Many colleges and universities require MBA applicants to take the GMAT as part of the applications process. Yet for many busy professionals returning to college after starting their career, studying and paying for a standardized test may not be practical. The test also doesn’t factor in the value of real-world experience students may have gained in the field.
Many colleges today are solving this dilemma by putting less emphasis on the GMAT for admission, allowing students to use past academic and current professional experience to waive the requirement. Others have simply eliminated the GMAT requirement all together. Understanding the requirements of prospective programs and how to evaluate the school and its offerings can make it easier to choose the right MBA program for your experience and lifestyle.
Although many colleges have added no-GMAT online MBA programs for students, it remains a relatively small percentage of the programs out there. For students who haven’t taken the GMAT, narrowing the search field to the accredited schools that will waive or have gotten rid of this requirement will help speed up the search.
Students who haven’t taken the GMAT and don’t have plans to take it before applying to an online MBA program, have two options:
Each program varies, but many schools will allow students to waive the GMAT requirement if they meet one or more of the following requirements:
Most schools accept GMAT or GRE scores for their standardized test requirements.
Some schools will accept a GPA as low as 2.8, but many require 3.4 or higher.
Those with a MD, PhD or JD may be able to waive the GMAT requirement.
Requirements typically range from at least two years to 10 or more.
Some Executive MBA programs will accept the Executive Assessment in place of the GMAT. The Executive Assessment is given by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the group responsible for the GMAT.
Keep in mind that students may need to have a combination of more than one of the requirements above to qualify for a waiver for some programs.
If applying to a program that doesn’t require the GMAT or a GMAT waiver, students will typically need to submit the following application materials:
Even without the GMAT requirement, many schools still conduct competitive assessments for students applying for admission. In place of the GMAT, applicant interviews, completed undergraduate majors in business-related studies, or continuing education credits in business fields can be heavily weighted.
Because of the advanced studies at a rapid pace, admissions officers at colleges and universities offering accelerated one-year MBA programs may require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree in finance, business or accounting in order to get a head-start on the curriculum.
When considering online MBA programs, students should consider first if a no-GMAT program best meets their needs. There are many positives to programs which waive this requirement, which can be especially beneficial to some students.
It costs $250 to take the GMAT. Depending on when students took the exam and how many schools they want to send their scores to, they may also be required to pay $35 per score report sent.
Students who score well on the GMAT typically study for over 120 hours. Professionals going back to school while working or balancing personal commitments likely don’t have that much time to devote to studying.
For students with test anxiety or other reasons that prevent them from succeeding on standardized tests, no-GMAT programs allow them to showcase career or other academic achievements that may be overlooked by schools that focus on test scores.
When evaluating online MBA programs that don’t require a GMAT, prospective students should ask themselves the following questions to determine if the program meets their needs:
This is one of the best ways of evaluating a school’s baseline academic quality.
MBA programs are often ranked partially based on the GMAT scores of their students. This means that schools that don’t require GMAT scores may automatically be ranked lower than those that do require it. But there are other factors that can give students insight into the school’s reputation. Are there any notable graduates from the program? What are the qualifications of the faculty? Does it have a strong alumni network? What are former students saying about the program?
Students should compare the program’s curriculum to their career objectives. Will the skills they learn help them advance in their career? Start a new career? Earn more?
(Accelerated MBA programs typically run through the summer internship window.)
Will the program connect students with mentors and business professionals on the faculty or through business alliances?
Does the school have an effective career placement service or maintain ongoing relationships with corporate partners?
Students may want to examine school demographics to ensure their peers share their maturity and drive. MBA students may be older and have more extensive professional experience than students attending other graduate degree programs. One-year accelerated MBA programs that have no GMAT entry requirements follow the cohort system, where the same students take the same classes in the path to their degrees. Program culture can be as essential as corporate culture.