While a GRE is a commonly required admission test for graduate school, there has been a new trend among online programs offering cybersecurity master's degree to not require a GRE. In a 2010 study, Get Educated found that 932 of more than 1300 accredited online master's programs do not require a GRE test score.

This article further explores accredited institutions offering an online cybersecurity master's degree that do not require a GRE.

Why Students Prefer Programs Waiving GRE as a Requirement

While the GRE is an important admission test for many postgraduate programs, there are several reasons why some students would rather not take it.

The GRE test results expire after five years

Once you take a GRE, you are unlikely to want to take it again due to its difficult nature and demanding study time. Unfortunately, your GRE scores will only be valid for five years following the date you took the exam. Once this time is up, you will not be able to access your scores, let alone send them to schools.

This is particularly problematic for adult students. Consider a case of a working professional who already holds a master's degree with a straight-A average from a recognized institution. This likely means they had completed and passed the GRE for their first master's degree. However much they would like to go back to school for an online master's or online doctoral degree, they might have to retake the exam as their GRE test scores may have expired.

The GRE test is time-consuming to take and prepare for

The GRE can be intimidating. The exam takes about three to four hours and demands intensive concentration as it tests for quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, writing skills, and critical thinking. To get a high score, a student may need to study intensively for several months. In most instances, applications for master's degrees get delayed by more than a year as students prepare for and take the GRE.

Taking and preparing for the GRE is expensive

The quantitative section of the GRE can be difficult for many test takers as questions are phrased confusingly and indirectly, which sometimes makes it needlessly challenging. The way to get around them and pass is by enrolling for GRE prep courses. The issue is that most in-person classes cost as much as $1,000.

Despite these concerns, there is some good news. You do not have to spend time and resources studying GRE anymore. A growing number of graduate program in cybersecurity no longer require GRE test scores.

Admission Standards for a Graduate Program in Cybersecurity that Do Not Require the GRE

Online master's in cybersecurity that do not require a GRE are still selective about who they admit to their programs. Get Educated explains that most universities have other admission requirements that students must meet before they are admitted.

Most online master's degree programs in cyber security that do not require the GRE have a common admission requirement. It is imperative however to not make generalizations. Consult with individual schools on what their admission standards are in place of the GRE score and see if you fulfill them.

The most common standards include:

  • Undergraduate Coursework

    Applicants should have completed specific units in their undergraduate coursework. Most common for cybersecurity online master's include calculus, discrete mathematics, algorithms, forensics, and computer programming.

  • Undergraduate Major

    Applicants should have undertaken an undergraduate degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering, cyber security, or related technical fields

  • Certifications and Extra Courses

    Applicants who majored in a non-technical undergraduate degree should have taken additional courses in computer science, or should be able to demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in Information Technology systems, computer programming, calculus, and other core units.

  • GPA Minimum

    Applicants should have an Undergraduate GPA minimum. The minimum depends on the school, but the range is usually between 2.8 and 3.0 on the lower side. For cyber security and other technical programs, the bar is often higher.

  • Professional Experience

    Applicants should have considerable professional experience in a cybersecurity-related field.

  • Previous Master's Degree

    Applicants should have a previous master's degree. This proves that you are capable of handling coursework at a master's program level.

  • GMAT and other admission tests instead of GRE

    Applicants may be required to take less demanding tests like the GMAT. The GMAT is also less expensive. You might also be required to take a specialized test focusing on elements that the GRE tests e.g. quantitative reasoning.

  • Relevant Documents

    Applicants should attach to their admission applications supporting documents such as a professional CV, letters of recommendation, and transcripts from undergraduate/postgraduate studies, and motivation letters.

How to Evaluate Online Master's in Cyber Security Programs That Doesn't Require A GRE Score

For an online master cyber security program that does not require the GRE score, it might be tempting to think that the schools offering them have low standards. However, as discussed above, most of these online cybersecurity master's degree programs market to non-traditional adult students. These at-work professionals might have a GRE score that is no longer valid, but they have valuable experience. These programs typically accommodate a wider array of students unlike on-campus programs.

If a school does not ask students to take a GRE test before admission, you should query what else they consider essential to admission. It is up to the student to research a prospective grad school to determine if their learning experience will be worthwhile, and that the school is not cutting corners when it comes to admissions.

Common criteria that students can use to evaluate Online Master's in Cybersecurity programs that don't require a GRE test include:

  • Accreditation

    This should be a no-brainer. Check whether the university and programs it is offering are accredited in your jurisdiction by relevant authorities. This means that they place a high value on learning and not just profits. Accreditation bodies to be on the lookout for include: ABET, NCAE-C, iSC2, SANS, ISSA, and ISCA.

  • Research & Concentrations

    If you want to undertake specific elective units, for example, digital forensics, research if these programs offer these concentrations or conduct research in your area of interest before considering enrolling. Also, we recommend asking your admissions counselor how much students are involved in research as part of their curriculum.

  • Certifications

    Research which certifications the program prepares you to obtain upon completion of the online master's cybersecurity degree program. Do these certifications align to the career paths you are most interested in?

  • Capstones and the Opportunity to Create a Portfolio

    Employers in the cybersecurity field are interested in what you have achieved practically, not just the papers you have written. Will you be involved in a capstone project during the online program? Are there opportunities to go for an internship mid-program?

  • Networking & Local Activities

    Online programs do not have to be isolating. Check whether the program organizes local internships, student meetups, and if they encourage conference attendance.

  • Employment Opportunities

    A credible online cybersecurity master's degree program will have links with recruitment firms and companies hiring cybersecurity professionals. Make sure to spend considerable time with your admissions counselor understanding graduation outcomes. Explore whether students secure internships during the course of the program and full-time jobs as cybersecurity professionals upon graduation. It is also important to inquire about the relevant job placement rate for graduates from a certain school is before applying.

  • Rankings and Reputation

    There are numerous credible reports and outlets online ranking an online cybersecurity program in the USA. For example, the Best Graduate Computer Science program and Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs according to rankings by U.S News & World Report. Go through them thoroughly. Also, check discussion forums such as Quora to find opinions from others regarding a specific school. You can also reach out to the past alumni via LinkedIn.

  • Experiential Learning

    A good online Master's in Cybersecurity will strive to mimic real-world classroom learning, e.g., a cyber lab that allows students to simulate hackers. You should also check with alumni what their experience with such technology was.

Examples of Online Master's in Cybersecurity that don't require a GRE

Below are a few accredited programs in the U.S. offering a cybersecurity master's program online that do not have the GRE requirement. Highlighted are some of the standards that replace the GRE:

This program doesn't have a GRE requirement but requires the following prerequisites:

  • In your prior education, you are required to have completed a year of calculus, a mathematics course beyond calculus such as linear algebra, and discrete mathematics or differential equations. You also are required to have completed a Java or C++ programming course. Competency in Java is expected. Also, courses in computer organization and data structures are required.

  • If you didn't complete the above courses in your prior education, there is a possibility of provisional admission. You are then required to first do the missing prerequisites at John Hopkins Engineering or any other accredited institution.

  • You can submit a highly detailed resume if you would like your professional experience and academic experience to be considered.

At Syracuse University, GRE waivers are available to students who meet the following prerequisite requirements:

  • Professional experience of four or more years in a cybersecurity role or related technical field.

  • A cumulative minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in undergraduate studies. The undergraduate degree has to be in technology or quantitative degree from a U.S accredited institution.

  • Having graduated from Syracuse University with a relevant degree, and in good standing.

  • Having a previous master's degree.

To study a Master's in Cybersecurity at Indiana University, it is mandatory for one to submit GMAT/GRE/LSAT scores with the exception of applicants who meet the following requirements:

  • You graduated with an undergraduate degree from Indiana with a GPA of 3.2 or higher.

  • You have earned a master's degree previously.

  • You have professional experience of at least 5 years, coupled with relevant professional certifications.

At Drexel University, GRE scores are preferred, but not required. If you choose to take the GRE, to be admitted you have to have a combined score of 300 and above in the quantitative and verbal sections of the test.

If you meet one of these requirements, you are not required but are encouraged to take a GRE test:

  • You have successfully completed the Bridge to Tandon program and achieved a B+ or higher.

  • You have completed 9 credits from an approved list of CSE courses for the Visiting Student Registration. You have to maintain an average of B+ or higher at these 9 credits.

  • You have a BS or BA degree in computer engineering or computer science from NYU, averaging a GPA of 3.0 or above.

There is also a GRE waiver option only available to Cyber Fellows at NYU, and other qualified applicants. A qualified applicant can be given conditional admission, where they have to attain a B grade or higher in the first two courses. Students who do not satisfy this requirement are academically disqualified.

To qualify for a GRE waiver for this program, these are some of the prerequisites considered:

  • A bachelor's degree in a STEM course with a minimum GPA of 3.0

  • Considerable professional experience coupled with a bachelor's degree in another field other than STEM.

You will also need to schedule an interview with the program director.

With a Master's in Cybersecurity, you'll be ready for top-paying jobs like these:

Businesses and organizations are investing in cybersecurity, everywhere. In fact, the BLS states that the need for cybersecurity careers is projected to grow by 31% between 2019 and 2029.

Median salary*

  • Information Security Specialist - $75,347

  • Information Security Analyst - $98,350

  • Computer Network Architect - $109,020

  • Information Security Engineer - $109,340

  • Information Systems Security Manager - $142,530

  • Chief Information Security Officer - $166,148

*according to Payscale.com.

Final Thoughts on the GRE and Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

As much as a GRE test score has previously been a prerequisite when getting into a master's program, a new trend is rising where institutions waive the requirement. This allows non-traditional adult students to come back to school without as many hurdles, and also allows for smoother transitions from undergraduate to an online master's in cybersecurity or any other technical field. The GRE waiver however also requires applicants to have some qualifications, such as prior work experience or completion of mathematical courses.

If you are planning to pursue an online master's in cybersecurity without sitting a GRE test, we hope this guide has prepared you on what requirements you require to attend certain universities.

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