PhD Without GRE
GRE scores are sometimes one of the requirements for applying to graduate school. What are they? Why do you need them to get into graduate programs? Getting into grad school may be difficult for some students. The GRE may seem to make it even more challenging.
written by Rana Waxman
What is the GRE?
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a type of standardized test. It often helps to evaluate the student’s analytical and reasoning skills in key areas. This could include math, writing, and reading. The GRE is not for a specific subject or study plan. Students do not need to have college level education in any specific course. Rather, it typically focuses on an overall look at the student’s qualifications and skill sets.
Earning a doctoral degree often requires a lot of hard work. The GRE seems to be a test that gauges whether someone may be able to do that work. Yet, it may be possible to get a PhD without a GRE.
Test maker ETS develops and administers the GRE test. This is often done for graduate and business schools. This allows for the creation of a standard model to weigh the students’ qualifications for academic work at the graduate level.
Specifically, the GRE is a multiple-choice test. It is typically completed on a computer. The exam’s results are often necessary for admittance into a grad school program.
Why Do Schools Sometimes Require a GRE Score for Admission?
Most often, colleges and universities look at the GRE requirements as one component of admission consideration. They may also look at your academic record, GPA, supporting materials, and analytical writing, more to make the decision about admitting you.
Many admissions requirements for graduate school exist. That may include having a master’s degree, meeting GPA requirements, and completing a GRE requirement. From the school’s perspective, testing a student’s knowledge after a master’s education may make sense. It typically focuses on problem solving skills. It may also include critical thinking skills. These are often important skills necessary in a PhD degree program. The test may also consider quantitative reasoning, writing skills, and verbal reasoning.
Is It Possible for GRE Exams to Be Waived?
The GRE is often a common part of the admissions process. However, there may be opportunities to waive the need for these test scores. It is usually up to the school itself to determine if a GRE is necessary. There are some schools that do not require a GRE test. These graduate programs that do not require a GRE score are often no different in quality or content than those that do. The school simply decides to waive this admissions requirement.
There may be other ways to waive the GRE as well. This may include:
- GPA cutoff. Schools may look at your GPA from your master’s programs or bachelor’s degree. If it meets their standards, this may waive the GRE.
- Experience. Some applying for a doctoral degree program have working experience. Did you work for 5 years in the field? Some schools set a number of years requirement. If you meet it, no GRE test is necessary.
- Previous graduate degree. Some programs waive the GRE if a student has a completed graduate degree.
These differ from one school to the next. GRE waiver rules are set by the school. It’s often possible to find PhD programs without GRE test rules.
Is It Possible to Get a PhD Without a GRE?
Yes. Some graduate programs do not require a GRE. That means they use other info about you to make the admitting decision. Here are 17 PhD programs that do not require a GRE. This is not a full list. Many others may exist.
16 Schools with PHD No GRE Programs
- Walden University
- A.T. Still University of Health Sciences
- Purdue University Global
- Sacred Heart University
- St. John’s University
- The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TSCPP)
- Duquesne University
- California Southern University (CalSouthern)
- Lynn University
- Northcentral University (NCU)
- Uniformed Services University
- South University
- Saint Leo University
- Nova Southeastern University (NSU)
- Westcliff University
- Liberty University
These grad schools may have many options for doctoral degrees that don’t require the GRE, including fields such as:
Plus, because the PhD is focused on developing you as an expert in a specific field, there are many concentrations available. This includes an Early Childhood Education PhD or an Industrial / Organizational PhD. Here is a look at some options to consider. Keep in mind other requirements may be present. Some require a GMAT. Other schools require graduate students to meet specific goals. Prospective students should look carefully at the program and school before applying
- Popular Programs: Organizational Leadership, Psychology, EdD in Educational Leadership
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List of PhD Programs That Don’t Require GRE
Here is a list of some additional schools and PhD programs that don’t require GRE. These may help you to get an idea of what to expect. Remember, this is not a full list. Other schools and program options may exist. Be sure to check with the school you are considering. Find out if they offer no GRE programs for the area of interest you have.
#1: The Walden University Self-Designed Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
People working in business administration may benefit here. It allows students to explore modern applied managerial theories. It may involve research. Students may choose from several concentrations. That includes International Business and Global Supply Chain Management.
#2: Chicago School of Professional Psychology
This is an online PhD in Organizational Leadership with no GRE. Students may hope to complete a PsyD. Students analyze and assess problems in organizations. Also, students may study and develop creative solutions to those problems. The goal is to create positive change.
#3: California Southern University Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
This program focuses on business knowledge development. It also includes practical skill development. The aim is to prepare senior leadership skills. It takes into account a complex global economy. Students tackle problems and develop solutions in this area.
#5: Smith College’s PhD in Social Work
The social sciences are another area of study to consider. These d. programs require students to have some post-master’s degree professional experience. This may include licensing or certification. Students focus their time on improving leadership skills in social work. They may be working towards management roles in this area. Students also work to develop new skills for clinical social work practice.
#6: Cal Southern University’s School of Behavioral Sciences PsyD Program
A PysD degree with no GRE requirements is an option here. Students take numerous courses here. This includes those in personality theory and psych pharmacology. Then, students work on a doctoral project. This may be something the prospective student is interested in. It may be to research solutions to a problem impacting their experience. Students completing the program may meet the State of California’s requirements for licensure. This may allow for licensing as a clinical psychologist. An exam and other requirements may apply.
#7: Walden University, PhD in Clinical Psychology
The PhD in Clinical Psychology here is fully online. It focuses on testing from a range of hypotheses. Students may also choose from a range of other concentrations. There is ample flexibility in this program. Students may be able to choose classes that fit with their specific interest or career goals. Their PhD in Health Psychology combines courses in research methods with topics like bio-psychology and psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).
#8: Nova Southeastern University’s PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy
This is an accredited program by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). It covers courses in lifespan, family systems theories, and counseling techniques for groups and individuals. There is also a teaching practicum and clinical practice. Students engage in a wide range of research programs. This program enables students to work towards their specific career goals as well.
#8: Saint Leo University Doctor of Criminal Justice in Homeland Security
Those studying criminal justice may wish to look into this no GRE graduate program. It is available fully online. That may allow the student to continue to work in the field as they study. The program may also provide a wide range of skill improvement and opportunities for developing leadership skills. In this program, students analyze various techniques. The goal is to refine and improve their ability to think and lead in a strategic manner. Another option is to take the educational track for teacher-leaders. This may be optimal for students who wish to teach others criminal justice skills. The key here is the focus is on homeland security. Other paths may be available as well.
#10: Northcentral University’s DCJ in White Collar Crime
Northcentral University offers a Doctor of Criminal Justice as well. This program focuses on white collar crime specifically. It is a fully online doctoral program. Again, this may allow students to continue to work while they learn. This program has a focus of identifying and exposing white collar economic crimes. Students may already have basic skills in this area from the professional work they did.
Students may learn more about fraud examination techniques, prosecuting and sentencing, and accounting and forensic accounting theories. It is a hands on type of course. Students develop key skills in leadership as well. As a PhD program, there may be research involved. Some students may spend much of their time developing new solutions and strategies applicable.
#11: Andrews University DNP
Another avenue for obtaining a DNP is in the Andrews University program. It offers three tracks for students. These are bridge programs. That means they help students go from having a bachelor’s degree to a PhD through one or more paths. Students choose the path for them. That is based on previous degrees and designations.
These programs allow those who have a registered nurse license with just an undergraduate degree to complete their DNP. It may allow them to skip the master’s degree process. These programs include the BSN – DNP, MSN – DNP, and APRN – DNP tracks. Students choose the track based on what level of education they have now. This may speed up their education. It may help them earn a DNP in a much shorter timeframe.
#12: Sacred Heart University Doctor of Nursing Practice
This is another DNP opportunity. Students completing this program study a range of topics related to management and skill building in this field. The key goal is to help students learn to transform or improve practice. They may also learn strategies for better leadership and management skills. They may focus on engaging in practical research as well.
The DNP option may enable students to focus on areas of interest to them. This is a no GRE program. It requires students to have professional experience in the field. Students must also be a licensed RN to complete this course of education.
#13: Temple University PhD in Bioengineering
In this program from Temple University, students conduct research. Their focus is on the crossroads between translational medicine and engineering. Students complete courses and develop research in the field. This may include finding ways to innovative in the industry.
Students may focus on a range of topics in this area. That may include neuro-engineering, stem and cancer cell engineering, tissue regeneration, and more. Students may be able to choose some topics that interest them. This may include areas of study specific to their career goals.
#14: Temple University PhD in Mechanical Engineering
In this doctoral degree program, students focus on manufacturing mechanical systems. This may include innovations and developments in topics such as such as car airbag sensors or electric propulsion systems for space travel. Areas of potential research include material science, mechanics and robotics.
The key in this research based program is to develop solutions to current problems. Students may need to meet numerous prerequisites. This may include professional experience in the industry. Keep in mind that Temple University offers a few GRE waiver options. This may be available to doctoral students. Students typically need to have a master’s degree completed. They may also need to complete 16 PhD-level credits to earn the degree. In addition, students need to complete exams and a dissertation in their course of study. In total, these programs listed here (and others that may be available) require 30 credit hours of completed studies. Check with the school about specific waiver requirements for the program selected.
Are Online No GRE PhD Programs an Option?
Yes, there are numerous online PhD programs that may allow students to begin their studies without a GRE requirement. An online program may allow a student to work at his or her own pace. It may have some pre-scheduled class meet times. It may require some in-person meetings. Or, others do not. Some programs are also self-paced. This may make it easier to obtain a degree for those working.
Online degrees may provide ample flexibility to students. In recent years, many students have utilized online programs. They may help make completing a PhD a bit easier when other challenges of life are present. That may include taking care of a family, working, or meeting other responsibilities.
Keep this in mind, though. For some PhD students, on-campus learning is a must. The field may require more hands-on work. Students may benefit from being in person if they learn better in that format. Learn more about the doctoral programs. Determine if the work completed fits your needs and skills. Determine if you feel comfortable studying at home or on your own.
What Other Admissions Requirements Do Universities Use for Doctoral Programs?
A school decides not to require students to complete the GRE test. Now what? How do they know if a student is prepared for graduate school?
They may use other factors. They may look at previous work or studies. Some of the other tools they use include:
- Master’s degree completion
- If no master’s degree, bachelor’s degree completion
- Minimum GPA requirements
- Letters of recommendation
- Student education goals
- Professional resume or CV
- Personal statement
- Work experience
- Previous written work including in undergraduate studies
- Licensing or certification as applicable to the field
To find out if the program you are interested in waives GRE requirements, contact the admissions advisor. This may be a good time to discuss each of the situations that may limit you from completing the GRE. Discuss your interests and career goals. This may allow you more insight into the school’s rules and any flexibility they may offer to you.
What Is a GRE Waiver for PhD Programs?
A GRE waiver is like a pass – it often trades in test scores for professional work experience to help determine how ready a candidate is for the academic rigors of a PhD. GRE scores expire in five years from the time you take the test. So, if you took it some years ago, you may not want the added hurdle of a retake. Your years of hands-on practice – especially in the same field as the PhD – may be sufficient for a school to consider you for admission. Applicants who require a waiver of the GRE generally need to consult the appropriate departmental Graduate Program Director to review specific program and university criteria.
No GRE PhD in Counseling/Psychology Programs
Some professionals in psychology and counseling are interested in careers in research and academia, but many just want to help people directly. When presented with options, the PhD is the degree usually associated with research, whereas ‘Doctor of’ usually connotes a practice-focused doctorate. Check out sponsored programs below that don’t require GRE.
List of No GRE PhD in Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work Programs
- Applicants to Smith College’s PhD in Social Work program don’t need the GRE though you are required to have some post-Masters professional experience. Coursework analyzes how to refine leadership skills as you work to develop new insights about clinical social work practice.
- Cal Southern’s School of Behavioral Sciences offers a PsyD degree with no GRE requirements. Students complete a doctoral project after taking a range of courses such as advanced theories in personality theory and psych-pharmacology. Upon earning your degree, graduates may be ready to pursue licensure as a clinical psychologist is the state of California.
- For those whose preference is testing hypotheses, Walden University offers an online PhD in Clinical Psychology in addition to a variety of concentrations you can choose from in line with career goals. One example is their PhD in Health Psychology which combines courses in research methods with topics like bio-psychology and psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).
- Nova Southeastern University’s PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy is accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). It covers courses in lifespan, family systems theories, and counseling techniques for groups and individuals. There is also a teaching practicum and clinical practice on top of plenty of research.
No GRE PhD in Criminal Justice Programs
PhD in Criminal Justice programs meld managerial theories with an in-depth look at crime causation, law enforcement, juvenile justice, and beyond. Check out sponsored programs below that don’t require GRE.
List of PhD in Criminal Justice Programs with No GRE
- Saint Leo University offers an online Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ) in Homeland Security where students analyze techniques to fine tune their ability to think and lead strategically. In addition, the school offers an educational track for aspiring teacher-leaders.
- Northcentral University’s online DCJ in White Collar Crime aims to teach students how to identify and expose white collar economic crimes. Curriculum is designed to expose students to fraud examination techniques, prosecuting and sentencing, and to advanced accounting and forensic accounting theories and practices.
- Colorado Technical University offers an online Doctor of Management (DM) in Homeland Security which highlights managerial leadership, strategy and decision skills. Students could refine their expertise in tactical analysis and thinking as it relates to homeland security and policy leadership. CTU also offers a DM in Criminal Justice.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs with No GRE
An alternative to the research-focused PhD in Nursing is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which aims to ready nurses as systems-level thinkers and leaders who are able to navigate key issues.
Patient safety, public health, health policy, performance improvement, and quality of care are some of these critical concerns. DNP students could also learn how to integrate nursing science with organizational leadership and ethics.
Instead of the GRE, applicants may need a masters degree with an advanced nursing practice and current U.S. RN license and certification in an advanced nursing practice role, if applicable. Many schools also perform background checks as part of the application process. You may also be interested in accelerated, direct entry and MSN to DNP programs. Check out sponsored programs below that don’t require GRE.
List of No GRE DNP Programs
Many nursing graduate schools have DNP programs – in fact these come in online, campus and sometimes blended (hybrid) formats. Accredited DNP programs may be approved by an agency such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Below is a list of 3 grad schools which offer DNP programs but don’t ask for GRE scores.
- Georgetown University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is designed to prepare registered nurses (RNs) as health care leaders with a holistic understanding of health.
- Andrews University offers three tracks for their DNP bridge programs, which allows students with an RN license but only an undergraduate degree to pursue a DNP. These programs include the BSN – DNP, MSN – DNP, and APRN – DNP tracks.
- Sacred Heart University offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) designed to prepare you to transform practice, lead and engage in practical, clinically focused scholarship and research.
What Is a GRE Waiver for PhD Programs?
A GRE waiver is like a pass – it often trades in test scores for professional work experience to help determine how ready a candidate is for the academic rigors of a PhD.
GRE scores expire in five years from the time you take the test. So, if you took it some years ago, you may not want the added hurdle of a retake. Your years of hands-on practice – especially in the same field as the PhD – may be sufficient for a school to consider you for admission.
Applicants who require a waiver of the GRE generally need to consult the appropriate departmental Graduate Program Director to review specific program and university criteria. Check out sponsored programs below that don’t require GRE.
PhD Programs That May Waive the GRE
Partner school Temple University may waive the GRE for eligible doctoral students. To earn their degree, those who enter with a Master’s degree typically need to complete 15 credits of PhD-level core coursework and 15 credits of PhD exams and dissertation research, for a total of 30 credits.
Some of the available PhD programs with GRE waivers at Temple include:
- PhD in Bioengineering: students conduct research at the crossroads of translational medicine and engineering. Innovate and explore areas such as neuro-engineering, stem and cancer cell engineering, tissue regeneration and more.
- PhD in Mechanical Engineering: students examine manufacturing mechanical systems, such as car airbag sensors or electric propulsion systems for space travel. Areas of potential research include material science, mechanics and robotics.
Tip for Applying Review application requirements! You might find what you are looking for – a PhD with no GRE requirement – via a waiver.
4 Reasons to Consider PhD Without GRE Programs
Finding a no GRE PhD program may be well worth the search for a lot of students. Here are four reasons to factor into your decision process.
#1 – The GRE’s Predictive Powers Are Limited
In recent years, the GRE has lost some of its control over the admissions process. In part, according to UC Berkeley, researchers have found the scores don’t predict how a student might fare as the program progresses because it wasn’t measure things such as finely-tuned instincts or how well a student collaborates with a lab partner.
#2 – Accredited Universities Offer PhD Programs No GRE Required
It’s a fair question to wonder whether grad schools with PhD No GRE programs are accredited or set lower standards than those who ask for GRE test scores. You may want to do some digging – compare programs, find out what alumni report, and verify success rates.
Also, regional and professional accreditors require the school to undergo a periodic review, so they usually maintain a data base with this information.
#3 – Universities Use Other Admissions Requirements
Universities that offer PhD programs without GRE requirements might use alternative proof of thinking measures used to weed out applicants. Here are a few sample documents that applicants may need to tack onto a completed form and deposit.
- Masters or first professional degree (from a regionally accredited college/university)
- Minimum overall GPA – set by university
- Current letters of recommendation (3 – 5)
- Goals (why and how this specific PhD program lines up with your goals)
- Professional Resume
- Lab/term paper, writing sample – where applicable
- Personal or skype interview with faculty
- English proficiency
- Certification and/or licensure (e.g. teacher license, RN etc.)
Tip for Applying Contact an admissions advisor directly to ask questions about your situation and to apply to those programs that interest you. Usually, schools offer online chats, email, and phone numbers to make it as easy as possible for you.
#4 – A Masters Degree Might Suffice
Several PhD programs across the sciences, arts, and engineering require GRE scores of applicants with a bachelor’s degree or for those who did not complete a research thesis for their masters degree.
The GRE tests knowledge of math, critical thinking, and literacy, as well as an ability to reason. While these are viewed as skills that could indicate whether a student has the aptitude for analysis necessary in a PhD program, persons with a master’s degree and professional experience may be able to show they have these skills without need for GRE scores.
As an example, the University of Fairfax requires applicants to the Doctorate of Information Assurance (DIA) program to have Masters and five years of relevant experience.
DID YOU KNOW? Per the American Psychology Association (APA), GRE scores are less reliable when it comes to predicting whether a student will eventually complete a psychology program.
List of PhD Programs Programs That Don’t Require GRE
|GRE Requirements||Sample PhD Programs Offered|
|Walden University||No Gre Required for Many Programs||PhD in Education, DNP, Phd in Public Health|
|A.T. Still University of Health Sciences||No GRE Required for Some Programs||Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Health Sciences|
|Purdue University Global||No GRE Required||Doctor of Nursing Practice|
|Sacred Heart University||No GRE Required for Some Programs||PhD in Leadership in Health Care, DBA|
|St John’s University||No GRE Required for Some Programs||Phd Clinical Psychology, Doctor of Professional Studies, Homeland Security|
|The Chicago School of Professional Psychology||GRE only required for 3 PsyD Programs||PhD Organizational Leadership|
|Duquesne University||No GRE Required for Some Programs||Special Education PhD, Rehabilitation Science PhD|
|California Southern University||GRE Requirements Vary by Department||DBA, PhD in Psychology|
|Lynn University||No GRE Required||Doctor of Education, Ed.D.|
|Northcentral University||No GRE Required||PhD in Psychology, PhD in Health Adminstration|
|South University||No Minimum GRE Score Required||Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Physical Therapy|
|Nova Southeastern University||No GRE Required||PhD in Information Systems, Phd in Education|
|Westcliff University||No GRE Required||Doctor of Business Administration|
|Liberty University||No GRE Required||Doctor of Strategic Leadership, PhD in Higher Education|
Search for Graduate Schools with PhD No GRE Programs
Click any of the links on this page to explore the spectrum of PhD no GRE programs. Use the form we provide to contact schools directly. You could be one step away from the perfect PhD for you – GRE free!
Or, continue reading about grad schools with no GRE requirements.
You may be interested in these specialized graduate programs that do not require a GRE:
- Accelerated, direct-entry, and MSN to DNP graduate programs (no GRE)
- Online Education Doctorate programs (no GRE)
- Psychology graduate programs (no GRE)
Schools With PHD Programs
- Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
- Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
- Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access.
Popular Online Programs
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