UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business saw a 12% rise in applications to its full-time MBA program for this fall’s entering class. The increase brings the number of applicants to 4,031, up from 3,506 a year earlier.
Haas is already among a handful of schools in the world with the lowest acceptance rates, 13% last year, behind only Stanford GSB (6.1%) and Harvard Business School (10.7%). Of the 3,506 applicants last year, the school admitted only 455 candidates and enrolled 246 students. The increase in applications will push Haas’ acceptance rate lower as the school is now targeting the size of its entering class to about 250 this year.
Rich Lyons, dean of Haas, says he is unsure why the school had a significant jump in applications in a year when many other schools are reporting flat to slightly down volume. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management has reported that its applications were down this past year, while the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School said its apps were up just a tick above 1%. Haas’ rise outstrips the 6% increase at Yale University’s School of Management.
FIVE MOST LIKELY FACTORS BEHIND THE 12% JUMP IN APPLICATIONS
“We’re likely to know more from the admit surveys we do later in the summer,” Lyons says. But he thinks the rise “boils down” to five factors, including an earlier round one deadline. “This year we moved up our round one notification date from January to December, which aligned us better with other top schools. Of our three rounds, this was the round that saw the largest increase in apps.”
He also attributes some of the increase to a new, fourth building in the Haas complex. The building, which is being added around the school’s existing courtyard, will open in about six months, and construction was well on its way through the application period for would-be applicants to see when they visited campus.
Haas also moved into the top five U.S. schools in the second of five major rankings and is now in the top ten in all five major rankings. Haas rose three places in this year’s Financial Times global ranking to fifth place among U.S. schools and seventh overall (see INSEAD Tops Financial Times Ranking).
APPEAL OF CULTURE & ENGAGEMENT OF ALUMNI ALSO CITED AS REASONS
Lyons also believes the school’s emphasis on culture and its engagement with alumni played some role in the increase. “While our culture-led approach — a mainstay of the school’s strategy — has been in place for five years now, our four defining principles and the culture they represent recently became the No. 1 positive influence factor among our admits for choosing Haas over the competition,” he explains to Poets&Quants. “This holds for both admits who come and those who don’t.
“Our new, more enterprise-wide approach to strengthening our alumni network globally, coupled with the success of our alums in generating income growth, is getting increasing attention. In the latest Financial Times income-growth data, for example, Haas outpaced many fine schools like Stanford, Wharton, and MIT. This helps explain our secular trend over the last decade in rankings like the FT.”