MIT’s Sloan School vs. Berkeley’s Haas School

MIT's Sloan School of Management

Although separated by some 3,000 miles, there are many similarities between the Sloan School at at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Haas School of Business at the University of Berkeley. These are both relatively small business schools, each an integral part of great universities, one elite private and one public. Berkeley’s proximity to Silicon Valley puts the school at the forefront of entrepreneurship, venture capital, and technology. Of all the east coast schools, MIT comes closest to the same Berkeley focus. No wonder, so many apply to both schools, even though they are so far from each other.

The flagship program at both schools is the full-time, two-year MBA. Yet, Berkeley and Sloan offer a vareity of other degree-graning programs in business, including Executive MBAs. At Berkeley’s Haas School, for example, there’s an undergraduate population of 700 students, a part-time MBA program of 750 students, and an executive MBA program with 70 students. Meantime, MIT has a dual degree program in which 50 students a year work toward both an MBA as well as an MS in science and engineering. There’s also a master  of science in management studies, a one-year degree done in partnership with a select group of international schools. And there is a one year Master of Finance degree in which incoming students arrive in the sumer for a turbo finance class. This year, MIT has enrolled an entire cohort of 60 students in that program.

In what other ways do these two stellar schools differ from each other? Let’s start with how both schools fare in the major business school rankings.


As the P&Q ranking suggests, these are two schools that are fairly evenly matched. Poets&Quants–which factors into consideration all the major rankings weighted by their individual authority–awards MIT a rank of eighth, while Berkeley is right on its heels in the ninth spot, making it our highest ranked public university business school. It’s pretty much the same story with BusinessWeek which places MIT ninth and Berkeley tenth. The oddest disparities occur in the global rankings from The Financial Times and The Economist. The FT clearly favors MIT, giving it a rank of eighth, and puts Berkeley’s Haas School down in some kind of academic purgatory at 28th, a difference of 20 spots. The Economist, looking at some of the same data, has another illogical conclusion: It ranks MIT 19th and Berkeley third in the world, a gap of 16 places in the ranking. Like the Olympic judges at the figure skating championships, we think these two highly peculiar results should be thrown out. These are the up-to-date rankings from each ranking organization.

MBA Rankings MIT Berkeley
Poets&Quants 8 9
BusinessWeek 9 10
Forbes 14 12
U.S. News & World Report 3 7
Financial Times 8 28
The Economist 19 3

Historical Rankings by BusinessWeek:

Berkeley’s Haas School has shown dramatic improvement in the BusinessWeek ranking in the past four years. The school earned its highest ranking ever from BusinessWeek in 2006 when it was rated the eighth best business school in the U.S. In 2008, Berkeley came in tenth, the school’s second-best rank from the magazine ever. In BusinessWeek’s estimation, Berkeley is the second best public business school in the country, behind only Michigan which is ranked fifth. Over the 11 BusinessWeek surveys dating back to 1988, however, Berkeley has never bested MIT as the chart below shows. MIT’s best showing was in 2000 when it ranked fourth. Its worst? In 1988 and 1998, Sloan finished in 15th place. The past four years, however, shows you how close the MIT/Berkeley rivalry has become. In the last two BusinessWeek surveys covering that period, MIT was just above Berkeley, 9th place to Berkeley’s 10 and 8th place to Berkeley’s ninth.



Historical Rankings by The Financial Times:

In the early days of The Financial Times surveys, MIT’s Sloan School was a big winner, finishing fourth in 2000 and sixth in both 2001 and 2002. Since then, it’s bit a lot tougher for Sloan and a lot of other U.S. schools as rivals in Europe and Asia score better in this survey. Unlike BusinessWeek’s rankings, the FT includes business schools from all over the world. So the FT is ranking both MIT and Berkeley against such places as London Business School, which ranked number one in this survey in 2010 and 2009, and INSEAD, which ranked fifth these last two years. Regardless, just as in the BW rankings, MIT has outperformed Berkeley in all 11 FT surveys charted below, with the last three surveys ranking Sloan seventh, ninth and eighth, respectively. The Haas School, on the other hand, has never had a higher rank than 12 and that was way back in 2000. It has been ranked as low as 32nd in the world, in 2008, and 31st, in 2009. Berkeley’s showing in the Financial Times survey is a reflection of the methodology’s attempt to measure what the newspaper calls “the diversity and international reach” of the school. Even though international students at Berkeley make up 39% of the incoming class in 2010, the schools tends to do less well on some of the FT’s measurements, including “international mobility” and “international board,” factors that favor European schools where countries are not much larger than most states in the U.S.


  • Thor

    Hi John.

    Please update this article. It would be interesting to see how these two elite business schools stack up against each other after over half a decade from writing this.
    There’s plenty of cross-admits between these two elite schools and from what I’ve been hearing lately, Berkeley HAAS has been winning in that war, looks like a mirror-image of what has happened / is happening between Stanford and Harvard, where the former is now winning the war against the latter.

  • Bschoolin

    you should do some of these for Canadian schools

  • Sustainable Developer

    I wish this comparison compared more than just rankings. These schools are often used together and considered comparable, but why??? I can look at rankings and compare them for myself.

  • MIke

    Haas is walled off from the larger financial environment at Berkeley, so budgetary issues aren’t as pressing. They essentially operate as a private school within the larger campus. This gives them more leeway in terms of curriculum and fundraising. Given, if the larger Berkeley name were to suffer, they too would suffer, but while Berkeley did take a financial bruising during the downturn, their rankings didn’t suffer, and by my estimate they are poised to come out of that period even stronger.

  • applebees

    John – very unlikely he will see your reply give he posted that 3 years ago, and you replied this 4 months ago 🙂

  • Dan

    Not a fair comparison! Berkley may have location & weather advantage but it is no way comparable to MIT. Fair comparison of MIT would be with Stanford. With 700 people in part time MBA, several other MBA programs, Berkley has diluted its already lesser known brand. MIT is well known in any part of the world – specially more so in Asia. Harvard is the only other university that has similar name recognition. Rankings from media can not be the criteria as they always rank Kellogg at the top but we haven’t business leaders or startups out of Kellogg. They do not rank HBS at top but it doesn’t mean HBS is not better than Kellogg.