Can you get into an MBA without GMAT scores? Why do most schools require it? What are the best business schools you can get into without having to take the GMAT?
Many students want to know if the GMAT is required for MBA admission and what their alternatives are if they don’t want to take it. In this article, I’ll go over why many business schools require GMAT scores from their applicants, a list of MBA programs that don’t require GMAT scores for admissions, and alternatives to the GMAT for students who don’t plan on taking it.
Can You Get Into an MBA Without GMAT Scores?
The short answer is, technically, yes. You can get an MBA without taking the GMAT. Some MBA programs are willing to waive the GMAT requirement for especially experienced or accomplished students, while a few don’t require it at all.
However, the vast majority of business schools require either the GRE or GMAT for admission. If you want the widest selection of schools possible, it’s in your best interest to prepare for and take one or both of the exams. PrepScholar GMAT offers an affordable, effective online GMAT course that includes access to over 1,000 practice questions and 50 lessons if you do decide to take the exam.
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Why Do Schools Require the GMAT?
Most business schools require the GMAT for three primary reasons.
First, the GMAT has been proven to be a reliable predictor of students’ academic performance in business school, especially in the first year. The GMAT tests skills and concepts you’ll need to succeed in an MBA program, such as logic, critical reasoning, reading comprehension, analytical writing ability, and math. It’s in the best interest of both you and your prospective schools to discern whether you’re ready for the academic rigor of a particular program.
Second, the GMAT is a standardized test, so it’s seen as an equalizer in the admissions process. Some business school admissions factors, like letters of recommendation or undergraduate GPA, are more subjective. For example, your undergraduate GPA could be influenced by the rigor of the school you attended or the exact courses you took. By contrast, the GMAT is administered in the same format and under the same time limits to thousands of students every year, and the content has been examined and revised to ensure it’s fair for students of various backgrounds.
So MBA admissions committees can rely on the results of the GMAT as a realistic measure of your current abilities, without extenuating circumstances playing a role. That makes the comparison between students based on GMAT scores more reliable and useful than some other admissions factors.
Lastly, GMAT scores play a role in business school rankings. Every year, business schools are ranked by various publications and organizations, and the average GMAT score of a school’s incoming students is a major factor in a program’s spot within those rankings. Average GMAT scores of students at top-ranked business schools like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the University of Chicago are consistently over 700, while at mid-ranked business schools, average GMAT scores tend to hover around 600-650.
Placing an emphasis on GMAT scores in the admissions process allows MBA programs to move up in ranking, which allows them to attract even more qualified applicants as well as additional funding and prestige.
MBA Programs That Don’t Require the GMAT
There are two categories of full-time MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT or GRE for admission:
#1: Traditional MBA Programs. There are a few MBA programs that don’t require any GRE or GMAT scores for admissions. These are mostly international or smaller schools, but there are few relatively popular and prestigious business schools, like Rutgers and Texas A&M, that don’t require the exam. With the exception of UNC, all of the top-25 business schools require the GMAT.
Some of the MBA programs without GMAT requirements don’t expect test scores from any applicant, while other may only waive the testing requirement under certain circumstances.
#2: Executive MBA Programs. Executive MBA programs are aimed at working professional students who have already achieved mid-to-senior-level manager status. They usually feature more hands-on, interactive, and accelerated curriculum than a traditional MBA program.
Many executive MBA programs waive the GMAT requirement for students who can demonstrate their prior relevant work experience. Others accept the Executive Assessment in place of the GMAT. The Executive Assessment is a 40-question test authored by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the makers of the GMAT. It requires far less preparation than the GMAT and consists of only three 30-minute sections.
Below I’ve listed MBA programs, both U.S.-based and international, that don’t necessarily require the GMAT or GRE for admission, including1) full-time U.S. MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT, 2) Executive MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT, and 3) online MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT.
Schools listed that require a GMAT waiver will ask you to demonstrate, through a separate application or other process, that you already have an advanced degree or a history of academic or professional accomplishments that are sufficient to prove your skill level without having to take the GMAT.
Schools listed that don’t provide GMAT waivers don’t require GMAT or GRE scores from any applicants (though a few, which are marked, may request GMAT scores if your transcript shows an area of concern for the admissions committee).
Full-Time U.S. MBA Programs That Don’t Require the GMAT
|Babson College (Wellesley, MA)||Yes|
|DePaul University, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business (Chicago, IL)||Yes|
|Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (Lake Forest, IL)||No|
|Suffolk University Sawyer School of Business (Boston, MA)||Yes|
|Pace University, Lubin School of Business (NY, NY)||Yes|
|Rutgers Business School (New Brunswick, NJ)||Yes|
|La Salle University (Philadelphia, PA)||Yes|
|University of Delaware, Lerner College of Business (Newark, DE)||Yes|
|Golden Gate University, Edward S. Ageno School of Business (San Francisco, CA)||Yes|
|Texas A&M (College Station, TX)||Yes|
|Florida International University (Miami, FL)||Yes|
|Howard University (Washington, D.C.)||No|
|Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)||Yes|
|University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN)||No|
|UNC Kenan-Flagler (Chapel Hill, NC)||Yes|
Executive MBA Programs That Don’t Require the GMAT
|Ashridge Business School (UK)||No, unless transcript indicates potential concerns|
|Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business (NY, NY)||No|
|Boston University School of Management||No|
|CEIBS (China)||No, but requires Executive Assessment|
|Columbia Business School (NY, NY)||No, but requires Executive Assessment|
|Cornell Executive MBA Americas (Ithaca, NY)||No|
|Drexel University, LeBow College of Business (Philadelphia, PA)||Yes|
|Foster- Washington (Seattle, WA)||No|
|Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business (Washington, D.C.)||No|
|HKU Business School (Hong Kong)||No, but requires Executive Assessment|
|Hofstra University, Zarb School of Business (East Garden City, NY)||No|
|INSEAD (France)||No, but requires Executive Assessment or in-house MBA test|
|Kellogg EMBA (Evanston, IL, and Miami, FL)||No, unless transcript indicates potential concerns|
|London Business School (UK)||No|
|Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA)||No, as long as work experience is sufficient|
|Loyola University Maryland, Sellinger School of Business (Baltimore, MD)||No|
|Loyola University Quinlan School of Business (Chicago, IL)||No|
|MIT Sloan School of Management (Cambridge, MA)||No|
|NYU Stern School of Business||No|
|Northeastern University, D’Amore-McKim School of Business (Boston, MA)||No|
|Saint Joseph University, Haub School of Business (Philadelphia, PA)||No|
|San Francisco State University College of Business||Yes|
|Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business (Santa Clara, CA)||Yes|
|Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business (South Orange, NJ)||Yes|
|Temple University, Fox School of Business (Philadelphia, PA)||Yes|
|UCLA Anderson School of Management||No|
|USC Marshall School of Business (Los Angeles, CA)||No|
|University of Chicago, Booth School of Business||Yes|
|University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business (Baltimore, MD)||No|
|University of Oxford, Said Business School (UK)||Yes|
|Villanova School of Business (Villanova, PA)||No|
Online MBA Programs That Don’t Require the GMAT
|Chadron State College||No|
|College of St. Joseph in Vermont||No|
|Colorado State University||No|
|Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||No|
|Fitchburg State College||No|
|Florida International University||No|
|NYU Stern School of Business||No|
|North Greenville University||No|
|Oklahoma Baptist University||No|
|Oklahoma Nazarene University||No|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||No|
|Tarleton State University||No|
|USC Marshall School of Business||Yes|
|University of Chicago Booth School of Business||Yes|
|University of Mary||No|
If You Don’t Want to Take the GMAT, What Are Your Options?
So what if you’ve decided not to take the GMAT? There are a few alternatives. Let’s go over each of your options for getting an MBA without GMAT scores.
#1: Take the GRE
The GRE tests the same skills and concepts as the GMAT and takes just as much preparation. However, you may feel more comfortable with one exam than the other, so you should try practice tests of each exam before deciding which one to take.
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Most MBA programs, including top schools like Stanford Business School, MIT Sloan, and Harvard Business School, will accept the GRE instead of the GMAT. Check out your prospective schools’ admissions criteria or FAQ page to see if they place an emphasis on one over the other; some will be frank about which one they prefer.
#2: Consider Online MBA Programs
Some online MBA programs, including highly-ranked ones like the programs at the NYU Stern School of Business and Colorado State University, don’t have GMAT or GRE requirements for applicants.
A few online MBA programs, like the Rochester Institute of Technology, offer a waiver for qualified students, especially those with prior graduate degrees or extensive work experience.
#3: If You’re Experienced, Look at Executive MBAs
Many executive MBA programs will waive the GMAT requirement if you have demonstrable experience in a business-related or technical field (usually at least five years, while some require ten), or if you have a prior advanced degree (such as an M.D. or Ph.D.) from an accredited university.
Some executive MBA programs, including Columbia Business School, accept the relatively new Executive Assessment as a substitute for the GMAT. The Executive Assessment is much shorter than the GMAT and requires significantly less preparation.
Conclusion: Should You Take the GMAT?
Remember that all of the options for avoiding the GMAT do have drawbacks, particularly if you don’t already have the necessary experience to qualify for an executive MBA. Most of the MBA programs without GMAT requirements are lower-ranked, so not taking the GMAT will certainly limit your options.
Though you’ll have more options for online MBA programs, they won’t necessarily offer the same opportunities for networking and career opportunities as a traditional program.
In many ways, it’s a safer bet to prepare for and do well on the GMAT than to look only at MBA programs without GMAT requirements.
Our guide to whether you need to take the GMAT will help you make a final decision about whether to take the GMAT or not before applying to MBA programs.
Check out our guide to preparing for an MBA to set yourself up for success in business school.
If you’re still feeling unsure about business school, our complete guide to MBAs will help you understand the ins and outs of MBA programs and their benefits and drawbacks.