GMAT Requirements: What Score Do You Need for an MBA?


If you’ve started to think about preparing for the GMAT, you’re probably also wondering about the GMAT requirements at the MBA programs of your choice. You may be wondering what score you need, or even whether you need to take the GMAT at all.

In this guide, I’ll talk all about the GMAT score requirements for MBA programs. First, I’ll talk about the GMAT scores you need to get into business school. Next, I’ll talk about whether or not there are hard cutoffs or explicit requirements for MBA programs. Then, I’ll discuss how you can find the GMAT requirements for your specific MBA program. And finally, I’ll talk about whether or not there’s any way to get around taking the GMAT as part of your MBA application.


What Are the GMAT Requirements For MBA Programs?

There’s no single answer to this question. The GMAT score you need to get into an MBA program really depends on the school.

In general, for top 20 business schools, you’ll generally need a GMAT score of 700 or above to be a competitive applicant. However, that number can go as high as 740 for the most competitive schools. For top 100 business schools, you can get by with a slightly lower GMAT score between 620 and 700.

As these score ranges are pretty wide, make sure you take the time to learn the average score of your targeted programs so that you’re not aiming too high or too low. You can usually find the average GMAT score of applicants at your chosen MBA program by looking at the school’s website, but if not try a using a third-party guide like our list of the average GMAT scores by school or US News‘s yearly report. You can also try to call the school’s admissions office to learn more.

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Do Schools Have Hard GMAT Score Requirements?

Most schools don’t have hard cutoffs for GMAT scores, or at least they don’t actively publicize that they do. For instance, Harvard Business School states on its website that it doesn’t have a cut-off for GMAT scores.

However, looking at the average GMAT scores of admitted students is a good way to see what range of scores the school generally accepts. If a school’s average GMAT score is 700, the school probably won’t accept many students with scores lower than 670. Outliers who have lower scores likely have extremely strong applications in other ways (such as excellent job experience or a very diverse or unique perspective).

While most schools don’t have hard cutoffs for GMAT scores, they do have explicit testing requirements. The vast majority of business programs require you to take the GMAT, though you can often take the GRE instead.


How Can You Find the GMAT Requirements for MBA Programs You’re Applying to?

Finding out the GMAT requirements and the average scores for the MBA programs you’re applying to is an important step in your GMAT application process. You’ll want to know whether or not you need to take the GMAT, when you need to submit your GMAT scores, and what kind of target score you’re aiming for in order to make sure all your bases for your application are covered.

The best way to learn about the GMAT requirements of your chosen programs is to visit their websites. A program’s website will have information about deadlines and required tests. Take a look at this example from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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By searching for “stanford university business school application requirements”, as I did, you can find this page extremely easily. In fact, it was the first page that popped up. Replace “stanford university” with the name of any business school you’re interested in to find out more about that school’s application requirements.

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Many schools also have information about the average scores of admitted applicants, so you can set your goal score. Take a look at this information that you can get from the University of Michigan’s website.

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Notice that you can find information about average GMAT score and the middle range of scores, as well as more information about the industry background of admitted students. A simple search for “university of michigan business school average gmat scores” will pull up this page. You can try to replace “university of michigan” with the program of your choice to find more information.

Some websites don’t have information about average scores, but consulting a reputable source like US News or Poets and Quants or calling the admissions office itself can help you fill in those gaps. Unfortunately, US News does charge a fee for access to their data — the other sources are free.


Can You Get Around the GMAT Requirements?

If you’re not a strong test taker or you just don’t want to take the GMAT in particular, you do have several options for how to get around GMAT requirements for MBA programs. In this section, I’ll discuss several ways that you can avoid taking the GMAT.


#1: Take the GRE Instead

One way to get around GMAT requirements is to take the GRE. The GRE is a graduate preparedness exam that some programs will accept instead of the GMAT. Among the programs that accept the GRE instead of the GMAT are Harvard Business School, Stanford University, M.I.T, and the University of Pennsylvania. More and more schools are being added to the list of programs that accept GRE scores every year.

The format of GRE questions (specifically on the quant section) is a bit more straightforward than those on the GMAT, so if you’re worried about the GMAT question types and content, you can try a different test. However, not every admissions program will accept GRE scores, so make sure to check before you take the GRE. Similarly, the GMAT is still the exam most closely associated with applying to business school. There is very little information out there about the average GRE scores of admitted applicants, because most business schools don’t report the GRE scores of their incoming classes. Taking the GMAT will allow you to set a clearer goal that you can work towards, because you’ll be able to compare your GMAT score to that of accepted applicants at the program of your choice, whereas you can’t do the same with GRE scores.


#2: Apply to a School That Doesn’t Require the GMAT

There are several MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT, so you can apply to those if you don’t want to take the GMAT. However, these schools are often unranked and less well-regarded than schools that do require the GMAT. If you’re going to apply to a school that doesn’t require GMAT scores, make sure you check to make sure the program is accredited.


#3: Build Up the Other Parts of Your Application

Finally, you can build up the other parts of your application in order to make up for poor GMAT scores. Business schools rarely look at just one part of your application. The admissions committees will also consider your grades in prior coursework, letters of recommendations, personal essays, and professional experience. If you’re not a strong test-taker, you can focus on demonstrating your academic preparedness in other parts of your application (like your GPA), while also making sure that the rest of your application is extremely strong.




What’s Next?

One way you can ensure you meet the GMAT requirement for MBA programs you’re applying to is to set a realistic GMAT goal score. Setting a GMAT goal score helps ensure that you’ll meet those GMAT score requirements, while also providing a benchmark for you to measure your progress against as you study. Check out our guide to what makes a good GMAT score for more information.

Wondering how to prepare for your MBA applications? There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that your MBA application stands out from the crowd of other applicants. In our guide to preparing for your MBA applications, we walk through things that you can do in both the long and short term to become a standout MBA applicant.

Part of achieving the GMAT score of your dreams is coming up with a concrete, rigorous, and realistic GMAT study plan that you can stick to. But, it can be hard to know where to start in crafting your own personalized GMAT study plan. In our guide to writing a GMAT study plan, we offer four sample study plans you can use to craft your own.

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