Expert Chat with Peter Johnson, Berkeley

Expert Chat with Peter Johnson, Berkeley main image

We bring you a Q&A session with the Admissions Director of Berkeley to find some more answers to questions about the MBA.

Peter Johnson is executive director of admissions for the Full-time MBA program at UC Berkeley, and has been at the Haas School of Business since 1999. A native of Oregon, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages/Political Science, a Masters in International Relations, and has over 20 years of experience in higher education.

Q: I have four years of experience in software development and consulting, with a GMAT score of 580. I want to apply for a one-year full time MBA course. Do you think studying a US style MBA program will earn me a good reputation among employers?

A: The advice that I would give you depends in part on what you wish to do after earning an MBA. While most of the US programs are two years in length, many European programs are one year. If you are intending to remain in the same career field post-MBA, a one-year program may give you the learning and career advancement you seek. If you are planning to change career fields, a two-year program, which typically offers more opportunities for activities to help change careers, (internships, on-campus recruiting, specialized electives) might be a better path. An MBA from a well-known US program can certainly help potential employers to notice your resume.

Q: Can one study US style MBA in Europe and European style MBA in the US?

A: There are a few programs in Europe that are structured in the way that most US programs are (core curriculum plus significant opportunity to specialise in a particular area). Although most programs in the US are in the two-year format, there are a few one-year programs.

Q: Berkeley is one of the most popular business schools on the scene. How do the admissions staff remain so enthusiastic and responsive? I've always been very impressed.

A: We try to be as responsive as possible, as our job is to help potential students to understand the Berkeley program and whether or not it is a good fit for their needs. Aside from that, we like our institution and the opportunity to interact with so many impressive and interesting prospective students.

Q: I am an arts graduate from India. I am 32 years old and working with IBM's BPO. I want to join an MBA program. Does BPO experience count if I join an MBA? Do I get into a satisfactory college to pursue the course if I gain 600+ score in GMAT? Kindly guide me about prospects of joining an MBA.

A: I do think that many MBA programs may value the work experience you have, although it is difficult to say how much with the limited information that I have. With regard to the GMAT score, a 600 is on the low side if you are applying to highly ranked programs in the US. If you are planning to apply to programs with highly competitive admissions processes, I would encourage you to prepare and take the GMAT again. Although the GMAT is not the most important consideration, you want to be in the published middle 80% range for the programs to which you are applying to maximise your chances of admission.

Q: Is it true that some US schools are taking MBAs straight out of university (i.e. with little or no work experience?)

A: A few US MBA programs are taking some candidates directly out of university with little or no work experience. Although these schools are in the minority, they include some very highly regarded programs. The numbers of students being offered admission with this profile is quite small; they have to be exceptionally talented. Most US MBA programs (and most of the leading companies that recruit from US MBA programs) strongly prefer candidates with at least two years of significant work experience after the first university degree.

Q: I am an IT person with three years of experience. I would like to apply to the MBA program next Fall preferably from an American university. I am interested in the field of green/sustainable MBA programs and have the following questions.
1) What are the popular programs that offer sustainable MBAs? How is the course rated/ compared among others?
2) Who are the famous recruiters of sustainable MBAs? How is the sustainable MBA market doing globally? Has the sustainability market moved from the non-profit market to the profit making business?

A: A few US MBA programs have offerings in their elective courses related to sustainable energy, and corporate social responsibility. I only know of one program that calls itself specifically a "sustainable MBA". It is important to understand that an MBA program is designed primarily to be a general management curriculum, meaning that all students learn certain fundamentals of business (economics, accounting, finance, and marketing) and then have an opportunity to specialise in a particular area - corporate social responsibility, finance, or real estate. As this is a new (but growing) field, it would be hard to point to specific "famous recruiters" in that particular specialisation, although I can tell you that firms including BP, Dow Chemical, and SunPower have hired students who have studied corporate social responsibility in our program with a focus on sustainability. As for the question about non-profit, most of the activity in this area is not in non-profit organizations, but in for-profit companies including those that I've mentioned above.

Q: Are there any core differences between US-style and European style MBAs other than the length of the course?

A: I'm not sure I would try to answer your question about core differences--although the one year vs. two year issue is a key factor distinguishing many programs, there are wide variations in the types of programs available. Some programs provide a mixture of internship semesters with course work semesters, others provide specific internship periods during the summer (including most typical US-style programs), but then there are online programs, and specialized executive programs. I think the bottom line is that candidates need to explore the curriculum at the programs they are interested in pursuing to learn the nuances of what they offer.

Q: What is your opinion of distance learning MBAs?

A: Distance learning MBA programs provide a different type of learning experience. In my experience, most of the employers that hire MBA graduates prefer in-person MBA experiences, mostly due to the additional opportunities for developing leadership skills.

Written by QS Blogger
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