Berkeley Haas Application Essay Tips, 2022-2023
The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, has updated its second essay question this year and is now looking for a more direct answer as to what type of leader you’d like to be in the future. What’s remained the same is Haas’s desire to get to know the authentic you, so it is important to make sure that shines through in your essays. As always, it will be key to demonstrate how you embrace or embody the four defining principles of Haas: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Through these principles, Haas makes culture a differentiator, and Haas’s culture is extremely important and valued. Therefore, in your essays, make sure you show that you understand this element of the 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 your path, enables 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 in which to share your story.
As one of the smaller MBA programs, Haas wants to know how you fit into and will 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 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 are you passionate about and why. A great way to start this essay is with a quick story (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 you feel alive when you are doing your specified activity and touch on why this activity is important to your overall application. Although your activity does not need to be directly tied to your goals, it should enhance your application. If it does not connect to your career goals in some way, consider implicitly highlighting how it helps you embody one of the school’s four defining principles. You could also communicate how your story has impacted 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.
What kind of leader do you aspire to be and why? (300 words max)
With this question, Haas wants to know where you aspire to grow as a leader and see evidence that you have the self-awareness to identify how this leadership style will help you achieve your goals. The admissions team wants to see that you’ve identified tools at Haas that can get you there.
Start by telling a story that highlights your leadership to date, then transition to providing an example of the type of leader you choose to be. Use this story to show the steps you have taken toward your vision of a successful leader. Think about how you want to work with others, drive change, and create culture. If there is something special you need to gain or develop to be able to achieve your career goals, include that in your description. For example, leaders of startups often need a different set of skills than do leaders of large multinational organizations, but some skills can translate across both.
Identify one to three leadership skills that you can further develop to become that successful leader. Explain the “why” behind each skill important for you to become a leader in your industry. Do you need stronger change management capabilities so you can better implement the product changes you have been designing? Do you need more robust team-building skills to help drive a high-performing group as opposed to a collection 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? Be specific to your experiences and your goals.
Another way to add specificity to your essay is to think about which Haas resources and characteristics will help you gain the leadership skills you need. Is it the collaborative and innovative culture? Is it a leadership position with 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.
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)
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 only needs to be addressed 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 typical 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. 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!