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.

GRE Scores for Arts and Humanities Programs: Intended

Arts and Humanities (General)156150
Arts—History, Theory, and Criticism157151
Arts—Performance and Studio153151
English Language and Literature157149
Foreign Languages and Literatures156151

The scores above are those of test-takers intending to pursue graduate work in that field. What does “intended” mean? It simply means that that these are the average scores of people planning on applying to graduate school in a specific area.

GRE Score Range for Arts and Humanities Programs

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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:

GRE Scores for Arts and Humanities Programs by Rank

SpecialtyProgram Rank #1-10: VerbalProgram Rank #1-10: QuantitativeProgram Rank #11-50: VerbalProgram Rank #11-10: QuantitativeProgram Rank #51-100: VerbalProgram Rank #51-100: Quantitative
Arts and Humanities (General)165-169156-160163-167153-157159-163150-154
Arts—History, Theory, and Criticism166-170157-161164-168154-158160-164151-155
Arts—Performance and Studio162-166157-161160-164154-158156-160151-155
English Language and Literature166-170155-159164-168152-156160-164149-153
Foreign Languages and Literature165-169157-161163-167154-158156-160151-155

If you are viewing this chart on a mobile device and cannot see all of the columns for schools ranked #1-50, try turning your device horizontally or view this page on the web.

GRE Scores: 50th/70th/90th Percentiles

You can learn more about percentiles in this score percentiles post, but for quick reference, 50th percentile scores are average, 70th percentile is considered good, and 90th percentile is considered great.

Mean Score
Good Score
Great Score
Arts and Humanities (General)156161167
Arts—History, Theory, and Criticism157162168
Arts—Performance and Studio153158164
English Language and Literature157162168
Foreign Languages and Literatures156158167
Mean Score
Good Score
Great Score
Arts and Humanities (General)150152158
Arts—History, Theory, and Criticism151153159
Arts—Performance and Studio151153159
English Language and Literature149151157
Foreign Languages and Literatures151153159

What Can We Take Away from Arts and Humanities Programs’ Average GRE Scores?

Note that it could very well be that the methodology used here 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 those of philosophy students might be a relief to some. 🙂

Remember that you should bear 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 of performance masters.

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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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