Admission GPA

Grade Point Average (GPA) | 3 min read

Summary
• GPA could be a big impact on your admission so try to meet the minimum GPA.
• The minimum range of GPA varies due to grad programs but generally you should get over 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
• If you can’t improve or change the GPA, try to spend more time on other elements of the application.


Many prospective students are asking, “Can I get into graduate school with a low GPA?” or “Can I get into top-tier graduate school for STEM with this GPA?”. My answer to that question is that I’m not sure, it depends on which program you would apply to. Each admission committee sets their own standard and decision-making is based on that. Because the grad admission will be reviewed holistically.

In general, the admission committees consist of professors. They will review your application with several factors to identify you’re fit for their program. They look for details in your application to select candidates who are likely to succeed in the programs. Having that said, if your GPA doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, you may be cut off. I can’t say that a higher GPA guarantees you getting accepted but it increases its odds. In other words, a low GPA would be considered to be cut off.

Check the Minimum GPA Required

Being able to perform well in the undergraduate program indicates that you have the capacity to learn and deal with new topics, new materials, and research devices. That makes the GPA the factor to evaluate your level of overall achievements. Your undergraduate GPA during at least four years shows your commitment and consistency. Other requirements such as the GRE scores would not be that decisive since other candidates might hold the same range of the scores.

Most graduate programs require the minimum GPA is in a range of 3.0 to 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. In top-tier schools, the standard would be higher, with the range of 3.5 to 3.8. Some graduate programs will review only the Major GPA, not the overall GPA. The Major GPA, the upper-division GPA, is the points that you did get in junior and senior year on your major courses. Be sure to check the requirements on minimum GPA to leverage your advantages.

How to Get Into Grad School with a Low GPA

If your GPA is rather low and you’re still in your undergraduate years, try to raise your GPA at least over 3.0 - to avoid being cut off - in the remaining semesters. Improving your GPA post-graduation is almost impossible. You can also take prerequisite courses required to show the committee that you’re prepared.

If you can’t change the GPA, don’t spend much time on it. Instead, getting impressive recommendations and high scores on GRE can be helpful to mitigate a low GPA. A PhD student’s job is doing research - so having research experiences will lead you to get great recommendations.

Otherwise, consider applying to graduate programs that put GPA lower on priority is another option. Programs that focus on your different strengths other than GPA will increase your chances of getting accepted.

If you have personal grounds for a lower GPA, you could also indicate the excuses in the SOP or in the additional comments of the application. Your comments will supplement the application with other elements that you are a strong candidate for their programs.


The Steps of Applying to Graduate Schools will be more discussed in the continued articles.

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