What Is a GMAT® Waiver?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

For many years, taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT®) was a requirement of essentially every Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) graduate program. That requirement has gradually changed and now several programs either give all students a GMAT® waiver or consider requests on a case-by-case basis. Those schools that accept requests have criteria that a student must meet if a waiver is to be granted. The requirements vary according to the school and program, but the most common criteria focus on work experience, previously acquired degrees, past academic performance, and interviews with relevant school staff such as program advisers.

The availability of a GMAT® waiver depends upon the school and the programs available. Some schools allow all students to waive the test, while others will consider applications for waivers on a case-by-case basis. Schools with both full-time and evening programs may require the test for the former, but waive it for the latter.

In order to obtain a GMAT® waiver from a program that otherwise requires the test for enrollment, many applicants will need to have a previous grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 or higher. They may also need to have an advanced degree, such as a master's or a doctorate. In some cases, a minimum number of years as a professional may also be sufficient reason to waive the test. When professional development is considered, it may be necessary to demonstrate that the individual has had a specific level of continuing advancement and work experiences that are relevant to the program. It is possible, however, that a student may not have to fulfill all possible criteria in order to obtain a waiver.

There has been some controversy in the academic community over the programs that allow a GMAT® waiver, particularly in schools where not all students are held to the same standards. For the most part, the primary reason that the test requirement has been waived is to increase enrollment. This is particularly true with evening EMBA classes, which are typically composed of working executives who have several years of professional experience. Some educators believe that waiving the requirement necessitates diluting the curriculum, thus resulting in an uneven quality of educational experience among graduates of the MBA and particularly the EMBA programs. Many supporters of the waiver believe that experienced professionals bring a depth of experience to the classroom that provides value beyond what could be measured by the GMAT.

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