School v. School: Berkeley Haas or UW Foster?

With all the options for incredible business schools throughout the country, it can be a tall order to narrow down programs and choose the right degree for you. In our School v. School series, you can compare and contrast some of the best programs around the United States, helping to cut through the noise and find the best MBA for you on the West Coast.

Today, we take a look at two of the top business schools on the west coast, the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in San Francisco, and the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Haas School of Business – UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is known as one of the top business schools the world, let alone within California. The school—which holds the distinction of being the first business school at a public institution—consistently tops the lists of business school rankings, including the 7th best business school by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to a full-time MBA program, Haas offers an Evening & Weekend MBA, and an MBA for Executives.

Full-Time MBA

The full-time MBA, like all programs at Berkeley Haas, is centered around the school’s Defining Leadership Principles: questioning the status quo, confidence without attitude, learning as a student always, and thinking beyond yourself. The two-year, full-time curriculum keeps these principles in mind, offering a variety of elective courses in addition to the degree’s core classes. Students are also required to take an experiential course that allows them to develop the leadership skills learned in the classroom in a real-life setting.

Why Haas?

  • The career services office at Haas places emphasis on future career success, providing highly personalized career services and support for students, whether they are looking to grow in their careers or start a new one.
  • In addition to the core curriculum, Haas allows students to choose from a diverse set of electives but also allows them to design their own- past student-initiated courses have included Life as an Entrepreneur, Topics in Technology, and Improv for Business Leadership.
  • Location, location, location! It’s hard to beat a business school located in the San Francisco Bay area, an ever growing business mecca that provides endless opportunities for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • The opportunity to work with world renowned faculty, including Haas professor Oliver Williamson, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences.

What’s Missing?

  • A degree at Haas comes with a significantly higher price tag then one from Foster, costing roughly $59,739 per year for out-of-state students, while Foster costs $48,606 for out-of-state students each year.
  • The average GMAT score for students admitted to Haas (680-770) is higher than that of Foster (640-740), which makes the admissions process more competitive and could be a challenge for those who have trouble with tests.
  • Foster has significantly more options when it comes to MBA programs, including industry specific degrees like the MBA in Technology Management and those with more flexibility like the Hybrid or Work Compatible MBA.

University of Washington – Foster School of Business

The Michael G. Foster School of Business, located in Seattle, has its own set of distinctions to be proud of. Among several top 25 rankings for the school’s MBA, Foster was also named the best in the country in research productivity by the Academic Analytics’ objective Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. Opened in 1917, the school today offers a variety of degree programs, including a full-time, Evening, Executive, Hybrid, Global Executive, Technology Management, and Work-Compatible MBA.

Full-Time MBA

The full-time MBA a Foster focuses on a mixture of courses, internships, and project experience alongside independent study and international activities to help students achieve career success. UW Foster boasts the best MBA job placement rate in the country: 98 percent. It’s understandable why, with major companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks calling Seattle home. Students earning a full-time MBA at Foster will find themselves amidst a culture that focuses on collaboration. Alumni remain an active part of the community long after graduation, whether as judges for case competitions, speakers at campus events, or in casual meetings with current students.

Why Foster?

  • Focused on collaboration and community involvement, a Foster MBA will put student in touch with more than 75 senior executives who participate in the Mentor Program, and more than 500 executives that visit campus to speak with students. The labors of such a large and involved MBA Career Management team are evident, as the school is consistently ranks as the nation’s best MBA for job placement.
  • The UW Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship provides special opportunities for Foster MBAs interested in entrepreneurship, offering special fellowships, internships, mentorships, and even funds for new startups through business competitions and accelerators.
  • Last year, Foster was ranked number one overall by the U.S. World & News Report for their salary to debt ratio among 30 other schools, with the average debt for Foster students dropping last year to $32,047 and the average salary/bonus for graduates at $133,299

What’s Missing?

  • While both business schools are notable for the success of their female graduates, Haas takes the lead in this area. A recent ranking from the Financial Times ranked Berkeley Haas as the 2nd best MBA program in the world for women based on salaries after graduation. Foster did excel in a similar ranking of Greatest Resources for Women MBAs, but this did not necessarily include post-graduate salary
  • While Foster excels in specific areas like job placement and faculty research, its numbers in overall rankings tend to be lower than those for Haas.

Berkeley Haas v. UW Foster MBA Rankings

 Berkeley HaasUW Foster
U.S. News & World Report722
Financial Times2823
Bloomberg Businessweek1015
The Economist325

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About the Author

Alanna Shaffer

Staff Writer, covering MetroMBA's news beat for Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas.

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