5 top part-time MBA programs that don’t require a GMAT score

BY Kara DriscollNovember 22, 2021, 2:16 PM
An NYU student wearing a graduation gown takes graduation photos in Washington Square Park, as seen in May 2021. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

If you’re thinking about applying for a part-time MBA program, the stress of preparing for the GMAT and landing a high score doesn’t have to be a deterrent. While a score of 700 or higher on the GMAT is typically necessary to get into the most prestigious business schools, dozens of Fortune’s top-ranked MBA programs are moving away from requiring a GMAT score as part of the application process—a trend that industry experts say is meant to allure candidates.

“Studying for and taking the GMAT can be discouraging to a lot of candidates,” says Bill Chionis, principal consultant at Stacy Blackman Consulting. “Waiving it is really to entice candidates who are sitting on the fence, thinking they really do not want to spend six months prepping for an examination.”

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, business schools made admissions processes more flexible during the 2020–21 admissions cycle. Among 101 schools offering MBA programs, 36% suspended the testing requirement for all applicants, while 24% did so for some students, according to the results of an October 2020 survey administered by Kaplan. Approximately 17% of these schools said they have suspended the requirement and may keep the suspension permanent.

Part-time MBA programs are more likely to have no GMAT requirement or a flexible policy offering waivers because of the applicant demographics—these candidates have work experience under their belt, says Devi Vallabhaneni, managing director of the consulting firm MbaMission. She’s also a Harvard Business School interviewer in residence and has almost two decades of experience interviewing and evaluating HBS candidates.

“There are many other ways an admission team can gather the information they need to assess the candidate,” she explains. “When you have more work experience, you have more stories to show your impact. For example, you might be able to show your quantitative ability through showing you’ve managed a budget.”

Here are five of the top-ranked part-time MBA programs that don’t require a GMAT score:

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University’s Pepperdine Graziadio Business School does not require GMAT or GRE scores to apply to its part-time MBA program, though it does accept them. The part-time program is flexible and  “designed for busy working professionals that focuses on transformational learning and people-first leadership,” according to Pepperdine. 

The average incoming student has a GPA of 3.1, and for those students who do submit GMAT scores, the average is 510. The school, which currently enrolls 439 online MBA students, had a 70.48% acceptance rate in 2020. Starting in spring 2022, applicants must submit one letter of recommendation to be considered for admission. Graduation requires students to complete 52 credits. Graziadio’s one-year retention rate in 2020 was 97.25%.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (Marshall) typically requires official GMAT or GRE scores to apply for its part-time MBA program but is providing candidates the option of submitting a standardized test (GMAT or GRE) waiver request. 

The average undergraduate GPA for incoming students is 3.2, and the average GMAT score is 624. For its EMBA program—a part-time, weekend class format—GRE or GMAT standardized test scores are entirely optional.

George Washington University

George Washington University does not require GMAT or GRE scores to apply to its online MBA program, though it will accept and consider them as a part of a student’s application. The university has three part-time programs: the professional MBA, the part-time online MBA, and the part-time online healthcare MBA. 

Incoming online MBA students’ average undergraduate GPA is 3.17 and GMAT score is 587, and one letter of recommendation is required with an application. In 2020, the school accepted 74.5% of online MBA applicants, and the program enrolls more than 350 students.

American University

American University (Kogod) is a test-optional school and doesn’t require a GMAT score for admission to its MBA program. Most part-time students complete the program on a 24-month course sequence, but it can also be completed on a 12-month, 15-month, or 18-month track. 

The average incoming student has a 550 GMAT score and a 3.14 undergraduate GPA. Kogod offers two application rounds each year for its online MBA program. In 2020, the program had an acceptance rate of 78%, and enrolled more than 350 students. Its current one-year retention rate is 87%. In order to graduate, a student must complete 48 credits. 

Babson College

Babson College (Olin) doesn’t require GMAT or GRE scores to apply for its part-time MBA program for 2022 entry. The college’s part-time program features course options including fully in-person evening classes, fully online evening classes, and hybrid blended learning classes. Its online program, which can be completed as a full-time or part-time program, does not require GMAT or GRE scores, as well. 

The average incoming student’s undergraduate GPA is 3.2. Olin offers admission on a rolling basis, and in 2020 had an 89% acceptance rate. The school currently enrolls 282 online MBA students and has a one-year retention rate of 90%. In order to graduate, online MBA students must complete 45 credits.

See how the schools you’re considering landed in Fortune’s rankings of the best part-timeexecutive, full-time, and online MBA programs.