These MBA programs don’t require a GMAT and see most grads start at $110K

BY Meghan MalasMarch 24, 2022, 8:33 PM
Students at the University of Washington, as seen in March 2020 in Seattle, Washington.(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Test requirements for MBA programs were already becoming more flexible before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the trend has ramped up across the business school landscape since 2020. As the dust starts to settle on pandemic-affected policies, some schools have reverted back to requiring the GMAT or GRE, while others maintain a more holistic approach to admissions.

Increased flexibility means that MBA candidates can apply to a top-ranked program that prepares grads for six-figure starting salaries, and without the hassle of preparing for and taking the GMAT. And schools that fit the above criteria offer a significant return on investment, considering the potential for time and money saved when the need for test preparation is eliminated. 

In fact, three of the full-time MBA programs that have done away with test requirements—University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business, Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, and Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business—report that recent MBA graduates earned a median salary of at least $110,000. Learn more about how these schools are addressing test requirements today and the earnings prospects for graduates. 

University of Washington

Fortune MBA program rank: No. 18

Median starting salary for 2021 grads: $125,000

Acceptance rate: 40%

The University of Washington Foster School of Business ditched testing requirements in 2021. “The test-optional process now gives applicants the flexibility to decide what set of information makes their most compelling case for membership in the Foster community,” Dan Turner, associate dean of master’s programs, wrote in a blog post. Eliminating the requirement increases opportunities for a broader range of applicants, who might otherwise not be able to apply, he said. 

While applicants are welcome and encouraged to apply without test scores, for Autumn 2022 and 2023 entry, students still have the option to not submit a test score.

Even though testing is optional, the admissions criteria for the Foster MBA program are still the same, and applicants need to demonstrate their analytical aptitude and that they can succeed in the classroom. Prospective students must also prove they have communication skills, a responsible career experience, and an intention of contributing positively to society, says Wendy Guild, the assistant dean of MBA programs. 

For students who don’t plan to submit a GMAT or GRE score, the admissions team has provided additional guidance for candidates to help inform their decision and build a strong application, Guild says.  

Michigan State University

Fortune MBA program rank: No. 31

Median starting salary for 2021 grads: $110,000

Acceptance rate: 47%

Michigan State’s Broad College of Business provides waiver options for applicants to the full-time MBA program. The school is “seeking high-caliber individuals with strong communication and interpersonal skills,” according to its website. Students who don’t submit a test score can still be accepted if they provide proof of strong academic and work experience. 

By moving away from testing requirements, Michigan State seeks to build an MBA class with diverse experiences, talents, and perspectives. Among those students in Broad’s full-time MBA class of 2022 who did submit a GMAT score, they had a median score of 660. 

Fordham University

Fortune MBA program rank: No. 38

Median starting salary for 2021 grads: $110,000

Acceptance rate: 71.2%

A holistic review process has always been embedded into the evaluation of MBA candidates for the full-time MBA program at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, says Lawrence Mur’ray, senior assistant dean of graduate admissions and advising. As a result of pandemic-related challenges, Gabelli made standardized tests optional for all MBA and specialized master’s degree programs for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. And this new test-optional policy has positioned the school to compete in an evolving graduate management education environment, he says. 

“Making the standardized test optional reduced applicant anxiety and potentially shortened the time to submit, as well as time to decision, allowing candidates to receive their admissions decisions earlier,” Mur’ray explains. 

Those applicants who don’t submit a GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment are encouraged to strengthen their application with other evidence of their readiness, such as proof of experience in computer programming languages or statistics, industry certifications such as a CFA or CPA, and non-degree coursework and certificates. 

This change in approach allowed the Gabelli admissions team to have more impactful conversations with candidates to assess their viability while also sharing information about the program. It also helped the business school achieve a more diverse applicant pool, Mur’ray says. 

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