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If you loathe the thought of another giant exam, take heart. Online software engineering master’s programs are increasingly dropping the GRE requirement from their admissions criteria. Read on to find out more about these programs, why they are going GRE-free, and whether the quality of the degree has been affected by their decision.
Or simply use our state-by-state listings to browse through all online software engineering master’s degrees with no GRE requirement.
Are There Online Master’s in Software Engineering Programs That Don’t Require GRE or GMAT Scores?
Yes! In our listings, you’ll discover 50+ online master’s degrees in software-related fields that do not require GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores. This program database includes regionally accredited public and private universities with strong brick & mortar reputations.
In fact, the “No-GRE” format is fairly common in online master’s programs in software engineering. Universities & colleges understand that online MS applicants can demonstrate their competence & skill levels through their job history. And they’re happy to consider working professionals who crave flexibility and convenience.
Types of No-GRE Software Engineering Programs
“No-GRE” online master’s programs are just what they sound like—MS applicants are not required to submit GRE scores, regardless of their GPA, work history, or any other factor. Applicants are not penalized or put at a disadvantage for not taking the GRE. In fact, some of these schools explicitly tell students not to send in their GRE scores, since no one will bother to review them.
Examples of these kinds of programs include:
- Boston University Metropolitan College: BU’s master’s programs are offered full-time or part-time, on-campus and online. The institution’s online master’s programs in computer information technology—including its no-GRE software engineering master’s program—were ranked #9 in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2022.
- Pace University: Pace’s 100% online MS in Software Development and Engineering does not require GRE scores for admission. It also prepares students for IEEE’s Associate Software Developer Certification and Professional Software Developer Certification.
Even though you won’t need to take the GRE, you will still be expected to provide the same admission materials you might submit to a GRE-required program. Common requirements include a résumé or CV, transcript, letters of recommendation, and so forth.
GRE Conditionally Required
“GRE-Conditional” online master’s programs do not usually require GRE scores. However, colleges & universities will reserve the right to request GRE scores from MS applicants in cases where it’s deemed appropriate. This can happen with master’s candidates who have a thin application, a low GPA, or insufficient real-world work experience. After the admissions committee has reviewed your submission, they may ask you to take the exam.
This is the case with Johns Hopkins University’s online Master’s in Computer Science, which is designed for working professionals and ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report. In general, JHU does not require GRE scores for this graduate program. However, the admissions committee reserves the right to request scores from some applicants.
There are also online MS programs in software engineering that allow certain students to skip the GRE. For example, although a program may ask for GRE scores as a rule, applicants can request a waiver if they have excellent grades or work experience. GRE waivers are typically granted to promising students who meet certain benchmarks that indicate a high level of ability or achievement. Examples of such benchmarks include a very high GPA or a long and successful work history outside the classroom.
For instance, GRE waivers are available for University of Houston-Clear Lake’s online software engineering master’s program. The school will waive the GRE requirement if one of the following conditions is met:
- a GPA of 3.0 or above
- at least a year of post-graduate full-time work experience in a computing field
“GRE-Optional” programs don’t require the GRE, but they will allow students to submit scores to boost their applications. For instance, the University of Maryland offers a 100% online software engineering master’s program in which the submission of GRE scores is optional. This allows schools to attract a large pool of applicants, which helps elevate them in major university ranking systems.
Students applying to these programs should think carefully about whether to include their scores. Strong GRE scores will boost your chances of admission; mediocre scores might put the admissions committee off. All else being equal, an applicant with high GRE scores will almost certainly beat out an applicant without GRE scores.
Why Are Schools Dropping the GRE Requirement for Graduate Programs?
The COVID-19 outbreak caused many standardized testing centers to close down. As a consequence, the GRE General Test went online. However, a number of people complained that the online version presented a host of obstacles.
- In response to those difficulties—and to existing doubts about the test’s usefulness—schools began to suspend the GRE requirement. Some schools specified a temporary time window during which students could apply without GRE scores.
- With testing centers reopening, many schools have lifted the suspension and are once again requiring GRE scores. At other schools, the suspension is still in effect. Some schools, such as UT-Austin, have made this a permanent change, dropping the GRE requirement for all programs going forward.
Always check the details on the school’s admissions page to get the most up-to-date information on GRE requirements.
There is increasing dissent over the GRE’s usefulness and fairness. Some argue that the exam is a barrier to entry for students from low income or minority backgrounds. Many say that the costs associated with preparing for—and taking—the test can be a large financial burden.
This has given rise to the so-called “GRExit” movement—the trend of institutions permanently dropping the GRE requirement from admissions criteria. Proponents say that removing the need for GRE scores increases class diversity without negatively impacting student success.
GRExit-ers can also point to research that casts doubt on the test’s predictive power. For example, one study found that while GRE scores did correlate with better first-semester grades, they did not predict which students graduated or passed qualifying exams, how long students stayed in a program, their number of publications, or the number of grants or fellowships they received.
Is It Better to Attend a Program That Requires GRE Scores?
The simple answer is “No.”
The quality of the institution itself and its software engineering program should be your top priorities, not whether GRE scores are required. Fortunately, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a strong no-GRE online master’s degree. After all, many top institutions in our listings—including Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Boston University—do not require the GRE for entrance into their software engineering programs.
Future employers will not know—and likely never ask—whether you took the GRE for admission to your online master’s program. Nor is it stated on your diploma or transcript. Some job seekers with very high GRE scores may choose to add them to their résumé as a way to stand out, but this is not very common.
Note: If you want to earn a PhD, then you may eventually need to take the GRE. But it won’t affect the admissions process for a master’s degree.