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Which Schools Don’t Require the GRE?

Let’s be honest: GRE requirements probably won’t make a huge difference as to whether or not you apply to a program. Chances are, you’ll need to take the GRE for at least one program you’re applying to, depending on the field in which you’re applying. When it comes to determining whether or not you need to take the GRE, it’s more a question of which programs, rather than which schools don’t require the GRE, as admissions to grad school tend to be on a program-by-program basis.

Furthermore, the GRE is a useful test in a lot of ways. If you have a low undergrad GPA, a high GRE score can help compensate for this with some admissions committees. Similarly, for “borderline” candidates, solid GRE scores can push them over the line to “accepted.” So if you do have to take the GRE, know that it’s not a bad thing!

However, saving nearly $200 and four hours (not to mention prep time!) is definitely a tempting proposition. It’s worth looking into whether or not it’s customary in your field to require the GRE for admission—just make sure that you double-check with each program to which you’re applying!

Professional Degrees

The good news: there are a few graduate programs for which you almost certainly won’t have to take the GRE. The bad news: these are the programs that usually have their own admissions tests for the field: LSAT for law school, GMAT for business school (although not always—an increasing number of business schools now accept GRE scores), MCAT for medical school, and so on. No, you almost certainly won’t have to take the GRE in addition to the professional-school test, but some testing, for most programs, is unavoidable.

Which Professional Programs Don’t Require the GRE?

Almost all of them, as we’ve seen! These include:

  • MBA programs (though these can be GMAT-optional, and in a few cases, such as at Emory University, you can apply for a test waiver altogether)
  • JD (Law) programs
  • MD (Medical) programs
  • Some MJ (Journalism) programs, but not all. Check with the program before foregoing the test; for some of the most prestigious in the country, however, like Columbia University and UC-Berkeley, the test is no longer required for admission, but may qualify you for dual-degree programs or fellowships.

Non-Doctoral Terminal Degrees

A “terminal” degree sounds pretty bleak, but all it means is that it’s the final degree you can go for in your field. For example, most Master of Fine Arts programs are considered terminal degrees, because until recently, it wasn’t possible to undertake an arts-practice-based PhD. A Master of Architecture is a similar type of program. That’s not to say that these programs won’t require you to take the GRE for admission. However, in somecases, they may waive this requirement or not consider the scores in admissions decisions, choosing instead to focus on portfolios or other creative work.

Which Non-Doctoral Programs Don’t Require the GRE?

Many don’t, some do. In many cases, your scores don’t matter for your admissions portfolio, but are required because of general graduate school requirements at the university. Once again, this is a “check with the admissions committee” scenario (but aren’t they all)! Some examples of programs that don’t require the GRE:

Online Programs

If you’re planning to get your master’s online, take comfort in the fact that fewer online programs require the GRE than “live” programs do. In some cases, this is to popularize the platform, making barriers to entry lower. In others, however, it speaks to the quality of the program itself. While there are many excellent online master’s programs, it’s a good idea to research the reputation of those you’re applying to before you drop the application fees and miss your window for taking the GRE.

Which Online Graduate Programs Don’t Require the GRE?

Many of them! Again. . . not all. But here’s a handful:

Exceptions to the Rule

However, just because a program doesn’t require the GRE, don’t assume that it’s less prestigious or less worthwhile than programs that do. Many “Executive” programs (think “Executive MBA”), targeted at people who have worked in the field for at least several years, require work experience, rather than test scores, as an admissions criterion. Similarly, if your undergrad GPA is outstanding (think over 3.0), programs may waive their GRE requirements. And then there are some schools—but very, very few!—that have decided not to use the GRE as an admissions factor for a variety of graduate programs.


At the end of the day, there are tables of the hundreds and hundreds of graduate programs that don’t require the GRE, will waive it under certain circumstances, or require that you take it, but don’t use it as an admissions factor. However, program admissions requirements change all the time, and the best place to get this information is straight from the horse’s mouth. If you can’t find the info on graduate program admissions websites, email or call the admissions office to see if the program requires the GRE. Yes, it can be good news if you don’t have to take it—but it’s definitely not good news if you find out you should have taken it and didn’t.

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