Online MBA, No GMAT Required

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The GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) has long been the standardized MBA admissions test in many of the top business schools around the globe, but often taking and preparing for the GMAT can be a daunting prospect for many potential MBAs.

A high GMAT score is widely regarded as being a prerequisite to admission to a good MBA program and therefore students study for many months to achieve a good score. In recent years however, there has been a distinct increase in the number of ‘online MBA no GMAT required’ programs.

The competition for students in today’s higher education system means that accredited online programs as well as traditional brick-and-mortar business schools are thinking seriously about how to get more students to apply to their courses. One way to do this is to make the GMAT non-compulsory, therefore making it easier, cheaper and quicker to apply for and start an MBA. This ease of access is not necessarily a good thing for course quality however and many are concerned the courses will not be as valued by employer as a consequence of the removal of a standardized MBA admissions test.

The sheer amount of online MBA courses now available is partly to blame for this fear, the mediocre courses outweighing the good, but for those who know what to look for and what to avoid when researching online MBAs that do not require a GMAT may be pleasantly surprised.

The lure of no GMAT for MBA admissions

The lure of the online MBA, no GMAT required, should not go unquestioned however, as online programs without a GMAT or any other form of MBA admissions test could be guilty of having lax standards of admission, consequently bringing the standard of the course into question in the eyes of both the students on that particular course (less class unity, less effort, less motivation, worse grades) as well as future employers.

Is the GMAT a good test for all?

With the rise of online and offline courses foregoing the GMAT, the question is whether students should still consider taking it or not. The answer is most likely still yes, but not for everyone.

One problem with the GMAT is that it doesn’t cater to those who have long been out of the testing arena. For instance, working professionals (the type who is considering an online program for exactly the reason that they want to stay in their job) will have a tougher time preparing for the GMAT than recent graduates, but this does not necessarily mean they shouldn’t be considered for a good MBA program.

On top of this, a low GMAT score doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate isn’t equipped to be an MBA student. There are some elements the GMAT can’t gauge, for instance a long history of professional success, strong academic records, as well as interpersonal skills. Being more of a science rather than an art, the GMAT can overlook these parts and make it harder for skilled mid-career professionals to get onto reputable MBA programs.

The argument for making the GMAT compulsory is that schools need to enroll students who are capable in all the key areas in order for the class to move along at the right pace. This is particularly an issue in the quantitative subjects with which many students can have trouble.

Despite this, an online MBA, no GMAT required, is able to offer a wider pool of students from diverse backgrounds across the globe, at the same time allowing students who may not be mathematically brilliant a chance to build on their weaknesses while adding to the skills and successes already gained through work experience. Ultimately this could lead to a more rounded breed of MBA graduates.


The GMAT, at US$250 a time, is not a cheap exam to take. As a standardized test many students consider it their only option for getting into a good business school but there is also the GRE (Graduate Report Examination) which is US$65 less than the GMAT, at US$185, and becoming increasingly accepted for MBA admissions is many of the top schools.

Harvard Business School is perhaps the most prominent business school to accept the GRE, causing other reputed schools to follow suit including MIT Sloan, IE Business School, INSEAD and Stanford University School of Business.

In the battle of GMAT vs GRE, the GRE is also popular because it can be used when applying to a range of other graduate subjects. A recent rise in popularity is partly due to the system named ScoreSelect which enables students to retake the test while only submitting their best test score to their chosen school.

Overall, despite the test subject matter being very similar in both, the GMAT is better suited to candidates with honed quantitative skills while the GRE appeals more to those with excellent written and verbal skills who are keeping their options open. The GRE also appeals more to those with a tighter budget, although, both tests do offer fee waivers in exceptional circumstances.

Expense of GMAT preparation

There is also the additional expense of a GMAT preparation course which students pay out for in order to better their chances of gaining a high score. Many of these are online and easily accessible but they do come with a price tag. Even the cheaper options will set you back at least US$100. Many would argue GMAT preparation courses are worth their weight in gold, but on top of the fee for the actual tests themselves, and the possibility of having to retake the exam, schools offering courses without either test begin to look very appealing.

Online MBA no GMAT required

Here’s a selection of leading business schools that offer an online MBA, no GMAT required;

Imperial College Business School

The recently launched Imperial Global MBA from Imperial College Business School is an example of a fully accredited online MBA from a leading business school which does not require a GMAT score. The main criterion instead is that applicants have at least five year’s continuous full-time work experience in a relevant field. Candidates who do not have an undergraduate degree or professional qualification may still be considered based on their work experience alone if they pass an SQE (Special Qualifying Examination).

Manchester Business School

Instead of making the GMAT or GRE a prerequisite for its Global Part-time MBA, Manchester Business School has its own test – the MAT (Manchester Admissions Test) which was launched in February 2012. The test stands out from the standardized exams because it does not require months of preparation and is designed to get to know the candidate better as a businessperson rather than focusing on the overall scoring.

Ross School of Business

The executive MBA at Ross School of Business offers its program in a once-a-month format, meaning that it is largely an online MBA but with class once every month. This format is perfect for working professionals and their waiver of the GMAT shows the school’s appreciation that many executives just don’t have the time to study for the GMAT. Instead candidates are chosen based on their professional and academic achievements and their potential to contribute to the class.

Warwick Business School

Warwick Business School’s distance learning MBA is ranked second in QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2014 and is among the best business schools to not require its online students to take the GMAT. The school welcomes exceptional students without academic qualifications but specifies that applicants must have at least four years’ postgraduate managerial work experience.

Waiving the GMAT score requirement for highly qualified candidates

One business school to meet its online MBA students somewhere in the middle is Thunderbird School of Management. While its Global MBA Online still has the GMAT/GRE score as a mandatory application requirement, the school offers a waiver on this for highly qualified candidates who have proven experience and success within business.

Kenan-Flagler Business School also waives GMAT requirements on a case-by-case basis on its online MBA@UNC program.

Other schools offer to waive the GMAT by replacing it with a refresher course focusing largely on quantitative skills to help candidates brush up on their math skills as well as data analysis skills. This refresher course ensures that all MBAs are up to a certain standard in the core subjects before going into a class which they may otherwise get academically overwhelmed in.

For our list of accredited and reputed business schools go to the QS Distance Online MBA Ranking 2014. For more information on individual programs and GMAT regulations at specific schools, go to their website.

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Written by QS Blogger
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