Applying to an MBA Program as a Couple

If you and your partner are hoping to attend the same MBA program, you both might be wondering: should we indicate our intentions on our applications? Do we have an advantage if we apply together? Are there any circumstances where we shouldn’t apply together?

This article will help you understand what the admissions process looks like when you add your partner to the MBA equation. We’ll explain when you should apply together, and when you might want to apply solo.

Why Do Business Schools Try to Admit Couples?

First, let’s consider why business schools want to know if you’re applying as a couple in the first place.

The answer is practical: once you’ve convinced the AdCom to admit you to their program and they’ve sent you an invitation to enroll, they want you to accept

That is, once you have received an invite, the school has tentatively planned on you choosing their program over competing offers.

In light of this, it makes sense for an MBA AdCom to ask whether you are seeking admission with your partner, because it is more likely that you will accept their offer if the program is willing to accommodate both you and your relationship. 

If they choose to give an offer to only one of you, it is more likely that you will accept an offer with a different school that admitted both of you—and the AdCom knows this. 

Is It Better to Apply Together?

Now that we know why AdComs want to know if you’re applying with a partner, let’s determine when it’s in your best interest to make this fact known.

There is, unfortunately, no straightforward answer as to whether it is better to apply to an MBA as a couple. The honest answer is that sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. 

For instance, if one partner in the relationship has a more distinctive profile, the weaker candidate might find that their profile is elevated in the eyes of the admissions committee. 

On the flip side, the stronger candidate in the relationship might be weakening their chances by combining their application with their partner’s. 

The Risk

This is a risk that you will have to take if you wish to apply together. It is important to bear in mind, however, that different schools will probably approach this predicament differently, and it is sometimes difficult to calculate the outcome of applying to an MBA as a couple. 


Some schools might ask whether you are applying with a partner and still choose not to account for it. The primary example of this is Harvard Business School. At HBS, the admissions process is quite rigorous. Your application will be judged on individual merit, regardless of whether you indicate that you are applying with a partner. 

Bargaining Power

As mentioned above, when schools give you an offer, they are counting on you to choose their program over competing MBA programs

One clear advantage of applying together is that, if a lower ranked MBA program offers to admit you together with your partner, and a higher ranked school sends an offer to only one of you, you have an opportunity to reach out to explain to them that, while you prefer their school, you have received a better offer somewhere else. In this case, you might be able to persuade them to extend the offer to include you both.

There is also a chance of maximizing your scholarships

Imagine that you are admitted together with a scholarship, but your preferred school is offering a lower financial package. Then you have an opportunity to renegotiate with your preferred school, by explaining that other schools are offering a higher scholarship package.

This was the experience of two of Menlo Coaching’s clients, Hayley and Harry, who politely renegotiated the offer they received from their preferred school. 

How to Apply to an MBA As a Couple

If you have decided that it’s in your best interest to apply as a couple, there are a number of things you can do to improve your (joint) chances.

Coordinate Your Applications

Thinking collaboratively when you are writing each of your essays can be a lot of fun! As a bonus, you can surprise the admissions committee by cutting against the expectations they might have of your profile individually and as a couple. 

Do Your Research

Another important part of the application process for a couple is to research which cities or regions have multiple MBA programs. There are no guarantees that you will be admitted to the same school, so we advise couples to prioritize schools in the vicinity of each other. 

Be Realistic

Being realistic about the chance of gaining admission to the same school will allow you to aim for an outcome where you can follow your MBA dreams separately, while still living together. Examples of schools in the same cities include Booth and Kellogg in Chicago, and Harvard and MIT Sloan in the Boston area

The MBA Journey as a Couple

We hope that this article will give you an idea of the pros and cons and the dos and don’ts of applying to an MBA as a couple. Embarking on an MBA journey together can make the process more fun, and there are many great reasons to apply together—even on a practical level! In some cases, it can even increase your chances of being admitted to a top business school

This is not always the case, however, and there are some considerations to keep in mind when you tie yourself together in this process. If you are still unsure whether applying as a couple is the right decision for you, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.