Haas changed both of its required essay questions this year. Applicants face a new MBA application and new MBA essay tips. Haas tossed out last year’s six-word story about a memorable experience and does not ask for your post-MBA goals. Don’t be surprised, however, if you are asked about your goals and how Haas will help you achieve them if you are invited to an interview.
A few things haven’t changed. While Haas has made it very clear that you need outstanding academics to get in, they will not compromise their values to maintain those stats. The Four Defining Leadership Principles are taken very seriously by Haas’ administration and admissions team. You need to show you share and live by those principles if you are to receive serious consideration at Haas. The Four Principles are:
- Question the Status Quo
- Confidence Without Attitude
- Students Always
- Beyond Yourself
Keep those principles very much at the forefront of your mind as you prepare your Haas application.
The deadlines are almost unchanged this year, just moved up one day for Round 1 and Round 2 and two days for Round 3.
Haas School of Business Application Essays
My comments are in blue throughout. Be sure to visit the Haas website which provides excellent resources and advice.
Haas MBA Essay #1
What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
This is a brand new question that replaces the one about a memorable experience. The difference is that a memorable experience may only happen once and is frequently unique, whereas this question may refer to a more ordinary or regular occurrence.
This question asks about something that “makes you feel alive when doing it.” Since most of us like to feel alive, we’ll return to that kind of activity again and again for the sense of vitality it gives us. This activity could be a hobby. It could be a responsibility tied to giving in a community service activity. It could be something to do with nature. Hiking, scuba diving, parachuting, gardening, or thousands of other activities could fit the bill. Perhaps it’s something that ties you to your tradition and belief system. The possibilities are endless.
However, while the options may be limitless, the word count is not: 300 words. A possible structure for this essay would be to start with a vivid description of the activity and then go into why it makes you feel “alive.” The why is probably going to be harder than describing the activity, but make sure you do it.
Try to connect to relevant elements of Haas’ Four Principles without parroting them mindlessly.
Haas MBA Essay #2
At Berkeley Haas, we are redefining leadership. We value different opinions and perspectives, recognizing that we always have more to learn about others’ lived experiences and histories. We encourage speaking up and listening, and courageously use our power to address barriers and drive change for positive impact.
Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples. (300 words maximum)
Think about how you would like to develop as a leader. Are you already someone who looks for opportunities to improve the status quo, studies how to do so, listens well to different perspectives, and seeks to contribute to your team, organization, and community? Do you want to develop those skills further?
Can you give an example of where you succeeded in a leadership role by using some of Haas’ leadership principles while also feeling that you need to nurture others and develop some even more? That example would serve as a great start to this essay. Then closely review Haas’ approach to management education and leadership specifically and discuss how you will use what Haas provides to improve your leadership skills.
Haas MBA Optional Information #1
We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements.
- 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)
- What is the most recent occupation of your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
• Skilled worker
- 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
- What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home?
- If you have you ever been responsible for providing significant and continuing financial or supervisory support for someone else, please indicate.
• Extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
- 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)
Simply and honestly answer the short answer questions and then elaborate in #6 if relevant or use this essay to discuss hardships, disadvantages, or “unusual circumstances” that are the context for the rest of the application.
In providing that context, especially when talking about hardships overcome, provide enough information for the admissions committee to understand the hardship, but not so much that you end up writing a pity essay or you end up appearing somehow “damaged” or broken. Overcoming hardship can strengthen a person. That’s the kind of image you want to create if you choose to write on the topic. Yes, you may have experienced something difficult, maybe even tragic or terrible, but you have overcome this and are stronger as a result. The reader’s reaction? Admiration, not pity.
For an example, listen to Ida Valentine: Investment Banker, Inspirational Speaker, HBS 2021.
Haas MBA Optional Information #2
This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application. This may include an explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations, supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate.
This optional essay is a restrictive optional. Only use it to provide context for events and outcomes, like a dip in grades or employment gap. You don’t want the admissions readers to (wrongly) assume something or imagine what caused that gap or dip. Just tell them succinctly what happened if you haven’t done so somewhere else in your Haas application.
For expert guidance with your Berkeley Haas MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Berkeley Haas’ MBA program and look forward to helping you too!
UC Berkeley Haas 2019-20 MBA Application Deadlines
|Application Deadline||Decisions Released|
|Round 1||September 26, 2019||
December 12, 2019
|Round 2||January 9, 2020||
March 26, 2020
|Round 3||April 2, 2020||
May 7, 2020
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Leadership in Admissions, a free guide
• Different Dimensions of Diversity, a podcast episode
• How to Write About Overcoming Challenges Without Sounding Like a Whiner