UNC-Chapel Hill Drops GRE From Graduate School Admissions
Share this Article
- The GRE won't be required for most grad school programs at UNC-Chapel Hill for 2023-24.
- The university's goal is to remove barriers to graduate education and diversify the applicant pool.
- The assistant dean for the graduate school said 92-93% of programs do not require the GRE.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is the latest institution to drop the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) out of graduate school admissions.
UNC's Graduate School Admissions Board recently passed a motion to eliminate GRE requirements for the 2023-24 school year, The Daily Tar Heel first reported. BestColleges confirmed the move with Sarah Jacobson, assistant dean of admissions and enrolled students for the graduate school at UNC.
More graduate programs were opting out of the GRE each year, so the administrative board began a pilot to phase out the GRE in the spring of 2020, Jacobson said. The first phase made the opt-out process for the GRE easier for 2021-22.
Phase two of the pilot began in 2021-22 when they flipped the GRE requirements. The GRE would not be required centrally for 2022-23, and individual programs could opt-in to require it.
The board voted to end the pilot in the spring of 2022 by officially removing the GRE across the graduate school for 2023-24. Programs can still opt in each year.
The graduate school has over 80 programs offering more than 160 degrees. Jacobson said 92%-93% of UNC's graduate programs don't require the GRE.
— Sarah Jacobson, assistant dean of graduate admissions and enrolled students at UNC
"In the first year of the pilot, about 70 of our programs waived the GRE — that was a pretty good indicator of how folks were feeling about this," Jacobson said. "Then the second year, it was close to 90 of our programs that weren't requiring the GRE."
Jacobson said that the opt-in programs aren't part of just one discipline. For instance, the economics (master's only), statistics & operations research, and sociology programs are among those that still require the GRE.
"From talking with those programs, they see the GRE as one helpful data point among many," said Jacobson. "Those programs have indicated that while it may not be an indicator of success in the program, it can be an indicator of preparation."
Removing Barriers to Graduate Education
Jacobson said UNC's move to drop the GRE from graduate admissions is in line with national trends.
UNC's goal was two-fold: to remove barriers to graduate education, and to recruit, attract, and enroll the best and brightest graduate students.
However, Jacobson said it's difficult to make a causal link between applications and ending testing requirements.
The most significant data points for the school aren't just more applications but also the diversity of admitted students and their ability to succeed in their programs and find careers, she said.
"It's not just getting application numbers up, but ensuring that from these applications our programs and our students are able to create a good fit," Jacobson said. "And that while they're here, the students are learning and leaving with career options."
Instead of adding components to replace the GRE, Jacobson said removing testing requirements forces programs to decide which elements of an applicant's resume are most indicative of success. Programs may have detailed personal statement prompts to know their applicants. Some may put more weight on letters of recommendation, and others may use undergraduate transcripts to see their course journey.
Jacobson said that graduate education is a two-way street between the program and the student; it goes beyond an undergraduate degree and standardized testing.
"A standardized test — because it is a raw number that's easily comparable — can seem like it's absolutely crucially important," said Jacobson. "So, removing that hopefully allows applicants time to focus on other aspects of the application and ensures that all programs are taking a very holistic look when they're doing reviews of applications."