876 New Students Jump Into Life at Haas

Photo: Full-time MBA students run the three-legged race at the Cohort Olympics

Berkeley-Haas this month welcomed 876 new students, who bring to the classroom accomplishments as diverse as working on a robot currently on Mars, launching a social enterprise to turn recyclables into profit in a Nairobi slum, and sinking jump shots for the Cal Bears.

The new students began the evening & weekend MBA, full-time MBA, undergraduate, and PhD programs with immersive orientations.

Evening & Weekend MBAs

The incoming class of 252 EWMBA students arrived on campus July 29 for a packed “WE Launch” orientation weekend of work sessions, skits and team-building exercises, and an introduction to the Haas Defining Principles.

Courtney Chandler, assistant dean of the EWMBA program, said it was remarkable to see the class transform between Friday and Sunday. “So many students arrived as strangers, and after just a few days have become their own unique community, feeling confident about starting an intense, exciting three years of work together.”

All orientation events were held on the Haas campus, serving as an opportunity for students to get to know their cohort members and other first-years, professors, and second- and third-year students.

As a group, the students have a median of seven years work experience and work in 35 industries. They represent 184 companies including Google, Apple, Disney, Wells Fargo, Target, Oracle, Chevron, Salesforce, and Genentech. Seventy-one percent of the class is multilingual, hailing from 22 countries.

It’s an accomplished and eclectic group. Several students have been deeply involved in the sciences: one did clinical research examining the role of music in treating Alzheimer’s patients, another developed inhalable measles vaccines for the developing world, while another has 41 patents to her name.

Two students worked on Mars exploration projects—including one who worked on a robot currently on Mars. One is a photographer who chronicled the migration of Kazakh eagle hunters in Mongolia; another is a professional violinist who performs internationally. Among the many entrepreneurs in the group is a student who started her own fashion company designing headscarves for Muslim women.

Full-time MBAs

The full-time Berkeley MBA Class of 2018, also made up of 252 students, got their introduction to Haas in mid-August with a full week of orientation activities that ranged from lessons on the practicalities of MBA life to moments of inspiration and self-reflection to the all-out zaniness of the annual Cohort Olympics.

Each day of “Week Zero”—which was co-chaired by 2nd-year students Alison Underwood, Rachel Adams, and Mario Siewert—was centered around one of the four Haas Defining Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Beyond Yourself and Students Always.

For the Beyond-Yourself theme, for example, students heard from Revolution Foods co-founder and CEO Kristin Richmond, MBA 06, about how classmates pitched in with tasks large and small as she and classmate Kirsten Tobey launched their healthy school lunch company during their last semester at Haas. They also learned about the Teams@Haas curriculum, which is integrated throughout the program and gives students a skillset to lead in teams, and then spent the afternoon sprucing up the grounds at the Alameda Point Collaborative program for homeless families.

It was a fitting start: a recent admissions survey found that Haas’ unique culture is the No. 1 reason students choose the program. Full-time MBA applications for the incoming class were up 12 percent.

“This program does an unbelievable job focusing on a student development from a personal and professional perspective,” said student Reggie Davis. “You can go to any top business school to find a good job, but you come to Haas to find yourself and what drives you. Also, the students that I’ve met are the most talented, bright and self-aware people that I have ever come across.”

Nahry Tak is returning to Berkeley after earning her bachelor’s in art history here, and then working at the Trust for Public Land.

“While the MBA students at Haas are diverse on many fronts, I find that all of them share a concern for positively impacting others,” she said. “I recently heard Dean Rich Lyons say that Berkeley-Haas cultivates leaders who ‘instill purpose in those around them.’ This idea resonates strongly with me, and I am thrilled to return to the institution that I know will challenge me to become the best and most impactful version of myself.”

The incoming students have an average GMAT score of 717 and average GPA of 3.64.


The Haas Undergraduate program welcomed 359 students at Monday’s orientation, with an address from Dean Rich Lyons, an overview of career services and the alumni networks, a social mixer and team-building activities.

The class is made up of 258 continuing UC Berkeley students and 101 transfer students. The program received the largest number of applications ever; the acceptance rate was 14.5%; and the yield was 98% for continuing students and 94% for transfers. The Berkeley students have an impressive average GPA of 3.65, while the average among transfers is 3.93. Nearly half of the new students are women.

This year’s group is especially athletic, said Assistant Dean Erika Walker. For the first time in at least 30 years, it includes two Cal Men’s Basketball players—guards Stephen Domingo (left end) and Sam Singer (right end), along with athletes (left to right) Josh Lewis, track and field; Asha Culhane-Husain, track and field; Camille Doan, lacrosse; Jazmyn Jackson, USA Softball; and Parker Garrett, lacrosse.


Thirteen new students began the Haas PhD program this summer, commencing advanced study in the fields of accounting, business & public policy, finance, marketing, and real estate.

Students in Haas’ two other degree programs, the Berkeley MBA for Executives and Master of Financial Engineering, began earlier this year.