MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Harvard | Mr. 1st Gen Brazilian LGBT
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. & Mrs. MBA

He’s a 28-year-old senior associate at a mid-market private equity firm. She’s a 27-year-old actuarial consultant at a leading human resources consulting firm. They are married, having met at a Top 20 liberal arts college, and both want to go to the same business school for their MBAs.

This 25-year-old young female professional currently works as a legal assistant for a global law firm. A liberal arts major with a creative bent, she would like an MBA degree to transition into a career in international marketing.

With an undergraduate degree in music from Northwestern University, he’s a classicial musician with a union card who now works for a boutique philanthropic consulting firm. This 28-year-old gay white male is hoping the MBA will be his ticket to a more substantial role in philanthropy.

You already know what all these candidates share in common. They want to get through the door of a highly selective MBA program at one of the world’s very best business schools. Do they have a chance?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds and career goals with Poets&Quants. Now that the 2015-2016 admissions season is all but over and Sandy has completed dozens of mock interviews with candidates, Sandy will be appearing more regularly.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

married couple

Mr. & Mrs. MBA


    • 730 GMAT
    • 3.75 GPA in accounting and history from a top 20 liberal arts college


      • 730 GMAT (targeting)
      • 3.66 GPA in math and Spanish from a top 20 liberal arts college
      • Work experience for Mr. includes two years at a boutique investment banking firm and three years at a middle market private equity firm, promoted early to a senior associate; for Mrs. includes a year as a math teacher in high school, currently working as an actuarial consultant for a top HR consulting firm
      • Extracurricular involvement includes heavy involvement in college and post-grad, couple serves as co-presidents of their college alumni chapter; Mr. volunteers with an adult literacy program, while Mrs. serves as a sorority adviser and a member of Junior League
      • “Recommendations should be good for both, particularly glowing for Mr. MBA”
      • Goals: Mr. MBA wants to return to PE with a larger firm in a different city, with a long-term objective of owning his own PE firm, while Mrs. MBA wants to go into human resources with a long-term goal of becoming chief human resources officer for a Fortune 100 company
      • “Mr. MBA was going to attend a Top 10 school last year but received an offer to stay and be promoted at PE firm instead”
      • Mr. MBA is a 28-year-old white male
      • Mrs. MBA is a 27-year-old Asian woman

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 10%

Wharton: 30% to 40%

Chicago: 30% to 40%

Northwestern: 40% to 50%

MIT: 30% to 40%

UC-Berkeley: 50%

Virginia: 50%

Yale: 50%

Dartmouth: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis:  (see video above) Let’s first deal with the question: If you apply as a couple what does that really mean? Is that a plus, a minus, or neutral? If you Google “MBA apply as couple,” you won’t get any useful information. Kellogg is the only school that addresses this issue and they say it doesn’t make a difference.

I don’t believe it. Applying as a couple changes the application. If one party is super strong and the other party is okay, there can be real coattails. I don’t care what these schools say. When the days dwindle down to a precious few for the admissions committee, they don’t care who they take. If the second party is on the waiting list and the school really wants the part of the couple they’ve already admitted, you know who is getting off the waiting list.

In this case, neither one of you are superstars, though you both have very good profiles. It makes sense to apply as a couple. It’s something you should think about, strategize over, and how you indicate that following your spouse is very important to you.

Let’s deal with Mr. MBA first. Let’s say he gets the 730 GMAT again. With his background, a lot will depend on what the schools think of the PE firm. You have a totally solid story but you are in an ultra-competitive cohort. You are dealing with people from Ivy to PE and those are among the most credentialed candidates in the world. So the schools will ask why should I take you from this mid-market firm with a 3.75 and a 730 GMAT when I have people from golden PE firms with a 4.0 and a 750 GMAT?

Mrs. MBA is testing high and she has a math background. Let’s say she gets a 750. She works for this benefits company and that is very attractive to Wharton and many of the other schools. Her goal to work as a chief human resources officier for a Fortune 500 company is a solid goal for what she has done.

At Harvard, Mr. MBA might not be getting in—but she could. It’s also not going to happen at Stanford for either of you. I like the two of you but these are not Stanford profiles. There just is no X factor here. At Wharton, Mr. MBA is facing the more golden PE candidates and could have some difficulty there. On the other hand, both of you are very attractive at Northwestern, Haas, Darden, and even Yale with odds of 50. Congratulations. You both are going to a a great business school as a couple.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.