Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2020

New students getting to know each other at Haas.

Similarly, the 2020 Class features 43% women, tying it with the Class of 2016 as the school’s high water mark. Like most Top American MBA programs, Haas attracted fewer international students than previous years. This year, the percentage fell from 39% to 34%, the lowest number since the Class of 2011. U.S. minorities make up 38% of the class, with underrepresented minorities accounting for 11%.

Overall, the largest share of the class – 24% – hails from consulting. Banking and Finance (20%), High Tech (10%), Non-Profit (8%), and Healthcare (7%) also represent large blocs of the class. Academically, business majors and finance majors each take up 11% of the seats. Technically, economics majors account for the largest share of the class at 21%, followed by engineering (16%), social sciences (14%), and humanities (7%).


This year, Haas posted its largest class ever with 291 students. That’s nearly 50 more than a traditional Haas class, which had hovered from 240-250 students. One reason? The school opened Chou Hall in the fall of 2017. The six floor building, which cost $60 million dollars to build, covers 80,000 square feet and has increased class space by over 850 seats. Even more, it ranks among America’s greenest academic buildings, expected to cut 90% of internal landfill waste.

Interim Dean Laura Tyson welcomes the students on the UC Berkeley campus.

“The completion of Chou Hall has enabled us to grow the full-time MBA class size to close to 300 while providing new core classrooms with state of the art educational technology, more event space, and a new café,” says Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the full-time MBA program and admissions at Haas.

Chou Hall was just the start of a whirlwind year. In 2018, Haas has been piloting an Impact Investment Practicum that matched MBAs with organizations like Cambridge Associates and Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures. The school is also developing a new graduate certificate in Business Analytics, adds Peter Johnson. Notably, he writes in a statement to P&Q, the certificate will be designed for MBA students who aspire to leadership and want data to inform their decision-making.

“It will expose students to the challenges of working with data, and provide the tools and techniques for data analysis and presentation, including machine learning, data mining, and visualization. Students may earn the certificate by taking a set of electives within the full-time MBA program. We are also in the process of developing additional interdisciplinary dual-degree programs that leverage other outstanding graduate programs at UC Berkeley, which will likely be available for the Classes of 2021 and 2022.”


Perhaps the biggest news popped in August, when Ann E. Harrison, a top economist scholar at Wharton, takes the reins as dean, effective January 2nd. Currently on a listening tour with Haas stakeholders, Harrison has already laid out her key objections: enhancing the school experience, broadening the community, and boosting philanthropy. Just don’t expect any change to the Defining Principles. In an interview with P&Q, Harrison cited “Confidence without Attitude” and “Beyond Yourself” as the principles that she relates to most.

“I really believe in service and thinking about not just your own priorities but the priorities of the greater community and where you work and live,” she says. “‘Students Always’ is great because as a researcher I am always learning new things. What [former dean] Rich (Lyons) did was find a way to codify what was already present in the school through these principles.”

The Defining Principles aren’t the only tradition that appeal to prospective students, however. The Haas curriculum has a reputation for being rigorous across the board. According to the annual U.S. News survey on MBA specializations, which targets top business school administrators and faculty in the United States, Haas ranks in the top 10 in finance, management, and marketing – and the top five in entrepreneurship, international business, and nonprofit.

The blue cohort stops for a photo during orientation week.

“The rankings are a reflection of our sustained commitment to these areas over time, and the success of our students in them,” Peter Johnson tells Poets&Quants in a 2018 interview. “That has generated the level of awareness that leads peer schools to vote for us in this particular set of rankings. In each of those specific areas (International, Nonprofit, Entrepreneurship) we have a lot of opportunities for students, and those three areas are areas where I think we are particularly strong in experiential learning opportunities.”


For many Haas graduates, Haas’ International Business Development (IBD) is the program’s signature course. For over 25 years, Johnson notes, students have gained international consulting experience here. The course’s popularity has come with a price: its success has sometimes obscured the rich portfolio of applied innovation courses that students can take to gain further real world consulting experience.

“Beyond the IBD program, we have an entire suite of courses that engage students in strategic projects for companies and organizations in many fields, including Cleantech to Market, social impact, hedge fund strategies, real estate, and sustainable business,” Johnson adds. “All of our students take at least one of these applied innovation courses, which are often cited among their most valuable experiences in the program.”

Berkeley Haas also carries a long tradition of blending business fundamentals with social ideals, one that Oriol Pi Miloro says demonstrates how “doing business, generating returns and working towards social good all at once is possible.” For Tiffany Tran, such socially-driven coursework was too valuable to pass up.

“Berkeley Haas has an array of programs and centers focused on gender equality, sustainability, and social impact, all topics that are very important to me. Specifically, Haas’s Center for Responsible Business (CRB), which focuses on integrating environmentally and socially responsible practices into company business strategies and models, was a big part of my decision. As a sustainability professional, I wanted to attend a business school that had sustainability integrated into the student experience so that I could grow my expertise. The CRB does an amazing job building sustainability into the MBA curriculum and connecting students to mission-driven companies and professionals.”


Such resources feed into a culture that values sharing, collaboration, openness, and change. “I wanted to find an environment where I would both be challenged and supported in undertaking a personal transformation,” explains Katharine Hawthorne. “With a strong student-driven and entrepreneurial culture, Haas is a “choose your own adventure” kind of place.”

UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business

At the same time, Katie Rentz adds, Berkeley makes for a great place to spend the next two years.

“The culture was the biggest reason I chose Haas, but I also absolutely love the city of Berkeley. It always seems to be alive with people meeting up at cozy coffee shops, a huge variety of very authentic restaurants, dusky dive bars, and plenty of craft beer and cocktail spots. The campus itself sits beside Tilden Regional Park, which boasts gorgeous bay and ocean views and miles of tree-lined trails and roads that are ideal for running, hiking, and group road bikes. Berkeley is also a short, inexpensive BART ride to San Francisco, where there is infinitely more exploring to be done, and Tahoe, Yosemite, and wine country aren’t far away either. Beaches with surfing and coastal camping are also less than an hour away—it’s everything I love about California all in one place!”

What do they think of their classmates so far? Their language is certainly in line with the Guiding Principles. Patrick Crocker has found his classmates to be “down-to-earth” (aka “Confidence Without Attitude”) – a group that has been “extremely welcoming, and there hasn’t been any hint of competition or students sizing each other up. Everyone is accomplished, confident, and incredibly kind and genuine.”

Borrowing from “Students Always,” Malia Latin, a consultant from Portland, considers her classmates to be “open and engaged” group fueled by curiosity. “Haasies are eager to know you, help each other, and are driven to use our opportunity in b-school to help make the world a better place.”

Perhaps the spirit of “Beyond Yourself” is the strongest pull at Haas. Thus far “Change-makers” seems to be the best word for the Class of 2020 according to Katharine Hawthorne. Oriol Pi Miloro, however, uses a softer word: “Awareness” – one that reflects the true differentiator of the Haas mystique.

“Every single classmate I have met demonstrated a genuine interest on the most pressing issues of our society. And they came to Haas to tackle this issues.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates. 

Student Hometown Alma Mater Previous Employer
Marnus Breytenbach Pretoria, South Africa North-West University Quantium South Africa
Patrick Crocker Arlington, TX Texas Christian University U.S. Army
Katharine Hawthorne San Mateo, CA Stanford University Tiedemann Advisors
Afnajjer Hernandez Orlando, FL University of Central Florida Lockheed Martin Energy
Benny Johnson Houston, TX University of Texas at Austin U.S. Navy
Malia Latin Portland, OR Occidental College NERA Economic Consulting
Alan Man Auckland, New Zealand University of Auckland Ernst & Young
Oriol Pi Miloro Barcelona, Spain Unversitat Pompeu Fabra PhD Roland Umlauft
Katie Rentz San Diego, CA U.S. Naval Academy U.S. Navy
Tiffany Tran Long Beach, CA UC Berkeley Annie’s (General Mills)


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