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Does M-B-A Spell the End of Your Relationship?

An MBA from an elite program can be great for your resume. It can be great for your future career. It can be great for your own knowledge. But can it be great for your love life?

Most MBA students will tell you that prior relationships can be threatened by the time and effort required to succeed in the first year of business school. Have you heard of “Black Thursday”? It doesn’t refer to a stock market crash or a retail frenzy- it refers to MBA break-ups. Legend has it that students who were in a relationship coming into business school are typically out of it by the Thanksgiving holiday break. That is a broad generalization, of course, but the point is valid- business school can do a number on your love life.

Does M-B-A Spell the End of Your Relationship?

Roughly one-third of incoming business students are married, and of those, many have at least one child. The financial pressure of tuition and loss of income can certainly place stress on a marriage. In addition, first year students must commit to more than just class time and homework. They typically have hours of group work and many more hours of networking and social events. These stressors have earned the MBA several unflattering nicknames, from “the divorce degree” to the “Married but Available” moniker. Fortunately, though, there are many success stories to inspire future couples. This article from Poets and Quants shares tips from couples that made it through business school, and this account from one B-school wife reveals the many positives that can come out of a partner’s B-school experience. In each case, constant communication and a positive attitude can make a world of difference. Armed with those things, you might leave B-school with a relationship that is stronger than ever.

Now, let’s talk about the other side of the coin. If you find yourself single this Valentine’s Day, an MBA education could be the ticket. Students report that the nature of the MBA course- the constant group work, the endless networking events, and the rapid bond of an intense workload- can foster relationships, and eventually, marriages. Additionally, you can always rely on the enterprising nature of MBA students to come up with new and creative ways to meet people, such as the dating website launched by two MBA candidates at Columbia University.


Whatever your romantic status, it is important to realize that the decision to embark upon an MBA degree will affect far more than your professional life. It will impact your love life, your family, your friendships and your own personal growth and peace of mind. It will challenge you and it will challenge those around you. Emerging from this challenge takes hard work, but as with any good relationship, that work can create something beautiful.

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