Where to earn an MBA online without taking the GMAT

Some MBA programs don't require students to take the GMAT. Here's a quick look at why this approach might work for you.
Written by Nate Delesline III, Staff Writer

Many master of business administration programs take about two years to complete for full-time students. It's one of the most popular and most sought-after graduate degrees. But once you add in three to six months of study preparing to take the GMAT, plus the MBA program application process, earning this degree might take three years or longer.

Shortening that timeline is one reason for the popularity of online MBA programs that don't require the GMAT for admission. Given the option, many students choose online programs to expedite their educational progress. Online MBA programs also allow working professionals to make their learning experience work with their professional and personal schedules.

Alternatives to the GMAT

Students have several alternatives to taking the GMAT. But first, what is the GMAT?

The graduate management admission test, or GMAT, measures your critical thinking skills, which in turn, is one measure of your aptitude for academic success in graduate school. Universities have used the GMAT for about 60 years. Students may take the exam, which costs $250, in person or online. More than 200,000 people worldwide take the GMAT every year, and about 7,000 MBA and master's-level academic programs use the test as part of their admissions process. Here are some alternatives to the GMAT.

Graduate Record Exam

The GRE measures verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing skills. Business schools, law schools, and graduate schools may accept either GRE or GMAT scores. However, schools that don't require the GMAT typically don't require students to take the GRE either. 

According to The Princeton Review, the GMAT might be a better fit for people with stronger analytical and data interpretation skills. The GRE's math section is "more straightforward" and is possibly a better fit for people with strong vocabulary skills. 

While the GMAT is primarily for MBA programs, the GRE is a more general exam. The GRE is accepted at 90% of MBA programs, according to one source, and currently costs $205.

Request a waiver

Requesting a waiver may help you avoid months of test prep and expense, but successfully getting a school to agree to waive a GMAT requirement still requires following a process and meeting standards. 

For example, at Rice University in Texas, you'll need to submit a waiver request, a resume, and academic transcripts. Additional criteria for a possible waiver include: 

  • at least seven years of full-time work experience;
  • a graduate degree in a STEM-related field; or
  • holding a quantitatively-oriented professional certification, like a certified public accountant.

The University of Louisville also offers similar waiver criteria. These include:

  • holding a quantitative-based master's degree or a doctoral degree;
  • five years of managerial experience; 
  • five years of military officer experience; or
  • ten years of non-commissioned officer experience in the military.

Highlight professional experience

Many MBA schools require students to submit an essay or personal statement. This statement allows students to highlight their professional experience, reasons for pursuing an MBA, and how this educational experience will advance their career goals.

The letter may also offer an opportunity to advocate for why the schools should waive its GMAT requirement for admission. For example, you'll want to demonstrate that your professional experience has given you the knowledge and skills that the GMAT would assess. Provide some specific, real-world examples to back up your case. Your recommendation letters — if required — can also further describe your aptitude for academic success.

MBA programs that don't require the GMAT

Considering an online MBA? Here are five accredited MBA programs that waive the GMAT:

George Mason University

GMU's 48-credit online MBA program curriculum focuses on communication, leadership, analytical decision-making, and current business issues. Students may also simultaneously earn a business analytics certificate. The certificate focuses on data collection and analysis.

Colorado State University

Students can complete this 42-credit program in a minimum of 21 months. You'll need to have a cumulative 3.0 GPA from an accredited four-year school or a graduate degree, and you'll need to have two years of professional work experience.

Pepperdine University

Students at this school participate in real-world assignments for major companies. Like many schools that eschew the GMAT and GRE, it's optional to submit your scores for these tests to apply for this 52-credit program.

Syracuse University

This 54-credit online program includes career services, coaching programs, and resume reviews. Coursework and classes are accessible through mobile apps. Syracuse says their program is ideal for working professionals who want to gain new leadership skills and management expertise.

Boston University

Application requirements for this 45-credit program include a 750-word essay, a virtual talent assessment, and submission of a letter of recommendation. GMAT or GRE scores are not required. However, the university says submitting a GMAT score may "enhance your application."

This article was reviewed by Krystal Covington, MBA 

Krystal Covington, a woman with medium-length, curly hair, smiles at the camera.

Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships. 

Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills and connect with other high-achieving women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.

Krystal Covington is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

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