How Haas’ Part-Time Program Stays On Top

Berkeley Haas EWMBA students will gather for orientation during the weekend of July 28-30 for a series of terms-building exercises and other events

Jamie Breen stresses that all of the opportunities at Berkeley Haas can be experienced by full-time MBAs and EWMBA students alike. But there’s another element at work here: Unlike most part-time programs that are entirely online or “blended” with some on-campus requirement, Berkeley Haas’ is entirely on-campus, reinforcing the “sameness” between the full-time and part-time programs and cementing that cohort bond. (It helps that 78% of EWMBA students live in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.)

“What we’ve tried to do with the EWMBA is emphasize that it’s the same degree,” Breen says. “It’s the same curriculum and the same core requirements, same faculty, and we also try to do as much as we can to make it the same kind of experience. We try to build that sense of community.

“Our academic advisers stay in touch with students for years, building that sense of community. People come here and look at us like family, and they become family with us and with each other.”


Jamie Breen, Berkeley Haas assistant dean

The tinkering and tweaking is never done, but a handful of Haas EWMBA signature programs have become cornerstones over the last few years. They include WE Launch, begun in 2015, in which all newly admitted students attend a July orientation where they hear from various partners who direct and help with the part-time program, get to know each other before starting classes, and bond over fun events. Students in their third year get back together one last time before commencement for WE Lead, a retreat that gives them a chance to celebrate bonds they have built with classmates, reflect on their time at Haas, and set goals and plan for what lies in their futures.

Among the other core events that help students “maintain momentum” in their part-time studies is the Mid-Program Academic Retreat, a weekend retreat that culminates the core-curriculum Applied Innovation course and gives students a chance to pull everything they’ve learned together while taking on a current challenge faced by a top company like Autodesk, Citi Ventures, PayPal, or Kaiser Permanente.

Momentum is vital, Breen tells Poets&Quants, especially for part-time students who have to balance work, school, and family. Sometimes students want to accelerate their studies, and sometimes they lose momentum and need to “stretch things out.” Berkeley Haas is amenable to either approach, allowing students to take along as five years to get their degree. “If they’re having a really busy time at work or there’s a lot of pressure or they’re traveling a lot, we can work with them,” Breen says.


Haas EWMBA alumni include some tech luminaries, such as Shantanu Narayan, CEO of Adobe, and Isabel Mahe, head of Apple in China. Haas alum Brett Wilson co-founded and led TubeMogul, which Adobe bought in 2016 for $540 million.

EWMBA grads are making waves in the startup world, too. Among them are Megan Mokri, Class of 2016, who started San Rafael-based Byte Foods, which raised $5.5 million in seed funding for its smart vending machines and delivery service; Shuai Jiang, Class of 2016, who along with classmates started uCella, which received $1 million last year to make a smart mailbox and app for securing packages when away from home; and Yi Lin Pei and Thulasi Narayan, both Class of 2017, who co-founded InnoWaste, a digital platform aimed at improving efficiency in recycling while generating social value. Current students Shannon Herline and Faith Kirkpatrick, Class of 2018, founded Lyme.Dot for Lyme disease patients to track and store health data, match with patients experiencing similar symptoms, and share the data with their healthcare practitioners.

Being at the nexus of the startup world helps Berkeley Haas, certainly, Rahul Sampat says. But there’s something indefinably special about the place, too, that has helped its part-time program – like its full-time program, which U.S. News hasn’t overlooked, ranking it seventh this year — thrive, and thrive consistently. Call it Berkeley magic.

“A big piece of this is being in the Bay Area and being the only part-time program in the Bay Area,” Sampat says. “But that will only take you so far — you have to have the other pieces to go with it: the access to a whole range of opportunities, the ability to work with different schools within Berkeley, the ability work with fellow students are passionate about Haas.

“And then, it’s true, there’s a certain magic in Berkeley. Everyone who comes here feels it.”


  • Randy Magallon

    “At a 47.4% acceptance rate, Berkeley Haas is also the most selective school in the top 25; you have to go all the way down to No. 28 Kennesaw State University Coles School of Business (41.2%) to find a school that is more choosy. ”

    This is a bit of a misnomer. Just because Coles School is 6.2% lower than Haas’ 47.4% acceptance rate makes it the more choosy school between the two. The admissions’ criteria of Haas are more rigid to comply than those of Coles’. The average GPA and GMAT scores of the admitted students of Haas, for instance, is way higher than those of Coles’. Not to mention the jobs held by those Haas admitted students were more prestigious. I would expect everyone admitted to Haas Part-time and Evening Program can easily win a slot at Coles, but not the other way around.

  • Ross

    Hey John, can you share your insight on how recruiters view part time MBA’s? Thanks

  • reckmondatary

    Is there any ranking coming out in the near future? It has been long time since we haven’t “bashed” schools

  • Vik Sen

    Haas has a separate EMBA program. This article is talking about the school’s PT MBA program. PT and EMBA programs are often difficult to compare. Yes, both are done part-time, but the average PT crowd is younger than their EMBA counter-part (Wharton is an exception though). EMBA is primarily for the people who already hold the executive positions and puts less emphasis on GMAT and GPA. It focuses on the applicant’s work experience. Also, often EMBA programs are rigidly structured i.e. they do not offer too many electives and they can be completed in shorter time frame.

  • My sense is that there are quite a few young professionals in the Bay Area who have jobs they love with really cool early stage companies and some of the tech giants. They don’t want to give up those jobs, and they aren’t looking at the MBA to transition into something new. They recognize that they want and need the basic skills an MBA provides and Haas’ part-time program is a great way to get the degree for them. Most of these professionals would otherwise be in the full-time applicant pool.

  • haasie

    That’s a great question. I just graduated from the full-time program. When I first started at Haas I was a little concerned about brand dilution – I thought the full-time MBA was more intense than the EW program and that EW’s might not be a good representation of the full capabilities of FT students. I was definitely wrong there. I cross-listed in several EW classes that interested me, like incentives and strategies in talent management, and I benefited a lot from the insights of people who are re-applying what they learn every evening at Haas in their work the next day. I think it’s a real strength of the program that we have both sets of students in such close proximity to one another.

  • Part time?

    I’d be much more curious how EMBA students view the way they market the courses as “exactly the same as MBA”, given the entry level nature of most of the core courses at the MBA level. So, they pay much more for…better peers, who are also paying much more, but otherwise the same academic experience as some 2 year IB kickout?

  • Great Research

    Not so daunting compared to Kellogg’s $6441- you do realize Kellogg requires fewer than half as many credits to graduate. That comparison makes absolutely no sense.

  • Full time?

    Curious how the Haas full time MBA students views the weekend program. This article makes it sound like there’s very little practical difference between the two – i.e. same MBA through and through.