An estimated 80% of all businesses are considered to be family businesses to some degree. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of business schools have one or more courses focused on the unique challenges of running a business that means a whole lot more to you than just making money.
If you are already working in a family business, the desire to go to business school can be multi-faceted. It could include considerations such as learning new skills to take back to the business (like data analytics) or learning the basics of business (like accounting, marketing, and operations) as you transition into the company from somewhere else. Other considerations may include building out a new network of contacts that could help drive the business forward. Or maybe you just need to take a sabbatical from an organization that you will likely be working in for decades to come.
Two years in a traditional MBA program may give you the greatest opportunity to learn, build, and play—but perhaps two years away from the business is not a luxury you can afford. After all, how long can you really be away from a business in which you are already playing a pivotal role? Other options could include a one-year program or even a part-time program to allow you to return to the business sooner or never even leave.
To help you think through many of these issues, this blog post showcases some of the best full-time MBA programs that have made it a priority to prepare their graduates to run a family enterprise.
1. The Kellogg School of Management
The John L. Ward Center for Family Enterprises at Kellogg offers courses, conferences, and research that focus on family business strategy, governance, succession planning, family business culture, and more. The center aims to build a community for family business operators to share and learn from each other.
2. Columbia Business School
With its Global Family Enterprise Program, Columbia offers its students and alumni courses, events, and other educational programs that explore the unique dynamics of an enterprise that is, frequently, more than just a business.
3. Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management
Started in 2014, Johnson’s Smith Family Business Initiative is all about giving students the network, curriculum, and cutting-edge knowledge to strengthen family businesses and help them to thrive for generations to come. Components of the program include the Family Business Club, courses, speakers’ series, and numerous family business–focused study trips.
4. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Wharton has taken a different approach to the world of family businesses by creating the Wharton Global Family Alliance, which brings together family businesses from across the world to share their own unique issues and struggles. It manifests in a robust community, research, and conferences—feeding the MBA curriculum with a wide range of courses that address the unique challenges of a family business.
5. The University of North Carolina (UNC) Kenan-Flagler Business School
UNC’s Family Enterprise Center provides support for students who have chosen to focus their learning on running a family enterprise. Resources include specific courses, the Family Business Club, roundtables, workshops, mentoring, and advising.