School of Public Health drops GRE from admission requirements

Laura Studley

Many students may feel compelled to apply to graduate school in the hopes of attaining their dream job until they are bogged down by an application process that is seemingly unfair. 

But the Colorado School of Public Health is making that process easier for students. Effective immediately, the school has decided to drop the Graduate Record Examination from its requirements. 

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“We did not want it to be a barrier to people applying to our school,” said Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. “For some, it is intimidating to take an exam. We know that people from some groups in our population don’t score as well as others. We want to have a diverse school as possible, and we want to remove a barrier that we felt was there.” 

The GRE didn’t provide admissions with enough information on applicants, said Lori Crane, associate dean for Academic Affairs. People who score low on the GRE have done well in graduate school while others who scored higher have not, Crane said. 

“What we found in our school and what others have found across the country in graduate programs is that the test is keeping qualified people out,” Crane said. “People who would be successful in a graduate program are being denied admission because they have low test scores.” 

There are many benefits to this change. The Colorado School of Public Health seeks to grow diversity within its student body. Eliminating the GRE requirement allows for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds to apply and not feel the financial weight the GRE places upon them, Crane said.  

“Historically, education has been more accessible for people who are from higher socioeconomic classes, and that sort of starts the beginning of education across time.” -Lori Crane, associate dean, Academic Affairs

“Our student body is not as diverse as we would like it to be,” Crane said. “We’d like it to reflect the populations that are served by public health. What we believe is that people in communities, which are really where public health happens, … are best equipped to solve the problems within those communities.” 

The cost of the GRE is $205 worldwide with the exclusion of Australia, China, Nigeria and Turkey. This test also requires intense studying, which some students spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on to try to achieve a higher score. However, these scores don’t provide much useful information on the applicant. 

The Colorado School of Public Health wants to look more at what students include in their applications, such as background and motivations for applying, rather than test scores. Many universities have used GRE scores as an initial judgment for the applicant as a whole. Someone who doesn’t score very well on the GRE is less likely to be considered a successful applicant, Samet said. 

“I think (the GRE has) blocked just a little bit from taking the really broad view we want to take,” Samet said. “Many people come into the School of Public Health motivated, wanting to help their communities, and we don’t want a test to be a barrier to people who want to make things better.” 

There has been a national shift in universities dropping the GRE requirement for applications, as they serve as a barrier for many students, according to an article published on SOURCE. Whether it is socioeconomic status, gender or race, the GRE can be unintentionally biased toward these groups. 

Data from the Educational Testing Service reports that women who take the test score 80 points lower on average than their male counterparts. African Americans score 200 points lower than white test takers, according to SOURCE. 

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“Historically, education has been more accessible for people who are from higher socioeconomic classes, and that sort of starts the beginning of education across time,” Crane said. “It’s been the more affluent, the more privileged people that have been able to have access to education.”

Eliminating the GRE requirement will open up more opportunities for applicants to apply, creating a space for more diversity, inclusion and success, according to SOURCE.

Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurastudley_.