MIT Sloan Flips to Test Optional

Post by: Dr. Kristen Willmott

We are working with our grad school applicants who are putting the final touches on their applications, as well as new applicants who are seizing the day and applying to graduate school in this unprecedented time, or as we’ve called it, the best year in history to apply to graduate school.

Some schools have made it easier to apply to graduate school as they’ve lightened up their rules on course, test, application fee, and deadline requirements. Others are not making it easier to apply, they’re just calling it quits on fall 2020 admissions in the midst of COVID-19, and these are not poor universities. For example, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education is not accepting ANY doctoral applications this fall, Master’s applicants only. UPenn did the same for their PhD admissions in the School of Arts and Sciences (except for their Chemistry PhD applicants); the rest of their departments are going to focus on serving/teaching/paying their current graduate students, not new ones.

In June, UVA Darden announced they were going test optional and here we are at two weeks from MIT Sloan’s round 1 MBA deadline and they just stated they’re GMAT/GRE optional. This decision is late in the game and it’s tough for applicants to interpret when they put this on their admissions page:

“In view of challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, we will allow candidates for the 2020-21 admission cycle to submit their application without the test and review their submitted material as is and without negative inferences . . . Additionally, applicants are welcome to submit other pieces of evidence, such as expired test scores (GMAT, GRE, EA, etc.); MITx MicroMasters, CORe, edX, MBAMath, or any other non-degree coursework completed; or certifications earned such as CPA, ACCA, CFA, etc.; all of which may assist the Admissions Committee in its evaluation process . . . If you have a valid or expired test score, please include that as part of your application.”

HUH?

Well, which is it, MIT?…

Here’s one possible translation: While we went test optional for round 3 in spring 2020, we expected to be test-required this fall, but waited all the way until September to finally announce it. And –if you have any scores whatsoever, even an expired score from over a decade ago, we’ll take it. And, we’ll also tell you the following about our Class of 2021 right on our admissions FAQ site: average GMAT 727, GMAT middle 80% range 690-760, GRE middle 80% quant range 156-168, GRE middle 80% verbal range 156-169. But, just ignore that if you have nothing; zero scores are okay by us. (Unless you want to get admitted. Then, maybe think about getting some scores.)

IT’S ABOUT WHAT ACCEPTED STUDENTS SUBMIT

So, you could see where an applicant might be perplexed on what to do and what is actually needed. Because it’s not really about what you need to just pay an application fee and apply, it’s about what you need to get IN.

Compound the above with the fact that the online GMAT registration fee just went up 25% as of September 23 (and there’s a hefty $100 cancellation fee or $150 reschedule fee if within 2 weeks –at some but not all locations), and you might not be too pumped to sit for the GMAT right now. So maybe test optional IS your friend this fall. Do a review, however, of your undergraduate transcript to make sure it can stand on its own.

Then again, you might not be too psyched about MIT Sloan’s tuition and fees this year: $77,168 in tuition and $120,846 total according to this 2020-2021 MIT Sloan MBA Tuition and Expenses summary.

The good news is that top programs are being lenient with test requirements and score deadlines, and while MIT’s round 1 MBA deadline is coming up fast on October 1st, there is still time to apply –and you could even target their round 2 deadline of Jan. 19, 2021 or round 3 deadline of April 12, 2021 (though round 3 is a bit later than we’d advise applying), in which case you have much more time.

YOU NOW HAVE MORE OPTIONS

Some programs are lowering their tuitions; and some excellent online programs are being mindful of COVID-19’s impact on your financial picture.

For example, Williams College offers a one year Master’s in Policy Economics (apps are due Dec 1) for students with an interest in future positions in treasuries, central banks and government, and they made the news this summer with tuition cuts of 15% to benefit students and their families.

Even less expensive and more forgiving with application requirements is an online graduate admissions pathway. The University of Illinois’ round 1 online MBA application deadline (for spring 2021 admissions) was Sept. 15 and round 2 is due Oct 15. You need a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply, and they’re test optional, online and $22,000 for the program. Their applications are up 35% this year; students are taking note of the key benefits of top online MBAs, especially when many top MBA programs are already online right now anyway. Boston University and Wake Forest have also debuted new, popular online MBA programs in a less-is-more, we’re prepped for virtual anyway kind of way.

Whether you’re seeking to study next to the Charles River at MIT or from your home office as part of Rice University’s online MBA program (and you can bet that Rice wants you to apply since they waived their $200 app fee until Oct. 9), we are here to help you with your resume, grad school essays, applications, and more. Let’s talk.

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