MBA Advice for Couples

MBA advice for couples

Does the couple that studies together really have more fun? This Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing MBA advice for couples considering applying to business school. 

For some professional couples, there comes a time when both partners realize that pursuing an MBA degree is the key to exploring new career paths. However, the MBA admissions process is challenging enough for one person. Couples face additional considerations as they figure out their priorities and application strategy.

Finding an MBA program that meets your needs must also mesh with your partner’s preferences. This is one of the hardest parts of applying jointly to business school. You’ll want to avoid any unwelcome compromises or resentments that might damage your relationship.

The pros at Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you and your partner successfully navigate the application process and chart your course for career growth together.  Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

MBA Advice for Couples: School Selection

No two candidates – even couples – are alike regarding test scores, leadership experiences, professional background, or extracurricular interests. Before applying to b-school, make sure each application is competitive. Unfortunately, the strength of one candidate won’t compensate for an unqualified partner.

Start by making a list of target programs where you both will be thrilled to study. In addition to applying to the same set of schools, couples can expand their options by focusing on cities or regions where both would thrive. You can also consider applying to schools in the same area.

For example, you might apply to NYU Stern and Columbia in New York City or the Wharton School in nearby Philadelphia. West Coast fans can consider Stanford Graduate School of Business or UC Berkeley Haas in the Bay Area.

Other possibilities include Harvard Business School or MIT Sloan School of Management in Boston. In the Chicago area, options include the Kellogg School of Management or Booth School of Business. Meanwhile, you have UCLA Anderson School of Management and the USC Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles.

A smart strategy for couples open to this option is applying to identical schools in Round 1. Then, expand to nearby schools in Round 2 as a backup plan. Jenna, a former NYU Admissions Officer on the SBC team, says,

“Stern normally does consider the applications together if they applied as partners. I had a SBC client who was able to leverage this in order to have CBS match a scholarship where her partner was also a scholarship recipient, but in that case they were equally competitive.”

Campus visits and info sessions are also essential for couples, many of which are happening in person this year. Take the time to get a good feel for each school and connect with current married or partnered students who can provide insight into their application experiences. These resources can give you a better sense of how accepting the school is of joint applicants. 

MBA Advice for Couples: Timing Your Applications

It may go without saying, but you should apply in the same round. This makes the decision much easier when you know whether you both got in.

Also, if possible, apply in the first round to leave some wiggle room if needed. The MBA application process can become all-consuming. With two people balancing full-time jobs with test prep and essay writing, you might find that one of you is struggling and needs extra time to pull together the best possible application.

A different approach for couples who know the region or city they ultimately want to work in is to stagger their MBA enrollment. One person continues to work while the other goes to business school. Then, the other person enrolls in an MBA program once their partner has graduated.

MBA Advice for Couples: Loop in the AdCom Upfront

Admissions committee members are compassionate human beings, not mere number crunchers. If both applicants are qualified to attend and fit well with the program, the admissions committee will usually try to keep couples together.

Some schools explicitly ask in the application if you’re applying jointly with a partner. But even if they don’t, sharing that information with the admissions committee is essential. This is crucial if the rejection of one applicant means the partner wouldn’t attend if accepted. Both you and your partner should use the supplemental essay to explain that you’re part of a package deal.

“Every year more partners are applying together, and some of them don’t mention that they’re a couple,” said Yann Tissier, an AdCom member at HEC Paris. “We actually prefer it when they do, because it adds another interesting family dimension to their application.”

Make the admissions team aware of your joint application intentions as early as possible. When attending events on the road or on campus, connect with representatives to explain your situation. Show them why you and your partner would make an excellent fit for their program.

 Your relationship status will likely come into play if the admissions committee hesitates about just one of you. If the school feels that one candidate is outstanding and knows they will only attend if the partner also gets in, chances are good that both will receive admissions offers.

Enjoy the Ride

An MBA is an emotionally intense and enriching experience. One of the best things about attending business school as a couple is witnessing each other’s growth in this unique environment. That, and taking pride in each other’s accomplishments.

“Our time at HBS has brought us closer together,” said Kate Kingen and Patrick Garrison in this Harvard Business School blog post. “We met while working after college, so we did not know each other as students. Having the opportunity to learn, grow, travel, and meet a whole new set of people has been a wonderful new chapter in our relationship together.”

Likewise, for Chicago Booth grads Megan and Will Shea. “Coming into business school, we didn’t know how much of our experience we’d be sharing together,” they said. “Outside of marriage, we hadn’t worked together before, and we wondered if we’d make good classmates and teammates.

“What we found is we really enjoyed going through Booth together. Whether studying for exams, prepping for interviews, or planning social events, we got a firsthand view into each other’s strengths and passions, and that’s been really valuable.”

When asked what advice they have for other couples considering business school together, married Kellogg 2023 MBAs Gauri Gupta and Mitch Jones recently offered this perspective.

“Lean on each other’s strengths and always be willing to compromise. We both experienced a lull around the halfway point of our MBA journey and were questioning our decision to take it all on together, but with a little encouragement from each other, we pushed through and are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished.”

From the support you can give each other during the application process to coming home at the end of each day during the degree process to share and debate your respective classroom experiences, going to business school with your partner may turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made for both your career and personal life.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership and Interview Prep to hourly help with essay editing, resume review, and much more! Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Stanford GSB and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Erin, who was Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Director of MBA Admissions at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.

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