The Berkeley MBA - Online Admissions Chat
February 13, 2014

Chat with Berkeley Haas

Erin Kellerhals, Senior Associate Director of Admissions
Raja Ashraf, Associate Director of Admissions
Carolyn Ahmad, Assistant Director of Admissions
Lee Forgue, Admissions Specialist
Jamie Hayden, Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Harrison Cheng, Moderator

Harrison_Moderator: Welcome to the Berkeley MBA Admissions chat. My name is Harrison Cheng and I will be moderating the chat today. Joining us will be Erin Kellerhals, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, Raja Ashraf, Associate Director of Admissions, Carolyn Ahmad, Assistant Director of Admissions, Jamie Hayden, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, and Lee Forgue, Admissions Specialist. Please send us your questions!

Carolyn_Berkeley: Welcome everyone! I'm Carolyn Ahmad, Assistant Director of Admissions. I look forward to answering your questions!

Lee_Berkeley: Hi -- My name is Lee Forgue and I'm one of the Admissions Advisors. I look forward to answering your questions about the application process.

Raja_Berkeley: Welcome everyone! I am Raja- I am an Associate Director in the MBA admissions office. Thank you for joining us today!

Erin_Berkeley: Hello from Berkeley! My name is Erin and I am happy to help you with questions!

Jamie_Finaid: Good morning! My name is Jamie Hayden and I am an Assistant Director in the Haas Financial Aid Office. Please feel free to ask any questions related to financial aid.

nick777(Q): I want to know that as an international candidate, does it make any sense practically to apply in Round 3.

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi Nick! While we typically encourage our candidates to apply as early as possible, we also want you to apply at the point where your application is the strongest. For international or domestic candidates, this may mean applying in Round 3, and that is perfectly acceptable.

settes(Q): Good morning, thanks for chatting with us. How will the competitiveness and acceptance rate in the third round compare to last year, given that you have eliminated the fourth admissions round this year?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi settes - Since we are still mid-cycle, this is hard to say. I think the third round may be similar to our fourth round in previous years, but again we won't know until after the deadline.

gibran_santacruz_ruiz(Q): I would like to know whether the translation of the Bachelor’s degree can be translated to English by myself. The degree is in Spanish.

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Gibran, we do require that all translations be obtained either from your school or from a certified translator.

cafeconleche(Q): What does your interview process look like? For example, do you send out invitations in a few rounds? Is there a final date when you send interview invitations? Is it possible to not get invited to interview and still be accepted?

Raja_Berkeley(A): Hi cafeconleche! Interview invitations generally start going out 4 weeks after the application deadline for each round, and continue to go out on a rolling basis up until the notification deadline. All admitted students are interviewed before being offered admission.

brouggs(Q): Thank you for taking our questions. My question is in regards to the chances of getting admitted as a Round 3 applicant. At this point in the admissions process have most of the spots been filled and is the bar set higher for the remaining openings?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi brouggs - We are still mid-cycle, so this is hard to say. We are now reviewing Round 2 candidates so we won't know how competitive Round 3 is until we are reading Round 3. We do admit candidates in our final round each year.

DH(Q): Hi, what financial aid options are available for round 3 applicants?

Jamie_Finaid(A): As a round three applicant, you will be able to apply for any remaining scholarships by our review date of April 10th. The results of your scholarship application(s) will be released April 28th. Loans remain available and we suggest apply by July after admissions.

fabio_b(Q): Good morning! My question is pretty trivial: what is a good GMAT score to make my application effective. I have extremely high scores on both Bachelor and Master's degree, good TOEFL, 6 years of international experience in a big Italian corporation. Still, I find that a 670 on the GMAT, for instance, will make the whole application ineffective.

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi Fabio - The way we evaluate applications is a holistic process. While we don't have a minimum GMAT score required, our middle 80% range is 680 to 750. If you fall below that range, we will look at other areas of your application to see if there are strengths to compensate for a low GMAT score.

cafeconleche(Q): Do you have a cutoff score for either the GRE or GMAT?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Cafeconleche -- we do not have a cutoff score for the GMAT or GRE. For students enrolled last year, our average GMAT was 714 and the middle 80% scored between 680 and 750 -- this is what we consider our competitive range. Since this is the first year we are accepting the GRE, we do not have similar statistics for that test. Applicants scoring below our competitive range should have substantial strengths in other areas of their application to compensate for the lower test scores.

NarvekarD12014(Q): Hi everyone…How important is the GMAT score? Can one still get an admission if the overall application is strong enough and the GMAT score isn't that impressive?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi NarvekarD12014 - We consider all parts of the application so the GMAT is important but yes, if one's GMAT score is not that strong but all other components are, one could be admitted.

nick777(Q): At an age of 34, do I stand disadvantaged as compared to younger applicants?

Raja_Berkeley(A): Hi nick777! Age is not a factor we take into consideration in our admissions process. We encourage applicants to apply when they feel they are ready for the rigor of an MBA program.

Burchin(Q): Hi, my GMAT appointment is past deadline, on 12th of March. Can I still apply in round 3?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Burchin, if you have completed the test by 11:59PM Pacific Time on March 12, you are eligible to apply. You will receive your scores when you leave the test site -- just self-report the scores and submit your application.

Yucheng(Q): Good morning, are international candidates still considered for the R3 application? Since it is more competitive with the last round, would you recommend waiting and applying in the next application season?

Raja_Berkeley(A): International candidates are considered in R3! We encourage applicants to apply whenever they feel their application will be strongest.

cafeconleche(Q): If you find typos anywhere in the application, be it in the essay or elsewhere, is that an automatic ding? How do you approach errors of this kind? Major deduction? Red flag? Forgive and forget?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi cafeconleche - While we do expect candidates to submit a carefully considered and proofread application, we certainly understand that typos and other errors do occur from time to time. I would advise you to just check over your essays and other elements of your application prior to submitting it.

Justin(Q): Hi, I wanted to learn more about the various ways a California resident (who is accepted) can earn financial aid and scholarships.

Jamie_Finaid(A): Once you have been admitted you will receive an email with the link to our online scholarship application and our review dates for scholarship applications. Funding is limited, so we always suggest that you sooner than later as funding are limited. You may find information on our scholarship opportunities online at Loans are also a way of financing your education and we suggest that admits apply by July.

DH(Q): How important is it to visit the campus prior to submitting the application? Is it ok to visit the campus after submitting the application, but prior to the interview?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi DH -When or if you visit campus is entirely up to you--it doesn't affect how we view your application. I think it can help you better understand what Haas has to offer and if it is a good fit for you, so if you are able to visit at some point, that is great. The Bay Area is really a great destination so having to time to explore San Francisco is also a bonus!

gibran_santacruz_ruiz(Q): What are the certified translators?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Gibran -- Any translator certified by the ATA (American Translators Association) is acceptable. If there are no ATA-certified translators near you, any translator certified by your government or a similar agency can provide translations, or you may inquire at your local Fulbright Commission office.

cafeconleche(Q): What is an example of a strength that would compensate for a low GMAT score?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi cafeconleche - A strong academic record and strong work experience would help compensate a low GMAT.

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cafeconleche(Q): Does the admissions committee look favorably upon someone who may have scored low on the GMAT or GRE but is currently enrolled in a quantitative course, like MBAmath?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi cafeconleche - If a candidate has a low score on the quantitative portion of the GMAT or GRE, we will look to other areas of the application to assess quantitative proficiency. For example, we'll look at whether you had rigorous quant coursework in college, or if your job has a quantitative element. We would also look to see if you were doing anything to boost your quantitative proficiency, such as taking a course.

TzouC12014(Q): Good morning, thank you for taking our questions. I was wondering does it matter when the GMATs were taken? Does Berkeley prefer a fresher score (taken within the last year) or will a score from 4 years ago be fine?

Raja_Berkeley(A): We will accept test scores from the last 5 years. If you are satisfied with your score there is no problem with submitting a score from 4 years ago.

NarvekarD12014(Q): When is the deadline for applying for the scholarship in the 2nd round?

Jamie_Finaid(A): Our scholarship review dates are listed online at The next review date is March 25th which should be soonest for which you can apply.

cafeconleche(Q): Regarding the tone and style of the essays, if my essay is written with perhaps a more informal manner to convey my personality, that's not negatively looked upon, is it?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi cafe - I think you should use your best judgment about appropriate tone. It is great to show your personality but also remember it is an application to a professional program.

DH(Q): In 2013, what percent of accepted student submitted in round 3?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi DH - We don't know what our Round 3 will look like as this is our first year with three rounds.

brouggs(Q): Essay number 4 of the application asks for our post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals. How specific should our answers to this question be?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi brouggs - In this essay, we are looking to see how well you can articulate your career plans, and if you have really thought about how an MBA from Haas will help you achieve those goals. In order to provide a convincing argument about why you need an MBA, I would advise you to spend some time considering what you hope to achieve by going through the program.

nick777(Q): Please excuse me for asking so many questions, but is Haas more of a hi-tech industry oriented B-school? Do candidates with background in infrastructure development too stand a decent chance at getting admitted? Also, is TOEFL required for international students whose medium of instruction in college was English?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Nick777 -- we admit candidates from many different backgrounds since we are trying for a well-balanced class. The TOEFL requirement is not based on the language of instruction, but on the official language of the country in which you earned your bachelor's degree. If you have a question about the requirement for a specific country, please write to with the details and we will get back to you.

jean(Q): Good morning team, I will interview with an alum this week. I wonder what you are looking for during an interview, how much weight does it carry/% to survive? Thanks.

Raja_Berkeley(A):  Hi Jean! Just like each component of your application- the interview is an additional opportunity for us to learn more about you. We have a holistic admissions process, and a fixed percentage or weight is not assigned to any part of the application or the interview. Good luck!

gibran_santacruz_ruiz(Q): do you have a list of certified translators? Do you offer any kind of help to international students about where to live near the university?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Gibran, we do not keep a list of certified translators. Your best bet is to search on line. All admitted students are able to use the University's housing office.

OhadU(Q): Hi Team, thanks again for taking our questions. Always a pleasure. For the sake of the 2nd round applicants who are thrilled with anticipation, can you share with us the key dates & milestones we should look forward to?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi OhadU -- the notification date for Round 2 applicants is March 26; all decisions will be released then. Interview invitations for Round 2 applicants are being made on an ongoing basis and you may receive an interview invitation up to the notification date. Some applicants may be asked to join the waitlist without having interviewed.

DH(Q): Does Haas provide any loan assistance to students who end up working in non-profit organizations after obtaining and MBA?

Jamie_Finaid(A): Absolutely! Haas offers a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) for which you may apply every 6 month for reimbursement of payments made during the past 6 months. Our criteria for participation in the program is listed online at

Burchin(Q): Can a high GMAT score and strong work experience compensate for low bachelors GPA?

Raja_Berkeley(A): Whenever we see a lower GPA or test score, we will look to other areas of the application to assess your preparation for a rigorous MBA program. So if your GPA is lower, a higher test score or recent coursework and sometimes work experience may alleviate concerns around academic ability.

cafeconleche(Q): If one of an applicant's recommenders is an alum of the school, does the admissions committee value that a little bit more? Given of course that this recommender knows the applicant very well and can speak to his or strengths and weaknesses very well.

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi - You said it perfectly: we like to see recommenders who know the applicant well enough to speak in some detail about his/her strengths and weaknesses. If your recommender fits this description and also happens to be an alum, that would be an excellent choice of recommender.

Inguavas12014(Q):  Good Morning. I have a question about the song. Is the song supposed to describe you as a person or your perception of the world around you?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi - You may pick the song that best expresses who you are so you are free to determine how you interpret that.

jean(Q): Hi I have had local Confucius school under Accredited 4 year college (U.S. college) help me translate my degree certificates from Chinese to English. They will have all standard proofs that certify the translation comes from them. Is that acceptable by Haas?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Jean, we require translations of your academic documents issued by your school or translations by an ATA-certified translator. Translations done by another school are not acceptable.

Fereshta_Ashufta(Q): What advice would you give to someone after he/she has submitted an application?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi Fereshta - I know it can be hard waiting for a decision after submitting your application and we do appreciate your patience. I think that if you can use the time to get to know the program, which is a good way to familiarize yourself with Haas.

cafeconleche(Q): When considering an applicant, to what extend do you take into consideration his or her final decision with schools? For example, if you know an applicant is deciding between X, Y, and Z schools, does that factor into your final decision at all?

Raja_Berkeley(A): An applicant’s admission to other programs does not factor into our final admission decisions.

nick777(Q): How do you look at multiple GMAT scores?

Raja_Berkeley(A): We will consider an applicant’s strongest valid test score.

jessica9outlaw(Q): Hello, do we need to apply for FAFSA? If so, what is the deadline for that?

Jamie_Finaid(A): If you would like to apply for federal loans then you would want to complete the FAFSA. Doing so will result in an offer of an Unsubsidized loan in the amount of $25,000 and a Grad PLUS loan for the remaining of your Cost of Attendance. Current rates and fees are available on our website at We suggest that you complete your FAFSA by July.

brouggs(Q): What is the best way to schedule a visit to campus? I'd like to sit in on a few classes. Should I contact professors directly or get in touch with Haas ambassadors?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi brouggs -- you can find full information about our Visitation Program at; it is run by the Haas Student Ambassadors so specific questions should be directed to them at -- they will respond within a couple of days. Do not contact professors directly about class visits. Note that visitors are limited to visiting one class since spaces are limited. Also note that we are not able to offer visits to every class offered based on individual professors' wishes and space available in the classrooms.

[Back to top] Hi team! Thank you so much for you time taking our questions. What can an applicant do to strengthen her/his application after applying?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): You are so welcome Maria! If you have a significant update to your candidacy after applying, such as earning a promotion or taking on new responsibilities at work, by all means let us know and we can review that information along with the rest of your application.

gibran_santacruz_ruiz(Q): I am entrepreneur and I do not have a boss that supervises my work. Can my recommenders be suppliers? Or tutors in the university?

Raja_Berkeley(A): We discourage academic references. In your case, you may want to consider major clients, a former supervisor, or the Director/Leader of an extracurricular group or volunteer organization in which you're involved.

cafeconleche(Q): Am never quite sure how to pose this question, but if a family member is an alum of the program, how does that factor into the application? I'm assuming it would help the application in that he or she would be a little but more familiar with the program, and that's a plus for the applicant in the application process. Do you have any other comments regarding this topic?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi cafeconleche - It is great to know an alum of the program as it does give you good insight into what being at Haas is like and you have someone who can share what he/she has experienced so I'd advise you to definitely use this family member as a resource.

Allison(Q): Hi Admissions Committee, thank you for hosting this chat. Regarding the song essay, can we expect the reader to listen to the song selected? Or at least, encourage them to do so and incorporate that into our writing?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi Allison - You may encourage that, of course! We usually don't listen to all the songs, though, because we are more interested in what you have to say about the song, rather than the song itself.

brouggs(Q): When a candidate is applying for a second time after not having been admitted following their first attempt, is their prior application considered in any way? Does the admissions staff go back and review the original application? Is the persistence of the applicant a positive factor in your considerations?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi brouggs - If you have applied within the last two years, yes, we will look at your previous application. Persistence is definitely a plus! We like to see people who are determined and who demonstrate growth so reapplications can be very strong. In reference to my previous question, about strengthening one's application post applying, what would be the best way to let you know about career updates?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Maria, you can send career updates to and we will attach them to your file.

Harrison_Moderator: We'll be wrapping up our chat in about 15 minutes. Please submit any remaining questions now to ensure that they are answered before the end of our chat.

DH(Q): Will round 3 applicants be able to apply for scholarships by 04/10, the final review date, taking into consideration that the admission decisions won't be sent till May 15th?

Jamie_Finaid(A): Yes! We have tried to align our review dates with the admit rounds are their deposit deadlines. You will apply by the 10th and receive your results on the 28th.

Inguavas12014(Q): Hi, I plan to take TOEFL soon. Can I submit the application after taking the test but without getting my TOEFL scores yet?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Inguavas, as long as you complete the TOEFL by the deadline of March 12 at 11:59PM Pacific Time, you can apply in Round 3. Fill in your test date and the type of test, and fill in the score boxes with zeroes. When your file is reviewed for completeness, you will be contacted for your scores. Until you provide the self-reported scores, your file will be incomplete and will not be reviewed. (Note that you should have the official score report sent when you take the test, although we do the initial review with self-reported scores and verify scores later in the application process.)

Varunsh(Q): Hi folks, I had a question, with regard to breaks, for example I now have 4 solid years of experience in an IT companies as an engineer, but assume I take a few months off just to study my GMAT and work on my application, from an admissions point of view, how do you see that? Worse than engineers (my peers ) who still continue to work or does it make no difference?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi Varunsh - Everyone approaches the application differently so this is really up to you. I do think that work experience can broaden you more so than studying for the GMAT, but the GMAT is of course important, too! If you do decide to set aside time to study for the GMAT, it is best to come out of that with a very strong score.

cafeconleche(Q): Is there a particular song or genre that you see way too often? Frank Sinatra's, I did it my way, for example? :)

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi Cafe – No song can be mentioned way too often, especially not any from Frank Sinatra.

BR(Q): Hi Admissions Team. I already took the GRE but want to take the GMAT on March 3rd for a better score. Can I already submit my application and update the new score later?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi BR -- you should hold off on submitting your application until you can include your GMAT scores since otherwise we cannot guarantee that your file will not be sent to review until the new scores are added. You will receive your scores when you leave the test center and can submit that day.

jean(Q): Thank you, admissions  team. Do you still accept updates after submission of package, such as promotion and job change?

Lee_Berkeley(A): Hi Jean. We ask that applicants update their application via email to if they have a substantial promotion or a job change.

cafeconleche(Q): How long do you pull people off the waitlist? Through the end of summer? Is there a specific date?

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi - We may admit applicants from the waitlist through July although we prefer to admit all candidates as early as possible. Sometimes an admitted student may have a sudden emergency and is unfortunately no longer able to attend, so this frees a space for someone on the waitlist.

gibran_santacruz_ruiz(Q): How long is the interview with the students? What kind of questions you ask? Who interview the candidate?

Raja_Berkeley(A): You should budget 45 minutes to an hour for an interview. We have alumni and current students interview our applicants. The interview is an opportunity for us to learn more about you, your professional experiences and goals.

Allison(Q): Regarding supplemental information, it's asked that the applicant list other organizations and part-time jobs in order of importance, should these items then be excluded from one's resume that is uploaded to the online application?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi Allison - That is entirely up to you! In the application, sometimes you can add a little more detail about the role than what you might put on a resume, especially if you feel it will strengthen your application. But this isn't necessary. There is no need to remove a role from your resume because you have already included it in the application.

jean(Q): Will the admissions office roll out decisions before the decision day?

Raja_Berkeley(A): Thank you for this question! We do not have a rolling admissions process. All applicants will receive their official admissions decision on the notification deadline.

Yucheng(Q): Do you review application on rolling basis? Is it any good to submit an application before the round deadline?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): Hi Yucheng - We do not review applications on a rolling basis, so there is no advantage to submitting your application prior to the Round deadline.

Harrison_Moderator: Hi all! Thank you for joining us. The chat will be wrapping up in a few minutes. We greatly appreciate your questions. Please check back on our website for transcripts of today’s chat and for future chat dates.

Azhar(Q): Hi everybody, I was wondering if enrolling in Haas Base Summer program is recommended for Full-Time applicants coming from a non-business back ground

Erin_Berkeley(A): Hi Azhar - BASE is an undergraduate program so our applicants would not enroll in that since it is a requirement that our applicants have already completed an undergraduate degree.

WrennJ12014(Q): Hi Team! I was wondering if Haas tends to limit the number of people accepted from a particular company. I and a few of my peers are all applying/have applied. Will this hurt our chances individually?
Raja_Berkeley(A): We do not have any quotas for companies. Your chances are not hurt by having your peers also apply. Good luck!

cafeconleche(Q): What industry, if any, is receiving the most representation amongst the applicants' backgrounds? Is it social enterprise? Tech? Healthcare? IT?

Carolyn_Berkeley(A): HI cafeconleche - We receive applications from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds. Consulting, finance, marketing, nonprofit, tech, all of those industries and more are well represented among our applicants.

Harrison_Moderator: Hi all! Thank you for joining us. The chat is wrapping up and shutting down. We appreciate your questions and we apologize if we didn’t get to all of them. Please check back on our website within the next couple weeks for a transcript of today’s chat and information on future chat dates. Go Bears!

Erin_Berkeley: Thank you for joining us! We look forward to reading your applications soon!

cafeconleche(C): Yes, go bears!

varunsh(C): thanks everyone!

cafeconleche(C): Thanks for the chat, team!

cafeconleche(C): Thank you!!!

NarvekarD12014(C): thank you for the informative session

Jamie_Finaid: Thank you for joining us today. If you did not get a chance to ask your financial aid questions, please feel free to email your questions to us at Also, our we have valuable information on both scholarships and loans available at

Raja_Berkeley: Thank you for joining us today!

Carolyn_Berkeley: Thank you so much for joining us today. I look forward to reading your applications!

Lee_Berkeley: Thanks for all your questions -- they have been great and I look forward to seeing your applications!

Fereshta_Ashufta(C): Thank you!

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