Answer: Yes, there are online master’s in cybersecurity programs that do not require applicants to submit scores from the GRE test. There are also programs that require the GRE but that will waive this requirement for qualified applicants. The GRE, or Graduate Record Examinations, is just one of several factors that online master’s in cybersecurity programs may use to assess applicants. In addition to or in lieu of GRE scores, online master’s in cybersecurity programs may consider a number of elements in the application process, including but not limited to an applicant’s undergraduate grade point average (GPA), two or three letters of recommendation, a written personal goals statement, and answers to one or more essay questions. Online master’s in cybersecurity programs may also require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or mathematics, or to demonstrate familiarity with computer programming and information technology systems. Programs that do require applicants to submit the GRE may offer GRE waivers to applicants who have an undergraduate degree in computer science, a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, several years of relevant professional work experience, or a graduate degree in another field.
There are different types of online master’s in cybersecurity programs, including online master’s in information assurance, online master’s in information governance, and online master’s in digital forensics degree programs. Admissions criteria for these programs vary by school and by type of program. The baseline requirement for admissions eligibility is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Depending on the level of selectivity of the program, admissions committees may ask applicants to furnish two or three letters of recommendation, a written personal goals statement, and/or answers to one or more essay questions along with their college transcripts.
Some programs may have additional requirements, such as a minimum undergraduate GPA or 3.0, 3.2, or higher; and/or an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity, computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical field. Applicants who majored in another field may be eligible for admission if they have taken undergraduate courses in computer science or can demonstrate knowledge of computer programming, IT systems, and discrete mathematics.
There are online master’s in cybersecurity programs that require applicants to submit scores from the GRE or another standardized test, and there are also many programs that do not require the GRE. It is important to note that the GRE consists of three different scores: an Analytical Writing score (0-6 points), a Verbal Reasoning score (130-170 points), and a Quantitative Reasoning score (130-170 points). The amount of weight a program places on one or all of these scores in the admissions process may vary by program, and some programs may be primarily interested in seeing a candidate’s score on the Quantitative Reasoning sections. There are also online programs that require the GRE, but that will consider waiving that requirement for qualified applicants.
The GRE is designed to provide a standardized metric by which to assess an applicant’s academic preparedness for a graduate program. For applicants who have demonstrated their readiness for a master’s level curriculum in cybersecurity through prior academic achievement or accrued work experience, some online master’s in cybersecurity programs grant GRE waivers. These waivers are generally granted case-by-case and are based on one or more of several factors. For example, an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity or computer science/engineering coupled with a GPA or 3.0, 3.2 or higher on a four-point scale may qualify applicants for a GRE waiver. Programs may also grant GRE waivers to candidates who have two or more years of work experience in cybersecurity, IT, computer programming, or a related field. Candidates who hold an advanced degree in another field may also be eligible for a GRE waiver, provided they meet the program’s other admissions requirements.
GRE waivers are typically not granted automatically. Applicants who believe they meet the criteria for a GRE waiver to a program that otherwise requires the GRE are usually asked to fill out a waiver form or write a letter listing their qualifications and requesting a waiver. If a waiver is not granted, applicants must then submit GRE scores regardless of whether they believe they meet the program’s requirements for a waiver.
To illustrate the differences in GRE requirements and other admissions policies, we have identified three online master’s in cybersecurity programs that provide a representative overview of what applicants to these programs are typically required to provide. It is generally advisable to examine admissions policies carefully prior to submitting an application to an online master’s program. It is also important to note that schools and program directors may change admission requirements over time.
No GRE Requirement: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers an online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program that does not require the GRE or any other standardized test for admissions. The program does require applicants to have an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher, and applicants must submit a written personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and an updated résumé.
Conditional GRE Policy: The College of Engineering & Computer Science at Syracuse University offers an online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program that allows applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in a quantitative/technical discipline or those with four or more years of professional experience in a technical field to waive the GRE requirement. Applicants with a master’s degree are also not required to submit GRE scores. The program requires applicants to have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and a background in computer science and programming. However, students whose undergraduate GPA is below 3.0 may still be able to apply to the program, provided they submit GRE test scores. All applicants must supply two letters of recommendation, a written personal statement, and an up-to-date résumé.
GRE or GMAT Optional: The online Master of Engineering in Cybersecurity Policy & Compliance program offered by the School of Engineering & Applied Science at The George Washington University (GW) does not require applicants to submit GRE scores. However, applicants are invited to supply scores from either the GRE or the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) if they feel it would strengthen their application. In addition to undergraduate transcripts, GW’s online master’s in cybersecurity program asks applicants to provide a 250-word statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and a professional résumé. The program prefers candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in a technical field and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, although candidates who have significant information technology work experience may also qualify for admission to the program.
GRE/GMAT Waiver Policy: West Virginia University requires applicants to its online Master of Science in Business Cybersecurity Management program to supply an up-to-date résumé, at least one and up to three letters of recommendation, a one-page statement of purpose, undergraduate transcripts, and scores from either the GRE or the GMAT. However, the program may waive the GRE/GMAT requirement for applicants who have five or more years of relevant work experience, which can be requested in an applicant’s statement of purpose.