HBS vs Haas for Technology MBAs

As you all know, Stanford is a done deal for my applications in Round 3. I’ve made a lot of progress with my app so far. Oh btw, there’s a second Stanford GSB Just In Time Webinar for Round 3 on March 22 at 09:30 AM Pacific Time. Shoot me an email for the password if you didn’t get the invite.

To be realistic however, I should apply to one more school to broaden my chances.

I was sorely disappointed when I watched the hour long HBS Technology Sector webinar for 2015 (It’s been taken down, thankfully).

The moderator asked the students in the panel how HBS had helped their career in technology and their answers were really vague. They all said something about the HBS brand and people’s expectations.



I may be wrong but HBS just strikes me as that school everyone applies to cuz durr…its HBS. Not all those who get in, care about or actively pursue the academic content except well, case study after case study. Wait, does HBS teach anything besides case studies?

Berkeley on the other hand is famous for being the business school for hippies but who can blame them? The weather is too perfect to complain about and the air is filled with the sweet aroma of Napa valley grapes.

Berkeley students are surrounded by successful entrepreneurs in sneakers who have followed their passions and made it big. It’s hard not to get caught up in that culture. The adcoms are so neck-deep in it that they conspicuously seek out students who have the same vibe – confidence without attitude, anyone?

I shouldn’t let assumptions cloud my judgement so here’s some research I did to help me make a decision.

Academics: HBS

This is important to me because I want to be the manager that can roll up her sleeves and do the dirty work if required, not that manager that just tells people what to do. The MBA is probably the only graduate degree I will do and the last time I might be in an academic environment, so I would love to get as much bang for my buck as possible.

HBS courses: ~18 tech-related courses. Extra points for the practical CS50 + Cross-registration with MIT Sloan providing access to even more tech courses including the hands-on IT Essentials I & II

Haas courses: ~22 tech-related courses. Score one for a course on design

Brand: HBS

HBS will get you in anywhere regardless of what electives you took while in school. The Harvard brand is unbelievable. Even the folks in my village who don’t own a cellphone know that Harvard is a top school.

Berkeley has reach on the West Coast but its brand slowly diminishes as you get to the far reaches of the developing world. This is quite important for me if I do come back to my country. I wouldn’t want to have to explain at a job interview that my MBA is actually elite then wait for them to do a Google search to confirm.

Tech Resources & Activity: HBS


  • Harvard Innovation Lab (i-Lab): 34% of startups founded here are tech related
  • HackLab at the i-Lab
  • Half day Tech Club Workshops: Front-end and Back-end web development, UX, Data Analytics
  • HBS Tech Conference (formerly Cyberposium): The largest MBA tech and media conference in the world
  • SPARK Conference by the Entrepreneurship Club
  • HBS Code Club:New HBS club just for coders
  • Harvard HackFest: A new hackathon open to all Harvard students (HackHarvard is different and seems to be targeted at undergraduates)
  • Rock Center for Entrepreneurship


  • The iSchool
  • Lester Center for Entrepreneurship – IndieGogo was started here
  • LAUNCH: The UC Berkeley Startup Competition
  • Haas Technology Club (HTC) organises tech workshops like the one on SQL
  • HTC Weekly newsletter has been inactive since April 2015 😦
  • Design Workshops (Autodesk Fusion 3D, Visual Design) by the Haas Innovation Design Club
  • Haas Innovation Challenge

Student Interest: HBS (in raw numbers)

Being surrounded by students passionate about technology would be nice. Lots of bouncing ideas off of each other, improving our techniques and expanding our network. What’s a quantitative way to measure student interest in tech?


Class of 2015 at HBS: 20% went into tech (186)

Class of 2015 at Haas: 38% went into tech (94)

5 Year Founders Data

Harvard: 557 entrepreneurs (out of 4596 grads)

Berkeley: 141 entrepreneurs (out of 1200 grads)

Network (and Location): Tie

You can’t beat the Harvard network, plain and simple. What HBS doesn’t offer though, is the ability to personally meet with Silicon Valley founders and VCs every other day if you wanted to; they’re just around the corner.

Verdict: HBS!

There seems to have been an uptick in tech activity at HBS recently. HBS Code Club and the Harvard HackFest were only founded in 2015!

Haas doesn’t seem to embrace its tech pull enough. It’s Management of Technology certificate seems to have been scrapped, and there’s no CS dual degree like at Stanford. The tiny text in all the UC Berkeley sites is also very annoying. Like many techies, my eyesight isn’t so great and they’re just making it difficult for me to read.

…and I was looking forward to writing about the song that defines me (off the top of my head,  I would have picked In My Home by Young the Giant in case anyone was wondering)

I did this research for myself and it helped me make a decision but if I missed anything, please let me know.

Knowing that I’m picking two top schools (HBS & Stanford) that are extremely hard to get into in Round 3, I am prepared for the worst.



10 thoughts on “HBS vs Haas for Technology MBAs

  1. Love the interest and this is an important topic for tech-oriented people pursuing an MBA!
    I’ll have to disagree with you on this one. I worked with a lot of Harvard MBAs at a prestigious PE/VC firm in Boston. I also worked at a few startups in the Boston area before I realized tech in Boston is dead. There is no interest in innovation, only monetization.
    I packed my bags and moved to Silicon Valley and haven’t looked back. Out here hackers are celebrated. Back home it’s the sales people that get the accolades, techies are just a means to an end. Haas vs. Harvard is all about proximity. Take the West Coast! (Or Tepper (-:)


    1. Wow. I didn’t know this. That’s the difference between actually being there and doing research on a computer 5000 miles away.

      I want to be surrounded by hackers and builders, they push you to innovate. That’s why CMU Tepper was my first choice.

      I just got in touch with a student heavily involved in the HBS Tech Club. I hope he responds soon so I can get some info straight from a student.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it.


  2. I’m definitely biased here, but Haas is brilliant for tech. UCLA Anderson is as well, but more so because of it’s location than anything else. See if you can apply to both, you can always make a decision about where to go when it comes down to it. But you don’t want to regret not applying in case HBS/Stanford don’t work out 🙂 I can see you’ve applied to Tepper already, but as someone interested in tech/PM/entrepreneurship, I can tell you that LA and SF beat Pittsburgh any day. Just surrounding yourself with that startup vibe can do wonders!


    1. Thanks for your input. That’s two yays for Haas and none for HBS yet.

      Just checked out your blog again. Congrats on the UCLA admit!
      So all the techies are headed to California 😀

      I would’ve applied to all three but I have limited resources (time & application fees), so in addition to Stanford, I can only choose one.

      My heart says Haas but logic tells me HBS. Ughh! Decisions, decisions.


      1. Thank you! And yes, it does seem so.

        I’m going to be a real Debbie downer here, but Harvard and Stanford are crapshoots for literally everyone. I’m pretty sure you know it too! But you’re applying to Stanford and that’s great, you should never feel like you missed out on an opportunity.

        With that said, go for Haas. It’s still an amazing school in the top 10 that’s known for its strength in technology. You’re much more likely to get in, especially with merit aid or a scholarship of some kind since I’m guessing money would factor into your decision making process.

        Again, just my two cents but I thought I’d share.


    1. Just found out that I was waitlisted at Tepper. That changes a few things.

      I wouldn’t want to apply to too many Top 10 schools with a profile that isn’t good enough to get into a Top 20. I’ll post up an update soon.

      Thanks for the suggestion.


      1. I’m on the Tepper waitlist with you 🙂
        Can’t hurt to look at other schools. Focus on what you want to do, not the ranking. Washington (Foster) is an awesome school for tech. Amazon, Microsoft, tons of startups and Starbucks!
        Duke, Michigan, and Texas are good tech feeders as well. Austin is booming with startups, big tech firms, and great culture. Lots of them end up in Silicon Valley as well.


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