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.


  • 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.

  • JohnAByrne

    We will be publishing many more smack downs in the near future and updating our current ones. Stay tuned. We’ll begin posting new ones in August.

  • Nels

    Hey John! When can we expect future smackdowns, especially Duke vs Darden, Anderson vs Marshall etc.?? would love to have them here on P&Q..

  • Life is incredible in the Bay Area and business is booming with all the startups and huge tech companies like Google.

    Go to Berkeley if you can get in HANDS DOWN!

    Financial Samurai

  • Former_Student

    I’d like to see a comparison between Berkeley and Harvard.

  • You should really update this piece to reflect the current rankings, or not have it prominently promoted as if were based on current data.

  • Michelle


    Thanks for the information on Sloan but I was hoping to see more on their admission preferences. I was a bit surprised to see that they had such a high percentage of students from the humanities, contrasting my impression of MIT as a number crunching kind of place. I am interested in supply chain management and was looking into Sloan. I have an unusual academic record, with an undergraduate major in government and environmental studies, a brief study abroad focusing on geology at the U. of St. Andrews, and another brief study away focused on economics in DC. I’m a first gen Asian immigrant from a low socio-economic background and have solid grades from a respected liberal arts college known for grade deflation (probably top 5-10% of class), GRE scores which convert to a 700-720 GMAT score, and extracurricular activities but am applying straight out of undergraduate studies so have only as much work experience as a 21 year old can have. I feel like I would be a strong candidate given a few years of work but I would like to be an environmental consultant and also know I can’t get my foot in the door without a MBA. I am applying for HBS 2+2 but wanted to see if you had any suggestions for what other schools might overlook my inexperience.

  • Dan,

    Those are all great schools. It’s just a matter of time. We’re continuing to build out the site and as we do we’ll significantly increase these smack down reports, insuring that they cover a much broader array of the top schools.

  • Dan

    I can certainly appreciate the focus on the top 10 schools. The reality for myself, however, is that I am looking at top 15-25; fortunately, this is for both scores and program preference. I would love to see Emory v. Georgetown or UNC, as that is my final three. Emory is a heavy lean, but I value your opinion and analysis. I want to do consulting.

  • John,

    Right you are. I expect to double or triple the number of smackdowns on the site by early fall. Duke vs. Darden is definitely on the list.

  • John P

    John – I would really like to see a Fuqua vs. Darden piece. Thanks!!

  • Raj

    Not sure whether Joe had some special koolaid. Berkeley receives just inside 25% of its funding from State. Haas in particular is largely run like a private school, though it us part of Berkeley system. For a public school, they came off recession (assuming we are off recession) in a decent fashion. If anything recession might have taught the business school, they should find creative ways to cut cost while maintaining quality. Haas is no exception. Moreover, the success and quality of a school can be determined from the ROI of that school’s MBA over 5/10/20 years and overall lifetime return. If you look at BW’s ROI data for 2011, Berkeley ranks EIGHT, one rank above Booth, which indeed ranks top in general BW ranking. Indeed, the ROI over life-time for a Harvard grad, whisch is ranked No.1 on ROI, is around 3.6 million USD while Berkeley MBA grad’s inches at around 3 million: not a world of difference. This data hinges on last 20 yrs and overall lifetime earning, which suggests that Haas has been in top 10 on ROI even before it inched to top 10 in general ranking. As most would agree statistics do not lie. A ranking system based on ROI would be the best indicator of actual ranking of schools over general ranking that takes lot of subjective elements. After all most go to b-schools to make money!!!

  • Joe

    It is unwise to put your future in the Haas reputation if a solid top 10 school is within your reach. UC Berkeley has a 50 million dollar shortfall, a plight of the ailing California state budget. Haas and UC Berkeley are already poised to lose faculty. They invested in technology when they should have invested in faculty and basic core teaching. In the end, that is fluff, and within a few years, odds are Haas rapid fuel burn to reach barely into the top ten will fizzle. Stanford faced the same issues, and they sacked the business school CIO. Sometimes cultural shifts can happen, but typically deans just keep throwing money in the wrong direction until their term ends.

  • Kunoflo

    Wow! MIT is ranked 81 on sustainability? They seemed to have a lot going on in that particular field…

  • Marriote

    @fjkuzminski Kellogg MMM program is much similar to that of MIT LGO, and is more management than engineering, but you get the dual, you can consider it, its top notch but like LGO only 60 seats! all the best

  • Gonzalo Martinez de Azagra

    If you are trying to decide which one is best for you, I would think of what you want to do and where you want to work. With determination any of these schools will get you wherever you want, but it would be best if you new where you wanted to work. I chose Berkeley because I preferred the West Coast. I am an Engineer and would have loved adding MIT to my CV but I new I wanted to be close to Tech and Silicon Valley. You should have your own ranking, decide what you want and where you want to live. These schools share many similiraties in terms of their strengths (ex. Entrepreneurship). Its about fit, not just rankings. There are a lot of disappointed people who chose on the basis of rankings. Make sure you talk to students, visit the places and attend lectures. Also, look at what people do after graduation that will give a good indication of whether its the right school for you.

  • Rob,
    The good news is that they are all top-notch, high-quality programs. You couldn’t go wrong with any of them. It’s all about preference: A Silicon Valley experience on the West Coast vs. an East Coast experience or a more European outlook. I really wouldn’t rank one over another.

  • Rob

    Hi, how would you rank the MIt sloan fellow program in innovation and global leadership (MBA) there are only three sloan programs, MIT;LBS and Stanford, can you rank them within the standard 2 year MBA. thanks.

  • fjkuzminski


    I am wondering what your thoughts are on MIT’s Leaders For Global Operations (LGO – dual MBA/MS) program, especially when compared to a standard MBA. Also, are there any other presitgious B-schools that offer concurrent graduate business and engineering degrees?

    Excellent work overall. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

  • Hi John

    Can we have a comparison between Cornell Johnson and Carnegie Mellon Tepper pls?


  • Umang

    Hi John,

    I started reading your comparisons since a week ago and they are helpful indeed.

    This was a much awaited comparison, though it is a detailed one but you seem to have given more writing space to Berkeley 🙁 (look at geography, culture & teaching methods).

    Sad to know and hard to believe that the students have complaints about the quality of teaching, since it is one of the most important aspect of any top b-school. Would be helpful if you can elaborate more on the teaching methodology and tell us some examples (may be from your conversations with the students/alumni )

    I have been in a constant dilemma of Sloan Vs Haas. If one looses out an aspect, it wins on the other. Still a tough choice to make. May be apply to both 🙂

    Which schools are next? How about Duke, Darden, Cornell, Tepper, UCLA Anderson.