No GMAT Online Healthcare MBA Programs: Which Ones Either Don't Require or Conditionally Waive the GMAT Requirement?

For budding entrepreneurs and future executives, choosing to pursue a master’s degree can be an empowering decision that can also be overwhelming. With so many factors to consider when applying to graduate schools, candidates considering an online healthcare MBA may be happy to know that several programs offer the option to waive admissions test requirements for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Known as a GMAT waiver, an MBA applicant can substitute work experience, degrees, or other measurable proof of academic and professional experience in place of a standardized test score.

The field of healthcare is experiencing rapid growth, and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that employment in this field will continue at a rate of 28 percent (2021-2031), much faster than the national average. To compete in a dense job market full of qualified applicants, bachelor’s degree holders from a variety of disciplines are seeking healthcare MBA degrees to enter this burgeoning professional field.

Research from Coursera (2023) shows that MBA degree salaries are generally much higher than those in comparable roles who don’t have an MBA. The starting median salary for MBA graduates at US companies in 2021 was projected to be $115,000, according to a 2021 corporate recruiters survey from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). That’s $40,000 higher than projections for direct-from-industry hires, and $50,000 higher than job candidates with a bachelor’s degree.

Unfortunately, the belief that all graduate school programs require GMAT scores keeps many talented candidates from pursuing advanced degrees. The GMAT has a well-founded reputation for being one of the most challenging entrance examinations, which prevents many would-be-qualified applicants from applying to online healthcare MBA programs. Fortunately, many MBA programs are granting test exemption waivers to qualified applicants whose qualifications and potential can be measured through relevant professional and academic experience.

What Skills Does the GMAT Exam Measure?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized test that assesses business school readiness. The exam is divided into the following four skill areas:

  • Analytical writing: measuring critical thinking and communication skills
  • Integrated reasoning: measuring information evaluation skills
  • Quantitative: measuring data analysis and conclusive reasoning skills
  • Verbal: measuring the ability to comprehend, evaluate, and correct written arguments

Although GMAT scores are a simpler way for admissions committees to measure an applicant’s academic and professional readiness, many schools are recognizing that not only is the GMAT a barrier to entry to degree programs for some but also that the skills measured on the GMAT can be assessed through other factors such as previous academic and professional experience.

Read on to learn more about what evidence is required as part of a GMAT test waiver.

When Can the GMAT Requirement Be Waived?

While there are some general commonalities in admissions requirements for graduate schools, each school is unique in its admissions selection process. This includes determining whether or not to waive standardized test scores in favor of education or experience. When considering a GMAT waiver option in MBA programs, it is essential to thoroughly research each institution’s waiver requirements before applying. It is not advised to assume that all MBA programs will offer a GMAT waiver and contacting individual institutions directly is recommended to learn more about this option.

Here are four common qualifications accepted in place of GMAT scores for some online healthcare MBA programs:

  • Automatic GMAT Waivers: Some schools grant GMAT waivers automatically to applicants with five to seven years of work experience. In some cases, test scores are not necessary if candidates demonstrate a minimum number of years of relevant professional experience.
  • Work Experience: In their desire to admit a diverse and well-rounded cohort of applicants, online MBA programs are closely analyzing work experience in order to remove the financial burden and time required for GMAT preparation for seasoned professionals. John Byrne, a contributor to the leading MBA resource blog Poets and Quants reports that 86 percent of the latest class of online MBA students at the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Kenan-Flagler Business School were granted admission without GMAT or graduate record examination (GRE) scores due to having double the work experience of students in the on-campus program. The MBA@UNC program validates the efficacy of its GMAT waiver requirements by comparing students who received a GMAT/GRE waiver with the performance of students who submitted test scores over an 18-month period. The MBA program “…found no meaningful differences in the academic performance of the two groups. Therefore, when evaluating applicants who have a significant amount of professional experience, we rely instead on what we believe are more reliable indicators of ability—career trajectory and success, previous academic performance, and quantitative experience.”
  • Academic History: Undergraduate and prior graduate school transcript review is another common factor that’s considered in a GMAT waiver. Grade point averages (GPA) in a range from 2.75 to 3.0 or greater are at the minimum of acceptable GPA thresholds when applying for a GMAT waiver. Undergraduate rigor is another factor in which admissions committees look at official transcripts of completed coursework and academic performance in business-related disciplines such as statistics, microeconomics, finance, marketing, and related courses when considering whether to grant an applicant a GMAT waiver. Previously conferred advanced degrees are also considered when deciding whether to waive the GMAT for an applicant.
  • Professional Certifications: Some schools consider rigorous professional certifications in place of GMAT scores. Examples of these professional certifications that can be used to waive the GMAT requirement include Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Financial Analyst (CFA).

Discover online healthcare MBA programs that feature a GMAT waiver as part of their admissions requirements.

Sample Online Healthcare MBA Programs That Waive the GMAT

Rachel Drummond, MEd
Rachel Drummond, MEd

As a contributor on MHAOnline, Rachel Drummond has brought her expertise in education and mindfulness to the healthcare management field since 2019. She writes about integrating innovation into healthcare administration, emphasizing the importance of mental and physical well-being for effective leadership and decision-making in the fast-paced world of healthcare management.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.