MBA à Deux

A fair number of folks find that romance and hook-ups are a natural by-product of B-school. But, says The Times of London, most postgraduates prefer to separate their management education from matrimony.  It’s no wonder that rarest demographic, the couple taking an MBA together, generates such open curiosity.

How do business schools view couples who aim to study on the same MBA course? “It is not unusual to have at least one couple apply,” says Karen Siegfried, MBA executive director at Judge Business School, which admitted four couples this fall who are profiled in The Times. “However, it is unusual for both members of the couple to be equally strong candidates, as we had this year.”

Sharing this major life event on a day-to-day basis may give couples the chance to grow closer together, but is it really the best way to pursue an MBA?

Why it works

  • MBA couples have tossed the adage “familiarity breeds contempt” out the window. Having a study partner on hand, especially if you are good at different subjects, is useful.
  • Sharing study problems with your spouse, rather than with a stranger, is a huge plus. You trust that person 100 percent, so there’s no vulnerability in letting your partner know when you’re finding something difficult.
  • Many spouses find it difficult to relate to each other when one is back at school and the other remains at home or in the workforce. But a couple going through the experience together can lean on each other to survive the ups and downs of MBA life.
  • Also, school gives you the opportunity to see other sides of your spouse, says Michele Martin, who attended Kellogg School of Management with her husband Brian in 2001. “We’ve realized we work well together because of our different personalities. We have totally opposite work styles. But we seem to complement each other.”

Why it doesn’t

  • In a word: poverty.  If you are studying for an MBA together, there will be some testing times with the switch from two incomes to no income, with two big tuition bills to pay. Couples must be committed to saving money and sticking to a budget, or the financial stress could spell doom.
  • Enticing offers usually come through at the end of the program, but what happens when the offers come from different corners of the globe? Compromise, a word most couples are overly familiar with, will be key to navigating those tricky post-degree waters.
  • When you commit to study for an MBA at the same time and on the same course as your partner, inevitably your home life is taken over. Maintaining your identity as a couple amid the all-consuming MBA experience is a delicate balancing act.

So, does the couple that studies together really have more fun? Drop us a line and let us know what you think.

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