Gillings School drops GRE requirement for 8 graduate degrees

July 16, 2020

Leaders at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health are committed to creating a more equitable world through inclusive teaching, research and practice. This includes recruiting a highly diverse student population that will become the next generation of trained public health professionals.

To support this mission, the Gillings School will no longer require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores from applicants to the Master of Public Health degree — the School’s largest degree program — and most other master’s-level graduate programs. This change is effective immediately.

The Gillings School is the nation’s No. 1 public school of public health — per 2019 rankings from U.S. News & World Report — and has been practicing a holistic portfolio review of potential applicants for years.

Dr. Laura Linnan

Dr. Laura Linnan

“Mounting evidence suggests that GRE scores disadvantage women and minorities and do not necessarily predict which prospective students will be successful in public health training programs,” said Laura Linnan, ScD, senior associate dean of academic and student affairs.

The GRE also can present a significant barrier to prospective students based on the time spent studying for the test, taking preparation courses and traveling to test sites. GRE-related costs present a financial barrier to students as well, at a time when Gillings leadership seeks to reduce the financial burden of attending graduate school.

For these reasons, and consistent with the School’s mission of “eliminating health inequities across North Carolina and the world,” faculty and staff enthusiastically supported a petition to waive GRE scores as part of applications and to study the impact of the change over the next several years.

The specific degrees that no longer require GRE test scores are:

  • The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in all three formats (residential, online (MPH@UNC) and distance (Gillings MPH in Asheville, North Carolina));
  • Three health policy and management (HPM) degrees: Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH in HPM) and Doctor of Public Health (DrPH in HPM); and
  • Four environmental sciences and engineering (ESE) degrees: Bachelor of Science to Master of Science (BS-MS), Bachelor of Science to Master of Science in Public Health (BS-MSPH), Bachelor of Science in Public Health to Master of Science (BSPH-MS) and Bachelor of Science in Public Health to Master of Science in Public Health (BSPH-MSPH), all in ESE.

After reviewing a meta-analysis of more than 1,700 studies on the benefits and limitations of using the GRE to admit students and talking with admissions staff, faculty and student representatives, School administrators were compelled to petition the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School to waive the GRE requirement for several degrees.

From 2021 to 2024, School leaders will complete a thorough evaluation of the impact of removing the GRE requirement from these degree programs by monitoring the number and diversity of applicants, admissions decisions, enrollment yield and student success based on several key outcome variables. Based on these results, the leadership team will discuss whether GRE scores will continue to be required for other graduate degrees at the School.

Dr. Kauline Cipriani

Dr. Kauline Cipriani

“At Gillings, we are constantly striving to increase the diversity of our applicant pool and our enrolled student population,” said Kauline Cipriani, PhD, assistant dean for inclusive excellence. “We believe eliminating the GRE admissions requirement will attract more diverse students to apply to Gillings, train here and ultimately increase the diversity of the public health workforce.”

Applications for the January 2021 start term of MPH@UNC online programs are open now. Applications for all residential programs will open August 17.


Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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