Berkeley Haas Application Essay Tips, 2023–2024
It’s another exciting year in MBA applications, and Berkeley Haas has decided to meet that excitement with some changes to its application. While keeping the “what makes you feel alive” essay from years past, the adcom has made more official a goals essay and added a video essay. In addition, they reduced the number of short-answer questions and switched to accepting the Common Letter of Recommendation. As always, it will be key to demonstrate how you embrace or embody one or more of Haas’s four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. And now, the video essay directly asks you to do so. Through these principles, Haas makes culture a differentiator, and Haas’s culture is extremely important and valued. Make sure you show that you understand this element of its MBA program, and share how you will contribute to and enrich it.
The school’s optional essay, which continues to demonstrate Haas’s commitment to understanding its applicants’ unique paths, allows you to articulate how the events of your life have affected 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 in which to share your story.
As a smaller MBA program, Haas wants to know how you will fit into and contribute to its very close-knit, collaborative, and student-driven community. Be authentic and write about who you are—not who you think Haas wants you to be. Find a comfortable spot with your beverage of choice and think about the following questions: Why do you want an MBA? Why now? And why Haas? Use the school’s application essays to share your unique answers.
What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)
When thinking about how to respond to this prompt, you can also consider what you are passionate about and why. A great way to start this essay is with a quick story (of maybe 100–150 words) describing a memorable experience that illustrates what makes you feel alive. Finish the story by explicitly stating your answer so that the admissions team doesn’t have to guess.
The bulk of your essay, or the remaining 150–200 words, should explain why this passion is important to you and how this ties back into your overall story. Although your activity does not need to be directly tied to your goals, it should enhance your application. It doesn’t have to connect directly to your career goals, but you do want to be explicit about how this passion will support you in the pursuit of your goals. You could also communicate how your story has influenced you or helped you gain perspective. After you have written your essay, have someone who knows you well read it—and make sure they pick up on the themes you are trying to present.
How will an MBA help you achieve your short-term and long-term career goals? (300 words max)
Here, Haas has taken last year’s 150-word short-answer question about immediate short-term goals and given you expanded word count to talk more about your professional trajectory. When writing a goals essay, consider starting with the end in mind. What problem do you want to solve long term in your career? Then, work to determine what might be your first post-MBA role to make a step toward that goal. Next, clarify why you have chosen this path—was it a professional experience? Are you wanting to pivot to a personal passion? The larger the change, the more in-depth your reasoning needs to be. And finally, identify what you need from an MBA and Haas to achieve these goals. Where do you need to grow? What resources at Haas might help you get there? And how will you get involved in or contribute to those clubs, centers, and/or experiences to give back to the Haas community?
Essay #3 – Video
The Berkeley MBA program develops leaders who embody our four Defining Leadership Principles. Briefly introduce yourself to the admissions committee, explain which leadership principle resonates most with you, and tell us how you have exemplified the principle in your personal or professional life. (Not to exceed 2 minutes.)
And here is the newest element of the application! Think of this video as a way to highlight how you embody a Haas Defining Leadership Principle and to fill in any gaps in your story that are not revealed in your other essays. Keep in mind that two minutes is roughly equal to 300 words.
Start by introducing yourself. For the introduction, think about what is important for the admissions team to know about you. Keep in mind all the information you are sharing across the application, and try not to be redundant in your introduction.
Next, state which core principle resonates with you and give a brief explanation as to why. Finally, give an example of how you have embodied that core principle. Your story can be from either your professional life or your personal life. Also, consider using the STAR (situation, task, action, result) or CAR (context, action, and result) approach when telling the story.
Can you please 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? (150 words max)
It is extremely helpful that Haas is including its short answers (Okay, 150 words isn’t super short!) with its essays. While this question was asked last year in a different part of the application, it now is getting full billing as an application essay. This highlights the importance with which Haas views DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging—with “belonging” being new to the question this year). In your response, Haas is looking for you to highlight how you play a role in creating inclusive environments. One of the beauties of the Haas community is that as part of a small class, you will have the opportunity and necessity to interact with classmates from other cultures, geographies, industries, and lifestyles. Haas wants you to share a story that helps show that you will make the most of this diversity and further the school’s inclusive culture. Think about times when you have worked with others that are different from you. In addition to the obvious examples of geography and background, you could consider times when you’ve worked across generations or various working styles, or when you’ve helped others contribute their best to a group. Given that 150 words is pretty short, be sure to spend enough time describing your actions while ensuring that you fully explain the situation and result.
Optional Information #1
We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements.
This optional essay shows 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 or resilience, but find your own way to describe it. As with the other parts of the application, be honest and genuine. In your elaboration, focus on how these experiences have influenced your life, goals, and future plans. However, you only want to answer this question if it truly applies to you. Use your best judgment.
Optional Information #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.
This question needs to be addressed only if there are gaps in your employment or some other element of your candidacy for which providing some background or context would be helpful. Some other examples would be if your transcript resembles Swiss cheese, with holes or bad grades scattered throughout, or if you don’t feel you have the necessary quantitative caliber or sufficient experience. Avoid making this essay “flowery” or overly descriptive; just focus on the facts, offer your explanation(s)—not excuses—and describe any actions you took to mitigate the issue. There is a separate question about recommender choice, so that does not need to be included here. This essay does not even need to be an essay at all; it should be kept concise and used judiciously.
– If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain. If not applicable, enter N/A.
– List, in order of importance, significant community and professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Include the following information for each using the format below:
– Name of organization or activity
– Nature of organization or activity
– Size of organization
– Dates of involvement
– Offices held
– Average number of hours spent per month
– List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
– If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended, or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)
Simply use these short answers to provide the requested facts and explanations. Be clear and concise with your responses.
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into Berkeley Haas School of Business, you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings, such as tailgating, the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, and Consumption Functions. Download your free copy today!