Haas School of Business launches deferred MBA admission program

Kristen Tamsil/Staff

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UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business celebrated the launch of its Accelerated Access admission program at a kickoff event Tuesday.

Starting this spring, Accelerated Access will allow undergraduates to apply for conditional admission to the Haas MBA program in their last year at UC Berkeley, work professionally for 2 to 5 years, then return to campus to complete their MBA. The program plans to target and appeal to undergraduate students of all majors and backgrounds, in hopes of diversifying Haas’ MBA candidates, according to Haas director of strategic initiatives Morgan Bernstein.

While the number of qualified applicants will ultimately determine the number of spots granted to final-year undergraduates, Bernstein said Haas plans to enroll about 15 students per year through Accelerated Access.

“I think that a deferred MBA admission program is something that has been on the horizon for a long time for Berkeley Haas,” Bernstein added. “This is a way to increase the pipeline, if you would, for students who might not have otherwise considered business school.”

After holding focus groups, Bernstein said Haas noticed most students are looking for a period of flexibility to take some “professional risks” after their undergraduate career. Accelerated Access is designed to allow students the freedom to pursue things like research, teaching outside of the U.S. or creating their own startup before starting their MBA, according to Bernstein.

Bernstein said throughout the 2 to 5 years of professional work, admitted Accelerated Access students will be in touch with Haas mentors and events to ensure they “hit the ground running” when they return to campus to complete their MBA.

Campus sophomore and computer science major Linus Lee said he likes that Accelerated Access will be open to nonbusiness majors. As an incoming undergraduate freshman, Lee deferred his acceptance for a year to work in software engineering at a startup. Lee added that he likes that the program encourages taking time to work in between a student’s undergraduate career and the MBA program.

“I think it’s interesting because if you know you already have admission to Haas leaving undergrad, you know you can be a bit more ambitious,” Lee said.

This year, the program’s pilot admissions cycle aligns with Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles’ 10th anniversary. To celebrate, Haas is planning to give up to $100,000 in scholarship money to Accelerated Access applicants who embody the principles, which include confidence and questioning the “status quo.”

This year, Haas will also waive the usual $200 application fee that is required when applying to the MBA program for Accelerated Access applicants.

In its pilot year, the program will only be open to UC Berkeley students, but in the future, it may be open to all UC system students or any qualified applicants, according to Bernstein.

“We have so much talent here,” Bernstein said. “So, right now we want to reach in our own backyard and pull people up to Haas.”

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.