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Getting Into a Program Without the GMAT

Although for years the GMAT has been a staple in the MBA application process, there are more and more business schools, many top ranked, that are beginning to rely less on the exam. In the United States alone, about 1,300 institutions either require or accept the GMAT as a part of their admissions process for business programs, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. But this leaves an increasing number of institutions that are pursuing alternative criteria. Some schools are no longer requiring that students submit their scores, although if they want to they can, while others are waiving the requirement depending on the applicant, and some schools have even taken it off of their admissions criteria list entirely.

Prioritizing Other Factors Over the GMAT

Along with the business schools that are no longer requiring the GMAT, there are also many choosing to waive the GMAT for certain applicants depending on factors such as undergraduate GPA or work experience. Some schools are also waiving the GMAT requirement for applicants with Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores or accepting them in place of GMAT ones. Admissions officers are doing this to encourage the not-so-typical student to pursue a business education as there is a need for a more diverse applicant pool. The GRE is the standardized test that those applying to traditional graduate school are required to take. It gives the admissions department insight into applicants’ reasoning, analytical and critical-thinking skills. And similar to the GMAT, the GRE evaluates academic abilities such as analytical writing, and verbal and quantitative reasoning.

Schools That Don’t Require the GMAT

U.S. News & World Report recently published a list of schools that are accepting GRE scores for admission into their MBA programs. It includes many top ranked institutions such as Stanford University, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, New York University, Yale University, Duke University and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

There are several business schools that are beginning to remove the GMAT from admission criteria because of the belief that it might not be the best indication of applicants’ strengths. For experienced professionals, some schools are instead requiring that they enroll in a review course to sharpen their quantitative skills rather than making them go through the GMAT testing process. Some types of MBA programs, such as the Executive MBA, attract applicants with more than a decade of professional business experience. In those cases, an increasing number of business schools are arguing that applicants’ career accomplishments and work experience in executive positions are better indicators of degree program success than GMAT scores.

What Not Taking the GMAT Means for You

Not taking the GMAT can affect students in several ways. First, it can severely limit the number of business schools to which they are eligible to apply. Although many schools are also accepting the GRE and others are forgoing the GMAT entirely, this standardized examination still remains one of the most commonly used criteria in which to determine aptitude for business management education.

Second, just because some schools are GMAT optional doesn’t mean that not submitting scores is always the best option. Those who have been working a substantial amount of time are going to have less to prove when it comes to their analytical and quantitative abilities. In other words, solid and extensive work experience is most likely going to outweigh a numerical score. This may also apply to applicants with a string of particularly lofty executive titles. If your resume is neither long nor impressive, not taking the GMAT can hurt your chances of admittance as there will be little to go on concerning your aptitude, skills and abilities. In short, a good GMAT score can help round out your application packet, verify your potential and make you a more attractive candidate.

There are many business schools—public and private—that don’t find it necessary to assess MBA program applicants using their GMAT scores. According to Businessweek’s Business School Comparator, four of the 30 full-time MBA programs at top ranked and top tier business schools in the United States don’t require the GMAT (the University of Michigan, University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Yale University).

For online MBA programs, 11 out of 40 unranked schools do not require the GMAT including Babson College, Syracuse University, Pace University, Colorado State University, Northeastern University, Saint Joseph’s University, University of St. Thomas and the University of Scranton. Also included are a few institutions known for their offerings in online education such as DeVry University, Walden University and Webster University.

Out of 190 schools with part-time MBA programs, 15 do not require the GMAT for admission. Included in that group are such private institutions as Loyola University Maryland, Sacred Heart University, Saint Xavier University, St. John Fisher College and Washington University in St. Louis. Many well-known public institutions also do not require the GMAT for part-time programs including Purdue University, University of Michigan, Colorado State University, Ohio University, University of New Mexico and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Also included are several universities that are known for distance education such as the University of Maryland University College, Webster University and DeVry University.