Can You Get Into Graduate Schools Without GRE Scores?

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If you want to go to graduate school, you might consider the GRE a big hurdle. Maybe you don’t think you have time to properly prep. Or maybe you already took the test and got a lower score than you wanted.

The good news is that it’s possible to get into graduate school without the GRE! In this guide we’ll describe several program types that often don’t require the GRE and some common GRE score-waiving policies. We’ll also discuss some things to consider when deciding to apply to graduate school without GRE scores. Finally, we’ll close out with a list of schools with no GRE required policies.

 

Can You Get Into Graduate School Without GRE Scores?

The short answer: yes, you can! There are many programs that don’t require the GRE in a range of disciplines, including Master’s, PhD, and MPH programs. There are also programs that allow you to waive the GRE requirement under certain circumstances. Still others only require the GRE if you are applying for funding or fellowships. Furthermore, there are even programs that, while they may require the GRE, strongly de-emphasize it in the admissions process. In this case your score really doesn’t matter very much.

 

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Hurrah! You don’t need the GRE after all!

 

Graduate Program Types Without GRE Scores Required

There are a few specific graduate school program areas and types that frequently have a “No GRE Required” policy. We’ll describe those here:

 

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MFA Programs

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs are advanced degrees for those involved in the creative pursuits—music, film, theater, creative writing, painting, and so on. MFA programs frequently either waive the GRE score requirement or strongly de-emphasize it in admissions. Instead, what typically matters most in MFA admissions is a portfolio of your creative work. You will be evaluated and offered admission primarily based on the strength of that work; GRE scores just aren’t that important. You are better off putting your hours into your portfolio or audition rather than into GRE prep.

 

Executive Programs

Programs designed for working professionals frequently do not require the GRE. This is because these programs are designed to expand specific professional skills, making work experience more salient than test scores. Additionally, those with established careers may have less patience and time to prepare for a standardized test. Not requiring the GRE can make these programs much more attractive to professional applicants.

The catch is that you frequently have to have a certain amount of work experience (often 5+ years) to apply. But if you do have robust work experience and you don’t want to take the GRE, look for an executive program. These can also be called professional programs. They are often offered through a university’s school of continuing or professional studies.

 

Online Master’s Programs

Another area where you may find many master’s programs without GRE score requirements is online. Students getting their master’s degrees online don’t have to be fed, housed, placed in classrooms, and so on. Thus, it doesn’t take as many resources to accommodate them. This means online programs can afford to take more students and don’t necessarily need to be as rigorously selective in admissions as in-person programs.

The flip side is that some consider online master’s programs less legitimate than in-person programs. In the early days of online education, bogus schools and programs proliferated rapidly, offering low-quality instruction with little value in the real world. However, many well-established schools and universities now offer legitimate, high-quality online programs in addition to their on-campus ones.

Some employers also value online programs less because student-student and student-faculty interaction create a big part of the value of any degree, and it’s harder to facilitate that in an online program. In-person programs also have the benefit of making it much easier to do research or projects with professors, which is another thing that adds a lot of value to a degree.

Additionally, many online programs are for-profit. Degrees from for-profit institutions are typically not well-respected because these institutions aren’t really learning-driven so much as profit-driven. This is something to be aware of when considering a pricey investment like graduate school. And no matter what institution of higher learning you choose, make sure that a legitimate accrediting body has accredited it.

Of course, there also are some online programs that do require the GRE. So make sure to double-check before you assume!

 

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Plus, if you get your degree online, you’ll miss out on all those swanky study spaces.

 

Common GRE-Score Waiving Policies

There are a few other common policies you may find that allow you to waive the GRE at a variety of programs.

 

Undergraduate GPA Cutoff

Schools frequently offer waivers to applicants who meet certain undergraduate GPA requirements. For example, at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the GRE is waived for all master’s degree applicants (except in Architecture) with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0/4.0.

A requirement of 3.0 on a 4-point scale to waive the GRE is common for these types of policies. However, don’t assume you won’t qualify for a GPA-related waiver anywhere just because your undergraduate GPA isn’t that high. For example, Indiana University’s Master in Public Health program waives the GRE for applicants with a GPA of 2.8+.

 

Other Graduate Degree

You may also find programs that are willing to waive GRE requirements if you hold another graduate degree. For example, the University of Illinois’ Library and Information master’s degree program waives the GRE for applicants holding a JD or PhD (they have an undergrad GPA waiver, too)! University of New Hampshire waives the GRE for MPH applicants with a previous master’s degree or five years of relevant professional experience.

 

Professional Experience

Many schools will also waive the GRE requirement for applicants with professional work experience, especially relevant experience. At American University’s Master of Public Affairs program, the GRE can be waived for students with five years of relevant experience. Five years seems like the standard amount of expected experience for waiving the GRE. But definitely look around if you have at least several years of experience!

 

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I’m an astronaut! How dare you require me to take the GRE!

 

Applying to Graduate School Without GRE Scores: What You Need to Know

If you’re hoping to apply to graduate schools without GRE scores—either because you don’t want to take the test or your scores were lower than expected—here are the questions to consider.

 

Should I Apply to Programs With No GRE Required?

So you know that there are programs that don’t require you to send in GRE scores with your application. But is it worth it to apply to them? And should you avoid the GRE altogether just because you can?

There are instances where the no-GRE options are considerably less prestigious than GRE-required programs. They may be less selective or not as highly ranked as their GRE-requiring counterparts. You can assess how important the level of prestige is to you and how much that affects your willingness to invest in graduate school.

That said, if you scan the list below, you will see that there are some very well-reputed institutions and programs with no-GRE required graduate programs. Some examples include Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Illinois, UC-Berkeley, Georgetown, NYU, Northwestern, and MIT. So whether or not no GRE necessarily means less highly-ranked schools is going to depend a lot on what you want to study.

It’s also worth considering why you’re trying to apply to programs with no GRE required. If you just think the GRE is a hassle that you want to avoid, that’s not necessarily a great reason to only apply to no-GRE programs. This is especially true if there aren’t very many of those in your discipline. You will invest a lot of time and money into graduate school; limiting your options will constrain your ability to choose the program that truly works best for your needs and interests.

Of course, if you already have a pretty good idea of exactly what you want in a program and your dream program just happens to not require the GRE, that’s great! Then you may really not need to take the test.

You may also be looking for no-GRE programs because you already took the test and didn’t do as well as you expected or hoped. First, remember this: GRE scores are typically not the most important part of your graduate school application. Thus, a lower score than you hoped is not necessarily the death knell at schools that require the GRE. Second, it absolutely is possible to improve your GRE score through preparation. So I would advise you to get back on that horse and take the test again in a few months. And if your scores are still a little low or you don’t have time to take the test again, consider applying to a mix of no-GRE and GRE-required schools. You won’t know if those scores will keep you from getting admitted if you don’t apply.

 

Will Not Sending Optional GRE Scores Hurt My Chances?

There are a number of programs that have GRE-optional policies, or say that the GRE is used as “supplemental” information. You may wonder if not sending GRE scores in this case hurts you.

If the GRE is truly optional, then not sending scores aren’t likely to directly hurt your chances of admissions. However, good GRE scores will definitely help you, at least a little bit. They clearly aren’t super-important to the admissions committee since they aren’t required. However, good scores will be a finger on the scale.

That said, some schools do say that they “recommend” the GRE or are up-front that sending GRE scores increases your chance of admission. In this case, it’s in your best interest to send GRE scores. A potential exception is if your scores are far lower than your goal score and you don’t have time to retake the test before the deadline.

 

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Good GRE scores are a finger on the scale—but wait, not this kind of scale!

 

A List of Graduate Schools With No GRE Required

Below, we’ve provided two lists: the first includes master’s programs without GRE score requirements and the second list cover PhD and other doctoral-level degrees like PsyDs and DPTs. We’ve included schools throughout a range of selectivity, program ranking, and geography, but this is far from an exhaustive list. We have excluded for-profit institutions.


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If not taking the GRE is important to you, these lists are a good starting place. However, you probably want to do additional research. You’ll notice that some institutions appear on the below lists several times, indicating that they have multiple programs that don’t require GRE scores. For example, NYU and Johns Hopkins both appear five times and Purdue University appears four times. This suggests that there may be some broader policy or trend at that institution where they do not require or de-emphasizes GRE scores. So if you see a school on this list multiple times, definitely check it out if you are looking for other programs that don’t require the GRE.

Now for the lists!

 

Master’s Programs Without GRE Scores Required

If you’re looking to get a master’s degree without GRE scores, the below list of programs that don’t require GRE scores to apply is a great starting place for your research!

Program Type School Degree Program Name Policy
Advertising Boston University MS Advertising GRE not required
Emerson University MA Integrated Marketing Communication Can apply for GRE/GMAT waiver
Business Administration Emory MBA Executive MBA Can apply for GRE/GMAT waiver
Florida State University MBA Can apply for GRE/GMAT waiver
NYU Stern School of Business MBA GRE-optional; however, GRE or GMAT may provide proof of quantitative skill
Computer Science University of Illinois MS or MCS Computer Science GRE recommended but not required
Purdue University MS Computer Science GRE not required
Johns Hopkins MS Computer Science GRE not required
Counselor Education University of Pennsylvania M.S.Ed. Executive Master’s in School and Mental Health Counseling GRE not required
Oregon State MCouns Master’s in Counseling – School Track Applicants with lower than 3.00/4.00 undergraduate GPA “encouraged” to take the GRE
Texas A&M M.Ed. School Counseling GRE not required
Education Michigan State University MA Education GRE optional
Purdue University MS Special Education or Educational Leadership and Policy Studies GRE not required if undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or higher
University of California-Berkeley MA Developmental Leadership Education or Master’s in Science and Mathematics Education GRE not required
Johns Hopkins Various Various programs in the school of education GRE not required
Education Leadership and Administration University of Pennsylvania Ed.D. Education Leadership GRE not required
University of Southern California Ed.D. Educational Leadership Writing assessment or GMAT can be submitted in lieu of GRE
Johns Hopkins Ed.D. Education GRE not required
Engineering (Electrical) Illinois Institute of Technology MECE Electrical and Computer Engineering “The GRE requirement is waived for applicants to professional master’s degree programs (Architecture programs are not included) who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0/4.0 or higher.”
Johns Hopkins MS Electrical and Computer Engineering GRE not required
Engineering (Industrial) New Mexico State University MS Industrial Engineering GRE not required
Wayne State University MS Industrial Engineering GRE not required, but high scores will boost application chances
Engineering (Mechanical) Illinois Institute of Technology M.Eng. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering “The GRE requirement is waived for applicants to professional master’s degree programs (Architecture programs are not included) who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0/4.0 or higher.”
Rochester Institute of Technology M.Eng. Mechanical Engineering GRE not required
Johns Hopkins M.Eng. Mechanical Engineering GRE not required
Health Administration Ohio University MHA (online) GRE optional
Grand State Valley University MHA GRE not required
University of Scranton MHA GRE not required if undergrad GPA is at least 3.0/4.0
Hospitality Management Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies MPS (Master of Professional Studies) Hospitality Management GRE not required
Widener University MS Hospitality and Tourism GRE not required
NYU School of Professional Studies MS Hospitality Industry Studies GRE optional
Journalism and Communication Columbia Teacher’s College MA, EdM Communication GRE not required
Columbia School of Journalism MS Journalism GRE not required, except for some dual-degree programs
Columbia School of Journalism MA Specialized Journalism GRE not required
Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies MPS Journalism GRE not required
American University MA Interactive Journalism or Strategic Communication GRE optional
University of California-Berkeley MJ Journalism GRE not required, except for FLAS fellowships and some dual-degree programs
Library and Information Science University of Illinois MS Library and Information Science “GRE scores are only required for applicants with a GPA below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last two years of undergraduate coursework. Applicants holding a JD or PhD are not required to submit GRE scores.”
University of Washington MLIS Library and Information Science GRE not required
Syracuse University MS Library and Information Science GRE not required for most students
Nutrition SUNY-Oneonta MS Nutrition and Dietetics GRE not required
Case Western Reserve MS Nutrition GRE not required
NYU Steinhart MS Food and Nutrition GRE not required
NYU Steinhart MS Clinical Nutrition GRE not required
Public Affairs University of Baltimore MPA GRE not required
American University MPA GRE can be waived if five years relevant work experience
University of Illinois at Chicago MPA GRE required only for applicants applying for financial aid
Public Health University of New Hampshire MPH GRE can be waived if five years relevant work experience or previous master’s degree
California State University-Fullerton MPH GRE not required
Indiana University MPH GRE not required if 2.8+/4.0 undergraduate GPA
Social Work University of Chicago MA Social Work GRE not required
University of Washington MSW GRE not required
NYU Silver School of Social Work MSW GRE not required
Case Western Reserve MS Social Administration GRE not required

 

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Get the coffee ready, we’re going to graduate school!

 

PhD Programs Without GRE Scores Required

The following chart lists PhD programs without GRE scores required.

Program Type School Degree Policy
Anthropology University of Massachusetts-Amherst PhD GRE not required
Art History University of New Mexico PhD GRE not required
Biological and Agricultural Engineering Washington State University PhD GRE optional
Business Psychology, Organizational Leadership, International Psychology, Applied Behavioral Psychology Chicago School of Professional Psychology PhD GRE not required
Chemistry Purdue University PhD GRE optional
Civil Engineering University of Idaho PhD GRE not required
Clinical Psychology Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine PsyD GRE not required; but previous master’s degree required
Computer Science Purdue University PhD GRE not required
Counseling Oregon State PhD GRE not required
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science MIT PhD/ScD GRE not considered
French and Francophone Studies Northwestern University PhD GRE not required
History Northwestern University PhD GRE not required (and will not be considered)
Linguistics MIT PhD GRE not required
Media Arts and Science MIT Media Lab PhD GRE not required
Nursing Practice University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth DNP GRE required only if fewer than 45 credits earned at undergraduate institution
Pharmacy University of California-San Diego PharmD GRE not required
Philosophy University of Wisconsin-Madison PhD GRE not required (and will not be considered)
Physical Therapy Clarkson University DPT GRE not required
Physics Oregon State PhD GRE not required
Social Welfare CUNY-Graduate Center PhD GRE not required

 

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What do you mean, “PhD” doesn’t stand for Pumpkin-head Deluxe!?

 

Key Takeaways: Applying to Graduate School Without GRE Scores

If you want to go to graduate school but you’ve been dreading the thought of taking the GRE, you should know that you can get into graduate school without GRE scores!

While you can find at least a few programs in all disciplines that don’t require the GRE for admission, there are several program types where there are many options for no GRE required graduate programs:

  • MFAs tend to focus more on your creative work as a criteria for admission.
  • Executive programs are aimed at working professionals with specific program needs.
  • Online programs can accommodate more students and thus may not need to use the GRE to screen applicants.

There are also several common policies that may allow you to waive the GRE if:

  • Your undergrad GPA meets a certain threshold (commonly 3.0/4.0)
  • You already have a graduate degree
  • You have some years of relevant professional experience (usually 5+)

Here are some things to consider when applying to programs without the GRE:

  • In some disciplines, no-GRE programs might not be as prestigious or selective as GRE-required programs (though there are of course exceptions).
  • If you just don’t want to take the GRE, be aware that you are limiting your application options by only applying to no-GRE programs.
  • If you want to apply to no-GRE programs because you feel you did poorly on the GRE, consider prepping and taking the GRE again. You can also always apply to a mix of GRE-required and no-GRE schools to give yourself your best chance of admission.

Here are things to consider for GRE-optional programs:

  • In general, sending good GRE scores will help you a little, and not sending GRE scores won’t hurt you.
  • However, some programs recommend the GRE or state that those who send the GRE have better chances of admission, in which case you should send GRE scores if you can.

Finally, our lists of master’s and PhD programs without GRE score requirements gives you a good starting place for looking for programs that you can apply to without GRE scores!

 

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And if you happen to know a unicorn, you should ask them for advice, too.

 

What’s Next?

Need more information on graduate school and admissions tests? You can learn more about graduate school from our experts. You can also get expert guidance on whether to take the GRE or the GMAT for business school!

Worried about taking the GRE? Let us advise you on how hard the test really is.

Worried about your scores? See more on interpreting what your GRE scores really mean and what makes a good GRE score for you.

If you’ve decided to take the GRE plunge, let us guide you through the process! See our step-by-step guide to GRE registration, when to take the GRE, and how long to study for the test.


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Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics.

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