GRE Scores by Graduate Program Fields

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. And you’ll need to know the average GRE scores for your program, department, or discipline before you take the GRE, to make sure that you can compete with your fellow applicants.

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.

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

Setting Your Goal GRE Score Based on Your Intended Field of Study

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 field 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 field 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.

Determine Your Program or Department’s 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 study 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 Field

GRE Scores by Intended Field, gre scores by field, average gre scores by fieldr

The tables below show average score data from the ETS’s most recent (2020) 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 field. 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 Field of Study

Use the links below to jump to the section that best fits your intended graduate field of study. 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 Field of Study

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

Social Sciences, gre scores by field, average gre scores by field

Social Sciences

Intended Graduate Program Verbal Reasoning Mean Quantitative Reasoning Mean Analytical Writing Mean
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Overall) 153 151 3.9
Anthropology & Archaeology 155 149 4.0
Economics 154 160 3.8
Political Science 157 153 4.2
Psychology 152 149 3.9
Sociology 153 150 3.9
Other 152 149 3.8

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

Arts & Humanities

Intended Graduate Program Verbal Reasoning Mean Quantitative Reasoning Mean Analytical Writing Mean
ARTS & HUMANITIES (Overall) 156 150 4.1
Arts – History, Theory, & Criticism 157 151 4.1
Arts – Performance & Studio 153 151 3.7
English Language & Literature 157 149 4.2
Foreign Languages & Literatures 156 151 4.0
History 156 149 4.1
Philosophy 159 154 4.3
Other 157 152 4.1

Education, gre scores by field, average gre scores by field


Intended Graduate Program Verbal Reasoning Mean Quantitative Reasoning Mean Analytical Writing Mean
EDUCATION (Overall) 151 148 3.8
Administration 151 148 3.7
Curriculum & Instruction 151 149 3.8
Early Childhood 147 146 3.4
Elementary 149 147 3.7
Evaluation & Research 151 148 3.8
Higher 152 149 4.0
Secondary 154 151 4.0
Special 148 145 3.5
Student Counseling & Personnel Services 149 146 3.6
Other 152 151 3.8

Business, gre scores by field, average gre scores by field


Intended Graduate Program Verbal Reasoning Mean Quantitative Reasoning Mean Analytical Writing Mean
BUSINESS (Overall) 151 154 3.6
Accounting 149 153 3.4
Banking & Finance 151 161 3.4
Business Administration & Management 151 152 3.7
Other 149 154 3.5

other fields, gre scores by field, average gre scores by field

Other Fields

Intended Graduate Program Verbal Reasoning Mean Quantitative Reasoning Mean Analytical Writing Mean
Architecture & Environmental Design 150 155 3.5
Communications & Journalism 151 150 3.7
Family & Consumer Sciences 149 148 3.7
Library & Archival Sciences 157 149 4.0
Public Administration 153 150 3.8
Religion & Theology 158 151 4.2
Social Work 148 144 3.6

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 2020, 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.



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