Average GRE Scores At Top 50 Business Schools

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More students at leading business schools are getting into prestige MBA programs with a GRE (Graduate Record Exam) score than ever before. Yet, while GMAT scores for incoming classes of MBA students are well reported by the schools, average GRE scores are often hard to come by.

Many schools choose not to report GRE scores for their incoming cohorts, and when they do, the data is often incomplete. But one trend is clear: More applicants with GRE scores are being admitted into the very top MBA programs than ever before (see table).

The percentage of enrolled MBAs at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business have tripled in the past three years alone, to 12% last year from 4% at Fuqua, and to 14% from 5% at Ross. At Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, GRE-enrolled MBA students have more than quadrupled to 13% of last year’s incoming class from just 3% in 2012.


The high-level mark for GRE-enrolled students among highly ranked schools clearly belongs to Yale University’s School of Management, where 23% of the students entering last fall had GRE scores, up from 18% three years earlier. Some 16% of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Class of 2018 got in with GRE scores, while 9% of Harvard Business School’s incoming students last year took the GRE.

Most admission officials publicly say they have no preference. “A standardized test is a standardized test,” insists Niki da Silva, managing director of the full-time MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “It’s just ticking off the box.”

Yet, some consultants seem to think it can matter at some schools. “While most MBA applicants benefit more from submitting a GMAT rather than a GRE score, there are some instances where the latter is the right option,” believes Dan Bauer, CEO of The MBA Exchange, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm. He encourages the GRE as an option for applicants who “can’t crack the ‘middle 80%’ for admits at the targeted school even after three GMAT attempts, especially individuals with a qualitative undergraduate major and no rigorous quant courses.”

Applicants who are not yet 100% sure whether they want to attend business school versus a different master’s program also should take the GRE, adds Bauer. “Candidates who have the time and energy to take only one standardized test to cover all possibilities should opt for the GRE.”

Bauer also favors the GRE for applicants who target an elite business school where GMAT scores are already high and getting higher each year. “B-schools don’t report ‘average GRE’ scores, so there’s no impact on reputation or ranking by accepting an applicant with a less-than-stellar GRE.”


In fact, for the past three years U.S. News has attempted to use the average GRE scores in addition to the GMATs in its methodology to create the ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S. But many of the leading business schools aren’t declining to provide this data, including Harvard, Chicago, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Northwestern, Dartmouth, and Columbia.

The upshot: They can enroll students with significantly lower equivalent GREs, refuse to report those scores, and then not get penalized in U.S. News’ ranking. That will soon end, according to Robert J. Morse, U.S. News‘ ranking guru.” Currently, U.S. News does not adjust the ranking calculation for schools that fail to report GRE scores,” he says. “U.S. News will seriously consider adjusting scores in the future now that GREs are becoming more widely used in MBA admissions.”

So what do schools expect on a GRE from a competitive MBA applicant? The highest average GRE scores are not surprising reported by Stanford GSB which also claims the highest average GMAT score for any leading MBA program. Last year, the average new GRE verbal and quant score for Stanford’s incoming class was 164, with an average writing score of 4.8. No other school which reports GRE data had higher numbers, though Yale’s School of Management matched Stanford on the verbal portion and was only two points behind on the quant score with a 162 (see table).

In comparison, the latest incoming class of MBA students at Michigan’s Ross School boasted a 162 average verbal score and a 159 quant score, with an analytical writing score of 4.5. The top 50 school with the lowest scores? Arizona State University’s Carey School of Business, where the average verbal and quant score was 153, with a 3.9 in writing.

  • mar

    Stupid comment!, Both tests are challenging, there are people who feel more confortable taking the GMAT than the GRE; I got almost the same percentile in math in both tests.

  • As authentic as they can be. They come from the schools.

  • CalculationQ

    Can you clarify if this data is an average or the middle 80%?

  • Farrell Hehn

    Diversity. If GRE unpublished, they can up diversity.

  • Talal

    How authentic are these GRE scores quoted above?

  • notcasual

    Why don’t you take a look at these scores and plug them into the ETS score comparison tool? These scores translate to remedial GMAT scores. The GRE attracts test takers that are afraid of the GMAT.

  • notcasual

    Holy crap these remedial scores across the board are frightening. Why are programs allowing this exam as a substitute??

  • Yay, thanks!

  • Indeed. We had a major update on our overall software and it played havoc with some of the pre-updated charts and tables in stories. Fixed.

  • Really is true that the GRE can become a bit of a wild card for the school, because they are not reported and it won’t sully the school rankings. It’s a way for the schools to increase diversity in the class with no penalty. HOWEVER…no discussion about this would be complete without adding that if you are going for MBB or Investment Banking. MBB minimum GMAT is 700+ if top 10 or 720+ if top 20. Recently worked with a Georgia Tech admit on getting his GMAT verbal high enough to be MBB-recruitable.

  • John, there seems to be a problem with the table on page 3. Appears it was pasted in using “preformatted” in WordPress.

  • tim

    whichever gre or gmat… I took both and got perfect scores on quant for both… IMO, what matters is the percentile. After all, gmat and gre math are middle/high school level. I personally do not see much difference….

  • randodude

    Wharton’s class is around 3x as large as Yale’s.
    Technically speaking, if Yale’s figures are statistically significant, Wharton’s are likely to be as well.

  • randodude

    I feel like most of the people ragging on the GRE’s quant difficulty aren’t capable of getting in the 95th percentile on it (or the GMAT) are are wallowing in their own insecurity because they had to work hard for their low score.

  • Split

    The fact is that there is a strong correlation between a score on the GMAT and the GRE for test takers, and both are about equal in predicting first year b-school grades. That’s why most admissions committees for B-schools accept either.
    As for the allegation that the GMAT is more quantitatively challenging and therefore a better gauge: The GMAT is a more expensive, niche test taken by a relatively small pool of candidates from a relatively narrow socio-economic band of US citizens. The GRE pool of test takers is certifiably huge–truly worldwide–and math is a universal language. Most of the foreigners taking the GRE are going into quant intensive grad fields, and the GRE quant score at the right tail under the newer scoring system is quite meaningful in terms of competitive performance.

  • thoughts

    Agreed. Same thing happened to me. I took the high road and struggled through the GMAT, finally getting a competitive score. Two of my friends cut corners, admit that they took the GRE because the GMAT was too hard and they knew they wouldn’t score well…still got into top 5/10 programs. They used buzz words and lied throughout their applications as well.

  • thoughts

    The GMAT is a self selecting test. The GRE isn’t. Business school isn’t for everyone. You need to have exceptional quant and problem solving skills to succeed in both a top MBA program and the GMAT. Many PhD programs in business schools require the GMAT as well. Should law school start accepting the GRE as well? What about med school?

  • randomguy

    Currently in an MS program that accepts both the GRE and GMAT…
    When I told some of the foreign students that I took the GRE(and a few snooped my linkedin) they were impressed.

    A lot of them hit 700+ on the GMAT but apparently are terrified of the GRE (most specifically the English section).

    Yes, the math section on the GRE has easier questions… but there are more of them in less time.

    I took both exams and ended up scoring very similarly on both (as compared to the score converted published by ETS).


    I disagree

  • Jules

    I just wondered because I don’t see my alma mater BYU Marriott (#31 on US News) on the P&Q list and I know prior to this year have only accepted GMAT. I just wondered why they weren’t included on the list.

  • article

    and by “aren’t” i believe the article means “are”.

  • article

    From the article: “many of the leading business schools aren’t declining to provide this data, including Harvard, Chicago, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Northwestern, Dartmouth, and Columbia.” 7 of the top 43. (also coincidentally 7 of the top 10)

  • Jules

    Did anyone else notice there are only 43 schools listed in the chart on % of incoming class with GRE scores? Where are the other 7 schools in the top 50 and why weren’t they listed.

  • C. Taylor

    I responded to this statement: “”The only top schools that have the ‘huevos’ to report them are Yale and . . .”

    If you decide ‘top 25’ schools are the mentioned ‘top’ schools then there is no need to delineate any smaller group of peers to show the statement wrong.

    As for your GRE advantage aside; GRE scores do not factor into USN rankings so nondisclosure is not advantageous in terms of rankings but potentially is in other ways. All of these GRE score averages that I’ve checked are low compared to each program’s GMAT scores. Any increase post-inclusion in ranking criteria would suggest programs overweight GMAT scores in admissions solely due to rankings.

    For basic conversion to an overall GMAT score, add/subtract 10 GMAT points for each GRE quant point and 20 GMAT points for every three GRE verbal points. A reference is 163 verbal and 164 quant being equivalent to a 700 GMAT score.

  • Not BOLD enough?

    Could you clarify which schools belong to which peer set? Top 25 schools should be enough. And also the methodology in determining these peer sets?

    Regardless of peer set, the point of this piece is that schools who do not disclose GRE scores do so because it is advantageous to them.

  • Mr. Trump

    Make business schools great again!

  • Still Vindicated!

    I have friends who couldn’t hack it on the GMAT and got into places like Yale and MIT (with high GRE scores). Yeah, of course SOM’ers and Lyin’ Ted Snyder would hope to suggest it’s ALL BECAUSE OF OUR NON-TRADITIONAL AND/OR DUAL DEGREE CANDIDATES! Yeah, good one. Still corner-cutters.

  • Still Vindicated!

    If I were Wharton, I wouldn’t report either because 7% of the class wouldn’t provide firm enough data to be considered useful and accurate. On the other hand, one-fourth of the class (i.e. Yale) would allow for statistically relevant/significant figures.

  • C. Taylor

    Yale is in another peer set. As stated, all of Yale’s US-based peers other than tier-leading Stern and Darden reported GRE scores.

    btw, M7 is not a peer set. It is a group of elite US-based programs which cooperate with each other.

  • Esuric

    The GRE is easier, that’s why.

  • Not BOLD enough?

    Is this part of the article not bold enough for you? Do you see any M7 schools on the tab on page 3?


  • C. Taylor

    “The only top schools that have the “huevos” to report them are Yale and . . .”

    All of Yale’s peers other than tier-leading Stern and Darden reported GRE scores.

  • GRE4life

    Also, where did the idea that the GRE is a cop out come from? People who take the GRE are going into PhD programs in the most challenging fields. The GMAT is for people going to b-school, and while there are plenty of intelligent folks at top b-schools, I’ve got to imagine that people going into PhD programs in challenging fields are just as, if not more intelligent.

  • Lacking Reading Comprehension?

    The article mentions that “Many of the leading business schools are declining to provide this data, including Harvard, Chicago, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Northwestern, Dartmouth, and Columbia.” Because they can enroll students with lower GREs. The only top schools that have the “huevos” to report them are Yale and Stanford.

    Consider this… Yale’s strength in non-traditional backgrounds would logically increase it’s GRE %. What makes you think that if GRE scores were included Yale’s rank would fall, it could actually rise since their GRE averages are probably among the highest and just like Stanford’s.

    Consider another possibility. The other top 10 schools will see a fall in ranking if GRE scores are reported! Remember that reporting is a beauty contest.

  • Tuck isn’t M7

    Tuck isn’t M7

  • Guest

    The level of insecurity that Yale SOMers have about their school is evident in the ridiculous amount of time they spend defending their program in the P+Q comments section. (They’re tied with that guy who goes to Johnson.)

  • SOMer

    that’s aburd – you forget that Yale SOM has a large number of dual degree students that would normally take the GRE. apples and oranges.

  • Corner-cutters vs. Vindicated!

    Yale, Georgetown, and MIT are all cutting corners to stay relevant. Wharton, Tuck, Columbia, and Harvard are the only M7 schools below 10% GRE, because they don’t need a GMAT boost. In fact, this is evidence that Wharton is amongst the few schools that actually deserves its extremely high GMAT average (ironic, considering those who feel W has been overly focused on GMAT in recent years).

  • It is interesting to see the numbers reported. This isn’t extremely surprising. One thing to notice is two schools that tend to be associated with high GMAT / increasing GMAT scores for their classes (Stanford GSB and Yale SOM) also have a highest percentage of GRE scores among the top schools. MIT Sloan, while it did not report GRE scores, also falls in this mix.

    Should you take the GRE or GMAT? This is really an individual question. While the GMAT is still the most common, for some people the GRE makes more sense. It really depends on your situation.