Beginning this fall, prospective students applying to the School of Social Work’s MSW program will not have to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as part of the admissions process.
The UNC Graduate School recently approved the School’s request to waive the GRE admission requirement for the next five years. The elimination of the standardized test brings Carolina’s MSW program in line with the nation’s other Top 20 schools of social work that have also decided to waive the GRE for their master’s level programs, said Sharon Holmes Thomas, assistant dean for recruitment, admissions and financial aid.
“What this means is removal of a perceived and a very real barrier for a number of prospective applicants to our program,” Thomas said. “I feel like it takes away a social economic barrier for candidates as well, especially given the cost involved in taking the exam, including the amount of time for preparation. This step helps us make Carolina more accessible.”
School officials noted that students with non-traditional transcripts or undergraduate coursework GPAs below 3.0 may still choose to take the exam if they feel their application may be strengthened by competitive scores on the GRE.
Schools of social work are among a host of graduate level programs that have either deemphasized the importance of the GRE in recent years or removed it altogether from their admissions process. The exam has been criticized for not accurately predicting a student’s success in a master’s level or Ph.D. program, particularly for students of color and for those who struggle with standardized testing.
Requiring the GRE has definitely affected the number of applications the School has received, Thomas said. Although historically, prospective applicants have been reassured that the School takes a holistic approach in its admissions process, some have remained reluctant to consider UNC out of fear that too much weight would be placed on their GRE scores, Thomas said.
“By waiving the GRE as a requirement of MSW admissions, I think applicants will finally see that they are going to be valued for the quality of their application, their writing, their knowledge, and for their overall experience,” she added.