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Berkeley MBA Essays & Analysis 2024-2025

berkeley mba essays

The following essay topic analysis examines the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business MBA admissions essays. The Berkeley MBA essays are for the 2024-2025 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Berkeley MBA Essays & Analysis 2024-2025


Essays help us learn about who you are as a person and how you will add to our community. We seek candidates from a broad range of industries, backgrounds, cultures, and lived experiences.

Our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles – Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. We encourage you to reflect on your experiences, values, and passions so that you may craft thoughtful and authentic responses that demonstrate your alignment with our principles.

Berkeley MBA Essay 1

What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
While an adrenaline-fueled answer like skydiving or race car driving may come to mind first, the response to this Berkeley MBA essay should be kept in the context of business school admissions.  Essentially, the Haas adcom is asking what you are most passionate about and, ideally, you would ultimately connect to one of their defining principles.  Though there are myriad potential topics to discuss here, applicants should consider the balance of subjects they cover across their essays and choose a topic that provides new insight into their overall candidacy. For example, if the majority of content in the next essay is focused on your professional life and accomplishments, this would be an opportunity to showcase and highlight your extracurricular passions or interests.

As you approach this Berkeley MBA essay, be sure to think broadly about themes in your background and the forces behind your decisions and involvements.  This should allow you to arrive at a topic that is true to your passions and enables you to show the reader a side of yourself not covered in your other essays while tying your goals and/or previous experiences together to some extent.

Berkeley MBA Essay 2

What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from Haas help you achieve those goals?

Short-term career goals should be achievable within 3-5 years post-MBA, whereas long-term goals may span a decade or more and encompass broader professional aspirations.
This Haas MBA essay question is a straightforward career goals essay, asking applicants to explain their professional goals and why they’re interested in pursuing an MBA at Berkeley Haas.

Along with describing their immediate post-MBA career goals, applicants should explain their long-term career goals and the broad impact they hope to have on their industry, community, country or region. For your short-term career goals, be as grounded and direct as possible—identify a position and target industry, and explain what draws you to this role and how it connects with your previous experience and long-term plans.

Then, consider first what skills you need from an MBA; this can inform what you need from Haas and how this program will help you accomplish the growth you’re seeking. With respect to how the Haas MBA would help you achieve your goals, it would make sense to briefly comment on your work experience to date in order to establish the skills you already possess; this helps to establish the gap in your skill set that a Haas MBA would fill.  This phase of your discussion should establish the skills and knowledge you hope to gain from a Haas MBA while integrating details about the program. Forging specific connections between the skills you hope to gain (whether in the classroom or through involvement in student clubs or other outlets) and your future plans will show the adcom that you’ve researched the program and have a sound understanding of how a Haas MBA will prepare you for success. 

Berkeley MBA Essay 3

One of our goals at Berkeley Haas is to develop leaders who value diversity and to create an inclusive environment in which people from different ethnicities, genders, lived experiences, and national origins feel welcomed and supported.

Describe any experience or exposure you have in the area of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging whether through community organizations, personal, or in the workplace? Candidates seeking consideration for mission-aligned fellowships may use this space to reflect on their commitment to the mission of those fellowships.(300 words max)
No matter the aspect of DEI, justice or inclusion selected, applicants should ensure they were active participants in achieving a positive outcome. Anecdotal evidence will leave a greater impression on the reader; so instead of listing everything you have done in relation to DEI, tell a story here.

When approaching how to share an example, we can once again turn to the following structure:

  • Situation – Set the stage or identify the situation and related challenge.
  • Action – Describe the actions you took related to DEI, justice or inclusion.
  • Outcome – Summarize the (positive) result.

The door is wide open for examples, but action is important here—think beyond comments or campaigns shared on Facebook, and reflect on advocating actively.

Berkeley MBA Essay 4 – Video

The Berkeley MBA program develops leaders who embody our four Defining Leadership Principles. Briefly introduce yourself to the admissions committee, explain which Defining Leadership Principle resonates most with you, and tell us how you have exemplified the principle in your personal or professional life.

Please review the Defining Leadership Principles in advance and take time to prepare your answer before recording. You will be able to test your audio-visual connection before recording. Video essays should last 1-2 minutes and may not exceed 2 minutes.
Before pressing the “record” button, it would be worth reviewing our advice on video essays to understand the broader goals of a video prompt. Getting to the specifics of Haas’s video essay, we encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that emphasize their connection to a given leadership principle. Reviewing the principles, speaking with students and alumni, or attending information sessions will prove helpful on this front.

The brief introduction should be just that—brief. At minimum, you’ll want to greet the adcom and share your name; you may also state where you’re from, where you work/your industry and another detail you tend to share whenever you meet someone new in a professional setting. Then, you’ll need to connect to the leadership principle. Once you settle on the related example, consider the following structure in telling your story:

  • Situation – Set the stage or identify the personal/professional situation and related challenge.
  • Action – Describe the actions you took related to the leadership principle.
  • Outcome – Summarize the (positive) result.

It would be nice to sign off by thanking the adcom for their time—if you have time!

As this is a visual presentation, ensure you are dressed in appropriate professional attire and that the scene is well lit and you can be heard clearly. In terms of a background, clean and steady may work best—you do not want to make the adcom dizzy by taking them on an unsteady walking tour with your laptop or phone. While many applicants will be tempted to introduce props into their video, such as signs, souvenirs, or any prized possessions that might quickly convey who you are, we would like to urge some degree of caution in this domain.  A focused, two-minute, heartfelt introduction (while looking your audience in the eye) may be far more effective than a distracting string of props, signs, charts—each requiring valuable time to make transitions—not to mention careful attention to readability/visibility on screen.

Finally, do not hesitate to practice your response to ensure that it will be within the time limit. You should also record your response on your own and watch it so you can improve before the final recording. The key caveat here is to not allow the practicing to lead to a robotic/overly rehearsed final video.

Berkeley MBA Optional Essay 1

We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements.

  1. What is the highest level of education completed by your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
  • Did not complete high school
  • High school diploma or equivalency (GED)
  • Associate’s degree (junior college) or vocational degree/license
  • Bachelor’s degree (BA, BS)
  • Master’s degree (MA, MS)
  • Doctorate or professional degree (MD, JD, DDS)
  1. What is the most recent occupation of your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
  • Unemployed
  • Homemaker
  • Laborer
  • Skilled worker
  • Professional
  1. If you were raised in one of the following household types, please indicate.
  • Raised by a single parent
  • Raised by an extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
  • Raised in a multi-generational home
  • Raised in foster care
  1. What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home?
  2. If you have you ever been responsible for providing significant and continuing financial or supervisory support for someone else, please indicate.
  • Child
  • Spouse
  • Sibling
  • Parent
  • Extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
  • Other
  1. Please elaborate on any of your above responses. Alternatively, you may use this opportunity to expand on other hardships or unusual life circumstances that may help us understand the context of your opportunities, achievements, and impact.
    (300 words maximum)

Overall, Haas is trying to get a better understanding of the context from which a candidate has evolved, both professionally, and personally.  Moreover, these questions invite a sense of your attitude and resilience through adversity.  While the opening five questions establish potential jumping off points, you are free to delve into another personal experience that defines you. The key to this essay is to quickly establish context and then elaborate on how you handled the situation and grew because of it.  An important thing to keep in mind is to avoid a “blame game” and simply establish the circumstances that influenced you. Most importantly, you’ll want to account for your actions (to show) and briefly comment on why the situation was difficult for you. After all, resilience entails a struggle with an outcome of success.

Given the highly personal nature of the opening five questions, candidates should reflect more on circumstances that have informed their character, as opposed to digging into a setback at work in this Berkeley MBA essay.  You may be able to incorporate how the lessons you learned from hardships and unusual circumstances have informed your approach to your career, but professional setbacks should not be the main focus of this essay.  Also keep in mind that this Berkeley MBA essay is optional—do not feel pressure to make a mountain out of a molehill to deliver more content in your application.  Take some time to reflect and tell the adcom how the circumstances from their queries or other situations influenced you.

Berkeley MBA Optional Essay 2

This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application. This may include explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations, supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate.
Applicants should exercise discretion when responding to this prompt, as providing an optional essay creates extra work for the admissions reader. This will be a good place to address extenuating circumstances that have influenced one’s academic or professional history, to address weaknesses in one’s application, or to explain an unusual choice of recommender. The wording of this question is open enough that applicants may also choose to discuss an element of their background that is not reflected in their other materials (including data forms and résumé), though they will need to demonstrate sound judgment in doing so – i.e. the nature of the content should be such that it makes a material difference to one’s application – and should summarize the information as concisely as possible.

Clear Admit Resources

Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Berkeley MBA essays. As you work on your Berkeley MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Haas School of Business offerings: