Is the GRE Required for Online Ed.D. Programs?
When schools talk about the GRE, they’re typically referring to the GRE General Test, which has three separate sections—and scores—for Verbal, Quantitative/Math, and Analytical Writing. But as you’ll see, a number of schools don’t talk about the GRE at all.
- No GRE Required: In fact, 77 out of 146 universities with online Ed.D. programs in our database don’t list the GRE as a requirement. That means ~53% of schools don’t consider GRE scores for online Ed.D. admissions. Instead, plenty of schools ignore the GRE in favor of other benchmarks: academic transcripts, work history & qualifications, references, interviews, and the like.
- GRE Optional: In some cases, universities may include the GRE as a recommended option. You don’t have to submit scores, but the school might look favorably upon your application if you do. Boise State is one example of this—it always likes to see candidates with GRE scores in the 33rd percentile or above.
- GRE Required for Some: In a few cases, GRE scores may be required for a certain group of applicants. For example, if you have discernible weaknesses in your academic qualifications (e.g. low GPA), a school might want extra reassurance. It can also be used as a filtering device. For instance, North Dakota State University asks for GRE scores when it has an unusually high number of online Ed.D. applicants.
- Alternative Exams to the GRE: You’ll also run into a few schools that allow you to submit MAT or GMAT scores in lieu of the GRE. In the case of the University of Findlay, the MAT is mandatory for admission.
Why Do Some Schools Ignore the GRE?
Online Ed.D. candidates are often mid-level career professionals with a serious amount of experience under their belt and a master’s degree in hand. Universities have plenty of quality markers to consider when they’re evaluating Ed.D. candidates; at this stage in the education game, the GRE may simply be irrelevant.
Having said that, it’s worth taking a look at schools where the GRE is required or suggested for the online Ed.D. It means that the school sets high educational standards for doctoral candidates. That’s why you may see the “GRE Optional” marker next to well-known Ivy League schools (e.g. Columbia University) and private research universities (e.g. University of Southern California). You’ll be among smart students in your online classes.
Admissions Criteria for No GRE Online Ed.D. Programs
Interested in online Ed.D. programs without the GRE requirement? Take some time to read the admissions criteria—you can still find plenty of ways to play up your strengths. We’ve included a link to the admissions page in our program database to give you a head-start, but we also recommend you check admissions info in the university’s annual catalog.
How to Impress Admissions Committees
Relevant Master’s Degree: This doesn’t always have to be a master’s degree in education. Universities are often happy to consider other majors, as long as they are in an education-related field. If you’re not sure about the relevance (e.g. master’s degree in psychology), chat to the program coordinator about your options.
Solid GPA on Academic Transcripts: Many schools ask for a GPA of 3.0-3.5 on previous degrees; a few schools will go lower (e.g. 2.75). We’ve also seen universities that have different GPA thresholds for your bachelor’s degree (e.g. 3.0) and your master’s degree (e.g. 3.5). We’ve stated the GPA requirement when we’ve found it, but a number of schools don’t list one at all. Ask the Ed.D. program coordinator if there’s a GPA cut-off—there may not be.
Strong Work Experience: If you’re applying for a leadership concentration, universities will want to see relevant job titles and evidence of your administrative skills. If you’re focused on technology, you may also need to demonstrate your technical prowess. Admission to programs like Baker’s Online Ed.D. in Instructional Design & Performance Technology can be highly competitive, so take a few hours to hone your résumé.
Targeted Personal Statement: Think about how your professional goals match up to a) unique aspects of the online Ed.D. curriculum; and b) the university’s reputation & strengths (e.g. University of West Alabama and rural education). If you’re applying for an educational leadership degree, decide why this school’s Ed.D. program is going to be better than all the other options (e.g. it includes a relevant internship).
Great Letters of Recommendation: Instead of asking for generic praise, talk to your mentors about why you’re interested in the online Ed.D. from a particular university. Explain why it suits your professional goals at this time in your life. They’ll be able to shape their letters of recommendation accordingly.
Specific Professional Credentials: This can happen for specialist online Ed.D. programs in nurse education (e.g. current RN license and an MSN) and any program that’s preparing you for administrative certification (e.g. Superintendent credential).
Should You Submit GRE Scores When it’s Optional?
This is going to be a judgment call. Top-notch GRE scores are always welcome, but you may want to avoid giving the university lower numbers. Here are a few things to consider when you’re making your decision:
- Pros: Taking the GRE shows that you’ve gone the extra mile. If you have a low GPA on your old master’s degree, strong GRE numbers in the past five years may be a way to impress the admissions committee. If you’re applying for a highly competitive Ed.D. program, the GRE is going to give you an extra edge. Plus, you can always take it and then choose not to submit the scores.
- Cons: It’s a pain, it’s expensive, and it requires preparation. And a number of schools simply don’t care that much about it for online Ed.D. programs. You may want to invest your time and energy into honing other parts of your application. Great references and work experience can count for a lot more than GRE scores.
When in doubt, ask! Talk to recent Ed.D. alumni about your concerns and see if they went through the GRE process.
Best Online EdD Programs No GRE Required
1 New York University
Looking for an executive leadership program from a world-class School of Education? Interested in tackling a Problem of Practice in short frame of time? Apply to NYU. Its cohort-based Online Ed.D. in Leadership & Innovation is a high-level program—it’s designed for professionals with 7-10 years of work experience and a master’s degree in education or a related field (3.0 GPA or higher). No GRE is required.
2 University of Southern California
- Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership – K-12 Leadership in Urban School Settings
- Online Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership
Urban education is the name of the game at the USC Rossier School of Education. Its Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership – K-12 Leadership in Urban School Settings and Online Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership are excellent choices for professionals who are interested in areas like equity, diversity, and ethics—check out the research centers. The GRE is optional for both programs.
3 University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
- Online Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership: Diversity & Equity in Education
- Online Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership: Global Studies in Education
- Online Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership: Human Resource Development
- Online Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership: Learning Design & Leadership
You can choose your own doctoral adventure at UIUC—the 100% Online Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership for professionals in PK-12 and postsecondary settings is available in a wide range of concentrations. You can choose to focus on global issues (e.g. International Education Administration & Leadership ), diversity, HR development, learning design, and more. No GRE is required.
4 Johns Hopkins University
- Online Ed.D. in Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education
- Online Ed.D. in Mind, Brain & Teaching
- Online Ed.D. in Urban Leadership
A cohort-based Online Ed.D. with a global outlook. An applied dissertation that tackles a relevant problem of practice in the workplace. A top-ranked School of Education. There’s a lot to love about JHU’s doctoral program for K-16 educational leaders & administrators. Choose from concentrations in Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education; Mind, Brain & Teaching; or Urban Leadership. You’ll be strongly encouraged to submit GRE scores.
5 Arizona State University
- Online Ed.D. in Leadership & Innovation: PK-12
- Online Ed.D. in Leadership & Innovation: Higher Education
- Online Ed.D. in Leadership & Innovation: Systems, Professional, and Reimagined Change (SPARC)
ASU’s 100% Online Ed.D. in Leadership & Innovation ticks a whole lot of boxes. It’s relatively affordable—in-state & out-of-state rates are the same. It’s flexible & efficient—courses are only 7.5 weeks. And it’s reputable. The Ed.D. won the CPED Program of the Year Award in 2018 and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College often achieves a top 20 national ranking from U.S. News & World Report. No GRE is required.
6 Boston College
- Online Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education
- Online Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education: Catholic Higher Education
Another excellent option for mid-careerists! BC’s cohort-based Online Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education with three summer residencies is aimed at candidates with 5-10 years of professional experience in higher education or a higher education adjacent field. The Lynch School is a CPED member with a reputation for excellence and it works hard to create cohorts of experienced national & international students. No GRE is required.
7 Boise State University
BSU’s 100% Online Ed.D. in Educational Technology is convenient, well-reviewed, and affordable—in-state & out-of-state students pay the same tuition rates. It’s a great fit for technology leaders—faculty are involved in fascinating research areas, including STEM, immersive experiences, and instructional design. BSU will consider candidates without GRE scores, but applicants with GRE scores in the 33rd percentile or above are preferred.
8 Columbia University
Are you an RN with an interest in teaching? Columbia’s Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education is specifically designed to prepare nurses for positions as college faculty or other educator roles. It’s packed with research-based coursework and practicums in didactic and clinical practice areas. Some courses require students to take part in preceptor experiences. GRE scores are optional, but RN licensure is required.
9 University of South Carolina – Columbia
At USC Columbia, you have options! The 100% Online Ed.D. in Educational Practice and Innovation is available in a number of career-focused concentrations for PK-12 and higher education professionals, including a track in Education Systems Improvement. It’s a program with a practical bent. Courses are only 8 weeks long and all Ed.D. students incorporate an action research model into their full-time job. No GRE is required.
10 Iowa State University
Iowa State’s cohort-based Hybrid Ed.D. in Education is best-suited to students who can arrange to visit the Ames campus for occasional weekend sessions (e.g. once per month). It comes in two tracks—P-12 systems-level leadership and community college leadership—and it’s full of work-focused elements. Field experiences are incorporated into concentration courses and everyone tackles a Dissertation in Practice. No GRE is required.
Most Affordable Online EdD Programs No GRE Required
1 Southeastern University
Cost Per Credit: $500 (Ed.D. Tuition)
Minimum Credits: 54
Minimum Program Cost: $27,000
Southeastern offers two highly affordable Online Ed.D. programs—an educational doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction and another in Organizational Leadership. Keep in mind that if you opt for Southeastern, you’ll be choosing a private Christian university that emphasizes a Christian worldview. No GRE is required, but students are expected to visit the campus for two intensives (one week each).
2 Evangel University
Cost Per Credit: $600 (Ed.D. Tuition)
Minimum Credits: 50
Minimum Program Cost: $30,000
Another Christian university to rank highly in affordability is Evangel. Its 100% Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction is open to curriculum specialists, school leaders, and university professionals. Plus it’s a state-approved prep program for Missouri superintendent certification. We especially like the fact that it includes an internship and an emphasis on the use of technology as an instructional tool. No GRE is required.
3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cost Per Credit: $490 (Ed.D. Tuition)
Minimum Credits: 64
Minimum Program Cost: $31,360
If you’d prefer an alternative to Christian schools, check out the 100% Online Ed.D. in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership from this public research university. It’s available in a wide range of concentrations; it’s affordable for in-state and out-of-state students; and it includes a solid chunk of intriguing elective courses. You can truly customize the doctorate to suit your career goals! No GRE is required.
4 Liberty University
- Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
- Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
- Online Ed.D. in Christian Leadership
- Online Ed.D. in Pastoral Care and Counseling
Cost Per Credit: $595 (Full-Time Online Tuition)
Minimum Credits: 54-60
Minimum Program Cost: $32,130
Liberty is a private Christian university with a faith-based outlook, so it offers a number of 100% Online Ed.D. programs for K-12 educators (e.g. Educational Leadership) and Christian Leaders (e.g. Pastoral Care & Counseling). Liberty’s doctorates are built for convenience—on-campus intensives are optional and courses are only 8 weeks in length. No GRE is required.
5 University of Findlay
Cost Per Credit: $540 (Ed.D. Tuition)
Minimum Credits: 60
Minimum Program Cost: $32,400
UF’s affordable Online Ed.D. for teachers & administrators comes from a CAEP-accredited College of Education with CPED membership and a solid track record. Almost all of it is online—you’ll only be required to attend a three-day Summer Institute—and it includes a number of useful electives (e.g. Superintendent Internship, Mentoring & Coaching Teachers, etc.). No GRE is required, but candidates should have a minimum MAT score of 400.