No GMAT Online Healthcare MBA Programs: Which Ones Waive the GMAT Requirement?


For budding entrepreneurs and future executives, choosing to pursue a master’s degree can be an empowering decision—one which 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, this allows an MBA applicant to 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 20 percent (2016-2026), which is much faster than the national average. In order 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 Brandman University (2017) shows that over the next ten years, MBA holders will earn $15,000 more than professionals with four-year degrees; the average MBA graduate earns as much (or more) in 20 years of work as a bachelor’s degree-holder makes in 40. It is easy to see from this data that a two-year investment in an MBA program can have a lucrative impact on one’s salary over a lifetime of employment.

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, these days 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, which assesses readiness for business school. 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 the process of determining whether or not to waive standardized test scores in favor of education or experience. When considering a GMAT waiver option in the process of applying to MBA programs, it is essential to research each institution’s waiver requirements thoroughly before submitting an application. 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, 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 [email protected] program validates the efficacy of their 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 or not to grant a GMAT waiver to an applicant. Previously conferred advanced degrees are also taken into consideration when deciding whether or not 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 five online healthcare MBA programs that feature a GMAT waiver as part of their admissions requirements.

Sample Online Healthcare MBA Programs That Waive the GMAT