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GRE Scores by Program Major

Remember the days of undergrad when you could apply to college undeclared and spend some time just experimenting and figuring things out? Good times. If only grad school applications were that flexible. If you’re taking the time to apply to graduate school, then you’ve already settled on an academic discipline and probably have a career goal in mind. Your grad school research will be much more targeted than your undergrad research was. Sure, you’ll probably still apply to a safety school and a reach school, but both of those schools should be known to have an excellent program in your discipline. And you’ll need to know the average GRE scores by major before you take the GRE, to make sure that you can compete with your fellow applicants.

That was a lot really fast. Let’s back up a step.

Setting Your Goal GRE Score Based on Your Intended Major

Now that you’ve decided to go the extra mile and get your graduate degree, your field of potential programs is fairly narrow. Thus, it’s important to tailor your application towards your intended field of study. You are competing against the best of the best in your field: every aspect of your application counts. (Other aspects of your application might include: work experience, research and publications, volunteer experience, recommendation letters, personal essays, etc.)

On that note, know that each intended graduate major has a range of GRE scores that its accepted students tend to fit within. For example, math-heavy disciplines tend to favor higher quant scores and are often okay with lower than average verbal scores, whereas the opposite is true of Arts & Humanities programs. Many education-related programs only require the GRE as a formality (they don’t tend to look very highly upon standardized testing as a whole) and only require a minimum score on each section.

Each major and program is different, so it’s important to do your research before you start to prep for the GRE. Who knows — maybe you don’t need as high a score as you thought.

Determining Your Program Requirements

One great way to determine the requirements of your program is to ask the admissions office. They aren’t always forthcoming with this information, but you never know — some are actually very helpful, and most graduate programs have their own dedicated admissions staff. More than a few programs list averages or minimums on their admissions websites. Others can hook you up with a recently admitted student willing to answer your questions. It’s worth asking what’s available.

In addition to some program-specific admissions reconnaissance, check out the ETS’s Guide to the Use of Scores. This report provides data on the scores of recent GRE-takers who intend to major in various graduate disciplines. The detailed report states the percent of students in each intended discipline who scored within a certain range on each section of the GRE: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

It’s helpful to keep this data in mind as you prepare for the GRE and home in on your target score.

Average GRE Scores by Major

GRE Scores by Intended Major, gre scores by major, average gre scores by major

The tables below show average score data from the ETS’s most recent (2016-17) Guide to the Use of Scores report. The data in these tables reflect scores from the Revised GRE, wherein the lowest score you can get in Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative reasoning is 130 and the highest is 170. The Analytical Writing Assessment is scored on a scale from 0 to 6.

I always recommend trying to score above average in your intended graduate major. Depending on the competitiveness of your specific program, you should try to be in the 90th percentile or above. (If you’re looking at a top university, take a look at our GRE scores for top universities post.)

GRE Scores by Major

Use the links below to jump to the section that best fits your intended graduate major. If your field of study isn’t listed, then look at the field that most closely resembles your own. An easy way to think of this is to imagine that you’re filling out the personal information section of the GRE an are presented with the options below. Pick the option that is the best fit.

  1. Social Sciences
  2. Arts and Humanities
  3. Education
  4. Business
  5. Other Fields

Average GRE Scores by Major

Without further ado, here are the estimated GRE scores by intended graduate major, grouped by program discipline:


Social Sciences, gre scores by major, average gre scores by major

Social Sciences

Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Overall)1531513.9
Anthropology & Archaeology1561494.0
Economics1541603.8
Political Science1561524.1
Psychology1521493.9
Sociology1521493.8
Other1501483.7


Arts and Humanities, gre scores by major, average gre scores by major

Arts & Humanities

Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
ARTS & HUMANITIES (Overall)1571504.1
Arts - History, Theory, & Criticism1561504.1
Arts - Performance & Studio1531513.7
English Language & Literature1571494.2
Foreign Languages & Literatures1561514.0
History1561484.1
Philosophy1601534.3
Other1571524.1


Education, gre scores by major, average gre scores by major

Education

Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
EDUCATION (Overall)1511493.8
Administration1491483.7
Curriculum & Instruction1511493.8
Early Childhood1481473.6
Elementary1501483.7
Evaluation & Research1511483.8
Higher1511493.9
Secondary1541514.0
Special1491473.7
Student Counseling & Personnel Services1491463.6
Other1521513.7


Business, gre scores by major, average gre scores by major

Business

Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
BUSINESS (Overall)1501533.5
Accounting1491523.4
Banking & Finance1511613.4
Business Administration & Management1501513.6
Other1491533.5


other fields, gre scores by major, average gre scores by major

Other Fields

Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
Architecture & Environmental Design1501543.4
Communications & Journalism1501493.7
Family & Consumer Sciences1491473.7
Library & Archival Sciences1571494.0
Public Administration1521493.8
Religion & Theology1571514.2
Social Work1491453.6

Scores by Program Breakdown

For a more detailed look at some of the above disciplines, check out the following Magoosh GRE posts:

If you’re interested in seeing the GRE scores for each academic discipline in 2014, take a look at our GRE Scores Infographic! (Hint: the data hasn’t changed much.)

GRE Scores Resources

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

Good luck setting your goal score! Let us know if you have any questions. 🙂
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Chris Swimmer in August 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

 

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.

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