50 and Fabulous

The EWMBA program celebrates a trailblazing half-century

Large group of graduates in caps and gowns celebrating.

As globalization began giving American businesses a run for their money in the early 1970s, international business expert and then-Dean Richard Holton (below) began working with faculty to better train new leaders.

“Strong competition from Japanese companies started to wake people up,” says Jay Stowsky, senior assistant dean of instruction from 2008 to 2021.

Headshot of Haas Dean Richard Holton.
This led to the creation of a new kind of MBA program that would allow business leaders to earn the degree outside of their daily work schedules. In 1972, Berkeley’s business school launched its first part-time program, called the San Francisco Evening Program (SFMBA), in San Francisco. It was one of the first of its kind nationwide and the first within the UC system.

The program, now called the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program, is celebrating its 50th year. It consistently ranks in the top two in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of part-time MBA programs. Recently, Haas added a Flex cohort to the program, allowing working professionals to take core courses online with the option to complete electives on campus.

“The part-time program has truly increased access to an MBA,” says Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA programs. “We’re looking forward to what the next 50 years will bring for the program and our students.”

The Evolution of the EWMBA Program at Haas

The San Francisco Evening Program (SFMBA) launches in downtown San Francisco in the Wells Fargo Training Center at Sansome and Clay Streets with 88 students.

The program grows to 229 students—most in their mid-20s to late 30s with five years average work experience—enrolled in 17 courses, many taught by lecturers with broad practical experience.

The SFMBA moves into bigger digs at 333 Golden Gate Avenue, owned by Hastings College of the Law. After a five-year funding debate, the University and the Regents agree to offset state funding challenges by levying a supplemental student fee, signaling the program would remain a permanent offering.

Seismic issues force another move, this time to a rented building in the UN Plaza/Civic Center area.

In response to student demand to be closer to UC Berkeley, the school moves the program to campus.

A weekend option, the brainchild of former Dean Laura Tyson, is added and the program rebranded the Evening and Weekend Program.

Haas announces a new Flex cohort, a hybrid online/in-person MBA.

Flex enrolls its first cohort with 70 students, many of them international. Overall, 36% of the EWMBA class live outside the Bay Area. Nearly 40% are women.