The Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley welcomed its largest ever class—284 students—into a brand-new facility that promises to be one of the greenest academic buildings in the country. Not only is the incoming class larger than any before it, it is also one of the strongest academically, according to Peter Johnson, assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions. Average GMAT scores and GPAs have risen over each of the past three years. The average GMAT score this year was 725—a jump from last year’s 717—and the average GPA climbed, too, from 3.64 to 3.71. Application volume also increased this past year, which meant that though the school admitted more students overall to increase class size, the acceptance rate remained constant at 12 percent. Harvard Business School, for comparison, generally accepts approximately 11 percent of its applicants.
In terms of what they did before business school, members of the Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019 run the gamut. Among them are a business development manager from Intel who led development of Google’s self-driving cars, an investment banker who ran from San Francisco to New York City over the summer to raise money and awareness of ALS in honor of his grandmother, a Bain consultant who earned four culinary diplomas in her spare time, a student from Nepal who helped senior political leaders and ex-ministers from five major parties negotiate a new constitution, and the founder and CEO of an Indian irrigation company that saves 4 billion liters of water annually while enabling smallholding farmers to produce 10,000 additional tons of food per year.
A quarter of the incoming students worked in consulting prior to Haas, and another 20 percent worked in finance. In terms of undergraduate degrees, 42 percent studied business or economics, 36 percent hold STEM degrees, and 8 percent graduated with degrees in the humanities.
In terms of what brought them to Haas—our interviews with a handful of Haas first-year students reveal some common trends. The people, culture, and community at Haas were a major draw for everyone we spoke to. The location—close to Silicon Valley and the epicenter of the tech industry—and yet with the charm and intimacy of a small college town, also factored prominently into their responses to “why Haas?”
And now that they’re on campus, more than one has figured out that FOMO (fear of missing out) is for real. From the wide array of student clubs and activities to the amazing classes with award-winning professors to the brilliant classmates with varied backgrounds to the innumerable career paths open to them, members of the Haas Class of 2019 seem to face the shared challenge of picking and choosing how best to spend the next two years.
A big thanks to these Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019 students for taking time to share more about their admissions process, what they learned, why they might do differently if they had it to do over, and more. Read on to meet several members of the Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019 and hear what they had to say.