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GRE Scores for Arts and Humanities Programs

Okay, okay, I know that the arts and humanities encompasses quite a wide swath of concentrations, from studio art to philosophy, but that’s how the ETS likes to lump them into one group and so I guess there’s a common thread in there somewhere. For these programs, the importance of the GRE ranges from vital to negligible, but if you’re here reading this page, I can assume that you actually care about what scores you’ll need.

Anyway, here’s the score data from the ETS chart providing the average GRE scores for majors based on survey data collected from test takers.

Intended Majors GRE Scores

Program Verbal Math AWA
Humanities and Arts 157 149 4.2
Arts – History, theory, criticism 156 149 4.2
Arts – Performance and Studio 153 150 4.8
English Language and Literature 157 148 4.3
Foreign Languages and Literatures 155 150 4.0
History 156 148 4.2
Philosophy 160 153 4.4
Other 158 152 4.3

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.

GRE score range for Arts and Humanities 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
Humanities and Arts 164-168 152-156 160-164 150-154 158-162 148-152
Arts – History, theory, and criticism 163-167 152-156 159-163 150-154 157-161 148-152
Arts – Performance and Studio 160-164 153-157 156-160 151-155 154-158 149-153
English Language and Literature 164-168 151-155 160-164 149-153 158-162 147-151
Foreign Languages and Literatures 162-166 153-157 158-162 151-155 156-160 149-153
History 163-167 151-155 159-163 149-153 157-161 147-151
Philosophy 167-170 156-160 163-167 154-158 161-165 152-156
Other 165-169 155-159 161-165 153-157 159-163 151-155

Note that it could very well be that the methodology I describe below doesn’t apply to creative programs performance and visual arts, as the GRE scores could be flat across all tiers of scores (since GRE scores are probably relatively unimportant).

The scores of philosophy program applicants are some of the highest of any group, pushing the top program averages to near-perfect levels. For English applicants, it’s no surprise how high the verbal scores are, though scores below philosophy students might be a relief to some. 🙂

Remember that you should bare in mind the relative importance of the GRE for your program. The GRE score for history programs is likely going to be weighed a lot differently than if you’re pursuing some kind performance masters.

Free GRE Resources

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6 Responses to GRE Scores for Arts and Humanities Programs

  1. Olivia November 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Hi Chris!

    I am hoping to apply to top 10 Art History PhD programs, and I scored 166V, 150Q, and 5AW. My verbal is in the right range for the programs I’m applying for, but should I consider retaking to improve my math?

    Thoughts would be much appreciated.


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Hey Olivia! I honestly wouldn’t worry about it so much since your program isn’t quant heavy. Remember these scores aren’t hard and fast, so if you’re in the general range, they’ll be looking at other parts of your application. 🙂

      Chris S

  2. Mohsin October 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    I am in a real Dilemma. I took the GRE a few days ago and got 165V and 156Q. I am applying to most of the big shot unis for a Middle Eastern Studies MA; Harvard, princeton, Columbia, Chicago, NYU, Arizona and Georgetown for history.

    Thing is, I registered for second date in December a while back just in case I bombed my first attempt due to exam jitters. So I cant get a full refund anyway.

    Should I sit the exam again?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

      If you already paid for it, I don’t see why not! The second time around should hopefully be less stressful. That being said, I’m not sure if quant will be such a huge deal for a MA considering you won’t ostensibly be doing much quantitative research. They’re probably more focused on other areas of your application. 🙂

      Chris S

  3. Greg September 12, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    I recently took the GRE about three weeks ago, and am taking it again next week. I received my weighted scores: 157Q and 145V. I really want to get my Q up but I’m afraid that I won’t have the time. I’m already in an MA program (History) and want to apply to a PhD. I read heavily, so I think that my V will go up just because of that (I also actively read outside of my discipline, which I think helps). What can I do to get my Q around 150-151?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

      Hey Greg! That’s quite a tough jump in just a few days! Check out this One Week study schedule to hopefully give you the boost you need. 🙂

      Chris S

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