Kristine Kushner

Students discuss why a part-time MBA program suited them (and might suit you too)

By Jenny Clare

“I've got a couple of hungry kids and a dog and a cat, and they all want to keep eating, and they want to stay inside. That’s the reason I kept working while going to Berkeley Haas. Frankly, that's the only thing that would have worked for me.”

That kind of practical thinking drew Kristine Kushner, MBA 23, to the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA program. When she started her studies in 2020, it was her job in fintech strategy and development at Wells Fargo that put food on the table and kept a roof over everyone’s head. In 2022, she joined VMware in a strategy and corporate venture role.

The cost-benefit analysis for any MBA program—the cost of tuition, the opportunity cost, and the life-work balance calculation—is different for everyone. Here is some of what several MBA students had to say in a video about choosing a part-time MBA program.

Alex Holden, MBA 23, manager, US Co-Brand Business Development & Partnerships at Visa, asked himself, “What is the opportunity cost of me taking out a couple of years of my career to go to school or being able to do both?” Choosing to enroll as an evening MBA student means that when he goes to class after work Alex finds it “refreshing to be in that setting, to be in an environment that's just about learning.”

His classmate, Ghita Soulimani, MBA 23, who is a senior manager of Clinical Partnership at health care start-up Color, added that she “wanted to learn from my job, but also apply what I was learning in school in my day to day.”

I wanted something that would give me an experience similar to a full-time program where it's the same classes, same professors, same campus as someone who is in a full-time program. Berkeley Haas offers that."

From the perspective of a Field Applications Engineer at Intel, Farzad Yousefi, MBA 23, felt that taking two years off for a full-time MBA would put him behind in terms of “technical expertise and domain knowledge.” Yet he wanted the business skills and expanded network that a top-tier MBA program provides. With a two-year hiatus off the table, he nonetheless wanted “something that would give me an experience similar to a full-time program where it's the same classes, same professors, same campus as someone who is in a full-time program. Berkeley Haas offers that,” he said.

Farzad also noted that, having graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a lot of student debt, he promised himself not to repeat that. Indeed, there is financial assistance for part-time MBA students, including scholarships and loans. Veterans benefits and employer tuition assistance can also lower the out-of-pocket cost.

Money aside, there is a “time commitment… you have to give up something because you're not giving up your job and career,” Farzad admitted.

Ghita, whose young daughter joined her at the video recording session, agreed with that sentiment, saying “There is a certain level of organization that you have to master in knowing how to organize your time and your priorities on a daily basis—not even on a weekly basis—so that you can allocate enough time to your schoolwork, to your work, and then to your personal responsibilities or your family.”

“We're doing so many things at the same time right now,” Marissa Maliwanag, MBA 24, a senior manager, Global Logistics & Provisioning at Fuze, said. Watching her classmates who are parents on top of working full-time, she continued, can teach everyone to think about “how do we prioritize what's really important to us and where do we spend our time?”

Joselyn Baety, MBA 24, an advisory manager at Deloitte, concurred, “I'm also seeing people really understand just what they're capable of, balancing school and work. You're going to be sitting here thinking to yourself, ‘why am I doing this to myself?’ I have had times where I was just like, I think I need to just stop. But then I go back to my ‘why.’ Why am I doing this? Why is this important? You really need to have a strong ‘why’ and a strong will.”

Watch the full video about why students are choosing a part-time MBA program.

Interested in making an impact through your career? An MBA from a top business school can help you grow your network and leadership skills so you can take the next steps toward a fulfilling career. 

Learn more about the Evening & Weekend MBA program

Posted on January 12, 2023
Themes: MBA Benefits
Jenny Clare
Jenny is Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with useful insights into the Berkeley MBA experience and answer questions you may have about the MBA in general.