MBA School Choice: MIT Sloan Vs. Berkeley Haas

Close community defines both programs and enables an environment of innovation, ideas and impact.

Even though UC Berkeley and MIT are on opposite US coasts, 3,000 miles away, there’s a similar vibe. Close community defines both programs and enables an environment of innovation, ideas and impact. “I advise applicants to draw their own conclusions. I ask clients to visit the schools or engage virtually to get a sense of whether one would fit in,” says a former Haas admissions officer.

Both programs are known to be collaborative, with a self-aware, well-rounded and inspired student culture. “For institutions that attract smart, already accomplished, yet still highly ambitious people, the competition among students is kept to a minimum,” says California-based admissions consultant Stacy Blackman.

MIT Sloan Vs. Berkeley Haas: MBA rankings and location

When it comes to the rankings, both schools are typically in the top-10 nationwide. Sloan is usually ranked just above Haas, coming in at five in the US News Best Business Schools list, while Haas was ranked seventh for 2022.

One big difference is the location. For a Haas student, studying in San Francisco’s East Bay, within an hour’s drive of Silicon Valley, provides access to industry lecturers, case studies, team projects for local companies, on-site company visits and more. Silicon Valley is home to technologists, innovators, life science visionaries, and venture capitalists.

Sloan is located in the heart of Cambridge’s Kendall Square neighborhood. The school is surrounded by biotech companies, tech giants, startups, and research labs, as well as a wide array of restaurants, outdoor activities, arts, music, and culture. And with nearly 60 colleges and universities in the Boston area, creative, intellectual energy is a key part of the fabric of the city.

MIT Sloan Vs. Berkeley Haas: MBA program and culture

Sloan’s teaching methods are designed to suit the course: lectures, simulations, team-based projects, and case studies. Sloan offers a portfolio of 15 “Action Learning Lab” programs that encompass the MIT motto, “mens et manus” (mind and hand) and address a wide range of interdisciplinary subjects.

Haas estimates that case studies make up half of the classroom instruction, while team projects take up 15 percent of the class work. Good old-fashioned lectures, experiential learning, and simulations make up the rest.

The Haas MBA program includes a one-year core with 14 required courses across all the traditional disciplines. However, they are offered in a half-semester format.

Sloan has a one-semester core which includes a required career workshop course. The shorter core allows MBA students to take more electives during their two years, including with students from other graduate programs. “This builds the students’ network quickly across the school,” says Julie Strong, principal consultant at The MBA Exchange.

In addition, each semester, students can take the Sloan Intensive Period (SIP), taking a deep dive into specific topics for an intensive week, and trying out new practical skills.

MIT Sloan Vs. Berkeley Haas: MBA admissions and selectivity

The relatively small class size of both programs sets them apart from other leading American institutions such as Harvard or Wharton. Haas is the smaller program, with about 300 students in the full-time MBA, versus 425 at Sloan.

For Sloan, this figure includes about 50 students from Leaders for Global Operations (LGO), a dual engineering degree/MBA program. “What this means is that each first-year cohort has rock-star engineering types,” says Strong. “This adds another degree of diversity within the class.”

Haas and Sloan have competitive admissions processes. At Haas the average GMAT score is 727 and the average GPA is 3.65 while students have 5.3 years of average work experience. The school admits students from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds, provided they can demonstrate professional achievement, academic aptitude, and leadership potential.

At Sloan, the average years of work experience is five, the median GMAT is 730 and the median GPA is 3.59 out of 4.0. The admissions process at both schools includes submitting university transcripts, a resume, GMAT or GRE score, essays, professional letters of recommendation, and sitting interviews.

Both schools interview candidates by invitation only. One difference at Haas is that the interview is conducted “blind” by a current student or alumnus. This means interviewer has not read the application and may not have a copy of the resume. “The experience often can feel redundant for the applicant since they are repeating what they have written in their application,” says Strong.

At Sloan, prospective students will meet one-on-one with a member of the admissions department. Would-be MBAs also need to submit a video statement introducing themselves to their future classmates. Another difference at Sloan is that candidates must submit an organizational chart, which details their current role and the impact they have on their team and department.

MIT Sloan Vs. Berkeley Haas: MBA career outcomes

When it comes to career outcomes, and despite the COVID pandemic, the graduating students from each of the programs seem to do very well on the job market. At Sloan, 95 percent received offers within three months of graduation. The top industries were consulting (31 percent) tech (28 percent) and finance (18 percent). The average base salary was $114,000.

At Haas, 90 percent of the class received offers within three months and the mean base salary was $144,000. The top industries were technology (34 percent), consulting (28 percent) and finance (12 percent).

The most significant differences are in geographic location for career placement: northeast versus west coast, which reflects each school’s home base. “If you want to work on the West Coast or Silicon Valley, Berkeley has the edge,” says Blackman. “If you want to hang out on the East Coast with access to career opportunities in Cambridge, Boston and New York, among others, Sloan has an advantage.”

When considering post-MBA careers, applicants to either school should consider where alumni are located, geographically and in companies around the world. “Both schools have robust alumni programs to keep new graduates and alumni connected,” says Strong. “Particularly, international applicants should consider alumni clusters in their own countries.”

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