Question: Are There Master's in English Programs That Waive or Do Not Require the GRE?
Answer: Yes, there are online master’s in English programs that waive or do not require applicants to submit GRE test scores. In fact, although admission policies and procedures vary by program, many institutions no longer require GRE test scores from applicants. Certain online master’s in English programs also waive the GRE requirement for applicants who meet specific criteria, while others make the GRE optional and suggest students submit test scores if they think it will strengthen their application.
GRE stands for the Graduate Record Examinations General Test, which is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This standardized academic test for those entering graduate school is designed as one tool for students to show their aptitude in three academic areas, and for colleges and universities to assess the academic preparedness of its applicants. The GRE measures aptitude in three skills areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. Although this test can be an indication of graduate school preparedness and an indication of future success, it is not the only means to determine such factors. Thus, many graduate programs, including some online master’s in English programs, choose not to require the GRE or have policies that allow qualified applicants to receive a GRE waiver.
Online Master’s in English Program Admissions Requirements and the GRE
While some online master’s in English programs require all applicants to submit GRE scores with admissions materials, many programs are turning to other factors, such as prior academic performance as indicated by an applicant’s cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA). Master’s in English programs may also rely heavily on a writing sample of up to 10 to 15 pages related to the desired graduate program. Additionally, creative writing programs may require an analytical paper that breaks down and addresses a piece of literature’s creative themes, deeper meanings, and symbolism.
Graduate English programs may also require the following as part of the application process: a personal goals statement; answers to specific essay-type questions, an up-to-date resumé or CV; and two or three letters of recommendation from academic advisors, faculty, or workplace supervisors. In addition, some colleges and universities may request a video, telephone, or in-person interview with qualified applicants as part of the admissions process.
Institutions and departments that offer online master’s in English programs each determine how much emphasis to place on GRE test scores and whether or not to require the GRE at all. Programs that do not use the GRE as part of the admissions process typically rely on the above indicators and any prerequisites of the program that must be completed prior to enrollment. (Note: Some master’s in English programs may be designed for students who majored or minored in English at the bachelor’s level.)
Programs requiring applicants to submit GRE scores may offer waivers or exemptions to applicants who meet certain criteria. For example, applicants whose undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or higher may be exempt from a program’s GRE requirement or be permitted to apply for a GRE waiver. GRE waivers are not automatically granted unless the program admissions requirements specifically state that meeting the criteria results in an automatic waiver. Students who believe they are eligible for a GRE waiver are typically required to apply for one as part of the application process.
Online Master’s in English Program GRE Policies
Since master’s in English admissions policies vary by program, prospective students should carefully review the requirements prior to initiating the application process. Online master’s in English programs generally fall into one of four categories concerning the GRE:
- Programs that require all applicants to submit GRE scores
- Programs that do not require the GRE at all, nor is it considered part of the application process
- Programs that require the GRE, but offer GRE waivers for qualified applicants who meet specific criteria
- Programs that make the GRE optional and suggest that students submit their scores if they think it will strengthen their application
These differences are illustrated in the examples below, which are meant to provide a representative overview of common admissions policies for online master’s in English programs.
No GRE Required: Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers an online Master of Arts (M.A.) in English program that does not require any applicants to submit GRE test scores, nor are they considered for admission. Instead, applicants submit an application, undergraduate transcripts, and a personal statement. Applicants whose undergraduate GPA is below 2.75 on a four-point scale may be granted provisional admission to the program.
Conditional GRE Requirement/GRE Waiver: Bowling Green State University (BGSU) offers an online M.A. in English program with specializations in English teaching or professional writing and rhetoric that requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.7 and a 3.0 GPA in major courses. All applicants must submit a two-page statement of purpose, a 15-page critical writing sample, three letters of recommendation, and unofficial transcripts with GPA indicated. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale or those who hold a graduate degree from an accredited university do not need to submit GRE test scores. Applicants whose undergraduate GPA is below 3.0 must submit scores from the GRE, which is the preferred test, or if necessary, scores from another approved test as listed in the program’s admissions requirements.
GRE Optional: Ohio University offers an online M.A. in English program that does not require any applicants to submit GRE test scores. However, GRE scores are considered part of the admissions decision process along with transcripts, letters of recommendation, a writing sample of four to 12 pages reflecting the applicant’s best academic or scholarly work, and a statement of purpose outlining interests, goals, and academic background. Therefore, although it is not required, prospective students may want to submit GRE scores if they think the scores will strengthen their application.
GRE Required: Most colleges and universities have moved to no GRE required, requiring the GRE on a conditional basis depending on an applicant’s past academic performance or making the GRE optional for prospective students.
Note: Online master’s in English programs that require applicants to submit standardized admissions test scores generally require the GRE. However, some programs may accept scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), Praxis Subject Assessment/Core tests, the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), or state-standardized tests, in place of the GRE. Applicants who believe they qualify for a GRE waiver or would like to submit GMAT or MAT scores in place of the GRE should first review program admissions policies carefully and then contact an admissions advisor concerning how to apply without submitting GRE scores.