August has been a big month for the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The school almost simultaneously enrolled its largest class of full-time MBAs and opened a brand new building, Chou Hall, touted as the “greenest” on UC-Berkeley’s Northern California campus. This fall, 284 first-year MBAs will enroll in courses — 32 more than last year’s number, which was already larger than the class before it.
To be sure, the competition rose with the class size. GMAT scores turbocharged to a 725 average — an eight-point jump in one year. The average is a full 10 points higher than the class entering just two years ago, and firmly reinforces the reality of a GMAT arms race among the world’s most elite business schools. If placed in last year’s numbers, Berkeley Haas’s 725 ties Yale School of Management as the sixth-highest average GMAT, just behind Chicago’s Booth School of Business (726), Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management (728), and Harvard Business School (729). But both Yale and Kellogg also have upped their GMAT game to 727 and 732, respectively. Meanwhile, average undergraduate GPA at Haas climbed from 3.64 last year to 3.71, while acceptance rates remained right around 12%, with apps increasing from 4,031 last year to 4,132.
“Not only is this our largest class ever, but we’re proud to say that it’s one of our strongest groups in terms of academics,” Pete Johnson, assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions, said in an article on the school’s website.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND WOMEN UP, U.S. MINORITIES DOWN
Johnson is definitely right about this year’s class being the most academically strong class in recent history—and possibly ever. Still, some diversity numbers have dropped. While the percentage of women increased from 38% last year to 40% this year and international students ticked up slightly from 38% to 39%, both numbers are lower than three years ago. The class that graduated this year was one of the most diverse at Haas. It boasted 41% women and 40% international. More telling, though, is the steady drop in U.S. minorities. After an impressive 36% for the graduating class of 2017, the number has fell to 32% last year and 29% this year.
Nevertheless, according to the same article mentioned above, the increase in quality of applicants and enrolled students comes from an increased effort among the admissions staff to personalize the application process.
“Top students from around the world with diverse backgrounds and amazing accomplishments continue to choose us for our distinctive culture,” Morgan Bernstein, the executive director of full-time MBA admissions said on the school’s site, also noting the continued emphasis on cherrypicking students based on the school’s Defining Principles. “No one else has the culture and community that we do,” she boasted.
NEW BUILDING AFTER A DECADE OF PLANNING, BUILDING
The stellar class mirrors the school’s stellar new digs. A decade in the making, Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, the $60 million, 80,000-square-foot, six-story monstrosity of a building, is ushered in with the record setting class. The building, which the school says was funded entirely by community donations, boasts a 3,000-square-foot cafe, a 300-person event space, and nearly 900 new classroom seats. According to the school, the building is on target to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.
Kevin Chou, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Berkeley Haas in 2002 and his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, donated $25 million toward the building, earning them naming rights.
“We’re so proud of this beautiful new building and we’re incredibly grateful to the many generous donors who believed in it and made it possible,” Haas Dean Rich Lyons said in an article from the school. “It’s an exciting time to add this new kind of space for our faculty to teach and students to learn in new ways. It will transform the educational experience for generations to come.”