Slowly, surely, things are returning to normal — in some ways, not in others. After a big bump in size in the MBA Class of 2022, the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business this week reports enrolling a class that more closely resembles its pre-pandemic proportions.
After receiving 4% more applications and admitting nearly 200 fewer applicants, the Haas School shaved 40 seats from its MBA Class of 2023, to 291 students — closer to the size of classes that entered between 2017 and 2019 than the enlarged one that was a silver-lining benefit of so much virtual instruction last year. The result: Haas’ acceptance rate (17.6%) dropped for the first time in five years. Meanwhile yield (43%) reversed a four-year slide since reaching a high of more than 56% in 2017.
International and minority numbers rebounded, as well — the latter actually eclipsing past classes to the largest percentage of students from underrepresented U.S. groups that Haas has ever had. The class’s average score on the Graduate Management Admission Test slipped, dropping a point from last year’s record 727, but more gained admission with Graduate Record Exam scores for the fifth straight year, up to 36.7% this year from 35%, and the average combined Verbal and Quant GRE score rose by a point over last year. See details in the table below.
SOME PERSPECTIVE FROM THE HEAD OF ADMISSIONS
The 4% increase in application volume raised Haas's total from 3,696 in the 2019-2020 cycle to 3,841 in 2020-2021, the second year in a row the school bettered its previous cycle — though not quite back to the high-water mark of more than 4,100 in 2017. "Haas tends not to fluctuate as much as other programs," says Eric Askins, the school's head of admissions. "Our 10-year average is 3,670. We are very lucky to have a consistent applicant pool to draw from."
Nor does the GMAT decline overly concern him.
"Our average GMAT score remains among the highest among our peer set," Askins tells Poets&Quants. "We don't see a significant difference in the academic ability of the class between a 725 average (our 5-year low) and a 727 average (our 5-year high). Our team chooses to focus on the performance of candidates across their entire applications."
UNLIKE MANY PEERS, HAAS SEES DROP IN MBA WOMEN
Perhaps the biggest sore point: women. Only once in the last six years — in 2018 — has Berkeley Haas joined the group of business schools with 40% or more women enrolled in the full-time MBA. They didn't make the club again this fall, and in fact regressed, dropping to 37% from 39%. That defies a trend at elite peers, such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which achieved parity this year for the first time, and Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, which reported its women enrollment increased from 40% to 49%.
Haas can console itself by looking at its international enrollment. Last year, as they did elsewhere, foreign student numbers cratered at Haas, dropping from 35% to an initially reported 21% (a 40% decline; Haas later amended its international number to 30%, which still constitutes a 14% drop-off). This year the internationals are back, comprising 37% of the class, the school's highest total since 2017. The number of countries represented in the class grew substantially as well, from 37 to 46.
Meanwhile, hoping that it has put behind it a struggle that sounded alarms three years ago, Berkeley reported a jump in U.S. minorities to 49% from 39%. Thanks to newly specific guidelines on minority reporting, we know that the bulk of those students are Asian (23%) and Hispanic/Latino (15%), while Black student numbers lag at 7%. Haas reports that 23% of newly enrolled MBA students are under-represented minorities.
"As a global program, we are excited to see our international student community return to a more-typical 37% after a challenging 2020, in which some of our fantastic students were unable to join us," Askins says. "On the domestic front, we are incredibly proud of our community this year: 23% of our students self-identify as coming from an underrepresented community in the U.S., and 49% identify as U.S. minorities. Sixteen percent were the first generation in their families to attend college. Our student community is strengthened by the different perspectives and experiences of our incoming class."
'A GREAT FIT' FOR A BROAD MIX OF MBA ASPIRANTS
In terms of its pre-MBA industries, last year’s class, the Class of 2022, 21% came from the consulting industry and 17% from finance, but tech dropped to just 10% of the class while healthcare/pharma/biotech increased to 8%. Next was not-for-profit at 7% and CPG/retail at 6%. Military and energy each accounted for 5%, and government and entertainment for 3%. This year, consulting ticked upward to 22%, finance stayed the same, tech moved up to 12%, and health/pharma moved up to 9%.
Top undergraduate majors for the Haas MBA Class of 2022 were economics and engineering at 17% apiece, followed by social sciences at 16% and business commerce at 13%. Finance (9%), humanities (7%), natural sciences (5%), computer sciences (3%), and math (2%) rounded out the Class of 2022 profile. This year, engineers account for 24% of the class, followed by economics majors (17%), business/commerce (15%), and social sciences at 14%. See the pie charts below and the school's class profile page for details.
"We continue to draw from a diverse pool of professions and undergraduate experiences, including a strong showing from those with engineering backgrounds and those coming from economics and finance," Askins says. "This once again shows that Haas offers an excellent general management education that’s a great fit whether you are interested in finance, consulting, tech, healthcare management, or entrepreneurship."