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GRE Scores for Social Science Programs

Hoping to get into a social science graduate program and looking for what GRE score youโ€™ll be expected to have to get into your dream school? Here’s the info from ETS chart providing the average GRE scores for majors based on survey data they collect from test takers.

Program Verbal Math AWA
Social Sciences 153 150 4.0
Anthropology and Archaeology 156 149 4.1
Economics 154 159 4.0
Political Science 156 151 4.2
Psychology 152 148 4.0
Sociology 152 148 4.0
Other 150 147 3.8

The scores above are intended majors. What does “intended” major mean? It simply means that that these are the average scores of people planning on applying to graduate school in a specific major.

Score range for Social Sciences Programs

Using a scale drawn from the limited score data in the US News & World Report’s report on graduate schools, here’s the range of average scores you could expect:

Top 10   #11-50   #51-100  
  Verbal Math Verbal Math Verbal Math
Social Sciences 160-164 153-157 156-160 151-155 154-158 149-153
Anthropology and Archaeology 163-167 152-156 159-163 150-154 157-161 148-152
Economics 161-165 162-166 157-161 160-164 155-159 158-162
Political Science 163-167 154-158 159-163 152-156 157-161 150-154
Psychology 159-163 151-155 155-159 149-153 153-157 147-151
Sociology 159-163 151-155 155-159 149-153 153-157 147-151
Other 157-161 150-154 153-157 148-152 151-155 146-150

As you can see, there’s a pretty big distinction between say Economics GRE scores and Sociology GRE scores. For example, you’ll obviously be expected to have better GRE math scores for Economics (a quant heavy program) versus Political Science GRE scores in math. The Social Sciences truly span a wide swath of concentrations, and consequently you’ll need to be aware of your particular program.

Free GRE Resources

Check out the following links for more help preparing for the GRE:


By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

38 Responses to GRE Scores for Social Science Programs

  1. JJ November 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm #


    I will be applying for counseling/school psychology phd/psyd programs this year and have a GRE verbal score of
    1) 153 (with 4.0 writing)
    2) 151 (with 4.5 writing)
    I know both of my scores are not attractive :(, but I would like to report whichever works better. Would writing scores matter as much as verbal does? Do you have any advice for me? Thank you in advance!

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Hey JJ! Unfortunately it really varies from program to program. A lot of programs are willing to hint at which is more important so I suggest you reach out to them and see what they say!

      Chris S

  2. Qian Sun November 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi Christ,
    My first attempt of GRE is 155 (V), 167 (Q) and 3.5 (AWA). I plan to apply PhD program in sociology. Currently I am working on 4 schools: U of Colorado-Boulder, Rutgers U, Purdue U and Brandeis U. I am wondering if higher GRE score is needed for them since the deadlines are in Dec. Or I can use some other way to compensate my deficiency? Thanks.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 22, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Hey! That quant score is great, and the verbal score probably won’t hurt you so much. The only big concern is likely the AWA which definitely on the low end. For many programs, this can be made up by a great statement of purpose and writing samples. But this really varies by program.

      Chris S

  3. Nikolay November 5, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Hey there Chris!

    First of all, I wanted to thank Margoosh team for such a great source for GRE preparation. Unfortunately, I bumped into it just 3 weeks ago but still it helped me a lot!

    I am planning to apply to PhD programs in Psychology.

    I took the GRE in September and scored 152 (V), 149 (Q) and 3 for the writing part. So I was not sure whether it was reasonable to apply to any program with those scores at all. Then, after 1,5 months I retook it and scored 158 (V) and 157 (Q). Margosh GRE eBook, hints regarding the materials and your vocabulary flashcards were more than useful:)

    Writing part results are yet to come, but I suppose it won’t be higher than 3.5. (It is difficult to deal with this part for a non-native speaker:)

    I have not started application procedure yet. Thinking about University of California, San Diego, Brown Uni, North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Uni of Maryland. Do you think it could be done with such scores?

    Thank you for your help!:)


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      Hey Nikolay! Those scores put you in good company for the programs you’re interested in, but since it’s PhD level, a lot will come down to research interest. I’d reach out to the schools to see if they can give you more information regarding the admissions process. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  4. Katherine November 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I recently took the GRE and received a 166 for verbal, 154 for quantitative, and a 4 for analytical writing. I am interested in applying to many of the top 10 schools for clinical psychology. Do you think I should retake the exam to try to improve my quantitative and writing score to be more competitive?


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      Hey Katherine! Your scores are right in the competitive range, so I wouldn’t worry so much about a retake. Your AWA might be a bit on the low end of their averages, but you can probably make that up in the SOP or writing samples. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  5. rash November 2, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Dear Chris

    I really appreciate your effort to inform the PhD aspirants about the details of admission process. I have been informed of many issues through your blog. However, I need to hear something from you regarding my GRE score. Few days back I sat for GRE exam and I scored Q-158 & V-145, I don’t know whether this score is enough to have an admission in economics (specialization in public finance, macro/ monetary economics) with an offer of funding in any university in the US or Canada. Here, I would like to mention that I am a civil servant working for long 8 year in a country of South Asia.

    I have an engineering degree and then a masters degree in economics in Japan. I have also a publication along with my superviser in Japan in an international journal. Also, please note that I have 2.89 CGPA in my undergraduate degree and 3.86 CGPA in my masters in economics.

    I will be grateful very much if you please suggest me as per my aspiration.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 1:31 am #

      Hey Rash! First off, most PhD programs provide funding to their students, so if you’re accepted, there’s not too much else to worry about in that regard. Your scores are likely a bit low for the top schools but I wouldn’t say you’re out of the running. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  6. psych October 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I am applying to Clinical Psychology programs. I have a 3.5 GPA and some research experience. On my practice tests I have been scoring between a 150-160V and a 150-155Q. I know these are on the lower side but do they help me stand a chance of getting in? Most of the schools I am applying to do not have their target scores listed so I am stuggling to find out.

    Thank you!

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 1:24 am #

      Hey! I think landing on the higher end of those will definitely put you in solid footing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  7. Nicole October 21, 2013 at 1:47 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I’m applying to an I/O psych masters program. In looking at the chart I’m above the ‘top 10′ math score, but in the ’51-100’ for my verbal score. I was just wondering if my high quant score will outweigh my subpar verbal score?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Hey Nicole! It really depends on the school and the program. Some weigh them evenly, some verbal more than quant, and others vice versa. Try to consider which skills would be most important to being successful in your program and you’ll have a better idea of what’s more important to the adcoms. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  8. Amit October 14, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Hi Chris..
    Thanks a lot for providing very useful information to all seekers.
    Can you please advise…

    An Indian students having strong profile like CPI-GPA over 9 out of 10, more than three research paper in the field of International Relation, 3-4 internships, 1 month summer school abroad experience and extra curriculum supported by certificates etc…but GRE combined score of 295-300 only can have chance of

    1. getting into Top 10 Universities for Master/Phd in Political science.

    2. Or 11-20 Top Universities.

    2. Harvard school of divinity…(how much GRE score is required )

    Your guidance and advise would be very useful.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      Hey Amit! It sounds like you’ve got a lot of different things in mind when it comes to what you want to do. I recommend taking some time to reflect on what you really want to do so that your research focus is strong. In a lot of senses that outweighs the GRE score. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  9. Harry Baer IV September 30, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    Hi, Chris. I’m applying at 5 different schools for Clinical Psychology, which is of course an extremely competitive field. Using Magoosh I raised my quant score to 154 (my verbal was never a problem). My dream school is University of Washington – with a 162 and a 154, I just wonder if I should try again. 154 is pretty weak. Your opinion?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Hey Harry! I think the best is to check the range above. I’m not exactly certain of UW’s score ranges, but check out the rankings and see where it falls. Even if you’re a bit under range, that’s OK, you can most likely make it up elsewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  10. Onur September 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Hi Chris, I just wanted to ask whether these points valid for international students or not? Do you have any idea about universities’ consideration for international students? Thanks,

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      Hey Onur! Unfortunately that varies from program to program, so you’d need to check with your specific schools of interest. My guess is that it won’t vary much. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  11. Soumya September 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Hey Chris,
    Thanks for this post! I am planning to apply for a Phd in Economics in one of the mid tier colleges and I am applying from India. Other than the GRE how would you rate the Importance of the other admission criteria namely SOP,RECO, Undergrad and masters grades, Toefl, etc

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Hey Soumya! It really depends a lot on the program. For Econ I suspect that Quant will be really important, but for a PhD, research interest alignment is really important. I can’t stress that enough. You could have perfect scores across the board, but even a mid-tier school might reject you if the research interests don’t match up with their faculty.

      Chris S

      • Soumya October 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

        Hi Chris! Thanks for the reply. I am selecting the colleges based on their faculty and courses. In the US, people generally join the Phd after an undergraduate degree right? So do the colleges expect students to have Research projects under their name before they are applying for the Phd programs?

        • Chris Swimmer
          Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

          Hey Soumya! Some programs will have people applying to PhDs immediately after undergrad and others prefer students to have a Master’s, it really depends on the program. In social sciences, you should have a very strong research focus at least if you plan on applying to a PhD.

          Chris S

  12. AnuShaa September 11, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Hello Sir… Is this GRE score sufficient to get into a PhD program in Political Sciences?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      Which GRE score? Of the ranges I’ve listed, for a PhD program, I’d aim for the high end and then focus on research fit. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  13. SportPsych30 September 10, 2013 at 11:58 pm #


    I just sat for my GRE today, after a summer full of studying. Results: V-162 Q-157.

    I am applying to Counseling Psychology Ph.D programs, which are not as competitive as say Clinical programs. Nevertheless, would you consider my score to be high enough to “get my foot in the door” during the application process? I understand that you are not an admissions expert, but speaking only in terms of my scores, would you expect me to be on the competitive side?

    P.S. Magoosh really helped me up my game this summer. I only used Magoosh (6 month plan), and a couple of Kaplan books.



    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      Hey SportPsych30! (I can guess what you want to study ๐Ÿ˜› ) I’m not very aware of the Counseling psych programs, but if they aren’t very quant intensive, then I’d expect you to at least get your foot in the door, though I doubt you’ll blow that door wide open! ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you found Magoosh helpful!

      Chris S

      • SportPsych30 September 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

        Chris, thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately you are probably correct, I will not be blowing open any doors with this score, but I am happy with what I have achieved. I worked as hard as I could for the time I was given, and am happy to be at least getting that foot in the door.

        Here’s to hoping that I get into a Ph.D program this go around, and won’t be back here in two years stressing over this test again after a masters program.



  14. GERFer August 28, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Is this for masters or PhD?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer August 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      It’s essentially a blend of the two. That means you should look on the higher end for PhD, though it really depends on your program. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Chris S

  15. GERFer August 28, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    What do you think it would be for a Public Policy/Administration

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer August 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      Hey! Looking at some of the top university scores, it seems like mid-to-low 160s for verbal and mid 150s for quant. That’s for the best schools though and would be a bit lower going down the line.

      Chris S

  16. Samer Mosis August 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    Hey Mr. Swimmer, thanks for the great information. I was just wondering where these US news scores came from. Are these from the compass information that must be paid for, or am I just now finding them in the main website? Thanks in advance for your time and effort.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer August 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Hey Samer! Glad you found the info useful. Arriving at these scores is a bit more complicated, since they’re not released even in US News. Essentially I created a scale of expected score difference between the average scores of test takers intending to pursue a certain major (from the ETS) and top 10/25/50/100 schools. I used the reported scores from US News in Engineering and Education as the basis for the expected difference between intended majors’ average scores and a certain grouping of schools. It’s admittedly not a perfect answer, but since most programs don’t release scores, it’s the best we can do.

      Hope this clears things up for you!

      Chris S

  17. jelebu June 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Hey, Chris.

    Thanks for the great post. I’m looking at psychology programs, so I found this particularly helpful. But I think I’m missing something. You say, “Thereโ€™s a pretty big distinction between say Psychology GRE scores and Sociology GRE scores,” but as I look at it, there’s absolutely no distinction between the two. I’m probably not seeing something obvious, but I’m curious.

    Thanks again!


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer July 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Hey Jelebu! Good catch, I had meant to edit that (and since have) so that it reads “economics”, not “psychology. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully that makes a little more sense now.

      Chris S

      • Jelebu July 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

        Yup, makes perfect sense. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Thanks again for the post. This is really helpful as I look at potential schools!

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