Deciding Between Duke And Berkeley (Haas) Undergrad

Hi, I am currently a senior and was fortunate enough to have been committed to UC Berkeley Haas as a Regents' Scholar. Additionally, I was recently taken off the waitlist for Duke economics major. I plan to visit Duke soon to gain a better understanding of what spending four years there might be like. My goal is to go into IB or consulting, and I would appreciate any advice or input both schools to achieve this goal. I will provide some information below.

UC Berkeley


  • In state tuition cost w/ regents scholars (13.5k per year) 

  • Regents class priority

  • Admitted to Haas so more classes focused on business  

  • Close to family

  • Opportunities being in bay area and tech


  • Bigger public school less resources and opportunities

  • Stereotypically know for being more cut throat and rigorous (upper div. classes seem to be much easier)

  • Non-target or Semi-target for East Coast



  • On-campus recruiting

  • Stronger alumni (?)

  • More prestigious (?)

  • East coast opportunities and better for ib and consulting (?)

  • Private school and smaller undergrad student body so more resources and smaller class sizes

  • Culture and academic-life balance (work hard play hard) seems positive  


  • Tuition cost w/ almost no aid ($60k per year)

  • Econ major (not as business focused)


I went to duke and this isn’t close. Look at any good bank ever and there’s a Duke alumni running it.


will echo OP's comments - duke has a strong alumni program + making connections/friends (networking) at a school like that is key. 

UC-B is too sharp elbowed. Duke has better people + culture. 

Being miserable for 4 years at UC-B isnt worth the cost savings over your career. 


The strength of Duke's alumni definitely seems to be much stronger, but in terms of prestige is there a difference between Duke and Cal (Haas)? My parents and family members the prestige difference is marginal, but some forums online say the opposite.


I mean I really want to say go Duke since it’s the better school and I’m biased, but idk with this cost differential I think Haas makes a ton of sense even if you want NYC.

If you decide you want to do West Coast banking and build a life and career out there, I think Haas is the better option and a no brainer particularly with the scholarship.

Again that’s just my objective thought and what I would tell my personal friends and family in this situation, go blue devils.


Go to Duke… you will not regret it. It has top notch finance recruiting, and the party/greek scene is fantastic. The name and selectivity will take you far, plus it’s a smaller school with more diverse interests, meaning that there’ll be a release valve for recruitment competition. If you do well there, you can place at any group at any firm on the street. At Berkeley, you will be pigeonholed for the west coast; Duke will allow you to go anywhere you want in the country.

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A good friend of mine chose Cal over a much more prestigious Ivy for cost reasons and he's doing more than fine. I have heard anecdotally from him that placements have been lights out (consistently 7+ kids to P72/Citadel/DESCO, a few MF PE analysts, and there was even PJT RSSG placement this cycle as well). I'm going to be honest with you, I've seen Duke placements and it's good yeah, definitely better than Berkeley for NY but is it 4x better... most definitely not. Also, when you consider the WC pipelines to top banks that Berkeley has (GS TMT, MS Menlo, Q, Moelis LA, HL RX LA) the difference between the two is basically negligible. 

I don't know though, I'm definitely a little biased because I have only been in WC finance (albeit I didn't go to school there). However, I really think that if you're raw you'll be fine. Going to Duke isn't going to magically get you a good placement if you can't get one at Berkeley lol. Would probably just choose which one you like more (fwiw I've heard Berkeley has grade deflation, idk if that's only for STEM majors or not but if that's the case it's going to be fucking miserable and this is coming from someone who went to a school with grade deflation).


Depends on your financial situation, but probably duke

If mom and dad can help with tuition, then duke

If you have to take out loans, then I’d still probably say duke, but if you are debt averse, or don’t plan on making millions, then haas. You can still make millions as a haas graduate, but you NEED to make millions to justify the debt associated with duke


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