What’s the GMAT requirement for MBA programs?

GMAT requirement for MBA
GMAT requirement for Harvard

Applying to a business school can be an overwhelming process.

There are just so many things to do! Essays, letters of recommendation, GMAT scores, interviews and the list goes on and on.

Since applicants rarely apply to only one MBA program, they must consider all the above aspects for multiple applications.

One aspect that applicants frequently ask about is GMAT scores.

They want to know how important the GMAT is for business school applications and what are the score ranges of the schools they are applying to.

This article is meant to clear all such doubts, so let’s get started!

What is the GMAT and is it required for MBA?

The GMAT, short for the Graduate Management Aptitude test, is used as a measure of the skills applicants would require to succeed in business school and afterwards in their careers.

Business schools get applications from a large and varied pool of applicants.

Applicants come not only from different academic backgrounds and career profiles, but also different nationalities.

The GMAT helps the admissions committee consider the skill sets of all applicants on an equal footing and thus is an important aspect of the application.

The GMAT is a computer based test and consists of four sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment,
  • Integrated Reasoning,
  • Verbal, and
  • Quantitative

All the sections are added up and you get a final score out of 800. Along with your final score, you are also given a percentile ranking, to give you a better understanding of how you fared compared to others who took the GMAT. A GMAT score of above 760 puts you in the 99th percentile, which means you did better on the test than 99% of the people who appeared for it in the last 3 years. A more detailed version of the percentile rankings for the overall test and the individual sections is available on the official GMAT website.

It is not necessary to give your GMAT exam in the year your applying to business school. Once you take the GMAT, your score is valid for the next 5 years.

So if you have decided to apply to business school, it is best to take the GMAT as early as possible.

This will give you a chance to retake the exam if required and also as business school deadlines approaches, you will have so many things to do, it is better to get done with GMAT as early as possible.

The GMAT is not the only test business schools accept, many schools these days including Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Stanford, to name a few, accept either GRE or GMAT scores.

The GRE is based on similar lines like the GMAT and includes all the same sections except Integrated Reasoning.

The GRE is an admission requirement for most Masters and PhD programs, except the business ones.

However, it is good to keep in mind that many admission counselors advise students to submit GMAT over GRE.

There are many reasons for this. Since business schools have been accepting GMAT scores for a long time, it’s easier for them to compare apples to apples.

Also many believe that GMAT is the more quantitatively demanding exam of the two.

You should check on the ETS (official GRE) website to see if the business school you’re applying to accepts the GRE.

What are the GMAT score ranges for top programs?

Most business schools put up a profile of the most recent incoming class on their website that includes GMAT score range, undergraduate major, average age, previous industry worked in, etc.

Some schools also provide similar data on their incoming classes of the previous years.

So take a look at the class profiles of the programs your applying to get an understanding of where you fit in.

For most business schools there is no minimum GMAT score required for entry.

The GMAT score is particularly important for students applying from a Humanities or Arts background, who have not had a quantitatively intensive undergraduate education.

For such applicants, the GMAT is then considered as the primary indicator of quantitative and reasoning abilities.

The admissions committee considers the GMAT score along with other aspects of the application.
An excellent GMAT score will not guarantee admission into a top program and a bad GMAT score will not automatically rule you out.
Every application will have at least one weak aspect, and for many it might be the GMAT. If yours is the GMAT, don’t worry too much about it if the other aspects of your application are strong.
Many programs also accept applicants with a GMAT score in the 500s. Let’s take a look at the GMAT score ranges for some of the top ranked MBA programs to get a better understanding.

GMAT requirement for MBA at NYU, Harvard, and Wharton


GMAT score range

Mean/Median GMAT score

 Harvard Business School



 Wharton (UPenn)



 Stern (NYU)



 Columbia Business School

680-760 (mid 80%)


 Tuck (Dartmouth College)



 Stanford Graduate School of Business



GMAT Scores Requirements for Executive MBA (EMBA)

Executive MBA programs are designed for professionals holding management positions or those who possess a good amount of work experience and are looking to further enhance their skills by going back to school.

Unlike MBA programs EMBA programs usually require a minimum of five years of work experience, though some might require even more.

The EMBA program at NYU stern, for instance, requires a minimum of 6 years of work experience.

For an increasing number of EMBA programs the GMAT is not required, however applicants may be required to take refresher courses or certificate courses that demonstrate their quantitative and reasoning abilities.

In rare cases, the school might request an applicant to take the GMAT if their previous education and work experience does not reflect their quantitative skills.

So in conclusion, getting a stellar GMAT score certainly won’t hurt your application, but don’t fret too much if your score is not up to the mark.

Remember, the GMAT is only one part of a much larger application.

Ultimately a great or not-so-great GMAT score will not make or break your application.

So focus on building a holistic application, giving equal importance to all aspects, and honestly highlighting all your strengths and weaknesses.

Above all remember never to lie in your application or try to cover up weaknesses and you should be fine.

Good luck with your application and I hope you get into the business school you want!

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