At Berkeley Haas, Uncertainty Over The Impact Of An Enrollment Freeze

Two students walk through the Berkeley Haas courtyard

Will the recent California Supreme Court decision mandating that UC-Berkeley must freeze its undergraduate enrollment at 2020-2021 levels impact the Haas School of Business?

It will — but probably not in the way that you think.

In August 2021, in a case brought by a nonprofit representing the university’s neighbors, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered UC-Berkeley to cap its enrollment, saying the school’s recently completed environmental impact report pertaining to proposed expansion was “insufficient.” The school’s enrollment had been projected to grow to 44,735 in 2022-23; according to Inside Higher Ed, that’s more than 11,000 students and 33.7% higher than the headcount for 2020.

The school’s neighbors, organized as a nonprofit called Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, weren’t having it — and Superior Court Judge Judge Brad Seligman concurred. UC-Berkeley asked the California Supreme Court for a stay of Seligman’s ruling, but the high court rejected the school’s appeal March 3.

Berkeley Haas Impact: Grad Programs Must Shrink

UC-Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ: Ruling is “devastating news for the students who have worked so hard”

Now the university must cap its total enrollment at 42,347 students. To get there, officials have said that the school must cut in-person enrollment by at least 2,500 this fall. According to a university plan published by several media outlets, most of those who have already been admitted for the fall semester — about 1,500 — will be offered the option to study as online-only students in the fall, coming to campus for the first time in January 2023. Another large group will defer enrollment until January.

How will this affect the Haas School? For a few reasons, it wouldn’t seem likely to be a major blow, since admission to Haas as an undergraduate is contingent on completion of two academic years. However, Erika Walker, Haas senior assistant dean of instruction, tells Poets&Quants that Haas has been told by the university that as a result of the court decision, the B-school must reduce its graduate student population by several dozen.

“The enrollment freeze will not affect our undergraduate program,” Walker says, “which mostly admits students from Berkeley in their third year. However, several of Berkeley’s graduate schools are reducing their enrollments. At Berkeley Haas we have been asked to reduce enrollment across all our graduate programs by 70 total.”


UC-Berkeley Haas’ full-time MBA is the highest-ranked public-school program in the United States, ranked ninth in the most recent Poets&Quants list and tied for seventh on last year’s U.S. News list. (The new U.S. News ranking is due later this month.) It is also one of the smallest, with an enrollment last fall of just 291, down from its high during the pandemic of 331. Among top 25 programs, only Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business — with 294 students enrolled last fall — has a comparably small MBA class. Counting its part-time MBA and executive MBA programs, the Haas School has a student population of around 2,500.

Below see a letter about the state Supreme Court ruling from UC-Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ and interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Catherine P. Koshland.


Dear Campus Community,

We have just learned that the Supreme Court of California has issued its ruling, which leaves intact a lower court order that will freeze enrollment at 2020-21 levels and prevent students who would have been offered in-person admission to the University of California, Berkeley this fall from receiving that offer.

This is devastating news for the students who have worked so hard for and have earned an offer of a seat in our fall 2022 class. Our fight on behalf of every one of these students continues.

Looking ahead, we will engage with state leaders to identify possible solutions that could address the significant impacts of the lower court’s ruling on enrollment decisions at UC Berkeley and other campuses. We know that providing access and opportunity for prospective UC students remains a priority not just for the university but also the state’s policymakers, as reflected in the recent state budget proposal to grow enrollment at UC.

At the same time, we are preparing to implement enrollment strategies in case there is no timely fix. Our implementation strategies will focus on mitigating the harm to prospective students, largely by increasing online enrollment and/or asking new, incoming students to delay enrollment until January 2023. We will also prioritize California residents for fall in-person undergraduate enrollment, as well as prioritize our commitment to transfer students.

While these strategies will enable UC Berkeley to make available as many enrollment seats as we can, the lower court order leaves us with options that are far from ideal.

This ruling is disheartening, however our resolve is unwavering. We will do whatever we can to mitigate the harm to prospective students and to continue to serve our students. We have posted our media statement on the Berkeley News website.


Carol T. Christ

Catherine P. Koshland
Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost


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