I am applying to a university for a PhD position because my girlfriend is a PhD student there. Our affair is quite serious and it is almost surely going to convert into a marriage. We might even get engaged in 2019.

I have been in touch with professors from this university. Moreover, I am using some of the results of another professor directly in my masters thesis. I have a lot to write in the statement of purpose from a technical point of view.

However, because of my girlfriend, this university becomes a top-priority for me against all other PhD offers I may get and I want to stress this in my PhD application.

Should I mention this in my SOP? How should I mention it, if the answer is yes.

  • I mentioned my interest in a career in a foreign non-English speaking country was because of my fiancée when applying for postdocs. I’m not sure you always should be you can. In my case it was to show I’m serious about living there despite cultural and language barriers. – Tom Kelly Dec 2 '18 at 14:58
  • Similar problems have been discussed at length in our two-body-problem tag. I just proposed the most similar one as a potential duplicate, but the other threads with that tag are also helpful, even if they consider slightly different problems (e.g., lateral moves, or applications for tenure track positions). – Stephan Kolassa Dec 2 '18 at 15:15
  • I see. Although my question is not exactly the same, reading the other answers have been helpful. I'll mark this as duplicate. – secretidentity12 Dec 2 '18 at 15:19
  • Also, I think the "two-body-problem" is a terrible name for a tag. I had no idea it existed. It could be more useful if it is renamed to "relationships" or "interpersonal-affairs" – secretidentity12 Dec 2 '18 at 15:20
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    secretidentity12: just regarding your last comment, the term "two-body problem" is a long-standing bit of "academic slang" for situations of the form you describe, probably originating as an allusion to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-body_problem. It may not be ideal, and perhaps in time the language will change, but I just wanted to point out that it is not merely some kind of "private joke" on academia.SE – Yemon Choi Dec 2 '18 at 16:31

I can't see any scenario in which that would help and can see many in which it would hurt you. The first question asked would be "Is this guy serious???" People are looking for people dedicated to the academic process, research, learning, etc. Personal reasons such as this, and many others, shouldn't be mentioned. Take about why it is that you want to work with this faculty and what your long term academic goals are.

  • I am not sure that the reaction you describe is always the case any more. I agree that personal reasons should never outweigh the academic reasons, but as someone who has to handle some PhD applications and is faced with the question "are we just being used as an insurance option?" I think I might respect certain personal considerations as tie-breakers – Yemon Choi Dec 2 '18 at 14:55
  • @YemonChoi This was precisely my point. I want to rule out the possibility of not getting an offer because the university thinks my application is not sincere enough. – secretidentity12 Dec 2 '18 at 14:58

I agree with Buffy. Put it other way around: there are people with whom you compete. Do you think the university should prefer person 1 over person 2 only because his/her has non-academic relationship to university? I do not think. Furthermore, I think that if this was a case, that would be unfair towards other people. If you mention it you might be tagged by the committee as a boyfriend of someone. But you might want to be someone of your own.

A possible reason to declare this might be if university requires to declare any family relationship with university stuff. But I do not think that it's your case because your girlfriend is not an university employee.


Yes you should mention her as a collaboration, but don’t declare any conflict of interest. You will only get yourself in trouble if you do. Show the University you have done your research.

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