UC Berkeley Haas School of Business | Groups

If you are interested to hear about the admissions process directly from current Veterans and the Haas admissions team, please check out this webinar. http://goo.gl/0wYPlH

If you are interested to hear about why we chose Haas, this webinar will give you a great look into life at Haas for Veterans. Please let us know if you have any questions!http://bit.ly/1m8poAD

If you have any questions about applying to Haas or you are planning to visit us on campus, please visit the "Contact Us" page, introduce yourself, and send us any questions you might have.  We will put you in touch with the most relevant member of our club.  We look forwared to hearing from you!

VP EWMBA: Edgar Vigil

Interested in the Evening and Weekend MBA from Haas? Contact current EWMBA student and fellow club leader Edgar to get connected.

Your Military-to-MBA Transition

The Military-to-MBA transition can seem daunting at first.  The Haas Veterans Club is prepared to assist veteran applicants with the following:

For more information, see below.

Application Process

Start early.  As you start looking at schools, reach out to the Veterans Clubs, which should be able to give you insight into their school and help you tailor your application.  Consider that your fellow civilian classmates will have gotten advice from coworkers who have already gone through this process and earned their MBAs.  You should use your resources, including this club and its alumni, to do the same.

To get you going here is a link to the Full-Time MBA program and admissions pages, where you can find additional information about the program and start the admissions process. 

  • Program: http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/
  • Admissions: http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/admissions/index.html

If you have special circumstances, you can reach out to the admissions team via http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/admissions/contact.html, but also feel free to speak to one of the Veterans at Haas.  We may be able to get you the answer that you are looking for without highlighting yourself to the admissions team unnecessarily.

Before going into greater deal about the process, we would encourage you to visit the schools that you are considering.  Like all of the others, Haas organizes class visits for perspective students, http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/admissions/visit.html; however, you should reach out to the Veterans Club as well.  We should be able to find a class for you to visit with one of us even if the official program is booked.  For what it is worth and from what we have been told, these visits are not tracked by admissions at Haas, but they can demonstrate that you have done your due diligence on the school.  If you come for a visit and are looking for a place to stay, the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel (http://www.marineclub.com/ ) in downtown San Francisco offers great rates to active duty military ($80) and is convenient to BART, which can get you to Berkeley.  Just remember that our normal class schedule at Haas runs from Monday thru Thursday, so plan accordingly.  

Your Narrative 

This is the single most important part of your business school application.  As you write your essays, you will need to come up with compelling reasons/answers for: why an MBA, why this school, why now, what you bring to the table, and how this school will help you reach your career goals.  This takes time and should be tailored to individual schools.  This is easier with three or four stories that relate your transferrable skills and that your grandmother would understand.  In writing these stories, you have to assume that the person reading you application has no understanding of what the military does, what your job was, and what you actually accomplished.  They should probably not read like your fitness reports and may be largely unrelated to it.  Develop your personal “value proposition” – i.e. what makes your military leadership experience unique and focus on highlighting aspects of your background that are “business school relevant.”  All the while, be conscious of the commonly held stereotypes of military-style leadership (i.e. hierarchical, authoritative, etc). 

As far as a career path goes, they need to know that you have put some thought into it.  If asked in an interview, you need to be convincing.  The admissions committee will be looking at your application through the eyes of potential employers – “Is this applicant someone we will be able to place?”  That said you are not tied to that path once you are accepted.  A lot of your classmates will use their MBA degrees to make a career transition.  With a military background, consulting, operations, and general management roles seem to be the most common options, but there are many others to consider as well.  Regardless of the path, it will be in your best interest to start networking early and talk to people who have followed career paths that potentially interest you.  If you can find Veteran to speak to even better, as he/she faced a similar challenge earlier in their career and will likely be willing to offer another Veteran more candid advice.  If your plan changes after submitting your application, it may be in your best interest to tailor the existing plan based on something new that you have discovers rather than propose a completely new idea.

As far as industries go and possible options, consider the following example.  If you are a pilot, it means that you might have an advantage in the aerospace/defense industry.  You would not have to go there when you are done with your degree, but it is an option.  In some ways, it is potentially a safer path to follow in the event that nothing else works out.  It is up to you to craft that path and an MBA can make it easier.  But ask around.  Arguably half of an MBA is what takes place outside of the classroom.  You may be able to get the job that you want without getting an MBA and you would want to know that before investing two years of your life.  For example, if you wanted to be an airline pilot, then an MBA may not do a lot of good.   This is one of the reasons that starting the application process earlier is better.  Your story will change the more you figure out and will likely get stronger through the process.  Bottom line, you will need to identify transferrable skills that someone foreign to the military, i.e. the admissions staff or an interviewer, will understand.As/if you apply to Haas, consider how your narrative fits with the defining principals of the school: question the status quo, confidence without attitude, students always, and beyond yourself.  I would not necessarily be explicit and call these out, but it would be wise for your narrative to be consistent with them. 


They are what they are at this point and they are one possible indicator of how well you may do in the program.  Generally speaking, it is likely safe to assume that the further away you are from college then the less weight that will be put on them.  If you are concerned about an area on your transcript, consider taking some courses at a local college/university or online.  


As far as the GMAT goes, you will want a score that you don't have to talk about and won't make anyone question your ability to handle the MBA curriculum.  Generally, anything above 700 is typically fine, but look at the reported scores for individual schools.  The following books are fine, plus a Princeton Review guide, which focused a bit more on strategies/techniques.

  • The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition
  • The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review, 2nd Edition
  • The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review, 2nd Edition

The exam adapts its difficulty as you test, so you will want to focus on the earlier problems a lot more.  I'd also recommend the sample tests at gmat.com and princetonreview.com.  Another good resource is http://gmatclub.com/.  As you start the application process, keep in mind that you may need to take the exam more than once, so plan accordingly.  Realize that there is a minimum waiting period between attempts and that taking it more than twice starts to look odd.


Try to have someone write your recommendation who knows you well and who can help you stand out from your peers.  Remember that after reading through your entire application, the reader should have a complete picture of who you are or at least enough of one to invite you in for an interview.  Along those lines and if you provide input to the write, which is common, you can use your recommendations to complete that picture and to fill in any gaps.  If you have already completed your essays, you may want to share them with your writer, so they have a better idea of what you are planning on and keep in mind that one recommendation might be used for multiple schools.  

Remember that your civilian peers are likely having MBA graduates write their recommendations, who likely understand the process and bigger picture better than your military supervisors.  By providing your writers with that picture, it may help to level the playing field. If you have not informed your chain of command of your plans to leave the military or your current job, plan it carefully but you may need their support to get a good recommendation.  While it may not be equitable for your fitness report to suffer once you make the decision to leave, they will not follow you after you leave the military.

Once last note, if you plan on applying to multiple schools, try to send all recommendation requests to each write at once.  That way they will all show up at the same time to your writer’s inbox and will be less likely to get lost.  It will also make it easier on your writer.


If you have gotten this far, then you should be very pleased with yourself.  If you have not already done so, reach out to the veterans’ community at that school and try to get some insights from them.  If you are able, try to do an on campus interview, which will give you an opportunity to meet the type of students that you would be spending two years of your life with.   You also should be able to sit in on a class and/or have lunch with a veteran.

The interview itself will be stressful, which is something that your time in the service should make you comfortable with.  Recall that this is an opportunity for you to fill in any gaps in your application or changes to your plans (hopefully keep those minor).  There are lots of resources online for the standard questions, but it is best to practice these and your essays out loud.  You are not going to have a lot of time, so be prepared.  The STAR method (situation, task, action, result) method can work well and again consider that your interviewer may be foreign to the military.  For example, if your resume says that you are an F/A-18 fighter pilot, then your interviewer might not know what that is.  That happened at a top consulting firm interview, which looks bad on them as well.

Financial Aid

There is a ton of information available on the GI Bill and the veteran-specific financial aid process at the below-linked websites, so use those to get the best, most updated and official information.  However, we want to highlight upfront that Haas provides a unique value for veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill: as a public school, Haas can allow a veteran student to graduate with significantly less debt than its competitor schools.  Add the top-tier education and phenomenal experience that it provides all its students, and you'll see that Haas is an outstanding option for veterans looking to enhance their transition to business.  


The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides U.S. Veterans with financial assistance for tuition, fees, books, and housing based on a level of qualification for each Veteran (i.e. 100%, 80%, etc).  For complete information see the official Post-911 GI Bill website (http://www.gibill.va.gov/) as well as this helpful site from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) (http://www.newgibill.org/).


Your primary point of reference and official source for any Haas financial aid questions or information should be the Haas Financial Aid Office website: http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/finaid/index.html.  Be sure to select the appropriate tab on this page for the program you are interested in (Full-time MBA, EWMBA, MBA for Execs, MFE).

Here is a summary of the changes that take effect in August of 2011, which were meant to simplify the tuition and fee rates for those attending a public school and creates a national maximum for those enrolled in a private or foreign school.

  • Pays all public school in-state tuition and fees.
  • Private and foreign school costs are capped at $17,500 annually.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program still exists for out-of-state fees and costs above the cap.
  • Break or interval pay is no longer payable under any VA education benefit program unless under an Executive Order of the President or due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or strike.  So, you will not get a BAH payment over winter or summer breaks.
  • Those who are eligible for both Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (chapter 31) benefits and Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33) benefits to choose the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s monthly housing allowance instead of the chapter 31 subsistence allowance.  So, you can choose between $500 under chapter 31 and the local E-5 with dependents BAH rate under chapter 33.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is voluntary and done to cover costs in excess of the resident rates for public schools (i.e. Haas) or higher than $17,500 for private or international schools.  To be eligible for the program, a Veteran must be a 100% recipient of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.  The institution will set an additional amount that they will contribute and the VA will match it up to the maximum due to the school.  Veterans Clubs or the financial aid office at schools should be able to give you the information that you need on this.  Haas is participating at the $10,000 level, which will be matched by the VA up to the maximum on your university bill.

A CA resident eligible for 100% of the benefit will get their entire university bill covered by the VA.  A non-resident eligible for 100% of the benefit will get the "CA resident" amount covered plus any Yellow Ribbon benefit up to the maximum.  Those transfers will be made directly to the university after your enrollment has been certified.  The E-5 with Dependents BAH based on the school’s zip code ($2,769 in 2014, $3,132 in 2015, for Haas' zip code 94720) and book payment will be sent directly to the recipient’s bank account.  Any percentage less than 100% will be prorated.

Establishing residency in CA or the state of your school may have a difference on the benefits that you can receive.  For example, if you leave active duty in CA and start establishing residency immediately, then you can qualify as an instate resident during your first year under a Non-Resident College Fee Waiver (http://www.cdva.ca.gov/VetService/Overview.aspx).  Students have qualified for this benefit if their last duty station was overseas.  You will still need to become an actual resident to qualify as a resident for your second year.  To do so, you will need to report where you spent your holidays among other things.  Keep in mind that you don't have to work in CA over the summer for your internship, you will just need to show that you tried, didn't get a job offer in the state, and intend on settling in the state after graduation.

One last note on residency, carefully consider the date that you leave active duty.  If you are on terminal leave when classes start, you may not yet be eligible for all of your educational benefits.  On the other side, extending your service for a couple of months to be eligible for a higher level of benefits may make sense.  If the government already paid for your education once, then you have to perform a minimum commitment before the clock starts counting for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.  For example, service academy folks owe 5 years, ROTC folks owe 4 years.  So for an ROTC grad who served a total 6 years, only 2 of those years count toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Digital Media and Networking

Throughout this process and during your professional career, people will look for you on social networks and you don't want this to raise any concerns.  One recommendation would be to scrub your facebook profile and check the privacy settings.  You also should consider getting a LinkedIn profile, which is a good way to keep track of your professional network and to research companies.  Search for Veterans at companies or from schools that you would be interested in and reach out to them.  You should be able to see the profiles of Haas students and alumni on our Members page.

Final Points

Lastly, the rank of the school and the characteristics of the alumni network do matter.  But you will want to pick a school that is right for you in terms of focus, strengths, location, teaching, culture, and size (to name a few).  For example, if you’re interested in technology or entrepreneurship, the Bay Area is a great place to be.  You can drive down the road to any number of companies and network much easier than you could at a lot of other schools.

We look forward to working with you as you get to know Haas and as you make your transition, regardless of where (or if) you get your MBA.  


Best regards and good luck,

Haas Veterans Club Members & Alumni