GRE Scores for Psychology Programs

A student smiling while holding a pen

Are you a prospective Psychology graduate student trying to understand how the GRE fits into your application? Wondering what the score requirements look like at top PhD programs? Look no further! In this post we’ll discuss everything you need to know about GRE scores for psychology programs.

The GRE and Psychology Programs

While some psychology programs have moved away from accepting the GRE in recent years, the field as a whole has not. When researching schools you’ll find a mix of programs that require the test, ones that make it optional, and ones that won’t look at scores at all. This can make it confusing to figure out how much the GRE matters in an application. For many students the mix of requirements can lead to difficulty to deciding whether or not to attempt the GRE. Let’s look at a few scenarios that applicants often find themselves in.

Mixed GRE Requirements at Targeted Schools

In this scenario you find yourself with a targeted list of schools whose GRE requirements are not the same. When some of your desired programs require the GRE and some don’t, you decision comes down to how badly you want to attend the schools that need the test. If you would regret not applying to any of them, it’s best to take the GRE if possible. You don’t want to self-select out of a great program simply because the test isn’t required everywhere you are applying.

It can be more complicated to decide what to do when your school list is a mix of programs who don’t take the GRE and test optional schools. Here you have to decide if taking the GRE will positively impact your application. If you feel confident that you have a very strong mix of academic history, research experience, and a great fit at your chosen schools the GRE may not be necessary.

But, if you are feeling weak in one or more of those categories or if you are applying to very competitive programs a strong GRE score can help bolster your application. If you are having trouble making a decision ranking your school list can be a helpful exercise. If test optional schools fall in your 1-3 spots, it’s probably worth taking the GRE. Even if everything else in your application is stellar, you still want to give yourself the best shot possible, right? If so, studying hard for the GRE and submitting competitive scores is one more plus in your favor.

Different GRE Requirements at the Same School

One thing prospective Psychology grad students should be very careful about is checking whether GRE requirements are standard across a department. Often times a school’s Psychology department may have different GRE standards for different subfields. This can mean that a school’s counseling and social Psychology tracks don’t require the GRE, but it’s cognitive and clinical programs do. Or a department may list that certain faculty require the GRE to evaluate prospective students while others do not. You want to be sure that you know the exact requirements for your school, subfield or track, and potential advisor.

Average GRE Scores for Psychology Programs

Because so many Psychology programs are test optional there isn’t a lot of public score data available. But, some programs do release their average admitted scores. From this we can reasonably assume that the average GRE score for a student admitted to a top-25 program is 155+. In general Psychology departments will prioritize the Verbal section. However, more quantitative focused subfields will look for strong Quant scores as well. Keep in mind that ultra competitive programs will likely have average scores in the 160s. Test optional programs don’t weigh the GRE as heavily as programs that require it. But, you will still want a strong score to mitigate application weaknesses and stand out from the crowd. Here are the requirements for GRE scores at U.S. News and World Report’s top-50 programs:

Rank
School
GRE Requirements
1 (tie)
Stanford University
Does Not Accept
1 (tie)
University of California–Berkeley
Optional
3 (tie)
Harvard University
Required
3 (tie)
University of California–Los Angeles
Optional
3 (tie)
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Does Not Accept
6 (tie)
Princeton University
Optional
6 (tie)
University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
Required
6 (tie)
Yale University
Optional
9 (tie)
Cornell University
Optional
9 (tie)
Northwestern University
Required
9 (tie)
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Does Not Accept
12 (tie)
Columbia University
Required
12 (tie)
Duke University
Required
12 (tie)
Johns Hopkins University
Required
12 (tie)
University of California-Davis
Does Not Accept
12 (tie)
University of California–San Diego
Required
12 (tie)
University of Chicago
Highly Recommended
12 (tie)
University of Colorado–Boulder
Optional, but highly recommended for certain subfields
12 (tie)
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
Required for certain subfields
12 (tie)
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
May be required for certain subfields
12 (tie)
University of Pennsylvania
Required
12 (tie)
Vanderbilt University
Required for certain subfields
23 (tie)
Brown University
Optional
23 (tie)
Carnegie Mellon University
Required
23 (tie)
Emory University
Optional
23 (tie)
University of Indiana–Bloomington
Optional, but required to work with certain faculty
23 (tie)
University of Texas–Austin
Optional
23 (tie)
University of Washington
Does Not Accept
23 (tie)
Washington University in St. Louis
Does Not Accept
30 (tie)
New York University
Does Not Accept
30 (tie)
Ohio State University
Optional
30 (tie)
University of California–Irvine
Optional
30 (tie)
University of Maryland–College Park
Optional
30 (tie)
University of Virginia
Does Not Accept
35 (tie)
Pennsylvania State University–University Park
Required
35 (tie)
University of Arizona
Does Not Accept
35 (tie)
University of California–Santa Barbara
Optional
35 (tie)
University of Southern California
Does Not Accept
39 (tie)
Arizona State University
Required
39 (tie)
Georgia Institute of Technology
Optional
39 (tie)
Michigan State University
Optional
39 (tie)
Stony Brook University–SUNY
Does Not Accept
39 (tie)
University of Florida
Does Not Accept
39 (tie)
University of Iowa
Does Not Accept
39 (tie)
University of Pittsburgh
Required
46 (tie)
Boston University
Optional
46 (tie)
Dartmouth College
Optional
46 (tie)
Purdue University–West Lafayette
Required for certain subfields, optional for others
46 (tie)
University of Notre Dame
Does Not Accept
46 (tie)
University of Oregon
Optional

Takeaways

A strong GRE score can still be an essential component of a successful application to a graduate Psychology program. You’ll want to carefully research the requirements for each of your prospective schools. Then weigh the strength of the rest of your portfolio to see if the GRE can help you. Taking a free practice test early is a great way to see where your baseline is. This is key to figuring out how much studying you’ll need to do to achieve your goals.

If you are ready to jumpstart your GRE prep, consider a Magoosh Premium Plan today to access world-class video explanations, study plans, and real ETS questions.

Author

  • Jen Jurgens

    Jen has a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and is a PhD candidate in U.S. History at Emory University. She’s worked in education, test prep, and admissions for over 12 years and has helped thousands of students in that time.

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