Haas Application Essays Undergraduate Student

Anyone who is applying to Haas knows it’s a daunting experience with a very low admit rate. For Fall 2016, only about 5.7% of all 1918 applicants got through.

More than almost any other UC major, Business Administration at Berkeley puts huge emphasis on the essays, with  35% of admissions criteria based on what you write. Haas looks not only at what you say, but how you say it.  Unlike general admissions, the Haas admissions office will definitely critique writing style, as well as how emphatically and engagingly you convey your message.

The Haas Supplemental

The Haas Supplemental is an additional packet of forms that unveils online in early January. All Haas applicants must complete this supplemental by January 31. One of the leading causes of disqualification is not completing the supplemental, or completing it without the crucial pizzazz.

The Supplemental includes: (1) an essay, (2) a detailed resume, and (3) academic course update. Within this trifecta, the essay is one of the most crucial pieces. To be admitted to Haas you need an extremely powerful and persuasive supplemental essay.

In order to make your supplemental essay as strong as possible, be sure to include at least one of the Haas Four Defining Principles. These principles are the key to Haas culture.


The 4 Defining Principles are:

Question the Status Quo  
Question the Status Quo means to always be open to new ways of doing things. Don’t just blandly accept the current state of things as the final word. Haas will want to see how you stretch yourself in order to see the world in new ways. Nothing is ever set in stone.

Confidence without Attitude
This principle was included after a company executive mentioned that he liked Haas job applicants because they exhibited confidence without attitude. It’s fairly self-explanatory.  Haas does not want a blowhard or someone who feels they are entitled.

Student Always 
Bad leaders are the ones who graduate from wherever they graduated from and assume they know it all. What they were taught at that given moment (in other words, what was current then), is good enough now. Haas believes an excellent leader is always in learning mode. Things change and a leader needs to embrace flexibility, with a strong incentive to keep growing.

Beyond Yourself
This involves stewardship and giving back, both within your community and globally.


I cannot stress enough that Haas wants to see these defining principles in your content. Admissions will want to see how you used a principle in relation to leadership, passion and ethics.  So tell a story. Do not just list a bunch of stuff you did or why you feel you are a Student Always in a leadership setting. Relate a small slice of life situation that shows how you exhibited the traits of a Student Always, so the reader get inside the event.

By the way, if you are a military veteran, be sure to address your service in the essays — for instance teamwork, leadership, skills, and any lessons learned.

Haas Supplemental Prompts

UPDATE:  January 11: The 2017 Supplemental prompt was released. It is:

Many people believe “honesty is the best policy.” But is it always? Describe a situation during your college experience where you had to decide whether or not to be honest. Explain your decision and outcome.

Here are samples from previous years:

Prompt 2016:  Describe how you envision your two years in the Haas Undergraduate Program. What impact do you hope to have on your peers?

Prompt Option A 2015:  For Berkeley-Haas, there are four principles that, taken together, sharply define us relative to other business schools. As you reflect on these principles (Confidence without Attitude, Question the Status Quo, Students Always, Beyond Yourself) which one do you identify most with? Why?

Prompt Option B 2015:  As you reflect on your life and your beliefs, what phrase or quote best describes you?  Explain this phrase or quote and why it represents you so well.


You will get an email notice when the Supplemental is up, and as usual, I offer guidance with the Haas Supplemental Essay. Good luck to all applicants!

Lindy King

CA College Transfer offers college admissions services to students hoping to transfer to a UC. Lindy King is the author of the best-selling UC transfer book, "How to Transfer to a UC from a California Community College," now in its 3rd edition. Available on Amazon and iTunes.

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Berkeley / Haas Essay Topics 2016-2017

The UC Berkeley MBA admissions committee has announced the Haas essay topics for applicants targeting the Class of 2019. Haas MBA applicants will respond to three brief required essays of just 250-500 words. This represents a significant reduction in total word count as compared to the program’s essays over the past few years. Meanwhile, the subject matter is similar to that of previous applications, with a reprise of that song-that-represents-you prompt from the 2015-2016 season, as well as fairly straightforward questions about the candidate’s career goals and influential past experiences.

The 2016-2017 Haas essay topics are:

Essays help us learn about who you are as a person and how you will fit with our community. We seek candidates from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, and industries who demonstrate a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles. Our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles – Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. We encourage you to reflect on your experiences, values, and passions so that you may craft a thoughtful and authentic response.

Essay 1: If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 word maximum)

Essay 2: Please respond to one of the following prompts: (250 word maximum)

• Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you.
• Describe a time when you were challenged by perspectives different from your own and how you responded.
• Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging.

In your response, clearly indicate to which prompt (1, 2, or 3) you are responding. We do not have a preference among the prompts and suggest that you select the one for which you can share a specific experience, professional or personal.

Essay 3: Tell us about your career plans. How have your past experiences prepared you to achieve these goals? How will Berkeley-Haas help you? (500 words maximum)

You are encouraged to reflect on what it is you want to do after business school, including the types of roles, responsibilities, and organizations that are of interest. Through this essay we hope to learn about your professional journey to date and how an MBA will facilitate your success – broadly defined – in the future.

Optional Essay: Use this essay to share information that is not presented elsewhere in the application, for example (500 word maximum):

• Explanation of employment gaps or academic aberrations
• Quantitative abilities
• For re-applicants, improvements to your candidacy

Now that the essays are out, get a jump start on your research with the FREE Berkeley / Haas 2016-2017 School Snapshot!

Posted in: Essay Topics, Essays

Schools: Berkeley / Haas

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