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.