Master of business administration (MBA) degrees can help graduates obtain promotions, land new careers, or earn higher salaries. According to PayScale, annual salaries for MBA graduates average $88,960 — over $22,000 more than their counterparts with a bachelor’s in business administration. A 2018 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers backs up this salary difference.
MBA graduates can compete for many business and financial occupations, for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports high salaries and a 5% projected job growth rate from 2019-2029.
Admission requirements for online MBA programs typically include official transcripts, resumes, recommendation letters, and GMAT scores. The 2018 GMAT Geographic Trend Report indicates that 1,997 U.S. MBA programs required GMAT scores in 2017.
However, studying for and taking the GMAT requires time and money, which may seem daunting for students who struggle with test performance. Fortunately, some online MBA programs require no GMAT scores, instead emphasizing strong GPAs, GRE scores, or professional experience.
Read on for an overview of the best online MBA programs without GMAT requirements.
The 5 Best Schools Offering an Online MBA, No GMAT Required
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What Is the GMAT?
Created by business school deans in 1953 and first administered in 1954, the GMAT is a standardized test used to evaluate prospective business students’ aptitude and potential. This four-part test features quantitative, integrated reasoning, verbal multiple-choice, and analytical writing sections. These sections assess prospective business students’ abilities in analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The GMAT takes 3-4 hours to complete and costs $250.
Graduate programs that typically require the GMAT include the master’s in management, the MBA, and MA or MS programs in business-related fields. Strong business schools often look for minimum GMAT scores of 600, while top programs may expect scores in the 700-800 range. Performing well on this difficult test typically requires several months of rigorous study.
Students should plan to take the test several months before school application deadlines to allow time to retake the exam. Examine prospective MBA programs’ GMAT requirements carefully, as some schools count only the most recent GMAT score and others accept the highest score. Some schools emphasize the essay score heavily, while MS programs may focus more on the quantitative score.
Why Are Business Schools Waiving or Not Requiring the GMAT?
The GMAT assesses students’ basic skills and can help demonstrate their preparedness for graduate study, but it does not measure intangible qualities such as leadership or teamwork abilities. Many business schools continue to eliminate their GMAT requirement to attract more applicants.
Additionally, many schools recognize that advanced degrees and work experience provide strong evidence of the skills needed for success in business school. Schools that still insist on GMAT scores for admission use them to gauge students’ commitment to earning a business degree while weeding out less serious candidates.
Offering alternatives to the GMAT benefits both schools and applicants by reducing hurdles that discourage prospective students from applying. For example, offering GMAT waivers to candidates with demonstrated work experience benefits those who have been out of school for a few years, while schools gain a more diverse applicant pool of experienced professionals.
MBA Admission Requirements in Place of GMAT Scores
Studying for and taking the GMAT requires a significant investment of time and money, so some prospective students narrow their search to online MBA programs with no GMAT requirement or those that offer GMAT waivers to qualified applicants. These schools commonly emphasize the following admission criteria:
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- Work Experience
- The best online MBA programs prefer applicants with a few years of professional experience under their belt. Programs that require GMAT scores often waive the standardized testing requirement for students with significant professional experience. Some business schools require a specific amount of work experience for consideration.
- Advanced Degrees
- Similarly, many programs with GMAT requirements do not require applicants with master’s degrees to take the exam. Graduate degrees demonstrate that applicants can handle the academic rigor of top online MBA programs.
- Exceptional GPA
- Business schools with no GMAT requirement may emphasize undergraduate performance. By considering a candidate’s transcripts, admissions officers can evaluate a student’s academic abilities, which they typically deduce through GMAT scores. Programs that generally require the GMAT frequently waive the requirement for students with high GPAs.
- Professional Licensure
- Earning a professional license or certification can help an aspiring business student to stand out from other applicants. Candidates demonstrate skills and industry knowledge through certifications in project management, accounting, financial risk management, financial analysis, and human resources.
- Letters of Recommendation
- By reading recommendation letters from professors and former supervisors, admissions staff can get a sense of an applicant’s personality, work ethic, and dedication. Unlike test scores and grades, letters of recommendation add a crucial personal component to an application.
- Essay or Personal Statement
- Most business schools require essays or personal statements as part of their MBA requirements. Prospective business students typically need to explain their reasons for pursuing a business degree and why they are interested in a particular program. Applicants must elaborate on their academic interests and career goals.
- Graduate Record Exam
- This standardized test administered by the Education Testing Service evaluates prospective graduate students’ abilities in critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The GRE also meets the standardized test score requirement for many graduate schools, including some MBA programs. High GRE scores (often above 285) can qualify MBA applicants for a GMAT waiver at some schools.
The Best Online MBA Programs, No GMAT Required, for 2021
Ready to head back to school in 2021? Explore our ranking of the top online MBA programs that do not require GMAT or GRE scores to apply. Visit the link below for information on how we rank schools.
Our Ranking Methodology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Founded in 1867, Illinois is a world-class leader in research, education, and public engagement. More than 50,000 students attend each year, representing all 50 states and over 100 countries.
Illinois offers a highly engaging, affordable online MBA with no GMAT requirement. The 72-credit iMBA program comprises two parts: an asynchronous, self-paced curriculum completed on the Coursera platform and a series of live class sessions with Illinois faculty.
The Illinois iMBA covers four core areas of business, including strategic leadership, managerial economics, value chain management, and financial management. Each core consists of three courses and a capstone deliverable. Throughout the interactive program, learners also collaborate on team-based projects.
Enrollees can take advantage of optional in-person networking events on campus and immersion trips to cities across the U.S. and around the world.
Illinois's MBA Specializations
Strategic Leadership and Management | Managerial Economics and Business Analysis | Value Chain Management | Financial Management | Global Challenges in Business | Innovation: From Creativity to Entrepreneur | Digital Marketing | Business Analytics
Applying to Illinois
Each prospective iMBA student should possess at least three years of operational or managerial experience, a bachelor's degree, and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Required materials include an essay, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public
Accreditation: HLC, AACSB
Required Credits: 72 credits
Program Length: 2-3 years
Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous)
Situated on a beautiful Malibu campus, Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to strengthening students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. Pepperdine's nearly 9,000 students enjoy a low 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Pepperdine ranks high among the nation's best MBA programs that do not require GMAT scores. Like its on-campus counterpart, the online program combines rigorous training in strategy, technology, and values-driven leadership.
Ten core courses cover subjects including business tech, processes and systems, and organizational behavior. Diverse electives and concentrations allow enrollees to focus on career-specific competencies and interests. All students complete strategic management capstone projects.
The online MBA emphasizes experiential learning through live weekly class discussions, optional global-learning opportunities, and one required on-campus immersion at the start of the program.
Pepperdine's MBA Specializations
Business Analytics | Digital Innovation and Information Systems | Finance | Leadership and Managing Organizational Change | Marketing
Applying to Pepperdine
Pepperdine reviews applications on a rolling basis. Each applicant should have at least two years of relevant career experience. Required materials include a statement of purpose, a resume, and official transcripts.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private
Accreditation: WSCUC, AACSB
Required Credits: 52 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Delivery Format: Online (synchronous and asynchronous) with some in-person requirements
American is a private, student-centered research institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Located on a 90-acre campus in Washington, D.C., American enrolls over 14,000 students each year.
American offers an accelerated online MBA without GMAT, GRE, or minimum work experience requirements. The one-year MBA track suits learners who are not working full time, thrive in an intensive environment, and can handle a demanding course load. Students may study following a sequence that lasts either 15, 18, or 24 months.
The 48-credit degree requires core courses in financial accounting, management in the international economy, and strategic decision-making. American delivers classes in a live, face-to-face video format to maximize interaction among peers and professors.
Students must attend two in-person immersions. These experiences take place in Washington, D.C., and other international and domestic business hubs.
American's MBA Specializations
Business Analytics | Finance | Consulting | Cybersecurity | Marketing | Legal Studies
Applying to American
American requires each candidate to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. An applicant must provide a personal statement, a resume, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private
Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB
Required Credits: 48 credits
Program Length: 12-24 months
Delivery Format: Online (synchronous) with some in-person requirements
A group of visionaries in Flint, Michigan, founded an automobile trade school in 1919. After nearly a century of growth, the institution became a private, nonprofit university. Today, Kettering enrolls approximately 2,200 learners.
Kettering's online MBA with no GMAT requirement meets the needs of business professionals and working engineers seeking management training. Students can customize their degrees with specialized graduate certificates in global leadership, operations management, and supply chain management.
The 40-credit curriculum comprises core courses in financial management, marketing management, and managerial accounting. Each enrollee completes a business startup capstone to conduct market research, write initial business plans, and develop new product ideas or prototypes.
With as few as four additional courses, an MBA graduate can earn a second master's degree in operations management or engineering management.
Kettering's MBA Specializations
Global Leadership | Operations Management | Healthcare Management | Modern Business Practices | Supply Chain Management
Applying to Kettering
Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Required materials include a resume, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and official transcripts.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private
Accreditation: HLC, ACBSP
Required Credits: 40 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
Georgia Southern University
Comprising three campuses and a community of 26,000 students, Georgia Southern ranks among the state's largest and most comprehensive higher education destinations. Georgia Southern's history dates back to 1906.
Qualified, motivated professionals can begin the Georgia Southern MBA without submitting GMAT scores and graduate in just 21 months. The general management degree offers no specializations but instead focuses on complementing all undergraduate degrees and career paths.
Required courses include economic analysis for business decisions, negotiation and conflict resolution, and managing information technology. Online coursework occurs asynchronously and consists of reports, case studies, simulations, and team activities.
Students attend a two-day orientation in Atlanta at the start of the program to meet faculty and form teams to work together through the 30-credit curriculum.
Applying to Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern requires official college transcripts, an essay, and a resume demonstrating at least two years of professional experience. The university admits candidates on a rolling basis.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private
Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB
Required Credits: 30 credits
Program Length: 21 months
Delivery Format: Online (asynchronous) with some in-person requirements
Evaluating MBA Programs Without GMAT Requirements
Today’s crowded business education landscape features MBA programs differing in characteristics and requirements. However, top MBA schools with no GMAT requirement often share the following five features. To identify the best MBA programs without GMAT requirements, look for these elements during your program search:
This voluntary evaluation process verifies institutions’ academic quality. Approved accrediting organizations assess academic curricula, resources, and outcome data to provide recommendations for improvement. Regional accreditation, typically reserved for nonprofit higher education institutions, is more rigorous and considered more prestigious than national accreditation, which typically applies to vocational schools.
Accreditation protects students by certifying quality, increasing transparency, and ensuring return on investment (ROI). Consult this guide to learn more about accreditation.
MBA programs often charge $50,000-$100,000 for tuition alone. Make sure to identify programs that can prove their value through positive ROI data. MBA programs also vary in credits, so compare programs by price per credit and total cost. For example, Messiah University‘s 36-credit MBA costs $710 per credit, which totals to just $25,560.
Some online MBA program websites post student-outcome statistics gathered from surveys and institutional statistics. Often including graduation rates, employment rates, and post-graduation salary averages, this outcome data can help prospective students choose programs worth the financial investment. Concordia University, St. Paul, for example, boasts a 95% employment rate within one year of graduation and a $57,740 salary average within four years of graduation.
Most high-quality MBA programs with no GMAT requirements offer resources like technical support to assist distance learners. Schools with low student-to-faculty ratios often provide more mentorship, which enriches the online MBA experience considerably. Other online student resources may include internship support, resume review, and mock interviews. Some schools, such as Norwich University, even provide a personalized student service advisor.
Concentrations allow students to specialize their MBAs based on their desired career path, field, and/or industry context. Bethel University, for example, features eight concentration options, including supply chain management, healthcare administration, principles of manufacturing, and strategy and execution.
Common concentrations include finance, data science, and management. Pursuing specializations, including MBA internships, can help qualify and prepare graduates for their dream careers.
Why Get an MBA?
Today, students have more avenues than ever to develop qualitative and analytical skills and become successful business managers. Many options cost far less than business schools, leading some to question the continued utility and value of MBAs.
As Harvard Business Review notes, quality business schools have shifted their focus to respond to the changing educational landscape. Top MBA programs retain a strong emphasis on technical and analysis-driven proficiencies, and they also deliver comprehensive leadership training. This important feature separates MBA degrees from lower-level and alternative credentials, reinforcing their continued relevance and utility.
Other noteworthy benefits of an MBA degree include:
MBAs persist as one of the most marketable credentials a business professional can hold. They send a strong message to prospective employers about your commitment and capabilities.
Alumni networks are an excellent career-building asset, even for learners who study entirely online.
MBAs offer outstanding versatility, enabling degree-holders to keep pace with the ever-changing dynamics of economic sectors and industries.
What Jobs Can an MBA Get You?
MBA degree-holders find gainful employment at impressive rates: A 2020 U.S. News & World Report analysis found that 85.2% of 2019 graduates from ranked MBA programs landed a job within three months. Online MBAs with no GMAT open the same career doors as classroom-based programs. These include high-ranking, lucrative executive positions with C-suite growth potential.
Professional experience and on-the-job training carry a great deal of value, but companies often prefer credential-based pedigree when making hiring decisions for upper-level roles. As such, MBA programs increasingly attract candidates whose career progression has stalled due to a lack of advanced business education.
Business schools also attract independent self-starters in large numbers, and MBA programs offer strong appeal to emerging entrepreneurs. Many MBA degree-holders launch their own businesses or work as self-employed management consultants. Other popular career paths for those with MBAs include:
What To Expect From the Online MBA Experience
Online MBA programs with no GMAT deliver a rigorous and challenging educational experience. In most cases, full-time enrollees can complete their studies within two years. Some degree paths offer accelerated structures leading to graduation in just 10 months, while part-time students typically graduate in 3-5 years.
Program structures typically include core or required courses, electives, and capstone culminating experiences. Core courses cover essential learning, while electives afford degree-seekers the chance to specialize their learning in specific areas. Capstone courses synthesize program content, typically by requiring students to apply the sum of their learning to analyze and solve real-world business problems.
Costs vary widely: At the high end, business schools can cost upwards of $2,000 per credit. Meanwhile, the most budget-friendly programs charge an average of about $315 per credit as of January 2020. Given these figures, each student should carry out a careful cost-benefit analysis to maximize their educational ROI.
Selecting Your Online MBA Program That Doesn’t Require the GMAT
Finding the right online MBA with no GMAT requires applicants to weigh much more than just admission standards. Candidates should also carefully consider the school’s reputation among employers to ensure their degrees can lead to worthwhile job opportunities. Prospective students who have already identified specific career goals can pursue concentrated and specialized learning opportunities that support their objectives.
Students should always ensure the accreditation status of each prospective school and only apply to programs hosted at institutions with current national or regional accreditation. Several specialized accreditors, including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, offer voluntary endorsements that elevate their prestige.
Depending on your goals, preferences, and learning style, you may also wish to prioritize additional factors. Aspiring enrollees can consider student achievement metrics, such as post-graduation job placement rates, alumni networks, geographic location, and financial aid availability.
Ranked lists provide a valuable resource, but aspiring students should still conduct their own research. The best online MBA programs with no GMAT for your situation may be under the mainstream radar.
Learn More About Choosing the Right MBA Program
Why You Should Get Your MBA Online
The best online MBA programs with no GMAT deliver learning experiences as effective as traditional classroom-based education. Without a significant focus on dynamic factors such as real-time student-instructor interactions, business programs translate especially well to digital learning formats.
However, students need specific capabilities to succeed in online programs. Most online MBAs feature asynchronous formats, with recorded lectures for students to engage with on their own schedules. As such, they demand more independence, organization, and self-discipline than classroom-based learning.
These program structures heighten the appeal of online MBAs. The asynchronous virtual classroom delivers far more flexibility, making it easy to integrate studies with personal and professional commitments. This is a key reason why many working professionals prefer online delivery formats.
What If the School You Want Requires the GMAT or GRE?
After thoroughly researching all your options, you may find that your ideal MBA program does require GMAT or GRE scores, but don’t fret. These standardized exams test many of the same mental skills and faculties applied in MBA programs, regardless of entry requirements.
GMAT/GRE requirements can provide your application with a major boost, especially if your undergraduate grades fall on the lower end of the acceptable spectrum. Business school candidates gearing up for the GMAT/GRE can purchase exercise-based study guides, enroll in prep courses, or work one-on-one with tutors.
Experts also stress the importance of starting the preparation process early and integrating multiple timed practice exams into your study routine. For more information and tips, consult this complete guide to the GMAT for MBA applicants.
Explore These Other MBA School Rankings
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get an MBA without the GMAT or GRE?
Yes. Some business schools do not require applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores. In other cases, candidates with extensive professional experience can waive GMAT or GRE requirements, creating another avenue to test-free entry.
How do I get my GMAT waived?
Business schools that offer GMAT waivers usually reserve these options for students with professional or military experience. To receive a GMAT waiver, a candidate usually writes a compelling letter to the school that explains the basis for their request and provides complete supporting documentation.
How long does it take to prepare for the GMAT?
The time it takes to prepare for the GMAT depends on your test-taking abilities and the amount of time you can dedicate to studying each day. You may want to spend three months or more preparing for the exam, depending on your schedule and goal score.
Are MBA programs that do not require the GMAT good?
Yes. GMAT requirements typically do not reflect the program’s quality. Most top business schools do not require standardized tests and instead emphasize other parts of a student’s application. Similarly, many excellent undergraduate programs no longer require the SAT or ACT.
What GPA should I have if I am not taking the GMAT?
Business schools often post minimum GPA requirements on their websites, but a high GPA increases your chances of getting into any business program. Schools that waive GMAT requirements often require a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Do online MBA programs require the GMAT?
Online MBA programs generally share the same admission requirements as on-campus programs. Some online business programs require that applicants take the GMAT, while others do not. Carefully research each school’s requirements to find out whether or not you need to take the GMAT.
Are there any MBA specializations that do not require the GMAT?
Yes. However, you may find slightly different admissions processes and requirements for various MBA tracks within one university.
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