Berkeley (Haas) vs. Columbia: An EMBA Comparison |

Berkeley (Haas) vs. Columbia: An EMBA Comparison

By Julia G

Updated February 4, 2019 Updated February 4, 2019

The US is the home of both the MBA and the Executive MBA, and as such has some of the best EMBA degrees in the world, with seven of the top programs located in the US according to the QS Global EMBA Rankings 2018. Two of these programs, located on opposite sides of the country, are the MBA for Executives program at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business (ranked =4th in the US), located in the San Francisco Bay area, and Columbia Business School’s EMBA program in New York City (ranked 6th).

There’s no doubt both programs offer an exceptional standard of EMBA tuition on the West and East coasts, but how do they compare for a potential student? Read on to find out…


Berkeley (Haas)

Columbia Business School

Length and format of program

  • The EMBA program at Berkeley is an accelerated degree program that takes 19 months to complete.
  • Students start in May and end in December of the following year. 
  • There are five terms, with five class blocks and one immersion per term. 
  • Each block lasts three days, from Thursday to Saturday around every three weeks.
  • You will study on-campus at Berkeley (Haas).
  • The program is residency based: during each block you'll stay in the same hotel as your classmates. 
  • 25 percent of the curriculum is immersive, with five field trip immersions exploring topics such as international business and innovation.
  • Columbia offers a variety of options for completing the EMBA. 
  • EMBA-NY: Saturday is every Saturday for six terms, starting in May.
  • EMBA-NY: Friday/Saturday is every other Friday and Saturday for five terms, starting in August. 
  • EMBA-Americas is made up of five to six-day blocks once a month for core modules, starting in January. 
  • EMBA-Global is made up of five to six-day blocks once a month for core modules, starting in May. 
  • Depending on your chosen option, the EMBA takes 20-24 months to complete.
  • The EMBA-Global partners with London Business School  and the University of Hong Kong.
  • The EMBA-Global Asia has core courses in London, Hong Kong and New York.
  • The EMBA-Global Americas & Europe is based in London and New York.


Fees and funding

  • The fees for the EMBA class entering May 2019 is US$190,550.
  • This includes tuition, textbooks, hotel accomodation, admin fees, and most meals in residence periods.
  • Berkeley offer a limited number of EMBA scholarships, ranging from US$10,000 to US$20,000, awarded to students of exceptional merit, based on criteria such as employment in the non-profit sector.
  • They also offer a 'Beyond Yourself Fellowship', provided by the EMBA class of 2016. This is a needs-based fellowship of US$25,000
  • Employer sponsorship is also a popular form of funding. 
  • All students will require a sponsorship letter confirming permission for students to attend classes on workdays. 


  • EMBA fees at Columbia cover all textbooks, meals on class days, accomodation during residence weeks, and residence and meals during the weeklong international semester. 
  • Total cost for the EMBA-NY is US$202,080.
  • EMBA-Global Americas & Europe: US$194,340.
  • EMBA-Global Asia: US$182,160.
  • Many students on the EMBA are either partially or fully funded by company sponsorship. 
  • If you are a Friday/Saturday or EMBA Americas student, you'll require written authorization from your employer to attend classes on workdays. 



  • There are three application rounds, but if you are applying to multiple schools and want an earlier admission decision, you should apply in Round 1. 
  • Admissions requirements:
  • Official university transcripts from any institution you have a degree from.
  • Two essay questions of 250 and 750 words. 
  • Two letters of recommendation, one from a current direct supervisor. 
  • GMAT or GRE score compulsory. 
  • 30 minute on-campus interview.
  • International students will have to provide proof of English-language proficiency (minimum 90 TOEFL score or 7+ IELTS score), plus must provide official translations of any non-English language university transcripts.
  • US$200 non-refundable application fee (fee waiver for US military service members and prospective students working in the non-profit/public sectors).
  • Admissions are on a rolling basis, but you're encouraged to submit your application as early as possible.
  • Admissions requirements:
  • Transcripts from each undergraduate/graduate institution from which you've recieved a degree. 
  • Essays: you are required to complete one short-answer question (50 characters in length) and three essays (one of 500 words, two of 250 words). You can also do an optional fourth essay. 
  • Two letters of professional recommendation. 
  • GMAT or GRE scores compulsory. 
  • Interview after application is submitted.
  • US$250 non-refundable application fee.

Class Profile


  • The class profile of the most recent entering class is as follows:
  • Class size: 72 students
  • 39 percent female students
  • 11 countries represented
  • Average age: 38
  • Average of 14 years work experience
  • Most common industry background is technology (11 percent)
  • 39 percent of students have a master's degree and 10 percent have a PhD
  • 71 percent of students reside in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • The class profile of the EMBA-NY Friday/Saturday class starting August 2018 is as follows:
  • Class size: 144 students in two clusters
  • 35 percent female students
  • 24 percent international students
  • Average age: 32
  • Average of nine years work experience. 
  • Most common industry background is financial services (32 percent) followed by technology (13 percent)
  • 26 percent of students recieved full company sponsorship, 41 percent partial sponsorship, and 33 percent are self-sponsored.






Inside the EMBA Classroom 

Both courses follow the trajectory of core classes in the first few terms, followed by electives and a mandatory international field trip. However, there are some key differences between the two, such as Columbia’s larger class size (the biggest EMBA course in the US), and Berkeley’s sprawling campus institution rather than being in a concentrated metropolis like New York City.

The core courses on the Berkeley EMBA are taken in the first three terms, including Marketing Management, Global Economic Environment, and Financial Accounting. In terms four and five, you’ll select three electives as well as field immersions. Elective choices include Opportunity Recognition and Mergers & Acquisitions.

Five field immersions take you to four locations across America (Monterey Coast, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Washington DC) as well as one international field trip, with previous destinations including Singapore, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

On campus, you can connect with students on other MBA programs as well as across other disciplines. There’s a culture of collaboration rather than competition at Berkeley, with Haas defining leadership through qualities such as ‘Question the Status Quo’ and ‘Confidence Without Attitude’.

At the start of your EMBA at Columbia, you’ll be in a cluster of fellow students, where you’ll be put into a team of five to six students, bringing unique and diverse perspectives to your coursework (you will stay in these teams for the duration of your core courses).

The core curriculum includes Business Analytics, Global Economic Environment and Leadership & Organizational Change. Electives at Columbia start in either your third or fourth term, depending on which EMBA option you choose (EMBA-NY Saturday students start in their fourth term). The electives available include Business Law, Leadership Through Fiction, FinTech and High-Tech Entrepreneurship.

There is a required international seminar where you’ll learn cross-cultural business practices and apply global business concepts first-hand. Previous destinations have included Myanmar, Cape Town, Munich and Tel Aviv.

Outside the EMBA Classroom

The different locations lead to very different EMBA experiences, but they are united by excellent career services, networking opportunities and student experience.

Students at Columbia receive considerable support both during and after the EMBA program. During your studies, you’ll have access to tutoring on quantitative core subjects, as well as full tech support. You’ll also get a free textbook delivery service to either your home or your office. EMBA students have access to the Career Management Center with a dedicated team who offer one on one coaching, resume critiques, mock interviews, mentoring, and extensive online resources.

After you graduate, you have access to on-campus lectures with lifelong auditing privileges where you can refresh your skills by sitting in on classes. Columbia’s alumni network is also extensive, with 200 alumni clubs in 133+ countries, with 44,000+ alumni.

Columbia is located in the global financial and business capital of New York City, and has attracted extremely high-profile speakers to events at the business school, including Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Martha Stewart and Warren Buffet.

EMBA students can get involved in a range of student clubs at Columbia (mainly led by full-time students). There are also some student leadership organizations specifically for EMBA students. Each cluster elects representatives to work with administrators on topics like academics, career development, and ethics.

Berkeley (Haas) is in the San Francisco Bay area, a hub for innovation, located close to the Silicon Valley technology scene. It’s also a fantastic area for quality of life, with beaches, hiking trails and great culture.

Because of the block format, and by taking classes on campus, you’re fully integrated into the Berkeley community and can participate in student activities such as case competitions and the annual alumni gala. Students on the EMBA program can get involved in student clubs at Berkeley like the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association and the Digital Media and Entertainment Club.

You’ll receive unlimited career advisory sessions including resume writing, interview prep and executive coaching sessions. There are also numerous networking opportunities: Berkeley also has a strong alumni network of 41,000 Haas graduates and nearly half a million UC Berkeley alums. Previous EMBA cohorts at Berkeley have included students from a diverse range of companies, including PayPal, Netflix, Google and Southwest Airlines.

This article was originally published in January 2019 . It was last updated in February 2019

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Written by

Julia is a writer for, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.


Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year