Berkeley Haas MBA Essays (New Release 24-25). What has changed and more!

­If I had to sum up the Haas culture in a single word, it would be ‘inclusive’. And I don’t say that just like that. Berkeley has been one of the most politically liberal cities in the United States. Home to an eclectic mix of communities, and a thriving hub for budding musicians and culinary enthusiasts, Berkeley has a rich history of fostering creativity and innovation. The Haas business school too has established itself as a progressive entity that was first among leading business schools to attain parity in the number of women admitted. The Haas admissions committee is serious about packing a punch in the small class of about 250. Before we delve deeper into what’s new this year for the Berkeley Haas MBA Essays (very important!), let us look at the key values Berkeley Haas MBA clearly looks for.

Question the Status Quo: We (Haasians) thrive at the epicenter of innovation. We make progress by speaking our minds even when it challenges convention. We lead by championing bold ideas and taking intelligent risks.

Confidence Without Attitude: We make decisions based on evidence and analysis, giving us the confidence to act with humility. We foster collaboration by building a foundation of empathy, inclusion, and trust.

Students Always: We are a community designed to support curiosity. We actively seek out diverse perspectives as part of our lifelong pursuit of personal and intellectual growth. There is always more to learn.

Beyond Yourself: We shape our world by leading ethically and responsibly. As stewards of our enterprises, we take the longer view in our decisions and actions. This often means putting the collective good above our own interests.”

Let us look at the newly released application questions, dive deeper into the changes from last year, and review some top tips to ace the Berkeley Haas MBA application.

The Updated Berkeley Haas MBA Essays

Essay 1.

What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum) A successful essay will recount a specific and personal experience, offering the reader a deeper understanding of who you are. It should provide insight into your character and values, showcasing how you would uniquely contribute to the Berkeley-Haas community.

Suggestions: Notice the enthusiastic tone of the UC Berkeley essay question. The admissions committee wants to understand the fire that drives you. Your essay should mirror this highly positive tone. To answer this question, start by identifying your true passion. List all your current activities, both personal and professional and rate them on a scale. Determine which activities you enjoy the most and note instances where these activities had a direct impact on the outcome of something. These can be work-related or extracurricular activities.

Harnessing your passion through extracurricular and integrating it into your professional engagements(successful ones) is the most effective strategy for writing the ‘What makes you feel alive’ essay. And a great way to start is by reflecting on the moment when you first realized this passion.

Don’t forget to elaborate on why this chosen passion is so meaningful to you. The motivation for someone working in the non-profit sector will differ greatly from that of a crypto trader.


Among successful examples, we have seen a corporate employee who found a passion for mindfulness practices after a serious personal loss and discovered a deep, healing connection to these practices. This experience prompted him to take a one-year career break to train as a yoga instructor and mindfulness expert. Since then, he has led over a hundred meditation and yoga programs, positively impacting the lives of others suffering from similar situations. Another example is an applicant who ventured into stand-up comedy, refining his ability to intuitively gauge audience reactions. This experience sparked a deep interest in storytelling, a skill he leveraged to build a successful career in FMCG marketing. Using his storytelling abilities, he developed compelling campaigns to drive the marketing strategy for his company’s flagship product.

Essay 2.

What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from Haas help you achieve those goals? (300 words max)


Interestingly, Haas added the important part this year “How will an MBA from Haas help you?” if we compare it to last year’s essay. Given the limited space to specifically emphasize one’s interest in “Haas” along with the goals narrative, candidates must briefly state their background while quickly hinting at how the short-term and long-term goals relate to the candidate’s career path. In the event that a candidate wants to move into a new field entirely, it’s important they take good workspace to reflect on the trigger or moment when they understood their post-MBA goals.

Here are some key triggers that applicants may consider:

1. Career plateau – you have identified that your learning curve has flattened and there are no new challenges on the horizon in the next two years. If you stay on your current career path any longer, you run the risk of being pigeonholed, making it difficult to break out.

2. Epiphany of goals – You have just realized the purpose of your career, and now that you know it, there’s no reason to procrastinate.

3. Post-MBA goals have a time component – your plans are linked to trends that are beginning to solidify by the time you do your MBA. You can not afford to wait to acquire the skills you need to capitalize on these trends.

4. Maturity – You finally have the professional and personal knowledge, balance and perspective to make the wise decision to invest in your long-term future. This is a tactful way of expressing that your age is in line with the average age of Haas students.

5. Natural career break- You are nearing the end of a clearly defined career phase, such as a two- or three-year analyst program at a consulting firm, a two-year management training program at a company, or a stint abroad in another country.

Why Haas?- The New Added Part

Some themes to explore, but which will require personalization are:

  1. Academic Abundance at Haas: the academic environment is characterized by a wealth of resources, including insightful books, articles, and case studies authored by esteemed professors.
  2. Engaging Beyond the Classroom: involvement in extracurricular activities demonstrates community involvement and engagement. This can include participating in student clubs, sporting events, and social groups, and taking advantage of opportunities such as internships and business plan competitions.
  3. Cultural Alignment: the values and ethos of the school, demonstrating that you are a cultural fit.
  4. Experiencing Personal Connections: a visit to campus or face-to-face interaction can further cement your connection with the institution. This may mean contacting faculty members whose research aligns with your personal interests and mentioning these interactions in your application essay.
  5. Targeted Post MBA Goals: for instance, if pursuing healthcare-related social entrepreneurship specifically for women, highlight Berkeley Haas’s healthcare management resources, women-centric initiatives, and social entrepreneurship offerings as separate areas of interest for you.

Essay 3:

Describe any experience or exposure you have in the area of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging whether through community organizations, personal, or in the workplace?

Candidates seeking consideration for mission-aligned fellowships may use this space to reflect on their commitment to the mission of those fellowships. (300 words max)


In this essay, which is very much in the Haasian spirit of collaboration and inclusion, candidates are asked not only to recall their experiences with diversity but also to reflect on how they represent this value. In a world that is evolving at a rapid pace, societies sometimes come into conflict with other, unfamiliar value systems. The world needs more leaders who are tolerant, cooperative, and truly believe in the idea that the world is beautiful because different ideas and ways of life can coexist. This essay is your chance to back up your point of view with action. I have seen many applicants struggle with this essay because they were so focused on their own cause that they rarely lifted their heads to see if their fellow colleagues needed their help to make their voices heard. This essay provides room for deep self-reflection. Successful applicants will provide meaningful examples and deeper reflection than those who have little experience with DEI initiatives.

👉 Expert Tip:

MBA applicants must take the time to read and understand the core values, beliefs, and cultural fit of their target school. Admissions officers are typically professionals who have made a career in the field of human development, and they place a high value on applicants having a sense of these values.

Essay 4 : Video Essay

The Berkeley MBA program develops leaders who embody our four Defining Leadership Principles. Briefly introduce yourself to the admissions committee, explain which Defining Leadership Principle resonates most with you, and tell us how you have exemplified the principle in your personal or professional life.


A strategic section for the admissions committee where they see you talk about your favorite of the 4 Defining Leadership principles for a good 2 minutes! The 4 leadership principles as we discussed in the beginning are

  1. Question the Status Quo
  2. Confidence Without Attitude
  3. Students Always
  4. Beyond Yourself

To prepare thoroughly for this part of Haas’s application or interview, strong candidates will create a repository of impactful stories and evaluate the underlying theme in the stories that resonate most with which principle.  

Suggested Read: INSEAD KIRA Interview

Essay 5: Optional Essays

Optional Information #1

We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements.

Optional Information #2

This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application. This may include explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations, supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate.


Many applicants choose not to add anything in the optional essays. We at MBAGuide have a slightly unique take on this. The optional essays do not just have to be harbingers of bad information (such as gaps in employment, poor grades, or other potential red flags). If applicants truly feel that they did not have enough opportunity in the main essays to highlight a unique experience or story, and that this experience may be critical to the adcom’s decision, they should definitely use the optional essay for this purpose. We have created a detailed analysis of the right approach to optional essays, which you can find here.

Also check our article on: How to write optional essays

Feeling uncertain about your chances of getting into top B-schools? Sign up for a free one-on-one personalized MBA Consulting advice session tailored to your specific situation.

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