UC Berkeley Haas is perhaps best known for its highly selective MBA program, but this business school also offers a one-year Master of Financial Engineering degree for those applicants interested in computational finance focused on business and economics.
Haas’s MFE shares the MBA program’s high selectivity – the MFE program received 565 applications for only 79 places in the class of 2019 – and its high post-graduation salaries – after graduating from the one-year MFE, last year’s graduates earned an average first year base compensation of $108,286, compared with Haas’s average two-year MBA graduate base salaries of $137,819.
In fact, 100% of the MFE class received job offers, and 92% choose to stay and work in the US when they graduate. One reason for that high placement rate is the practical experience that graduates enjoy in their mandatory 10-12-week internships in the fall/winter (October to January), filling banks’ needs for interns in the wake of those MBA students’ returning to their programs following their summer internships.
Another reason for that successful placement rate in the US is that this is a STEM program, so international students are eligible for up to 36 months of optional practical training in the US after graduating. Haas MFE grads apply the computational proficiency and complex financial modeling & strategy skills they gain predominantly to careers in asset management, investment banking and fintech.
The MFE application contains several components, including listing all of courses you have taken in the required prerequisite areas (Finance/Economics: Corporate Finance, Macroeconomics; Math: Calculus, Linear Algebra, Partial Differential Equations, Numerical Analysis; Statistics: Advanced Statistics, Econometrics; and Programming: C++, Python, R, and Machine Learning).
Here are Haas MFE’s essay questions, each with a 250-word maximum length, with my tips for responding in blue.
UC Berkeley Haas Master of Financial Engineering application essays
Haas MFE essay #1
Please provide a statement regarding your experience, if any, in applying your quantitative skills to problem solving in business or research settings. (250 words maximum per question)
The best way to answer this question is not by writing another list but by making these experiences come alive for the reader by sharing an example or two of the problems you faced and how you applied quantitative skills to resolve them. The best answers will show both quantitative skills and creativity in applying them to arrive at the best solutions.
Haas MFE essay #2
Please discuss why you have decided to apply to the MFE at this time and what career path you intend to pursue post MFE. (250 words maximum per question)
If your answer is “To make a lot of money,” then stop right now. Sure, graduates of this program will be offered high salaries, but Haas is seeking applicants who are passionate about finance, not just about making money. Where is your passion? What questions or problems do you look forward to tackling with your MFE? Be sure to address the “at this time” element of the question by including how your previous experience has inspired and prepared you for these challenges.
Haas MFE essay #3
Choose one of your volunteer activities and discuss. (250 words maximum per question)
One of Haas’s four pillars is Beyond Yourself; Haas is seeking students who are leaders in the community, supporting others’ success, not just their own. Use this space to show how you have contributed to a person, organization, community, and/or the world through a volunteer role.
These questions address additional aspects of your application and should be answered as succinctly as possible (250 words maximum per question).
Haas MFE supplemental question #1
What do you view as a particular strength of yours? What do you view as a particular weakness? Would friends or family share your view? (250 words maximum per question)
Haas students are self-aware; they have Confidence Without Attitude, so you are allowed to be proud of your strengths as long as you recognize your areas for growth. Use this space to share an example that illustrates a strength you have developed as well as your effort to address a weakness.
Haas MFE supplemental question #2
If you have ever been placed on academic probation, been dismissed from a school, or received a failing grade (including non-graded courses for which you received an assessment of unsatisfactory or “not pass”), please explain. (250 words maximum per question)
Haas’s MFE program is challenging, so only those with strong academic records will thrive here. If you experienced a course or period in which you did not perform to that standard, here is your chance to explain why the admissions committee should not worry that this is indicative of poor future performance in their program.
Haas MFE supplemental question #3
Do you feel that your academic record is an accurate reflection of your ability and potential? In comparison to your college friends and classmates, do you feel that you were particularly advantaged or disadvantaged? Please explain. (250 words maximum per question)
For every grade there is background, and Haas does want to understand it. If you faced challenges that most students do not – illness, physical challenges, family financial difficulties that you were helping with, trauma – you can share that detail here to lend context to your story.
Haas MFE supplemental question #4
Provide an account of any gaps in your employment since your undergraduate degree. (250 words maximum per question)
Gaps of 3 months or more require some explanation. Show that you used the time between employments for your personal edification and/or the benefit of the community.
Haas MFE video essay
Here you will be shown a question, have 20 seconds to think and organize your ideas, then have up to 2 minutes to respond (though you may stop the recording earlier than that). If you don’t feel your first response went well, you will be allowed to delete that attempt and redo the video.
Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Haas is using this video to put a face and tone to your application, so while your words will matter, presence and poise matter also. You need to speak slowly and clearly, look openly at the camera, and speak as if there were a person sitting in front of you. I recommend placing a drawing of a smiley face or even a picture of the program’s executive director, Linda Kreitzman, next to your camera so you have an easier time imagining this personal engagement.
UC Berkeley Haas Master of Financial Engineering application deadlines
|Application Deadline||Decision Notification|
|Round 1||January 10, 2020, 2:59AM ET||March 6, 2020|
|Round 2||April 2, 2020, 2:59AM ET||May 10, 2020|
|Round 3||June 18, 2020, 2:59AM ET||August 21, 2020|
|Round 4||October 1, 2020, 2:59AM ET||December 4, 2020|
*Late applications will be accepted until November 7, 2020, 2:59AM ET
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Applicants typically hear admissions decisions within 4-8 weeks of applying.
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