Masters degree without GRE or GMAT | MS in USA

Often spoken of in the same breath, GRE and GMAT scores play an integral role in influencing an applicant’s admission chances in the school of his choice. A highly-ranked Masters program will insist on a high score in these exams.

As a general rule, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required to be cleared for admission to most graduate schools as well as business schools, while the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) is specifically for admission to a business school.

However, some applicants wonder if they ought to take the GRE or GMAT at all. Well, there are some programs that take students waiving the requirement for scores in these exams.

Having said that, before we share the list of some such programs, it is important to understand what is the big deal about GRE & GMAT anyway.

Why GRE exam is so important

All applicants to a graduate school are supposed to write an effective statement of purpose (SOP), and submit letters of recommendation as well. A solid work experience is an added advantage. These notwithstanding, most universities still insist on GRE/GMAT scores. There must be a reason behind it, right?

The logic is most state or private run universities base their assessment about a candidate on a standardized test for admission to all their programs. You can call it a screening to sift the serious and quality candidates than those who may not be that serious about putting their hard-earned degree to good use.

Students from all over the world would apply for a course at some school. How does the school know the candidate is good enough to get admission?

A foreign university wouldn’t know how good or average were the courses you studied back in your home country. And, it sure wouldn’t know how you fared vis-à-vis competition.

Hence, a standardized test that treats everyone equally, giving a fair chance to all to prove their mettle. Scores matter too. A lower score does not only mar the chances of getting into your favourite school, it also ensures the admissions committee scrutinizes your other documents only too closely.

If the university you are applying for only looks at your undergraduate grades, and not delving much into other measurements like work experience, letters of recommendation, GRE or GMAT, then it is better to first inquire about academic standards of the university in question.

Check with people who can talk about credibility of the program, faculty and school. You may also want to check the alumni as to how and where they are placed post earning a degree from the same university.

Why applicants look for programs that waive the GRE requirement

Let’s face it, going abroad to study is an expensive way to earn your degree. Most students go either on a fellowship or they take huge loans that need to be paid back.

Universities know this, and they also know a serious student would leave no stone unturned to get admission in the school of his choice, that includes clearing the GRE/GMAT with the requisite score.

Yet there are many students who’d rather skip this part and focus their attention on institutes that waive the requirement of these test scores.

Some of them may have toiled day and night to clear the test, only to face failure, multiple times. This sure can be demotivating.

Others rush into admissions at the eleventh hour, starting the application process too late. They have no time left to take the exams. For them there is no other option, but to opt for a university which does not have stringent admission requirements so as not to miss out on admission for that year.

And then, there are some who do not take the exams out of sheer laziness, or maybe they suffer from fear of exams/failure.

Stick to Masters degrees that insist on GRE or GMAT test scores

The school of thought that supports the view that GRE/GMAT scores shouldn’t really come in the way of getting admission to a Master’s degree program, argue that the tests in question are really expensive and they shouldn’t matter if you have experience in the field, have an advanced degree in a given field and a high GPA score. They also dish out names of reputed schools that waive the requirement.

However, universities that want the test scores use the same to, as Virginia Tech Graduate School puts it succinctly, ‘compare the student’s academic ability with that of all other students who have taken the GRE examination’, and that it helps ‘evaluate the student’s potential for success in graduate study’.

Think about this.

Universities also have a reputation to live up to. When a graduate from their institute approaches a company for a job, the latter would happily keep the CV on top of the pile since the university has already done the sorting of quality profiles. This is the weight that such a university would put behind you when you step out of its premises.

You can also be sure of the calibre of your fellow classmates since all of them would have cleared the tests with some specific acceptable level, stated by the university. Wouldn’t it be great to have a class full of people who have the same mental and intellectual prowess to be there with you?


List of Masters programs in USA without GRE or GMAT

After reading the above arguments, students who still prefer the non-GRE/GMAT way, will have their own reasons to do so. For their benefit, here is a list of some Master’s programs in USA (and one in Canada) that do not require GRE/GMAT. You’ll find some elite universities like Columbia and Berkeley in it. Do note that this list is representative.

1. Columbia University: Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Applicants to the Advanced Architectural Design, Architecture and Urban Design programs are not required to take the GRE. Read more

2. Alabama A&M University: School of Graduate Studies

Since 2013, the university does not require GRE for students seeking majors in master’s and specialist degree programs like Biology, Psychology, Elementary Education, Education Specialist, Family & Consumer Sciences, Food Science, Social Work, Physics, among others. Read more

3. Rochester Institute of Technology

There is a list of Masters courses that do not need GRE including Masters in Manufacturing Leadership, Masters in Applied Statistics, Masters in Communication and Media Technologies, Masters in Product Development, and many more. Read more

4. North Carolina State University

The university will waive GRE requirement for its Master of Civil Engineering if the candidate ‘upon request from students with engineering or closely related undergraduate degrees that have a strong mathematical curriculum’. Read more

5. University of the Pacific: McGeorge School of Law

Master of Science in Law Application doesn’t require Graduate school entrance exam scores for admission to this course. Read more

6. Central Michigan University

No need for GRE or GMAT exam if applying for Master of Science in Administration, but it is a must for those applying for graduate fellowships. Read more

7. University of California, Berkeley

For admission to Master of Science in Architecture and PhD in Architecture and Environmental Design, GRE is optional. Read more

None needed for PhD in African American Studies as well as for PhD in French. There are many other programs that waive this requirement. You can check them out on Read more

8. Oakland University

Master of Arts in Communication requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in the major of the bachelor’s degree, and scores at or above the 90th percentile on the TOEFL examination. Read more

9. University of Toronto: OISE Institute for Studies in Education

GRE is not required to get into Master of Education and Doctor of Education in Counselling & Psychotherapy. Ditto for Master of Education in Guidance and Counselling. Read more

10. George Mason University: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

This one states very clearly ‘GRE Scores are optional. They may be submitted by applicants who believe GRE scores will lead to a clearer representation of their qualifications’. Read more.

Related posts:
Guide to Masters degree for international students
MBA without GMAT
MBA in USA without work experience

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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MBA Crystal Ball provides professional Admissions Consulting services. Hire us to improve your chances of getting into the top international universities. Email: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin


  1. Manish says:

    Hi Sameer, it’s a wonderful information. Your regular entries on various topics really provide one-stop solutions in many areas. Keep it going.

  2. vaishnavi says:

    I am vaishnavi. can good RESEARCH BACKGROUND( paper published in journals, patents, internship experience, value added courses in the field i am applying to, research oriented projects) and TEST SCORES (gre toefl ) speak more than the cgpa? i have a low cgpa but good research background, test scores, Letters of recommendation and statement of purpose. can i get into top universties like MIT princeton , etc….?

  3. Sivabalan says:

    Hi Team,
    10th – 91%
    12th – 95.4%
    Mechanical Engg – CGPA – 9.4
    took GRE – 304
    Planning to take GMAT
    Work exp – 20 months in Cognizant – Retail Consumer Goods Biz Development

    Advise me a good MBA college worldwide, taking financial terms and ROI into consideration

    Thanks for you time

  4. RD says:


    I have a gre score of 301 and a toefl score of 105. I have a cgpa of 8.25 and have done my masters in business administration from Heriatge Business School Kolkata. I have 4 yrs of stint as an academician and I have clearly defined research interests. I have also had positive email exchanges with prospective supervisors who have shown interest in my proposal. What are my chances of getting into
    1. University of Maryland
    2. University of Kansas

  5. Fasiha says:

    I want to do MBA(HR) abroad. Is there any way of getting a full scholarship ? If yes, what’s the eligibility? Would top scores in GRE help me get a full scholarship?

  6. shibananda says:

    i want to know the syllabus for gre exam

  7. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Manish: You’ve just given me my daily dose of inspiration. Thank you!

    @Vaishnavi: If the academic grades weren’t too shabby, then the other aspects you’ve mentioned should be able to lift the application. However do keep in mind that some elite programs have a minimum cut-off for grades.

    @Sivabalan: The GRE score is quite low for the top MBa programs. If you can’t change the target school list, better to re-take the exam and get the score higher.

    @shibananda: You’ll find the GRE syllabus and other details here:

    @Fasiha: Yes, it is possible to get scholarships. Here are a few Indian applicants who were successful with scholarships:

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