The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, has continued to identify questions that help the admissions team get to know the authentic you—and it is important to make sure that shines through in your essays. Although the second essay has been rephrased, it still asks you to assess your leadership style and where you need to grow. As always, it will be important to demonstrate how you embrace the four defining principles of Haas: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Student Always, and Beyond Yourself. Through these principles, Haas is making culture a differentiator. The culture of Haas is extremely important and valued. Therefore, in your essays, make sure you show how you will contribute to and enrich Haas culture.
Haas has kept its optional essay, which continues to demonstrate the school’s commitment to understanding your path, enabling you to articulate how the events of your life have impacted you. While some schools ask about your background as a part of the application, Haas takes this to a higher level by giving you 300 words to explain your story.
Even though it has increased its class size to 331, as one of the smaller business schools, Haas wants to know how you fit within this very close-knit, collaborative, and student-driven culture. Be authentic and write about who you are—not who you think Haas wants you to be. Find a comfortable spot with the beverage of your choice and think about the following questions: Why do you want an MBA? Why now? And why Haas? Use the essays to share your unique answers.
What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
Tell us what you are passionate about and why.
A great way to start this essay is with a quick story describing a memorable experience that illustrates what makes you feel alive. Finish the story by specifically stating your answer—you do not want the admissions team to guess.
The bulk of your essay should explain why you feel alive when you are doing your specified activity and touch on why this activity is important to mention in your application. Although your activity does not need to be directly tied to your goals, it should enhance your application. If it does not tie into your career goals, be sure to clearly communicate how it has impacted you or helps you gain perspective. After you have written your essay, have someone who knows you well read it—and make sure they see the same themes that you want to present.
The definition of successful leadership has evolved over the last decade and will continue to change. What do you need to develop to become a successful leader? (300 words max)
What is your definition of a successful leader? What do you need to get there, and how can a Berkeley Haas MBA help you there?
In this question, Haas wants to know how you define a successful leader as well as your self-awareness and your ability to identify what you need to get there. The admissions team wants to know that you see a path and tools at Haas that can get you there.
Start by presenting your definition of a successful leader. This should be no more than a sentence or two. When writing your definition, think about how a successful leader works with others, drives change, and creates culture. If there is something special needed for a leader in your career path, bring that into your description. For example, leaders of start-ups need a different set of skills compared to leaders of large multinational organizations, but some skills can translate across both.
As a growing leader yourself, hopefully you are working to embody your vision of a successful leader. Illustrate your self-assessment of your leadership profile through a story that highlights where you have used your leadership position to great impact or how you embody one of the key defining principles. Next, identify one to three leadership skills that you can improve upon to become that successful leader. Explain why each skill will be important for you to become a leader in your industry. Do you need stronger change management skills so that you can better implement the product changes that you have been designing? Do you need stronger team-building skills to help drive a high-performing team as opposed to a group of high-performing individuals? It is often said, “What has gotten you here will not get you there.” What do you need to get there?
Summarize how Haas is the right place for you to gain these leadership skills. Is it the collaborative and innovative culture? Is it a leadership position within the Haas Healthcare Conference? Experiential learning is an important part of the Haas experience. How will you use your experience to be a successful leader?
Optional Information #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)?
2. What is the most recent occupation of your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
3. If you were raised in one of the following household types, please indicate.
4. What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home?
5. If you have ever been responsible for providing significant and continuing financial or supervisory support for someone else, please indicate.
6. 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)
What skills have you innately developed through these experiences that have helped you succeed to where you are today?
This optional essay is showing Haas’s commitment to diversity across all levels. The admissions team wants to know what experiences have shaped your path and the skills these experiences have taught you. Some call it grit. As with other parts of the application, be honest and genuine. In your elaboration, focus on how any of these experiences have shaped your life, goals, and future plans. Although this is a great opportunity to highlight how experiences in your life have shaped you, you only want to answer this question if it is applicable to you. Use your best judgment.