The Key to Get Into Haas

This article will tell you the key to get into Haas. Well guess what. There’s no key. No magical formula, no perfect applicant. Nothing. Sorry to disappoint you.

In the Haas admissions criteria, it states that successful candidates exhibit:

  • Academic achievement and promise (including grades, course load, consistency of academic performance, and performance in key prerequisites, such as principles of business, math, economics, and statistics)
  • Accomplishments in extracurricular activities
  • Personal attributes and life experience suggesting leadership, maturity, ethical character, teamwork, and goal orientation
  • Communication and analytical skills, as demonstrated by responses to the essay questions
  • Interest in being an active member of the Haas community

In addition,

[…] the goal of the admissions review process is not only to evaluate an applicant’s ability to handle the academic rigor, but also to identify those who demonstrate a solid fit with our program. The Haas Undergraduate Program has a distinct culture and we seek applicants who represent the School’s Four Defining Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. 

That’s easy, right? At least Haas gives you what they’re looking for.

In spite of this, again there is no perfect candidate, because each student in the Haas school exemplifies at least one of the defining principles. In other words, everyone is different. In the application, each of us showcased ourselves to the Haas admission committee, and Haas accepted us based on our differences, not on our similarities.

However. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to contribute to your admission, so let’s take this step by step.

1. Academic performance

Haas takes into account GPA, difficulty of your course load in a given semester, consistency of GPA per semester, and your grades in pre-reqs. According to the Haas application criteria, these factors are in total worth 50% of the application. Nothing else I can say but to do your best! If your grades aren’t perfect, don’t worry. The class profile of the class of 2013 states that the middle 80% of students had a GPA from 3.39 to 3.93. If you aren’t proud of your GPA, make it up with the next two bullets.

2. Haas Culture from the Four Defining Principles

Haas has a hard requirement of getting students who fit these principles. Here are some brief descriptions of each. You should also watch Dean Rich Lyons giving descriptions of the four Haas principles, it will give you inspiration for what they are looking for.

  • Question the Status Quo – exactly what it sounds like. Haas like those who are willing to take acceptable risks, to continue to move forward. Innovation is the key.
  • Confidence Without Attitude – again, it’s what it sounds like. Be able to trust others and use the evidence you and your team have done, and it will show.
  • Students Always – this one’s a bit different than the others. The focus here is learning in every situation, being able to take something away from every environment; whether it be in the workplace, with friends, in class, or even on the street buying a coffee. There is always a takeaway no matter where you go.
  • Beyond Yourself – and finally, putting others’ interests in mind before your own can be extremely powerful. The next point helps with that too.

3. Passion

What about the other 50%? It states: resume and essay. You can pretty much summarize the rest required of Haas with a simple word: passion. Or at least I think so. Let me show you.

Step One: accomplishments in extracurricular activities. Well look at that, if you’re passionate in making a difference in people’s lives and are a dedicated member in Cal Rotaract…I need not go further. You will have accomplishments. You can state it on your resume, and go on in your essay about how how wonderful that one project was for you.

Step Two: leadership, maturity, ethical character, teamwork, goal orientation. Here, Haas is looking for which character traits work well with the Haas culture. If you’re interested in music, and have found an internship at a record label, look at that there’s another passion you can work with! At the same time, you show maturity, teamwork, goal orientation, and even perhaps leadership by working with prospective clients, coming together with your coworkers, etc. Of course this goes on your resume, and you can connect the experience to your future path in business on your essays. Done, and done.

Step Three: communication and analytical skills. If you’re on campus, participating in activities, going to class, etc; you’re already learning how to communicate more efficiently. So that passes too. Of course this is passion related: classes and activities! And you already know that helps on your resume and your essays.

Step Four: interested in becoming an active member of the Haas community. Well you’re already following your passion of empowering youth at Oases, and since you’re already involved in campus, you’re going to become involved at Haas too. Again, resume and essay material.


See what I mean? Having a passion, a dream, and a vision are precursors to becoming involved and being a team player and successful student. Plus, it gets you going through the day during midterms and finals season.

So, I lied. While there is no perfect candidate, no magical formula to getting in, doing well in class, being in sync with Haas culture via principles, and having a passion definitely helps with that process. All three are important, but the other two can help back up any one that is lacking.

I highly suggest following through with a passion that you have built up in high school or any time previously, and taking it to the Berkeley campus. Share your passion with like-minded people: communicate, and make it grow larger than yourself. While Haas is a business school, I believe that Haas cares more about what you do with business than what you already know about the subject. And having a dream will make it that much easier for the Haas committee to give you good news.

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