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Question: Are There Online Master of Public Health (MPH) Programs That Do Not Require the GRE or That Provide GRE Waivers?

Answer: Yes, there are online Master of Public Health (MPH) programs that do not require applicants to submit GRE test scores, as well as online MPH programs that formally require the GRE but that may waive this requirement for qualified applicants.

GRE scores are one of several factors graduate program admissions departments typically consider as part of the admissions process and the GRE is required by some online MPH programs. However, there are other factors, such as an applicant’s cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA), letters of recommendation, personal goals statements, and answers to essay questions, that are used by graduate program admissions committees in lieu of or in addition to the GRE. Applicants to online MPH programs who have demonstrated prior academic excellence by maintaining a high undergraduate program GPA, hold an advanced degree in another field, or have several years of professional experience in a health-related field, may be eligible for a GRE waiver from programs that otherwise require the GRE.

What Is the GRE?

The GRE is shorthand for the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, a standardized test designed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and used by many colleges and universities to assess the academic preparedness of applicants to graduate programs. Currently, the GRE General Test is broken up into six sections that are designed to measure analytical writing, quantitative reasoning (mathematics), and verbal reasoning. ETS assigns separate scores in these three areas, allowing admissions departments to weigh an applicant’s verbal, mathematical, and writing proficiencies separately as part of the admissions decision process.

Online MPH Program Admissions Criteria and Policies

Admission criteria for online MPH programs, including eligibility criteria and application procedures, vary by school and by program. Potential applicants should research program admissions policies carefully to ensure they meet the program’s requirements and submit the requested materials.

In terms of academic requirements, applicants to master’s program must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Online MPH programs typically do not require applicants to have majored in a specific discipline. However, some programs require applicants to have completed one or more undergraduate courses, such as a college-level mathematics and/or statistics class. In addition, programs may prefer applicants with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5, 3.0, or higher on a four-point scale, and some program have a set minimum GPA requirement for applicants.

It is important to note that eligibility for admissions to an online MPH program is not the same as being admitted. Admissions to most online MPH programs is selective, which means that not all applicants that meet the minimum admissions criteria are accepted into the program. As a result, the average GPA of applicants admitted to a program may be higher than the minimum GPA required for admissions eligibility.

The application process for admission to an online MPH program may also involve submitting one or more of the following: GRE test scores; two or more letters of recommendation; a short personal goals statement; and answers to one or more essay questions. Some programs may then request a short telephone or videoconference interview with qualified candidates. Programs that require the GRE may waive this requirement for applicants who meet one or more criteria, such as a high GPA, an advanced degree in another field, or several years of relevant work experience.

Note: GRE waivers are typically not automatic. Applicants who may be qualified for a GRE waiver generally must apply for a waiver and should be prepared to take the GRE if a waiver is not granted and they still want to apply to the program.

Examples of Online MPH Program GRE Policies

As noted above, there are various materials admissions departments may request applicants to submit as part of the process of applying to an online MPH program, including GRE test scores. Some program use the GRE, others do not, and there are also programs that require the GRE but that will grant GRE waivers to applicants who meet certain criteria. The following three examples provide a representative overview of the types of admissions policies that are common among online MPH programs.

GRE Required: Purdue University Online offers an online MPH program with a concentration in Family and Community Health. There are no specific undergraduate courses that applicants are required to have taken. However, admission to the program is restricted to applicants who have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. In addition, applicants are required to submit GRE scores along with three letters of recommendation and a 500-word personal statement.

GRE Waiver: St. John’s University offers an online MPH program with an optional Community Health concentration. Applicants to the program are required to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and to provide the admissions department with GRE test scores; three letters of recommendation, including one from a public health professional; and an up to 1000-word personal statement. However, St. Johns will waive the GRE requirement for applicants who have a GPA of 3.25 or higher provided they have received a passing grade on a college-level mathematics or statistic course. St. Johns also offers GRE waivers to applicants who have five or more years of documented professional work experience in a relevant field. Finally, applicants who would prefer to submit scores from a standardized admissions test other than the GRE can submit scores from one of the following tests: MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, and DAT.

No GRE: Simmons University offers an online MPH program that does not require applicants to submit scores from the GRE. The Simmons program does require applicants to hold a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and to have passed a college-level mathematics course with a grade of B or better. In addition, applicants must submit a statement of purpose, an essay describing an inequity in the public health sphere, and three letters of recommendation from academic or professional mentors.

For more information on online MPH programs, refer to OnlineEducation.com’s Online Master of Public Health Programs page.


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