The pursuit of a career in nursing is one that requires a studious dedication to in-classroom learning and the courage to apply that knowledge to the real world. Continuing to accrue experience is paramount to success in the field, but advancing often requires further education. To most, “further education” is a synonym for “further into debt.” On top of the debt, there’s the struggle to fit schooling into an already tight schedule and the added stress that comes along with that. The application process itself can seem like an insurmountable task, especially when the MCAT or the GRE is required for admission.

Graduate School Entry Exams

Many nursing programs use the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) or the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) as a way to screen potential candidates for academic prowess.

The MCAT is an entrance exam that is field-specific to those pursuing a medical graduate degree. It tests a candidate’s knowledge of biological systems, behavior, critical analysis, and reasoning skills. The exam is a marathon at a whopping 6 hours and 15 minutes.

The GRE is a general graduate school admission test for programs of all types. It is an admission requirement for most graduate schools in the US. The test takes 3 hours and 45 minutes and measures skills that aren’t subject-specific such as verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking.

The cherries on top of the graduate school entrance exam sundae are the entrance fees and the limited time and locations at which the exams are administered.

Finally, the good news: For those who would struggle to find the time to study for the GRE, let alone the MCAT, but still want to further their education in the nursing field, there is hope. While the overwhelming majority of nursing programs require an entrance exam, there are still some that do not.

Programs that are Entry Exam-Free

Instead of measuring a candidate’s worth by how well they take a test, these programs take a host of other factors into account. For example, Ohio University’s Master of Health Administration program measures a candidate by these metrics:

– Minimum 3.0 Undergraduate GPA

– Excellent English writing skills

– At least 2 years of full-time medical experience in the U.S.

– Knowledge of statistics and finance

Some other possible requirements for entrance from no-exam programs are: a statement of purpose, a resume, and references (both academic and professional.)

Here’s a short list of graduate programs in the healthcare industry that do not require entry exams:

University of Arizona MSN

Program Details


University of Cincinnati – Master of Health Informatics

-Brochure available

University of Cincinnati – Master of Science in Nursing

Program Details


University of Florida – Master of Science in Pharmacy

Admission Requirements


University of Illinois at Chicago – Master of Science in Health Informatics

Admission Requirements


Maryville University – Master of Science in Nursing

-Brochure available


Norwich – Nursing

-Brochure available


Ohio University – MSN

Program Details


Ohio University – Health Admin

Admission Requirements


Other Resources

Here are some articles, infographics, and scholarships to help nurses and other health professionals decide if going back to school is the right choice.



4 Tips for Applying to Nursing School

7 Steps to Take After Submitting Nursing School Applications

How to Write an Exceptional Nursing Resume



Nurse Practitioner or Doctor of Nursing Practice

From Healthcare to Hiring

Dissecting Patient-Centered Care



Health Administration Scholarships

Nursing Scholarship Opportunities

Johnson & Johnson Discover Nursing Scholarship Database

AHIMA Health Informatics Scholarship


By Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from University of Idaho. She spends all of her time reading and writing about the medical field.