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Earn Your Online MBA — No GMAT Required for Entrance

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Between work demands, family life and other obligations, there's a lot to think about when you decide to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Learning that some graduate programs require entrance exams for admission could add unnecessary stress to an already big decision.

The time and expense these types of standardized tests can demand — in addition to the anxiety they may cause — could be enough to deter plenty of people from pursuing a degree altogether.

The effectiveness of this testing style has been debated at all ages — and it’s no different at the college level. For years, both teachers and students have argued that the exams don’t measure subject knowledge, only how well one has prepared for that specific test.

I'm Ready For My MBA ... But What's the GMAT?

If you're considering MBA programs, which are designed to provide you with critical knowledge for a career in leadership, you may have noticed some colleges and universities require the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for entrance. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT exam assesses:

  • Analytical writing
  • Integrated reasoning
  • Quantitative and verbal skills

Some universities use results to determine if a potential student will be successful in their graduate programs; however, others believe the exam doesn't consider other success indicators.

Clare Greenlaw with the text Clare Greenlaw"Standardized entrance exams can't measure many of the vital learner traits and behaviors which we know are more critical to completing an MBA degree in the long run, such as emotional intelligence, creativity, strategic thinking, time management and grit," Clare Greenlaw, an associate dean of MBA programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

The admission component may also deter some people from advancing their education. To start, it costs time and money.

"Adult learners, many of whom have been out of school for a decade or more, should not have to incur the significant financial and time burden necessary to prepare and sit for standardized entrance examinations," Greenlaw said. "Standardized exam requirements, like the GMAT, unnecessarily delay, and for some groups, bias against a candidate’s opportunity to improve their professional and socioeconomic prosperity through pursuing an MBA degree."

Only 8.3% of GMAT exams taken in 2019 were completed by Black U.S. citizens, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)'s recent diversity report (GMAC PDF source). 

Can I Get My MBA Without GMAT?

If you don't want to take this exam or have your scores reviewed by admission counselors, you should search for an MBA program that focuses on the other aspects that make you a strong candidate for enrollment.

Some alternative ways you may be assessed are through:

  • Your undergraduate transcript
  • A personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • An interview

"We understand that a candidate’s internal motivation, grit, soft skills, and life and professional experiences all contribute to a student’s likelihood of MBA success," Greenlaw said. This holistic approach to college admission allows for programs to broaden their candidate pool and creates an opportunity to offer individualized support and resources, they said. 

Every type of MBA and institution could have different prerequisites or requirements, so be sure to do some research and speak with an admission counselor from your school of interest if you have any questions.

Is the GMAT Required for Online MBA Programs?

It can be nerve-wracking enough just thinking about how to fit grad school into an already-busy schedule. Between deciding which weeknight you’re ready to give up to sit in class and finding resources to help you prepare for the biggest exam you’ve taken in years, it’s no wonder that the thought of returning to school can be stressful.

But it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.

A number of universities have considered these factors when designing the ideal master’s programs for their students. That’s why some colleges have opted to offer an online MBA — no GMAT required, bringing you one step closer to starting your graduate school journey. SNHU, for example, does away with the stressful checklist item and offers a flexible online format that means you do your work on your schedule.

MBA Without GMAT or GRE

The online MBA/no GMAT format allows applicants to begin their program faster, especially if their college or university of choice offers rolling admission. Since SNHU offers five 10-week graduate terms per year, you won't have to wait long until you can jump into classes.

Programs like SNHU’s online MBA/no GMAT required can even help you save money: By not having to shell out a couple of hundred dollars per test, you could put those savings toward books for your first few classes. 

While costs are a concern, the other big place that people like to save comes in the form of time. Preparing for the exam can be incredibly time-consuming — especially for busy adult learners who are carving out time for grad school alone.

Breonna Williamson with the text Breonna WilliamsonAs a single mother of four and a full-time respiratory therapist, Breonna Williamson '21MBA said taking the GMAT would have been another obstacle to pursuing her degree. "But, when I learned that it was one less test I had to make time to prepare for, it made the decision in which school I would choose," she said. 

Williamson finished her MBA in Healthcare Administration in early 2021, now placing her a credential or two ahead of her colleagues. "As a first-generation college student and single mom of four, obtaining this MBA means that I can do anything I set my mind to," Williamson said. "Talk about self-actualization."

She had thought about earning an MBA ever since a former employer told her she'd need the credential to advance to operations — a process-focused team that interested her.

A blue infographic with the text GMAC survey shows 92% of U.S. companies plan to hire MBA grads in 2022There are plenty of reasons why you might feel returning to school to get an online MBA is worth it, including the ability to use the MBA as a tool to advance your career across several industries, such as business, information technology, healthcare and more. 

MBA holders are in demand by companies that are looking to hire. In 2022, according to an annual survey by GMAC, 92% of U.S. companies planned to hire people who obtained an MBA (GMAC 2022 PDF Source).*

No matter your reasons for getting your MBA, pursuing it online with no GMAT required to begin means you can skip over the months of worrying about exams and creating new schedules. 

Is an Online MBA Taken Seriously?

Accreditation status is essential to keep in mind when you're searching for an MBA program — be it one that meets in person or online. If an institution or program is accredited, it was evaluated by an accrediting body and found to meet its educational standards.

For example, SNHU is institutionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) - a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, SNHU's MBA, specifically, is also accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Online graduate programs are designed to be rigorous and challenge you. If you're wondering how online classes work, you may find yourself completing assignments and class discussions just as you would in the brick-and-mortar classroom setting.

Dr. Jessica Rogers with the text Dr. Jessica Rogers

Throughout the time it takes you to get an MBA, you'll probably even have an opportunity to put theory to practice in an online MBA program. At SNHU, for instance, the MBA curriculum incorporates scenario-based learning (SBL), which brings realistic business situations into the classroom and teaches students how to approach them and work toward solutions. 

"Expertise comes from experience, and SBL allows students to experience growth from taking risks, sometimes failing and learning from mistakes," said Dr. Jessica Rogers, a senior associate dean of business programs at SNHU.

If an online format works best for you, and whether you took the GMAT or not, your diploma at the end of it will simply state that you completed your Master of Business Administration.

Discover more about SNHU’s MBA programs: Find out what courses you'll take, the skills you’ll learn and how to request information about the program.

*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.

Deidre Ashe '18G is a copywriter in higher education. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.