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.

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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.

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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, offer graduate programs online or in a hybrid format, and not require letters of recommendation to be considered for admission.

American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University

To apply to the American Intercontinental University’s graduate school, interested applicants must complete an online application that usually takes 15 minutes to complete.

An undergraduate transcript must be submitted and a GPA of 2.0 or higher is expected. Applicants are encouraged to connect with an admissions advisor to help them through the process.

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

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University

To apply for a master’s degree at Appalachian State University, applicants must complete the online application, pay an online fee, and submit 3 references and a resume.

Some programs may have specific requirements, such as writing samples. Qualifying undergraduate students at Appalachian State University can enroll in accelerated admissions, which may allow them to earn a master’s degree in as little as one year.

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

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

While Arizona State University has specific admissions requirements, there are minimum requirements needed for each master’s program.

Interested applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of 3.0. After submitting an application, which usually takes 30 minutes to complete, students must pay a fee and submit any additional materials required.

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

Baylor University

Baylor University

Those interested in applying to Baylor University’s graduate school must submit an application online, an application fee, any required test scores, and transcripts. Unofficial transcripts may be sent during the application process, but an official transcript must be sent to confirm admission credentials.

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

Bellevue University

Bellevue University

Applicants interested in applying to Bellevue University’s graduate school must submit an application for admission.

Those who have never studied at Bellevue University must also submit an application fee. To be eligible, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Some programs may require letters of recommendations or an application essay.

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University Idaho

Applicants applying to Brigham Young University for a master’s degree must submit an application, an official transcript, and a small fee.

Applicants are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and an endorsement from a local religious leader. The admissions process also requires an interview with the school’s chaplain or a bishop and a stake president.

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

Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College

Those interested in attending Bryant and Stratton College must submit an application, at which point they will be appointed a personal admissions representative.

Applicants are given an hour-long tour of campus or a Q&A session about online classes before they are interviewed. Proof of a high school diploma or a GED along with proper vaccination records must be submitted.

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

Clemson University

Clemson University

Those interested in attending Clemson University must complete an online application in which they state which term they plan to start studying.

Minimum requirements vary from program to program, but all applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. Applicants may be expected to submit personal statements, letters of recommendation, resumes, or official transcripts.

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

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University

Those interested in applying to Cleveland State University for a master’s degree must submit a transcript, proof of English language proficiency, and a small fee. Different programs may require applicants to submit tests scores from the GRE, GMAT, or MAT. Some programs may also require letters of recommendation.

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

Applicants to Colorado Technical University must complete the online application and submit any required documents, such as transcripts.

A GPA of 2.0 or higher is expected to be eligible for admission. Certain programs may also require students to complete an entrance exam. Applicants may also get in touch with an admissions advisor for help.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

DePaul University

DePaul University

Those interested in applying to DePaul University for a master’s degree must submit an online application with a small fee. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended in the past must be submitted along with any additional requirements. Applicants can choose to defer their application one time within a year of applying.

DePaul University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Applicants to Grand Canyon University’s graduate school must have an undergraduate degree and a minimum GPA of 2.8. Those who do not meet the required GPA may still be eligible if they have high scores on the GRE and GMAT. Other admissions requirements vary depending on the program.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Granite State College

Granite State College

Those applying to Granite State College for a graduate degree must submit an online application.

To be eligible, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher for their undergraduate program. An official transcript from all past post-secondary institutes must be submitted along with a personal statement, resume, and 2 academic or professional references.

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

Idaho State University

Idaho State University

Applicants to Idaho State University looking for a master’s degree must have a bachelor’s degree. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Applicants who do not meet the GPA requirements may still be eligible as long as they receive certain test scores.

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

Liberty University

Liberty University

Requirements to join Liberty University’s graduate school vary from program to program, but all students must submit their transcripts.

Unofficial transcripts can be submitted, but official transcripts must be submitted before the students can enter their second semester of classes. Some programs may require applicants to complete an essay or a questionnaire.

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

National University

National University

To apply for National University’s graduate school, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applicants with a lower GPA may still be eligible if they receive an acceptable grade on the GMAT or GRE. Different programs may have different requirements, but all programs require transcripts to be submitted.

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

Ohio University

Ohio University

The Ohio University Graduate College requires applicants to complete an online application.

Students must have a bachelor’s degree or supply a letter of enrollment from their current institution. Applicants may have to submit licenses, letters of recommendations, a resume, or a professional statement depending on the program being applied to.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Purdue University

Purdue University

Those applying for a master’s degree from Purdue University must submit an application with a transcript. Though an unofficial transcript may be used during the application process, an official transcript must be submitted prior to beginning your first semester. All financial arrangements must be completed before starting classes.

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

Salem University

Salem University

Those applying for a master’s degree at Salem University must submit an application and proof of having completed a bachelor’s degree and any prerequisite courses that are necessary. Applicants may also look into transferring credits. Applicants that have already attended master’s programs may be able to continue from where they left off.

Salem University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Applicants applying to Southern New Hampshire University for a master’s degree program must apply online.

A transcript from any schools attended must be submitted along with a graduate attestation form with the applicant’s GPA. Other requirements may be needed depending on the degree program. No fee is required for US graduate students.

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

Strayer University

Strayer University

To apply to Strayer University’s graduate school, applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

If an applicant does not have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, they may have to take additional coursework. Applicants must also supply photo ID, an official transcript, and proof of graduate potential, such as professional experience or GMAT scores.

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

Troy University

Troy University

Applicants for Troy University’s master’s degree program must complete the online application for admission.

All transcripts and test scores must be sent to Troy University. Some programs may require applicants to submit letters of recommendation, but not all do. Applicants who have education from other institutes may also apply to transfer credits.

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

University of Arizona

University of Arizona

The requirements for the University of Arizona’s graduate programs differ from program to program. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Non-official transcripts may be submitted during the application process, but an official transcript must be submitted once admitted. Some programs may require the completion of the GRE.

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

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

To be eligible for admission to the master’s programs at the University of Central Florida, students must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0.

Some programs may require applicants to submit other materials, such as letters of recommendation, resumes, essays, or portfolios. An interview may also be needed depending on the program.

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

Applicants interested in University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

If they are not native English speakers, students need to submit official test scores to demonstrate English proficiency. Other requirements vary based on the program being applied for. Applicants may also need to submit a portfolio, test scores, or complete an audition.

University of Michigan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

To apply for a master’s program at the University of Minnesota, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

All transcripts and credentials must be submitted when applying. Some programs may require applicants to submit letters of recommendation or GRE scores. An application fee must be paid when applying.

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

University of North Carolina – Charlotte

University of North Carolina - Charlotte

Applicants to the graduate school at the University of North Carolina—Charlotte must submit an online application by creating a prospective student account on the website.

When applying, students must submit copies of their transcripts and report their GPA. Some programs may require students to complete the GRE or GMAT. Letters of recommendation are optional but recommended.

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

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma

Those applying to the master’s programs at the University of Oklahoma must have a bachelor’s degree and complete the online application.

Depending on the program, applicants may be expected to submit a resume, a statement of purpose, GRE scores, or letters of recommendation. Transcripts from the applicant’s most recent degree must be submitted, but all past education experiences must be disclosed.

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

Walden University

Walden University

When applying to Walden University, applicants will be assigned an enrollment specialist. Applicants must submit personal information, employment history, academic history, and transcripts to their enrollment specialist, after which it will be sent to the admissions team.

Applicants who get accepted may then apply to gain credits through a transfer, through work experience, or by completing an examination or portfolio.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University

Students interested in attending one of Western Connecticut State University’s master’s programs must apply to the school’s Office of Graduate Admissions.

Applicants must submit an application fee, official transcripts from previous colleges and universities, proof of immunization, and test scores for the GRE or GMAT. Other specific requirements may be requested for certain programs.

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.

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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.