Best Online EdD Programs with No GRE Requirement

Don’t let the GRE get in the way of pursuing your EdD. In this guide, learn about top online programs that have eliminated the exam as an admissions requirement.

Written by

Blake Huggins

Last updated

Jul 13, 2022

Earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree equips you to wear one of many hats, including as a school principal, academic dean, superintendent, or policy expert. Fortunately, obtaining an EdD is easier than ever thanks to both expanded online learning opportunities and the increasing popularity of programs that don’t require the GRE for admission. If you’re considering taking your education career to the next level by pursuing an online, no-GRE EdD, our guide will help you get started. It spotlights this year’s best available programs to help you get started on your program search. We also look at what “no-GRE” means for different schools, discuss how they approach the admissions process, and answer some common applicant questions.

2022’s Top Online EdD Programs Not Requiring the GRE

With more and more schools offering easy and convenient pathways to earn your online, no-GRE EdD, you may find it tricky to zero in on the right school for you. To help in your search, we’ve identified this year’s top programs using criteria that matters most like accreditation, affordability, flexibility, student support, and number of specialization options. Explore the best online EdD programs with no GRE requirements and discover how they can help you further your career in education.

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama (UA) College of Continuing Studies offers four online, no-GRE EdD programs. Focus areas include educational leadership, special education, higher education administration, and instructional leadership (targeting nursing education). Each program involves 66 to 72 credit hours and requires that applicants provide transcripts that show an accredited master’s degree along with letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a recent resume. 

The curriculum for each EdD depends on the track, however they all cover fundamentals such as quantitative research methods, educational theory and policy, and ethics. As a capstone, students complete an original, independently researched dissertation. UA administers all program content online using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous delivery. The special education track is 100% online; the other tracks are hybrid programs that include some on-campus requirements. 

Ball State University

Online, no-GRE EdD programs at Ball State University Online focus on adult and community education, elementary education, and educational administration and supervision.  Instead of submitting test scores, qualified applicants provide letters of recommendation, a brief autobiography, and academic transcripts along with a statement of education philosophy and letter of intent. Students complete 90 to 91 credits, taking courses in collaborative learning, school law and finance, pedagogy, and human development. 

Ball State uses 100% online tools for these programs; in addition, the adult and community education track offers students the choice of hybrid or blended formats as well. After completing their first year of study, all students receive an individualized doctoral committee to mentor them through the program and serve as a hub for professional networking.

Wilmington University

Students at Wilmington University can earn an online, no-GRE EdD in educational leadership, higher education leadership, or organizational leadership, learning and innovation. The EdD in educational leadership allows students to specialize in teacher leadership, school leadership, and district leadership. Designed for full-time working professionals, these programs require 49 to 54 credits and a dissertation capstone. Most degree seekers finish in three years or less. 

Wilmington accepts up to 12 transfer credits at the graduate level and offers courses that look at current issues in American education, human resource development, and leadership communication. Students choose the delivery mode that works best for them (asynchronous online, online live, hybrid, or flex). Admissions requirements include transcripts, letters of recommendation, current resume, and a personal statement.

Types of No-GRE Online EdD Programs

The “no-GRE” designation can take on different meanings depending on the school. Some schools interpret it broadly, while others have additional requirements. It’s important to understand the different types of online, no-GRE EdD programs and what they require before you apply. Find out more about each below.

No GRE Required or Considered for Any Student

Among the most common option, these programs have no GRE requirements whatsoever. Instead, admissions staff use other elements of the application to inform their decisions. Most of the schools we profiled above fall into this category, offering online EdD programming in which standardized entrance tests are not a factor.

GRE Optional/Considered

Some schools make the GRE optional, which means admissions officials will consider scores alongside other application materials. Boise State and Johns Hopkins offer good examples of what you can expect. In both cases, applicants can submit recent scores if they desire. Some schools, like Johns Hopkins, strongly recommend that prospective students provide scores, even though technically those scores are not required.

GRE Required for Some Students

Other schools require the GRE only for certain categories of students. For instance, Indiana University Bloomington requires the GRE only for applicants who don’t hold graduate or undergraduate degrees from an accredited institution in the U.S. On the other hand, schools like Vanderbilt require GRE scores if an applicant doesn’t meet their GPA threshold (in this case 3.0). 

GRE Required but Waivers Available

Finally, some programs require GRE scores but offer opportunities for a waiver if you meet certain criteria. Piedmont University currently waives all GRE requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others offer waivers for a wider range of circumstances. Some automatically waive the GRE for online EdD programs. For instance, Appalachian State accepts waivers for applicants who have either a competitive GPA or at least five years of professional experience. 

Admissions for No-GRE Online EdD Programs

What can you expect from the best online, no-GRE EdD programs in terms of admissions requirements? Fortunately, most schools still use the same process as those with GRE requirements, but they could include additional criteria or weigh some components more heavily than others. Familiarizing yourself with the process and requirements up front can help you submit stand-out admissions applications to your prospective schools. Learn more about the process and how to set yourself apart.

Accredited Master’s Degree

Virtually all the best online no-GRE EdD programs require that applicants possess a master’s degree from an accredited institution. That degree can be in any field or discipline, although some schools prefer students have a degree in a related subject. Credentials at the graduate level show that you have a track record of academic success and that you’re prepared to meet the challenges and rigors that come with doctoral education.

Competitive Grade Point Average (GPA)

Many online, no-GRE EdD programs look at your cumulative GPA as a means of quantifying your academic performance and measuring your potential for success. GPA minimums vary quite a bit, but generally applicants should aim for 2.5 or higher. At Marymount University, students need a 2.75 cumulative GPA, but at schools like the University of North Georgia and the University of Illinois those numbers are higher (3.5 and 3.0, respectively).

Essay or Personal Statement

A core component of any admissions application, the essay gives you the chance to speak for yourself. Think of it as an opportunity to craft a compelling narrative that unites your goals, qualifications, and background. This essay is extremely important and forms the heart of your application to an online EdD program with no GRE requirement. Most essays are 500 to 1,000 words, but length can vary. Schools like Northeastern University want to see specific questions answered, while others like Arizona State University offer an open-ended prompt.

Letters of Reference/Recommendation

Letters should come from previous advisors, mentors, or employers who can attest to your abilities and assess your readiness for study. Most of the best online EdD programs with no GRE require you to submit two to three letters; some may specify the type of references you should provide, so be sure to follow the instructions closely. For example, Kent State wants letters from organizational supervisors, while the University of Southern California accepts letters from a broader base. Schools such as Drexel University offer additional information and resources on securing effective recommendation letters.

Course Prerequisites

Some of the best online EdD programs with no GRE do require specific course prerequisites, especially if your background is not in education or if you hold a degree in a different field. Typically these courses must be from accredited schools and cover education or the social sciences. At Ball State, prospective students most complete a course in psychology and research methods in education to be eligible for admissions. Specifics vary widely on this so be sure to consult individual admissions departments for more information.

Common Questions About Online EdD Programs with No GRE Requirement

Should I submit my GRE scores even if an EdD program doesn’t require them?

If you already have recent, competitive GRE scores then it’s worth considering, especially if the school in question makes the exam optional (or states that scores could enhance applications). The GRE is a big commitment so if you haven’t taken it and scores aren’t required, it may not be worth the investment. If you aren’t happy with your scores, or if you think they could hurt your chances, then trust the no-GRE admissions process and skip submitting your scores.

Are no-GRE EdD programs lower quality?

No! There was a time when GRE requirements closely correlated with quality and rigor, but that’s no longer the case as schools reconsider the exam and its utility. Online, no-GRE EdD programs hold the same form(s) of accreditation, support the same learning outcomes, and adhere to the same standards of quality and excellence as those that require the test. The programs profiled above come from reputable and prestigious schools across the country.

How much do online EdD programs with no GRE requirement cost?

Overall cost varies widely and depends on factors including the number of credits required, your enrollment status (part-time vs. full-time), your state of residence, the type of school (public vs. private), and the amount of financial aid you receive. Use the table below to see the range of potential tuition-related costs for an online EdD program with no GRE. 

SchoolCost per CreditTotal CreditsSubtotal
University of North Georgia$303/credit60$18,180
Marymount University$1,140/credit48$54,720
Baylor University $1,785/credit54$96,390
Northeastern University$932/credit51$47,532
Indiana University Bloomington$513/credit (in-state)
$605/credit (out-of-state)
60$30,780 (in state)
$36,300 (out of state)

Do online EdD programs with no GRE requirement have financial aid available?

Yes, absolutely. Quite a few online, no-GRE EdD programs offer scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid to new and returning students. For instance, the University of Alabama’s College of Continuing Studies offers multiple scholarships to graduate students earning their degrees online, including those pursuing an EdD. Consult our financial aid guide for doctoral students for more advice and insights.