debunking MBA myths

Debunking 5 myths about getting into a top MBA program

By Eileen Jacob

MBAs are one of the most popular advanced degrees in the United States. In 2018-2019 — the most recently measured year — more than 197,100 students earned their MBA nationwide. Despite the number of applicants who have applied for an MBA, the process is still wrought with myths about what makes a great MBA candidate.

Toss your preconceived notions to the side.

If you're considering getting an MBA, rest assured there's a program for you: regardless of age, personal, or professional life, for any industry, for any sector.

Learn some of the common myths prospective MBA students have about MBA programs, and why they can be easily debunked.

Myth #1: Only men apply for MBAs

Data recently published by the Forté Foundation found that women don’t pursue MBAs as frequently as men — accounting for only 39% of all degrees earned in 2019 — even though MBAs rank as one of the most popular graduate degrees available.

The combined efforts of students, professors, and the school have made Haas a desirable location for women to receive their MBA. The Financial Times has ranked the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program #2 among U.S. schools and #3 in the world for women.

Berkeley is also the birthplace of The Gender Equity Initiative at Haas, which was formed by a group of students dedicated to taking action for gender parity at Berkeley Haas.

Berkeley Haas strives to change the conversation about women and MBAs. By creating networking events like Women in Leadership (WIL), and the Women in Leadership Conference, Haas successfully connects more than 400 women and men each year to learn from each other, and to develop the skills that help women advance in leadership.

Myth #2: I have kids, family, and career; my time for an MBA has passed

There is no particular blueprint detailing the best way to go forth with an MBA. Everyone has different career paths and life commitments, which is precisely why there is more than one way to describe a top MBA candidate.

The Haas School of Business has several MBA programs, each designed to appeal to applicants spanning diverse backgrounds and profiles. For example, if you need to keep your full-time job while earning your MBA, Evening and Weekend courses are a great way to handle both simultaneously.

Maybe you feel like you’ve been in the workforce too long to go back to school. If you’ve spent a fair amount of time in the workforce, consider applying for an MBA for Executives. This once-per-month, immersive experience serves candidates who have leadership and management experience and want to deepen their understanding of specific business practices.

Myth #3: I won’t find a job after the program is over

Is the investment worth the return? Many prospective students fear that after going through an MBA program, they’ll be left hanging out to dry — with no support achieving their next job. Or worse, feeling like they are starting back at square one.

That’s not the case.

In the 2020 graduating class at the Haas School of Business, 238 of the 291 students sought employment post-graduation. Of those 238 students, 212 received offers. The mean base annual salary generated from those offers was $139,423. And, 73.4% of candidates who received job offers also received a sign-on bonus.

To achieve high marks in the job placement category, UC Berkeley pays special attention to job placement and networking. For example, our extensive career management services include:

  • Relationship managers
  • Career coaches
  • Industry specialists
  • Peer advisors

Each service is designed to help students traverse the post-graduation job market. Additionally, UC Berkeley has:

  • On-campus networking: local business leaders host presentations, panels, and workshops. These events give students the chance to get to know alumni and employers from top companies.
  • On-campus recruiting: Top firms from various industries are welcomed on campus to conduct interviews.
  • CMG BEARS: Haas has an online job bank dedicated to connecting students and alumni with job opportunities.

Myth #4: Going back for an MBA is too expensive

Earning your MBA is a major financial decision, but it should not be one that blocks you from applying. Instead, learn the options for financing an MBA to help ward off fears.

Most institutions, including UC Berkeley, offer financing options to reduce the burden of MBA tuition costs as you work toward your career goals.

Check out a full list of scholarships and loans Berkeley has to offer, which include:

Berkeley Haas also offers a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).

Additionally, for students applying to the MBA for Executives, it’s common for employers to share the cost of the MBA. Roughly 70% of Berkley Haas students receive financial assistance through scholarships, loans, and assistantships.

Myth #5: An MBA isn’t right for my non-business background

Top MBA programs are designed to give students practical skills and knowledge that will help them succeed in multiple facets of the modern business world. The following skills, which are obtained during an MBA program, are applicable to numerous job functions and industries:

  • Leadership
  • Business operations
  • Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Intrapreneurship
  • Finance

For this reason, no one should be too quick to assume an MBA isn’t for them.

Understanding that business requires an interdisciplinary approach, Berkeley offers concurrent degrees for professionals looking to develop their business acumen and advance in their careers, regardless of industry:

  • MBA/MPH: The Haas School of Business and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health partner to offer a concurrent degree program leading to an MBA in Health Management and Innovation and an MPH in Health Policy and Management.
  • MBA/MEng: Prospective students with a technical undergraduate degree can pursue a Master of Engineering (MEng) degree in one of seven departments in the College of Engineering. Concurrently, students work toward their MBA degree from the Haas School of Business.
  • JD/MBA: During this four-year program, students receive education covering both legal and management curriculum for a comprehensive experience. Two years of the program are spent at either Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco or Berkeley Law. During the third year, candidates study at the Haas School of Business. During the fourth year, students mix electives in business and law to round out the program’s final year.

Obtaining a concurrent degree is also a great way to pivot industries and functions, reframe your future, and continue to nurture your intellectual curiosity.

Don’t let fear or misconceptions hold you back from advancing your career. Learn more about the application process for a Berkeley MBA today.

Compare Berkeley MBA programs

Posted on October 8, 2019
Themes: Funding MBA  |  Applying
Eileen Jacob
Eileen was Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2017-2019. She enjoyed meeting prospective students and helping them explore the benefits of an MBA, and hopes these blog posts provide valuable insight into the Berkeley MBA experience.