Applying to MSTP as a couple. Advice?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


New Member
Mar 8, 2017
Reaction score

Members don't see this ad.
Hello everyone,

My wife and I will be applying to MSTP programs as a couple. For what it's worth, we come from the same undergraduate institution and are both strong applicants (competitive everywhere).
I understand that most applicants to MSTPs are not married hence the absence of a formal system like the couples match for residency. How should we handle informing schools that we are a couple? Or is this a bad idea until after the interview?


15+ Year Member
Sep 10, 2003
Reaction score
It would not hurt to let the programs know this. Since programs only interview a fraction of their applicant pool (10-20% in most cases), there are many applicants not interviewed who do not differ substantially from those that are interviewed. If a program knows of the connection between you and your spouse, there is a greater likelihood that they will interview both of you, rather than only interviewing one of you. This assumes that both of you would be competitive for that program.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Shifty B

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
Reaction score
My deepest sympathies.

I am now an assistant professor, but I met my wife in medical school in an MD/PhD program. We graduated at the same time, did the couples match in 2 different specialties, found fellowships together (one through a match and non-matched), and then got faculty jobs together. Each time gave me an immense amount of stress that people not in that situation find it hard to comprehend.

At every level, I encourage people to be pretty up front about letting them know. As mentioned above, there may be any number of roughly equal candidates, and it will help your interview chances. On the other hand, it will hurt you at some places. They may simply not want to deal with it or see it as a complication. As far as I'm concerned, you're still better off telling them because you can find out what these places are. If an institution is not supportive of you coming as a couple now, they are not going to support this later, and you're just better off directing your efforts elsewhere.

I'd say whichever one of you gets an interview first can email them and just let them know about the situation. Some of them may offer the partner an interview immediately, while others may wait until the first one comes.

My only other advice is that you will do better at larger programs. A place that only has 4 people a year may be more reluctant to take half of their class as a couple. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss more or have other questions.
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users