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Department of Chemistry removes GRE requirement for graduate programs 

July 17, 2020 

The Department of Chemistry will no longer require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores as a part of our admissions process. This decision, effective Fall 2020, came after careful consideration from the Graduate Studies Committee. Committee member and assistant professor of chemistry, Jeffrey Dickprovides an explanation of findings that led to this decision:  

Over the years, UNC-CH Chemistry faculty members have noticed that the GRE is not an accurate indicator of success in graduate school. Some UNC-CH programs, such as the Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP), have led the way in dropping the requirement. The GRE represents a rather expensive and costly barrier to admission, disadvantaging under-represented minorities (1-3). The requirement of a GRE has precluded talented students from diverse backgrounds from entering PhD programs at UNC and across the nation. At UNC-CH Chemistry, our graduate courses center on critical thinking and problem solving and are often not always test-based courses. Thus, a standardized test taken over just a few hours cannot quantify the motivation, critical thinking ability, perseverance, and passion necessary to succeed in our rigorous program. Instead, we support a more holistic approach to admissions decisions, including letters of recommendation, course performance, research experience, and personal/research statements.

Fall 2020 applications will not require the GRE. This decision saves students resources and time in planning for graduate applications. Our central goal is to motivate diversity and inclusion and recruit the most talented students to our program. PhD students are a primary driver of our scientific progress and are the cornerstones of our research programs, and any barriers to our goal to enhance diversity and inclusion and recruit the best students must be addressed. Moving forward, we are certain this decision will strengthen our UNC–CH Chemistry community.


  1. Moneta-Koehler, L., et al., The Limitations of the GRE in Predicting Success in Biomedical Graduate School. PLoS One, 2017. 12(1): p. e0166742. 
  2. Miller, C. and K. Stassun, A test that fails. Nature, 2014. 510: p. 303-304 
  3. Kuo, M. Student performance measures that don’t perform. Science, 2017.  DOI doi:10.1126/science.caredit.aap7595 

Please direct questions to Dave Nicewicz, Director of Graduate Studies.

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