether that is being an entrepreneur, investment banker, lawyer, etc. At that point, it’s really irrelevant where you went to school; it’s all about what you have done to get to that point.

I didn’t even know where half of my partners went to school until I wrote this post and did a bit of research. It looks like I’m the only state school guy of the bunch. In our group, we have varying degrees from M.I.T, Stanford, Harvard, Macalester College (in St. Paul Minnesota for those of you keeping score at home) and my personal favorite, the University of Michigan.

  • Glad to see your heart is in the right place. Go Blue!

  • Agreed with Brian. Support blue (that’d be Michigan, for the people that don’t know).

  • Steve Murchie

    Great answer. Most of the VCs I dealt with in the 90’s had no business background to claim other than a fresh JD or MBA degree, and it drove us nuts. Experience counts for a lot in this industry.

  • An ungodly proportion of Silicon Valley VCs (~30%) graduated from Harvard Business School. That statistic is even more frightening when you consider the list of great Silicon Valley companies founded by MBAs.
    (cue sound of crickets)
    Actually, I can only think of one: Intuit, and Scott Cook is definitely far from the stereotype of the “suit”.
    On the other hand, as one of those Harvard MBAs myself, I like to believe that we have some value to add!

  • Go Blue. Seems like there might be an exception in the midwest?

  • James Harisson

    I too want to get into VC but I’m not straight out of school. I’ve got a good MBA plus tons of excellent experience both as an entrepreneur and an investment banker.
    I don’t know anyone in the industry so I pretty much have to resort to job ads – and they all want so many years of direct VC experience. I apply all the same but seem to get weeded out at the first pass.
    I’m not a defeatist so I’d love to know how you and your partners got into VC if it wasn’t entry-level, straight-from-school.