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. 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.

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 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.

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

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 (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 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 & Archaeology1551494.0
Political Science1571534.2

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)1561504.1
Arts - History, Theory, & Criticism1571514.1
Arts - Performance & Studio1531513.7
English Language & Literature1571494.2
Foreign Languages & Literatures1561514.0

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


Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
EDUCATION (Overall)1511483.8
Curriculum & Instruction1511493.8
Early Childhood1471463.4
Evaluation & Research1511483.8
Student Counseling & Personnel Services1491463.6

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


Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
BUSINESS (Overall)1511543.6
Banking & Finance1511613.4
Business Administration & Management1511523.7

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

Other Fields

Intended Graduate MajorVerbal Reasoning MeanQuantitative Reasoning MeanAnalytical Writing Mean
Architecture & Environmental Design1501553.5
Communications & Journalism1511503.7
Family & Consumer Sciences1491483.7
Library & Archival Sciences1571494.0
Public Administration1531503.8
Religion & Theology1581514.2
Social Work1481443.6

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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48 Responses to GRE Scores by Program Major

  1. mark December 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    155 v 151 q 4.5 awa any chance of getting into university of colorado mba program?

    • Rita Neumann
      Rita Kreig January 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Hi Mark,

      It depends! Which University of Colorado? – Boulder, Colorado Springs, or Denver? They all accept the GRE.

      In general, students who score above 150 in quant and in verbal are in good shape for getting into a University of Colorado MBA program. I’d recommend looking at each school’s admissions website for specifics.

      For example, here’s the admissions info provided by UofC Colorado Springs:

      Congrats on your GRE score and good luck with applications 🙂

  2. Douglas J. Bender December 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    I took the GRE a few days ago, and scored a combined 328 (168 V, 160 Q). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics (and partial fulfillment towards an M.S. in Applied Mathematics). I am hoping to be accepted into a PhD in Informatics program (my strong preference is Indiana University’s). I realize the combined score is pretty good, but I was wondering if I should perhaps retake the GRE, due to my Quantitative score being on the rather low-end for those enrolled in science PhD programs. (I had struggled with the flu and a high fever for about five days before taking the test; and the only preparation I had was to take two online practice GRE tests the day before the actual exam.)

    Would it be wise to retake the test, given all of this; or would it be unnecessary? Lastly, do GRE scores factor much, if at all, into receiving Research Fellowships? If so, would my scores probably qualify me, or should I retake the exam to try to increase my relatively-low Quantitative score.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Rita Neumann
      Rita Kreig January 1, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      Hi Douglas,

      Congratulations, your combined score is excellent! However, my guess is that your program’s adcom will be impressed with the combined overall score, but will look closest at your quant score. If you think you can bring that score up, I would recommend taking the GRE one more time. When I was applying to grad school, I took the GRE twice – the first time, I had the flu and did OK, the second time I was healthy and made major improvements. How you feel and your mental state are hugely important factors in standardized test scores. And if you’re worried now, a better score could provide you with better peace of mind and more confidence heading into applications. (I know it’s expensive and annoying to take the GRE again … but it could really be worth it.)

      To answer your second question, GRE scores can factor into Research Fellowships, but they are not a primary factor. This really depends on the program (most programs are more interested in matching your interests to the research.)

      Good luck 🙂

  3. abi November 26, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I have just finished my test 2 hours ago. I got 155 (v) and 162(q).
    Is it good enough to go to Berkeley (Electrical engineering Master).

    This is my first time, so I rather confidence that I will score higher in my next attempt.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer December 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Hey Abi!

      Your averages are right on for the program, but remember that these are extremely competitive programs so you’ll need to stand out in other aspects of your application. 🙂

      Chris S

  4. Ehsan November 11, 2013 at 2:29 am #

    Hi Chris. Your efforts are much appreciated my friend. Very eye-opening statistics and very different from what the top schools are pretending what the average scores of their applicant pool are. Just one question : I am an international student and I recently took the GRE exam. (my scores 162 verbal, 160 quant, 4.5 writing). Is this score sufficient for a school like say Boston College for political science and any other schools with similar ranking ? Or should I just retake the exam ?! (Considering that I took the exam only once and honestly I wasn’t adequately prepared and there might be a legitimate chance that I could score significantly higher, although bearing in mind that would probably postpone my plans until a couple of months later).

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Hey Ehsan! I’m sure you could score higher, but you should consider whether or not that’s the smartest use of your time at the moment. I’d say your score are reasonable enough to move on to other areas of your app, but if you feel like you can do a lot better, then just go for it!

      Chris S

  5. KT November 9, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Hey Chris,
    Scored 297 in GRE, ( v 139, q 158)
    Toefl 103 ( r 23 l 26 s 26 w 28)
    Gpa 3.8
    Need to pursue Ms in Pharmacology.. Will this score be sufficient to get this program..

    Thanks in advance

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Hey KT! There’s a lot that goes into an application, so I can’t tell you one way or another. Your Verbal score is definitely on the low end for most programs, though. Try reaching out to the programs and seeing what they say. 🙂

      Chris S

  6. Sam November 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I got a score of 310, 160 Quant and 150 Verbal. I have a GPA of 3.24. I am applying for masters in Energy at ETH zurich. Do you think these scores are competitive enough?

    Thanks for Magoosh!

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Hey Sam! Unfortunately I don’t know much about scores for programs in Europe. I’d check with them directly to see how much information they can give you. 🙂

      Chris S

  7. Kristine October 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I scored a 156 on the verbal and 154 in the quantitative section of the GRE. I am interested in pursuing my masters or PhD in chemistry. Is this a competitive enough score? If not, how much improvement is needed?

    Thank you for this blog.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 1:04 am #

      Hey Kristine! I’ll be honest, I’d say the quantitative score is a bit on the low end, especially for a PhD. Getting into the 160’s should be safe enough. 🙂

      Chris S

  8. Jennifer October 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Hi Chris! Thanks for useful posting!

    I took GRE and GRE subject exam (chemistry) without really studying.. (which I am regretting now)
    I took GRE twice; I got 152 on verbal, 170 on quantitative and 3.5 for essay for the first exam and then 153 on verbal, 166 on quantitative, and 3.5 for essay.
    And for GRE subject (chemistry), I got 740.

    I graduated from NYU, Chemistry B.S. major. I have a GPA of 3.96/4.00.
    And I have a year of research experience so that I could graduate with the highest honor in chemistry— but I wasn’t really happy with my lab and am not really close to the professor of the lab so I am not thinking of getting a reference letter from him.

    I am thinking about applying to the graduate program for chemistry.. I have several questions.

    1. what is the difference between the masters degree and phD? I prefer masters degree only because it requires only two years when phD is five years… but when I get a job, would phD be much helpful than masters degree? If so, why?

    2. Are my GRE scores too low for applying top schools? Should I spend one more year for studying GRE and applying next year?

    3. Another reason why I am thinking of applying next year is that I haven’t chosen what I want to study in a graduate school. I like organic chemistry; but I am not sure what specific research I want to work on for two to five yrs, depending on the graduate program. Also, I am worrying that what I found interesting might be the subject that, scientists in general think, have no potential useful application… making my research meaningless.

    Please give me some advice… Thank you!!!

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer November 3, 2013 at 1:02 am #

      Hey Jennifer! Questions #1 & #3 are questions you’ll have to find the answers on your own, either through personal decision or reaching out to the schools you think are interesting. For #2, I’d say they’re probably good enough, considering you’d be going for a science degree, but it seems like you’ve got a lot of thinking and research to do first. 🙂

      Chris S

  9. sreeanth October 16, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    hii i scored 272 in first attempt in gre .and in second attempt i got 276.i cannot go for third attempt now.i want to apply for ms in us for aeronautical engineering.suggest me colleges for my marks.i am writing my tofel next academic is 70 %..plz reply asap.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      Hey Sreeanth! Honestly there aren’t many programs for which a 276 is an acceptable score especially in aeronautical engineering. I would do whatever is possible to get that score up, even if it means waiting a year. Good luck!

      Chris S

  10. vv September 29, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    hi my friend got 280 in her gre and wants to apply for business .she wants to write again .will writing gre affect her admissions.she studied for 10 days and got that score.

    • vv September 29, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      she wants to get 310 in her next time and write again.

      • Chris Swimmer
        Chris Swimmer October 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

        Hey VV, a 280, as you can see above is on the low side for most schools. A 310 would be much more acceptable, though a 30 point jump would be pretty spectacular. Taking the test again typically won’t be frowned upon, however. 🙂

        Chris S

  11. George September 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I just took my first swing at GRE with intent to go after MS in Aerospace Engineering in one of South California schools. My raw scores came out 160 for Math and 164 for Verbal. Does having a higher verbal score over Math affect my grad admissions chances?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Hey George! I wouldn’t worry about having a higher than expected average in verbal, but rather about having a high enough quant. Check around to see if you can get some more info online. Also check out this post: GRE Scores for Engineering Programs

      • Reeta October 13, 2013 at 11:21 am #

        Hey Chris,

        In the situation that your quant is not high enough for example, quant :159, verbal:162, would this create major problems for applying to computer science engineering courses? Mostly because I do not think I can retake the test owing to how its already so close to November…


        • Chris Swimmer
          Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

          Hey Reeta! That really depends on a lot of factors, especially how highly ranked the school is. A lot of CS applicants at the top end will be well above a 159, but once you get to mid range schools, you’re running about average. 🙂

          Chris S

  12. PA September 17, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    I scored 157 Quant / 157 Verbal after 10 days of study. I also spent 90% of that time only studying math. What chances do you think I have of scoring 167+ Quant / 163+ Verbal? I want to get into one of the top 10 for hard sciences/engineering?

    Thanks alot!

    • PA September 17, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      btw, I work full-time.. so that was 10 days of study while working full-time.. thnx again

      • Chris Swimmer
        Chris Swimmer September 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

        Hey PA! You’re aiming for a 16 point overall improvement, which would honestly be on the “incredible” side of things. I’m not saying it’s not possible. I’ve seen students go up 20 points or more, but that’s typically on the lower end of the score scale (it’s easier to move from a bad to a mediocre score than from a mediocre to a good score). But aim high! Check out Magoosh if you haven’t already. It might be able to bump you up to what you need. 🙂

        Chris S

  13. Bill September 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Hello Chris and GRE community,

    Hats off to Magoosh team for maintaining such a great blog.

    I gave GRE for the first time on 5th September 2013 and got 164 in Quant, 159 in Verbal and 3.5(UGH) in AW. Should I need to give GRE again to get in top 10-20 electrical engineering courses. Should I need to give a second attempt especially to strengthen my analytical writing?

    I think, I have other remarkable achievements.

    Thank you,

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Hey Bill! I doubt the AWA is extremely consequential to your admissions chances in electrical engineering. I’d try to check with the schools as well as on the forums to see what info you can glean. 🙂

      Chris S

  14. Hotash September 13, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Hey Chris,

    I’m willing to pursue masters degree in engineering from USA. But, my undergraduate CGPA is too low (2.91 in the scale of 4, 63.14% marks). In WES evaluation, it may be above 3.00. My friends are suggesting me that a good GRE score can compensate my CGPA and improve my profile. But, I can’t be so optimistic because, most universities require minimum CGPA of 3.00 for graduate admission.

    So, before taking preparation for GRE, I want your opinion. Should I go for GRE and make a good score ? Will everything go in vain?

    • Hotash September 13, 2013 at 5:59 am #

      Thanks in advance. I’m eagerly waiting for your reply

      • Chris Swimmer
        Chris Swimmer September 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

        Hey Hotash! It’s true that many adcoms look at some kind of combination of GRE/GPA, but to what extent really depends on the program. I’d expect that if a program says the cutoff is 3.00 then you’ll have to make a case for being accepted (hardships, etc). I’d reach out to the programs you’re interested in to try to get as much info as possible.

        Chris S

        • Hotash September 13, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

          Hey Chris,

          I am from Electrical and Electronic Engineering background. I have some IEEE conference publications on power system, biomedical engineering and wireless sensor network. Now, I’m trying publish my research in an international journal. Currently, I’m completing an MBA degree.

          So, please give me information about the programs related to my research interest.


          • Chris Swimmer
            Chris Swimmer September 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

            Hey Hotash! Unfortunately, you’ll have to do that research on your own! I’d start with US News and then see who is publishing papers in your area of interest. Then check around the grad school forums. 🙂

            Chris S

  15. Ashwin September 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Hey Chris,
    Finally reached your blog.
    After a month’s preparation, I took GRE two days back and my score turned out to be V147 Q158 = 305 . Yet to take Toefl.
    I have 3.5 yrs of IT experience. Current designation is Lead Developer in Samsung Research India.
    Graduated from CEG, Anna University with CGPA 8.6 ( M.Sc C.Sc 5YRS Integrated).
    Can you please suggest if my GRE score is sufficient to get into decent universities for Computer Science or should I consider taking the exam again.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      Hey Ashwin! All the info I can give you is simply based on your GRE scores. I recommend you check where your scores put you in terms of ranking range, but remember there’s plenty of flexibility with scores. It will get you in the door, but not much more. 🙂

      Chris S

  16. Aditya September 4, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Hey Chris! I’m a Magoosh premium member and gave my GRE couple of days back. I got a score of 320 (166 Q, 154 V). Along with this, I have 26 months of work exp and am from a premier institute (IIT) in India but my grades are pretty low (6.52/10). I tried to compensate that with a couple of finance related certification on which I scored distinction grade.

    Will this score be sufficient (along with other aspects of my profile) to get me into following schools for Financial Engg. program?

    1. Columbia
    2. Georgia Tech

    Thanks in advance.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Hey Aditya!

      It’s tough to say. Those are particularly tough schools to get into so even those with nearly perfect stats find themselves with rejection slips. 🙁 Of course by the same token many with lower scores have made it in. My advice is to focus on what makes you the perfect candidate for those programs and why your undergrad GPA isn’t necessarily a reflection of that (adcoms know that people change and grow, they’re humans too!).

      Chris S

  17. Rahul September 2, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Well, I have got a GPA of 3.37 in my undergraduate degree from India; I have registered my GRE and TOEFL by the end of October,2013. I am trying to keep up my score as high as possible. But I am quite confused about getting into a good university for studying masters in US or elsewhere. Could anyone enlighten me with some possibilities, that I might get a chance to study in a good university with this GPA?
    Can I get to study somewhere good, so that I wont be confused about applying to a good university or otherwise it’ll just be a waste of time as well as money?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      Hey Rahul! The best bet is to do as much research as possible on the programs you’re interested in. I think most applicants (especially international) really hurt their chances because they’re applying for a “name” program as opposed to one that fits best with their skills and interests. Start there, research on the forums, and then apply. Remember US grad programs take a lot more into consideration than simply a GRE score. 🙂

      Chris S

  18. rizwan August 29, 2013 at 5:04 am #

    hey! yesterday i gave gre and i got 308 ( verbal-147 quant-161)
    and my acads are 7.1/10. Is it possible to get admission in San jose state university in aeronautical engineering.If not then pls suggest some universities for aeronautical engineering.

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer August 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Hey Rizwan! I don’t really know too much about that school specifically, and even if I did, remember there are a lot of factors that go into school selection. I recommend checking around on forums and doing a little bit of homework to figure out who’s doing the work you find most interesting and fits your skill set. 🙂

      Chris S

  19. Rohitash August 28, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for sharing this. Could you please comment on GRE score for PhD programs in Pharmaceutical Sciences (10-50, 50-100)


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer August 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

      Hey Rohitash! Unfortunately I don’t have any info on those programs at the moment! I’d check around on forums and with specific programs to see what you can find out!

      Chris S

      • Rohitash August 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

        Thanks Chris! I tried to fathom some information on the forums but couldn’t get a clear picture. Let me know if you find anything.


  20. Ajinkya August 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    First of all thanks to all the Magoosh team for an excellent blog and great eBooks!!

    I gave my GRE on Aug 26 2013 and scored 329 (V-162 Q-167)

    I wanted to ask whether I should give a 2nd attempt to improve my prospects for admission

    Also whether a score increase is possible with 3 months of study?


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer August 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Hey Ajinkya! Glad you find our stuff helpful! I think in three months you can definitely improve your score, though I have to say it’s already pretty good!

      Chris S

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