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PhDs & Doctorates Without GRE Requirements

Schools are beginning to look at other barometers besides GRE scores to measure a student’s likelihood for success, including academic course history, undergraduate GPA, scholarly accomplishments and research experience, extracurricular engagement, and life and work experience.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written by

PhDs.me Staff

Last updated

Apr 24, 2023

In recent years, an increasing number of doctorate-level programs have recognized that GRE scores provide a limited view of how well candidates will perform in their programs. One of the primary reasons why colleges and universities are moving away from this long-standing admissions practice is that many applicants to graduate-level programs are working adults who may be out of practice when it comes to taking standardized tests. Additionally, recent studies have shown that GRE tests may disproportionately put certain demographics at a disadvantage, including women and people of color.

If you’re applying for a practical doctorate program, such as a Doctor of Social Work or Education, you’ll be acquiring new, practical skills in the field. In these programs, admissions committees recognize that learning is hands-on, and a graduate test may not accurately reflect how well an individual will learn in such a program. Likewise, PhD programs demand the development of specialized knowledge and skills that may not be adequately reflected in a GRE exam and are more closely associated with an applicant’s academic performance and coursework history.

This guide will take you through the intricacies of applying to no-GRE doctorate programs and highlight the critical aspects to look out for, such as GRE exam waivers and other relevant information.

Even some of the most prestigious doctoral programs do not mandate applicants to take the GRE. As you explore potential schools, you may notice that some of them “recommend” the GRE as part of your application. Nonetheless, none of these programs require the GRE for consideration.

Doctor of Business Administration

For business-focused degree programs at the graduate level, the GMAT is essentially the GRE for business majors. Similar to non-GRE programs, many DBA programs today do not require the GMAT for consideration. DBA programs are certainly among those degrees where older students apply after gaining several years of business and work experience, so many programs today waive the GMAT requirement to offer a more practical application experience for working professionals. Check out DBA programs online with no GRE requirements or with waiver options available.


Program Spotlight: George Fox University

George Fox University offers a doctor of business administration (DBA) program for distance students. This hybrid program stipulates that students complete both online and in-person requirements for the DBA. You’ll need to complete in-person residencies in Portland, Oregon, twice a year for the first three years of your degree program. George Fox also boasts a cohort learning model where you’ll get to work alongside and network with business-minded peers. After completing coursework and your residencies during years one through three, you’ll complete a dissertation during your fourth year.

Instead of evaluating GMAT scores, George Fox University expects applicants to possess five years of professional business experience or have had a full-time appointment as a business school faculty member. Prospective DBA students should also have a bachelor’s and master’s degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA, along with a course history in finance, accounting, and economics.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Since careers in physical therapy are often quite hands-on, it’s no wonder that college and universities today are starting to waive the GRE requirement. Campus and online DPT programs typically require incoming students to have some level of observation experience in physical therapy settings. Many DPT programs today also require an interview, which gives the admissions committee a good chance to understand how you might fit in the patient-/client-facing field of PT.


Program Spotlight: Indiana University

Established in 1820, Indiana University is a public institution with nearly 110,500 students across all its campuses. This hybrid DPT program requires degree seekers to complete coursework online and in-person, including four full-time clinical experiences over the span of 30 weeks.

Prospective DPT students should have at least 40 hours of observation in a PT setting before they sit for an admissions interview. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for prospective students to acquire these observation hours, IU offers supplemental observation opportunities for admitted learners. Additionally, DPT applicants need to submit two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a bachelor’s degree transcript showing a 3.2 or higher GPA.

Doctor of Social Work

As with other professions with many types of patient-facing jobs that require extensive hands-on training and specialized knowledge, the doctor of social work does not always require the GRE for admission. With this in mind, colleges and universities know that incoming students will gain the skills they need to be effective social workers after they begin coursework in their programs.


Program Spotlight: Rutgers University

Rutgers is a public institution in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with approximately 70,000 students. Founded in 1766, the school offers a no-GRE doctor of social work program. Instead of requiring applicants to submit GRE scores for consideration, Rutgers requires applicants to possess a MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. Additionally, you will need two years of work experience in the field, which should take place after you’ve completed the master’s degree. If your area of the field requires licensure, you must also possess an LSW, while the LCSW license is preferred. Applications must also include your official transcripts, a personal statement, an updated CV, and a writing sample.


Doctor of education programs typically attract, and are often designed for, mid- to senior-level professionals with a proven track record in the education field. Since schools typically require EdD applicants to possess extensive experience in the field, it’s increasingly common for EdD programs to not require the GRE for consideration.


Program Spotlight: Baylor University

Located in Waco, Texas, Baylor is a private Baptist university established in 1845. Boasting approximately 19,200 students, the university offers an online doctor of education program. In lieu of GRE scores, the EdD program requires you to submit your official transcripts and several other documents. Your GPA should be 3.0 or higher and reflect a course history that prepares you for academic success in a doctoral education program. Graduate applications must also include an updated CV, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a completed online application form, and participate in a five-minute video interview.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

There are multiple routes to the DNP degree depending on your level of prior education and experience in the nursing field. Some DNP programs online and campus-based do not require applicants to submit their GRE scores because graduate nursing programs require you to be licensed. Further, these professionals already possess at least some specialized knowledge in the field, and many have a demonstrated work experience in the field.


Program Spotlight: The University of Arizona

Established in 1885, the University of Arizona is a public research institution that offers a competitive DNP program. Prospective students may apply with a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA, or a master’s degree with a 3.5 or higher GPA. In either case, incoming learners need to possess RN licensure. While this program does not require applicants to submit their GRE scores, there’s a list of admissions requirements that may vary depending on your chosen specialty area. All prospective DNP degree-seekers must submit two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and an updated CV. The admissions committee will also conduct an admissions phone interview.

PhD in Computer Science

As with other research-focused, doctor of philosophy programs, admissions committees can tell a lot about you as a prospective student based on your previous academic achievements, work experience, faculty recommendations, and any research plans you might have. With this in mind, the GRE is becoming less common for admission into PhD in computer science programs.


Program Spotlight: Brown University

Brown University is an Ivy League institution located in Providence, Rhode Island. The private school was founded in 1764 and offers an excellent PhD in computer science program. Learners can enter the program with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and students who are granted admission to the PhD program may earn a master’s degree as they complete the doctorate. Prospective Brown computer science PhD students do not need to submit their GRE scores, but will need to send in their official transcripts, outline of a research plan, and three letters of recommendation.

PhD in Counseling

Professionals with a PhD in counseling work in a wide variety of roles across the field. While many graduates end up as educators or researchers, PhD degree-holders may also work in patient-facing roles, too. Regardless of the career track, colleges and universities typically require you to have a master’s degree and have completed an extensive clinical internship. With this in mind, many PhD in counseling programs don’t require GRE scores for consideration at this high level.


Program Spotlight: Oregon State University

Located in Corvallis, Oregon, OSU is a public institution established in 1868. With more than 31,000 students, the school offers a competitive PhD in counseling program. The program featured a hybrid, cohort-learning model, with both online and on-campus requirements. Students interested in the PhD in counseling program need a master’s degree in counseling with at least 600 hours of clinical internship experience. Applications must also include transcripts, a list of volunteer or work experience, an outline of educational and professional goals, three letters of recommendation, and an academic writing sample. The GRE for this program is optional.

PhD in Psychology

Students who are interested in the PhD in psychology typically need a master’s degree in the field from a regionally accredited institution to apply. Some schools may also demand several years of relevant work experience in the field. At this stage of your education or career, colleges and universities can get a good sense of how well you will perform in their PhD program. As a result, many programs in this field have made the GRE optional for admission.


Program Spotlight: Saybrook University

Saybrook is a private graduate school in Pasadena, California. All of its graduate-level education focuses on training professionals to work in areas of humanistic psychology or related areas. Established in 1971, the regionally accredited school offers a PhD in psychology. The GRE is optional, but prospective students will still need to submit their transcripts, an outline of relevant professional experience, and demonstrate the critical-thinking and writing skills necessary for success in a PhD program. Applications must also include an online application, resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. All prospective learners need to participate in an admissions interview, as well.

PhD in Public Health

Many professionals seeking out advanced degrees in public health today are already mid-career professionals. While some students may enter a master’s program immediately after completing their undergraduate degree, most public health PhD students have already had several years of work in the field. With this in mind, doctoral programs in public health are increasingly more likely to waive the GRE requirement for prospective PhD students.


Program Spotlight: University of Connecticut

A public institution in Storrs, Connecticut, UConn offers a PhD in public health with no GRE requirements. Applicants should possess a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA, along with a master’s in public health (MPH). Some incoming students with exceptional academic records and high likelihood for success in the field may receive admission to the PhD program in public health without a master’s degree. Applicants should also demonstrate a history of success in class in five core disciplines: epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioral sciences, occupational/environmental health, and health services administration.

PhD in Special Education

Prospective PhD students in this area typically already possess a master’s degree, extensive work experience in a special education role, or both. In order to make it that far in the field, they already possess a strong desire to work with special needs people and have proven themselves academically. With this in mind, many colleges and universities make the GRE exam optional for learners applying for PhDs in special education.


Program Spotlight: University of Northern Colorado

Located in Greeley, Colorado, UNC is a public institution founded in 1889.  The school boasts approximately 12,000 students and offers an online or in-person PhD in special education with no GRE. Interested PhD students should possess a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Students who are currently finishing their master’s degree may still apply. Applications must also include three letters of recommendation written by those who can speak to your likelihood for success in an advanced academic environment. UNC also expects applicants to submit a statement of academic and professional goals, an updated CV, and an academic writing sample.

GRE & GMAT Waivers: Do You Qualify?

Doctoral degree programs may waive GRE and GMAT requirements for various reasons. For instance, some schools or programs may have waived their GRE and GMAT requirements due to COVID-19, while others may offer waivers to students who meet specific criteria. Below are some ways students may qualify for waivers.

COVID-19 Waivers

Given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many colleges and universities are automatically waiving their GRE requirement. To see if your prospective schools are offering this COVID-19 waiver, check the admissions page on its website. Most schools are placing this announcement prominently on several pages, including FAQ sections. There may also be information related to COVID-19 waivers on the online application form itself. Check out these announcements posted by the University of Louisville and Duquesne University, for example. There may be no special form or information that you’ll need to provide in order to receive the waiver. In other cases, like at The University of Texas-McCombs, you’ll need to submit a waiver petition.

Work Experience Waivers

For schools that still require GRE scores for their doctoral programs, there is still a way you can get a waiver if you have a background in the area you’re planning to study. The University of Mary Washington, for example, offers GRE and GMAT waivers for those students who have five or more years of post-baccalaureate professional work experience. You’ll likely need to request a work experience waiver online from your school’s graduate admissions office.

Programmatic Waivers

Depending on the program, there may be other ways you’d qualify for a GRE waiver. Some schools will offer waivers to applicants with stellar academic performance or who have an interest in a particular area of their field. Some programs have special guidelines for GRE waivers, like the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which offers waivers only to MS/PhD students but not those who only wish to pursue the MS degree alone.

Waiver for Terminal Degree Holders

Depending on the doctoral degree you’re seeking and your academic background, you might meet a school’s criteria for a GRE test waiver. For example, Georgia State University does not normally waive GRE scores, but it does offer a variety of waivers for some incoming students who already possess a graduate level certificate, master’s degree, or PhD. Some programs offer programmatic waivers for those who possess a master’s degree with a high GPA, like Florida State University.

Alumni Waiver

There are several other potential scenarios that you might encounter where you’ll be able to apply for a GRE waiver. One of the more common waiver opportunities you’ll find is for applicants who are alums. If you earned a bachelor’s degree at Brandeis University, for example, you’ll likely receive a GRE waiver when you decide to apply for a master’s or doctoral degree in its graduate school. The same opportunity exists at the University of Houston.