2021 Graduate Schools That Don’t Require Letters of Recommendation

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If you want to speed up your graduate admissions process, you may want to take a look at grad schools that don’t require letters of recommendation.

Graduate Schools That Don't Require Letters of Recommendation

You might be able to start school sooner if you don’t have to wait for references to pen glowing reviews of your strengths and abilities. It can also be helpful to skip the recommendation requirement if it’s been a while since you were last in college or the workforce.

Attending graduate school is worth it for many students, and since there are a number of accredited grad schools that don’t require letters of recommendation, a lack of references shouldn’t hold you back from earning a master’s degree.

Do All Graduate Schools Require Letters of Recommendation for Admission?

Graduate Schools Admission

No, not all graduate schools require letters of recommendation during the application process. There are reputable, accredited schools that won’t ask you to submit reference letters.

Some colleges prefer to use other methods of getting to know their applicants. They might rely on personal essays, resumes, transcripts, test scores, or interviews instead.

When it comes down to it, letters of reference don’t always provide the most thorough insights about an applicant. Sure, sometimes a reference is written by a supervisor who has a close relationship with the person in question.

Many times, though, teachers or bosses who are frequently asked to provide references have standard plug-and-play recommendation letters. These templates can receive few adjustments from one student to the next.

Some admissions committees believe that’s not the best way to acquire a complete picture of what an applicant is like. No matter what a particular school’s reasons are for not requesting letters of recommendation, this policy can benefit you in several ways.

It can take time and effort to track down potential references and ask them to write letters for you. You then have to wait for them to get back to you with finished letters, which can take even longer. Also, you may feel uncertain about whom to ask for recommendations.

Academic references are best for graduate school admission, but that can be difficult if you’ve been out of college for a long time. Professional references can also be tricky if you’re not in the workforce or your current place of employment isn’t the best fit.

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about these obstacles if you apply to schools that don’t require recommendation letters. Instead, you can rely on other evidence that may highlight why you’d be a good addition to a college’s graduate program.

Typical Grad School Admissions Requirements

Typical Grad School Admissions Requirements

As you browse grad programs, you might find a good deal of variety in the materials that admissions committees want you to submit. Each college sets its own requirements, but common criteria include:

  • Written essay. A personal essay or statement of purpose can help the college get to know you as a person. It may address your experiences, achievements, or goals for grad school.
  • GRE or GMAT scores. A number of schools are no longer requiring these standardized test scores, but some institutions may still request them.
  • Letters of recommendation (only some schools require them). Some schools request reference letters, but they are not always a requirement.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae. You may submit a document that lists your work history and volunteer experiences.
  • Official transcripts. Schools typically require transcripts that show what undergraduate and graduate schools you’ve attended, the classes you’ve taken, and the grades you’ve earned.

In addition, you will likely fill out an application form. On this application, you’ll provide basic information about yourself—such as your birthdate and address—and indicate your graduate program of choice. The form may need to be accompanied by an application fee.

While some universities expect high GPAs from applicants, there are some graduate schools with low GPA requirements for admission.

30 Graduate Schools That Don’t Require Letters of Recommendation

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University

AIU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Baylor University

Baylor University

Baylor University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University Idaho

Brigham Young University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Clemson University

Clemson University

Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

DePaul University

DePaul University

DePaul University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Granite State College

Granite State College

Granite State College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Idaho State University

Idaho State University

Idaho State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Ohio University

Ohio University

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Purdue University

Purdue University

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Salem University

Salem University

Salem University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Strayer University

Strayer University

Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Troy University

Troy University

Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Michigan

University of Michigan Dearborn

University of Michigan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Carolina – Charlotte

University of North Carolina - Charlotte

UNC Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Walden University

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Attending Graduate School Online

Attending Graduate School Online

Letters of recommendation aren’t always an essential part of the grad school admission process. At select schools, you can use other application materials—such as essays, resumes, and transcripts—to show that you’d be a good fit for a graduate program.

You may want to submit your application as soon as possible, or you may not be sure whom to ask for recommendation letters. Either way, a school that doesn’t require references could be the answer for you.

Online college programs are a highly flexible option for applicants who’d rather not worry about recommendation letters. As you explore accredited online colleges, you can be on the lookout for schools that don’t require references for their grad programs.

Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.