Can I get into graduate school with a low GPA? Part 1

Is your college GPA abysmal? Are you worried this will keep you from being able to attend graduate school? While a low college GPA will limit your graduate school options, it does not necessarily mean you have to kiss your graduate school dreams goodbye.  Here are some suggestions for how to compensate for a low undergraduate GPA in your graduate school application.

Be realistic. Many of the top graduate programs will do an initial culling of the applicant pool based solely on their GPA and GRE scores.  A low average undergraduate GPA for admitted students can bring down program rankings, and many of the top programs receive far too many applications to truly be able to consider each application individually. If your GPA does not make the initial cut, then you will not be considered for admission.  Before you send in your application, call the program and ask them if there is an undergraduate GPA cutoff.  Make sure the programs you apply to are willing to evaluate your application as a whole.

Don’t ignore your bad grades. Graduate schools will see your undergraduate transcript as part of your application, so if you have a low GPA, be prepared to explain why.  Most graduate school applications have an additional optional essay where you can explain any extenuating circumstances related to your application.  Use it to explain your low grades! Some applicants have poor undergraduate GPAs due to outside family or medical issues beyond their control.  Other applicants may have come into college pursuing a major that was too challenging or did not interest them and gotten low grades in their first two years that brought down their GPA.  (How many pre-meds did you know coming into college? How many of them switched to English majors by junior year?) If your low GPA was due to extenuating circumstances, such as family or medical issues, or because you spent the first two years of college trying to be pre-med and failing many of your graduate schools may be more willing to overlook a low GPA, provided the remainder of your application is strong.

Distinguish between your major GPA and your undergraduate GPA.  Graduate schools are generally most interested in how well you handled classes in your major, since that is the field you will most likely be pursuing in graduate school.  An English department, for instance, may overlook some bad grades in science if you did exceptionally well in all of your English courses.  If your major GPA is significantly higher than your undergraduate GPA, be sure to point that out in your application.

Still worried about your low GPA? Check back soon for more tips on how to compensate for a low GPA.

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178 Responses to Can I get into graduate school with a low GPA? Part 1

  1. Taylor says:

    Im 28, have aspergers, in 2.8 in mass communications, didn’t take any internships, cant do sales and marketing professions. Would like to work in writing, science, or film, but I think I killed my chances and depressed about it everyday. Any suggestions?

    • Bill says:

      Dear Taylor,

      You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself! There are more than a few options available to you to increase your chances of being admitted to a graduate school of your choice. If you’re worried about your GPA being too low to be admitted, you should consider doing some post-baccalaureate college coursework. Post-baccalaureate is a fancy way of saying going back to undergraduate school after having already earned an undergraduate degree. Most graduate schools do have a minimum required GPA to be admitted; that minimum GPA is usually a 3.0. What this means is that you are not too far off from what is required to be considered a viable graduate school applicant.

      Community Colleges and Junior Colleges are a great place to start when you are rebuilding a resume. If you’re interested in writing, take English composition classes or creative writing classes. This will not only boost your GPA and prepare you for the kind of coursework you can expect at the graduate level, but also satisfy the necessary course requirements required by most English graduate programs. The same goes for science or film. If you’re interested in film, taking a film theory class; if you’re interested in science, study chemistry or biology. The first step is to decide what you want to study at the graduate level; the second step is to begin molding yourself into a competitive applicant by studying pertinent topics and doing well in class.

      As far as extracurricular activities (internships, work experience, etc.) is concerned, if you do decide to do post-baccalaureate work, that will give you plenty of time to line up your credentials. What you should do is obviously dependent on what field of study you decide to pursue; for example, if you’re interested in science, apply to be a lab tech, or if you’re interested in film, write a review or produce a short film. Whatever you do, work towards your goal of studying it at the graduate level and, ultimately, doing it professionally.

      There are plenty of schools with resources dedicated to helping people with Asperger’s. Though we are not experts on the topic of attending college with this kind of diagnosis, there are a number of blogs and information and support sites with great advice. You can find one great FAQ here.

      I hope this helps, and let us know if you have any other questions.

      • Saon says:

        I m 25 yrs old , and my undergraduate score is 2.83 in B.Sc in textile engineering . and my GRE score – verbal-139 and quant -140 .which is 279 . Can i get any admission in American University . pls tell me details . i m so worried about this . What kind of approach should follow for me . I don’t know . So pls do a favor for me . What should i do for me now?

        • Bill says:


          Everything is relative to the university and program to which you apply. First, you should consider taking the GRE again. A score of 279 is relatively low – particularly your Quantitative Reasoning score. For a student seeking a masters or PhD in Engineering, you will need a score of at least 150, preferably a score much higher than that. Beyond returning to school for some type of post-baccalaureate studies program, there is little you can do about your undergraduate GPA; however, your GRE score is something that you can control. Additionally, if you are an international applicant you should consider taking the TOEFL as a supplement to your application; depending on the school and program, you may even be required to take the TOEFL. Again, at this point you should focus on those things that are within your control – obtaining favorable recommendations, working on your personal statement/admission essay, and improving your standardized test scores can go a long way toward improving your chances of admission to a graduate program. Another important point here is to keep your expectations realistic – be sure to do your due diligence and find the right program for you!

          Hope this helps!

        • sona says:

          Hi Saon,

          Did you get admission? I am in the same boat like you. Let me know if you find out any universities in USA or outside USA.


  2. Taylor says:

    Actually its 2.7, 2.8 is my gpa with post grad classes.

  3. john says:

    I have a question, for me while i was in a previous university i had a horrible, horrible gpa 1.74, i later trasnfered to another school did about 65 hours of classes and i have a 2.85 gpa, i know other schools are going to ask me to show my previous school grade, do you think this will hurt my chances of getting admission to graduate school, cuz i have been thinking not to even border about graduate school

    • Bill says:

      Dear John,

      Does your cumulative 2.85 GPA include the grades that earned you a 1.74? Or does your 2.85 GPA only include the grades you earned after transferring schools? It makes a difference.

      Either way, you’ve definitely put yourself in a tough spot, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it! If you have a compelling reason for receiving such bad grades, then be prepared to talk about it. A well-worded personal statement explaining what happened might help convince an admission officer to take a chance on admitting you to whatever program you are applying to.

      If you’re serious about graduate school, you might need to think about returning to undergraduate studies for a while. Many graduate programs will have minimum GPA requirements that you will have to meet in order to be even considered for admission. If you are interested in a program with this kind of admission criteria, then there is not going to be a way around it; you have to have the grades to get in. You might not like the prospect of returning to school, but it might be the only route available to you.

      Finally, there are some (not many, but some) schools and programs that are willing to admit students with a low undergraduate GPA who can achieve a particular score on the GRE.

      While your GPA is not going to be a strong asset in your favor for graduate school admission, it does not have to be debilitating. You are never going to find the right graduate school for your specific circumstances if you do not keep looking for it!

      Hope this helps.


  4. Sara says:

    Hey, I have a low GPA of 2.38 and I will be applying for abroad. I had a tough family time (2 deaths) during my undergrad and I wasn’t able to get the GPA I wanted cause of traumatic experience. How do I tackle it in my application without sounding weak or using it as an excuse?

    • Bill says:


      Just be honest. Don’t focus on your failures, focus on your successes. Be clear without being dramatic; take responsibility for your GPA while explaining how the experiences you faced in undergrad have left you better prepared to deal with adversity today. Admissions officers are people too, they will understand how and why what you are describing affected your academic performance (to a certain extent).

      The best way to communicate these ideas will be through your Personal Statement, although it might be worthwhile to try and get some face-to-face time with someone from the department you are applying to (or, since you are applying abroad, speak with someone over the phone).

      You should also keep in mind that, depending on the requirements of the university you are applying to, you might either have to raise your GPA through post-baccalaureate work or achieve a minimum score on the GRE in order to be considered for admission. These are very important admission criteria for someone with your GPA; I encourage you to thoroughly research what exactly you will have to do in order to be eligible for admission to your university of choice.

      Hope this helps.

      • Sam says:

        Currently I have a 2.4 GPA with another 3 semesters left to get it at least a little closer to a 3.0. My major GPA is a 2.8 and I am working on a research team for the social psych program at my school. I took 5 classes at a community college and made a huge mistake thinking I dropped three of them when I didn’t, resulting in 3 F’s on my comm. college transcript. I havent submitted the courses to my current university and am wondering should I just refrain from doing so for fear of graduate schools seeing the credits earned on my current school’s transcript (transferred from the CC) and wanting to see the community college’s transcript as well. Thus exposing the 3 F’s I received… Please help me!

        • Bill says:


          Your most important priority right now should be to focus on your three remaining semesters of undergraduate and raising your GPA up just as high as you can. Depending on your upcoming credit hours, as compared to how many you have already completed, you might be surprised at how significant a leap you can make between now and graduation. Additionally, most graduate schools are most concerned with your final 60 hours of coursework; even if you are only taking 15 hours a semester, that would still represent a significant portion of the coursework that they will most carefully review when making an admission decision (plus, if you do need additional coursework to raise your GPA up for whatever graduate school you are targeting, if you do well in your last three semesters that might mean only one additional semester of 15 hours extraneous coursework to achieve this required minimum).

          You were right not to immediately share your CC transcript with your current university; before doing anything, you should review your CC’s policies in regards to having your “F” grades changes to “I” (Incomplete). My advice would be to immediately schedule an appointment with someone at your CC. At first, you will likely meet resistance; be polite, but be persistent! Ask to speak with the Dean. Explain that this was an honest mistake. Figure out what the appeals process is at that school (you are probably not the first student this has happened to), and then proceed from there.

          Unless the two credits you received at this community college are absolutely vital to completing your undergraduate studies on schedule, if you are unable to have these F’s dropped from your transcript (or at the least changed to I’s), then you might just consider the entire enterprise a wash. This means if you are unable to have your transcript corrected, then you should seriously consider not disclosing it. THIS ADVICE COMES WITH A WARNING THOUGH. While not disclosing this information to your undergraduate university shouldn’t have any serious or immediate consequences, aside from simply not getting credit for the two courses you completed, failure to disclose this information to a graduate institution during the application process could be construed as academic dishonesty. Even if you get into your dream school, if they find out that you altered or withheld information during the application process you could face expulsion or other severe consequences. My advice in this case is to contact the graduate schools you are interested in and find out exactly what their policies are in regards to accepting and reviewing transferable credits.

          Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

          • Cris says:

            Hi Bill,

            I have graduated from the UK with a BA(Hons) Second Class which is equivalent to a 3.0 to 3.2 GPA.

            I have sat for the GRE and had a relatively result of 300 for both Verbal and Qua tests.

            I would like to get into an average Grad school (with Funding) in Philosophy Program (I did my undergrad studies in Interior Architecture).
            How do I do it?

            Please advice


  5. Tim Dang says:

    I am interested in applying to top 20 Masters of Healthcare Administration programs such as, UCLA, University of Washington, Columbia, Cornell, UC Berkeley , etc.

    Below would be the current highlight of my application. Would I be considered a strong candidate to be admitted into these top rank programs ? Or would you recommend either retaking the GREs or holding off on applying for few years to gain more work experience. Ideally, I would have 2 years of post-graduate work experience before the start of 2015 classes.

    Undergraduate: University of California San Diego (2013)
    Major: General Biology

    Minor: health care and Social Issues

    3.0 Overall GPA

    3.25 GPA: last 2 years

    GRE: 152 verbal, 154 Q , 4.0 analytical writing
    3 Letters of Recommendation: 2 professional + 1 professor

    WORK/VOLUNTEER Experience

    300+ volunteer hours: Rehabilitation Services( hospital) + 2 Physical therapy outpatient Clinics
    Physical therapy outpatient clinic: Physical Therapy Aide
    Internship: Health career Connection ( roughly 250/2500 applicants accepted nationwide)
    Quality improvement Technician: Indian Health Center of Santa Clara valley

    I hope to hear back with any feedback or advice to help bolster my chances of being accepted into these top rank MHA programs

    Any advice would be extremely helpful!

    • Tim Dang says:

      FYI, I also was on academic probation twice, but retook classes that I received poor grades in.

      • Bill says:


        This will probably be reflected on your transcript. Unfortunately, this is something that you will probably have to explain either during an admission interview or through your personal statement (or, preferably, on the section of your application that asks you to explain these types of inconsistencies, if there is a section of this type on your application form). This is just one more reason why, if you are serious about admission to a top 20 school, you will have to work to improve your application before applying. See my longer response for more information.

        Hope this helps!


    • Bill says:


      An honest assessment of your credentials is that your work/volunteer experience is excellent but your undergraduate GPA and GRE scores are only average. In the context of an application to a top tier graduate program, the two most important parts of your application are your GPA and GRE scores. Many of these types of schools do not have a minimum GPA or GRE score to be considered for admission, and many evaluate each applicant individually or “holistically” for admission; however, despite there being no official minimum for admission, these types of schools often rely on what are called “historical trends” as guidelines for admission, i.e. admission officers evaluate applicants by comparing them to the standards set by previously admitted students. As you can imagine, the standards set by previously admitted students to these types of schools are fairly high…

      If it is not feasible for you to return to undergraduate studies to boost your GPA (your undergraduate GPA is not bad per se, it is just a bit lacking in the context of an application to the type of school you are targeting), then you should almost certainly prepare for and retake the GRE. A composite 306 is not a bad score on the GRE; again, it is just a bit lacking in the context of an application to the type of school you are targeting. As preparing for and retaking the GRE would surely be much less expensive and much less trouble than re-enrolling in an undergraduate program, this would be our recommended course of action.

      As you outline your five or ten year plan, it is important that your expectations be realistic. Is it realistic to expect that you could be admitted to a top ranked university? Absolutely! This would require you to improve your application in certain areas (namely by improving your GRE score; a good target score for you should be between 310-320, preferably on the higher end of that scale), but these improvements are manageable and realistic. Is it also realistic to expect that you could make these improvements and still not gain admission to your school of choice? Unfortunately, yes. By way of advice, when you do ultimately apply to graduate school, remember to apply to at least two “Non-reach” schools (schools where you can reasonably expect to be admitted to) and at least one “Safety” school (a school where you are almost assuredly guaranteed admission). This will help you be prepared for any contingency in the road that lies ahead.

      Hope this helps!


  6. Randi says:

    Greetings Bill. I have just came upon your post and I just really need some realistic and uplifting advice. The GPA I graduated with from undergrad was a 2.3. Several factors impacted that especially towards the end of my program. I have two semesters where my grades are Ws and WFs and that’s due to anxiety/depression. It is noted in the school counseling center but my prof. were mostly unaware and it is not noted in my statement of purpose. I have already gotten into a grad program but had to leave due to finances. I completed 1 semester, was a hard worker and had a great relationship with my prof. and they have provided me awesome recommendations. I have decent GRE scores V:152, Q:150, and AW:4.0. and I have a lot of research that I’ve done, one included a scholarship in my undergrad program. I am trying my best right now to get into a program in my field which also has an assistantship. Can you please explain my chances of my gpa not being a huge factor in applying for other programs and provide some options for me. Thanks.

    • Bill says:


      The requirements to obtain an assistantship will vary from school to school, or more specifically from department to department. In all likelihood, your undergraduate GPA will almost certainly impact your ability to obtain an assistantship. Assistantships typically entail teaching, researching, and/or administrative work; like with any similar professional occupation, I would find it hard to imagine you being hired, even part time, without your potential employer first at least reviewing your resume (which should, of course, include your undergraduate GPA).

      That said, having a subpar undergraduate GPA will not necessarily disqualify you from obtaining financial assistance. Prior experience as a researcher will be a big plus on your resume (especially if there are any peer reviewed publications featuring your research). If you performed well in the semester of graduate school you most recently completed, that could serve to assuage any doubts a potential employer might have regarding your work ethic or reliability. Also, being able to provide a recommendation from someone who is known and respected in the field will go a long way toward convincing your potential employers that you are worth hiring.

      If the financial cost of attending graduate school is the biggest factor preventing you from pursuing a graduate degree, you should consider other forms of financial aid as well. Although financial aid is not as readily available to graduate students as it is to undergraduate students, there are still many viable options for students in your position. For example, you might consider a more generic work-study program (as compared to an assistantship). Depending on the degree you are seeking you might qualify for certain kinds of grants as well (such as a TEACH grant, for example). Depending on where you are writing from, your state government could also potentially be a source for assistance via grants or other forms of aid. You can also look at obtaining a federal student loan, like a Direct Loan, a Direct PLUS Loan, or, if you can demonstrate exceptional financial need, maybe even a Perkins Loan.

      Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the high cost of a graduate education. Consider it an investment in yourself. In regard to obtaining both an assistantship or other forms of aid, the best advice I can give is to begin preparing/applying early. Most departments will begin looking at assistantship candidates 9-12 months in advance of the school year that student would be hired on for; if you are serious about obtaining an assistantship, you should be on their radar before they even begin their search. Let the school or department you are interested in obtaining an assistantship with know that you are interested in obtaining an assistantship! Not only will they have more information than anyone else about the basic eligibility requirements of their program, but demonstrated interest is something that most employers will take into account when making a hiring decision. Additionally, contacting the school or department in advance of their deadlines will give you more time to deal with obstacles or questions as they arise. Similarly, to obtain federal, state, or in some cases private scholarships or grants, you will need to complete certain steps first, most notably you will definitely want to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA).

      I hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.


  7. Tarun Mittal says:

    Hello,I am 21 and I am from the country of India.I graduated from college with a degree in Computer science with 75%(distinction) which is equivalent to a 3.8 as equated by WES(World Evaluation Services) on a scale of 4.0.I would like to do my Masters in Computer science from a top 50 school in the US and then do my PhD from Harvard SEAS.I wrote the GRE and have a score of 331 out of a 340(V:164,Q:167) and also got a TOEFL score of 112 out of 120.I had got 3 F’s and 2 I ‘s in my second semester due to a major surgery but I retook them with straight A’s.Do you think that I can get into Harvard SEAS for my PhD after doing my Masters with a great GPA or will those F’s and I’s hamper my chances of getting in?

    • Bill says:


      Your credentials sound very impressive. If you can demonstrate through documentation that your poor grades were the result of a medical emergency, they should not hamper you when you pursue your PhD.

      EDIT: If you received A’s in the classes you previously failed or received an Incomplete in, you should ask those instructors for recommendations. While you want to avoid having to make excuses for yourself (even in unavoidable cases such as your own), the professors writing your recommendations can make as many excuses for you as they would like. This would go a long way toward reassuring an admission officer that those grades are an aberration and not indicative of the effort they can expect from you.

      Hope this helps!

      • Kaytlin says:

        I’m 23, and going to graduate with a degree in biology from a decently competitive university. My gpa will be about a 3.0, and I’m looking at my chances of getting into grad school. I really did not have a lot of guidance throughout my college experience, seeing as how I’m a first generation college student. In fact, I’m a former foster youth who aged out of the system. I had to work throughout my college career, while worrying over personal problems like whether my biological mother was homeless or not, and if my twin brother was getting treatment for his terminal illness. I often loaded myself up with hard courses and even found myself spread too thin because of work, volunteer work that has to do with my major, community leadership responsibilities, personal life issues, and school. How much do grad schools really look at circumstances? Also I am thinking of taking a few years after I graduate with my undergrad to work in my field (maybe do some research) before applying to grad school. What do you think of that idea?

        Thank you for any advice!

        • Calvin says:

          Dear Kaytlin,

          First of all, you are doing great! A 3.0+ GPA in a science major is pretty darn good. But now to your question: will grad schools take your past/present circumstances into consideration? While your academic performance will always be the primary basis for your admission, I would say that your story can only help your application, because it shows your drive, resilience, and perseverance in the face of adversity. These traits are valuable in any field, and graduate schools will recognize that you have had to work harder than most to get where you are today. Many people would likely find your story inspiring (including the people who will be reviewing your grad school applications), so you might consider mentioning some of your circumstances in your personal statement. Your professors can also mention them when they write your recommendations. When you ask professors for recommendations, you should give them copies of your resume, a personal statement, and notes regarding any other accomplishments or circumstances you want them to mention. A paragraph or two of autobiography would not be amiss amongst these other materials. Professors tend to be busy people, so they will be grateful for any help you can give them.

          As to whether you should work or go straight to grad school, what you decide should depend on the job opportunities available to you, how certain you are about going to grad school, and how certain you are about what you want to focus on in grad school. My understanding is that job opportunities can be limited for students with only an undergraduate degree in biology, although I do have a friend who found a job straight out of college in a lab doing genetic research on corn and she seems to like it. If you can find a good job that would potentially enhance a future grad school application, then that would definitely be a choice to consider, especially if you aren’t sure about grad school or if you haven’t done much research to find out what specific schools interest you (very important). If you are sure about grad school, then you should probably just go ahead and apply now unless you think a job would make you a better applicant. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to apply to grad school and jobs and go with the best opportunity you get. Keep up the good work, and good luck!


  8. Aslan says:


    I had a CGPA of 2.87 in my engineering undergrad. I began as a good student and by the fifth semester had a CGPA of 3.12. But, unfortunately by the end of the 6th semester, my GPA had dipped to 2.9 because of getting a GPA of 1.8 in that semester. To make matters worse, this semester had the core subjects of my electrical engineering subjects. The reason of this dip was that I fell ill in this semester near exam time and in order to avoid repeating that semester, I decided to give a shot under all circumstances in the upcoming exams. The result was a 1.8/4.0. When I went to the authorities to inquire wheter I could repeat my courses they told me that by the end of 6th semester all repetition options had finished. In the seventh semester, my GPA was 2.57 which brought my CGPA down to 2.84. However, my final year project was an A-grader project and in the final semester I scored a GPA of 3.07 to finish my bachelors with a 2.87/4.0 gpa. I have a very good GRE score of 330 as well.

    Now, I am interested in applying to graduate schools in both the US and Germany. The latter consider CGPAs of 3.00 and better, and do not give much weight to GREs etc. I really dont know whether I will be admitted in a good graduate school of the US or not. Please guide me in this regard, as I am scared like hell.


    • Bill says:


      Your GRE score is outstanding and will certainly improve your chances of admission to a good university; however, as we often say, the most important part of your application is your GPA, and a GPA of 2.87, while not terrible, will probably preclude you from admission to the best universities. Depending on how much the value of your degree will be influenced by the university that awards it, you might consider taking a few more undergraduate courses to bolster your GPA (remember, many universities will only consider the last 60 hours of your transcript when considering minimum GPA requirements). If this is not an option, then you simply have to be realistic in terms of managing your expectations.

      A 330 is a fantastic GRE score, absolutely; however, that is not enough by itself to guarantee you admission to your university of choice. It might, though, earn you an admission interview… Generally speaking, students should apply to at least one “reach” school, three “safe” schools (a “safe” school is one where you will probably/maybe be admitted), and one “lock” school (a “lock” school is a school where you will definitely be admitted). In this case, due to your high GRE score, you might consider applying to more than one “reach” school (just remember to apply to at least one “lock” school).

      Hope this helps!

      • Tamjid Kabir says:

        Hi Bill,
        I have completed my Bachelor in Electrical & Electronics Engineering 2 years ago, having CGPA of 2.75. I have two years experience of working in a power plant as an O&M Engineer. I have two publication, one in international and one in national journal, my GRE score is 318. TOFEL 109. Is it possible to get a full tuition waiver or Assistantship in US university for completing my MSc. I am so much worried about my CGPA.

        • Bill says:


          It is certainly possible, but it really just depends on the university you are applying to. The availability of tuition waivers will be dependent on a number of factors and the actual dollar amount of assistantship provided will vary from university to university; similarly, application requirements will also vary from university to university.

          Your GRE and TOEFL scores are solid, as is your work experience. Aside from actually taking classes again, though, you really don’t have a lot of options available to you in terms of improving your overall GPA. My advice would be to begin your research – find out what’s out there and how you compare versus their accepted applicants. This type of research will give you a better idea of how to proceed.

          Hope this helps!

  9. bhav says:

    GRE 302(v:148, q:154), toefl 100, undergrad % 49.6, Want to do MS in CS. Is it possible for me to get a decent college?

    • Bill says:


      Your GRE score is not as competitive as it could be – if you are considering taking it again, there is definitely still room for improvement. Your TOEFL score is pretty good; as the TOEFL is scored out of 120, there is still room for improvement, but a score of 100 (depending on how you scored in the specific sections and subsections) should be enough to demonstrate adequate fluency in English.

      I do not quite understand the 49.6% for your undergraduate – you would have to be a bit more clear in order for me to provide you with helpful feedback. Is this your class rank or GPA? If that assumption is correct, a 49.6% seems low, but won’t necessarily or immediately disqualify you from admission to a decent college.

      Based on the information you’ve provided, I would say that your chances of getting into a top graduate program are fairly low. That said, you can still get into a good program for you. I would definitely recommend taking the GRE again, and I would also advise you begin working on the other aspects of your application, like essays, recommendations, and extracurriculars.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Jessica says:

    Hello! I am hoping to go into either a MHA or MPH in management programs. My stats are: 3.6 overall GPA, 3.88 Major GPA from the University of Southern Califoenia, and GRE verbal (148), quant. (159), and writing (4). I have a wide range of experiences, but I was wondering if I have a decent shot at some of the top graduate programs such as University of Minnesota, Cornell, or Columbia.

    Thank you!

    • Bill says:


      Your undergraduate GPA is solid, particularly coming from a well respected school like USC. However, you will probably need to improve your GRE score to guarantee admission to a top tier graduate school. While the specific GRE requirements will vary depending on the specific program you apply for, you can expect these types of universities to require a composite score of 315+.

      Hope this helps!

  11. Barbara says:

    Hi! After I graduated high school, I attended a community college for a little over a year. During that time, my overall GPA was a 2.75 then life happened and I decided to drop out of school to work. Five years later, I decided to return to school. I am in my third year at my current university and have a 3.92 as a biochem major. I am also part of the honors program, work as a lab assistant in the cell/micro lab as well as the chemistry lab. I am also a TA in inorganic and organic chemistry and tutor math. I have taken many honors courses in math and chemistry. I do honors independent research in chemistry and am currently working on my honors thesis. I was also nominated for a Goldwater and will be applying for a Fulbright (not sure if I’ll win) next year. I also plan on doing and REU this upcoming summer plus I’ve held officer positions in organizations on campus and have received numerous scholarships. With all of my accomplishments and many more to come, will my 2.75 GPA at the community college from long ago affect my chances of getting into a grad program at some of the prestigious universities? I still have one year left before I graduate but I am worried that the top grad programs might be out of reach.

    • Bill says:


      The short answer to your question is no. The longer answer to your question is no, depending on the universities you apply to.

      It is not uncommon for older students to outperform their younger peers (it’s almost as if maturity is a contributing factor to how well students perform in school!). In fact, many universities will only consider your last 60 hours of course work when making a graduate school admission decision. Unfortunately, though, the more competitive the university or graduate program, the more important your entire transcript will be in the context of an admissions decision. Given the accomplishments and honors you’ve listed here, I am confident that your CC GPA will not automatically disqualify you from admission to a top tier graduate program; however, you should expect to answer questions about it in the interview.

      Keep up the good work!

  12. June K. says:

    hi! i have read your post and found it really helpful. i was wondering how the discrepancy between the overall gpa and major gpa will impact on my chance of getting admitted… my major is Psychology B.S, gpa 3.33/4.0(honors) and major gpa 3.12/4.0.. i have started pursuing my major in my 2nd yr and took several cources that were not in my area of interest ( i am into cognitive) i did receive A in bio, cog psych related cources but it was those other area of psych classes kinda brought my major GPA down…( i either HAD to took those or they simply just seemed interesting but somehow I ended up with not much satisfying grade…) Anyway my last junior yr gpa is 3.49… ( i am currently senior)
    aside from gpa, my gre is 152/154(V/Q)+3.5 ( which also i am concerned about..)
    i have quite several research experiences working in labs, doing independent research project ( honors thesis)
    i am applying now to many cognitive psych PhD programs… i was wondering i could use your advice. Thanks!

    • Bill says:


      Is there any specific thing you would like advice about?

      You shouldn’t beat yourself up about your major GPA. One of the most important things to keep in mind throughout the entire graduate school admission process is that you have a limited control over this process. There is no way for you to go back and do better in those classes, so you shouldn’t obsess over it! The most important thing going forward is that you focus on those things that you can control – be sure to keep your grades up as you approach graduation, start working on your essays and statement of purpose, identify and approach the instructors you will ask for a recommendation, begin considering the financial ramifications of attending graduate school and identifying potential sources of aid or scholarship, etc.

      There is so much more for you to do that it is just unreasonable for you to focus on past grades (which, by the way, are not so bad anyway)!

      One note: your GRE scores are right around average; depending on the specific programs or universities you are targeting, you might consider retaking it.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Sam says:

    Hey, I have a very low gpa (2.34). I studied mechanical engineering and lost interest in it pretty quick. I want to pursue a masters in mathematics. I love statistics! I would love any advice on a further course of action for me. I do not intend to go to graduate school right away. I plan on working for 2-3 years. But I want to build a strong profile to be able to get into graduate studies. Please give me some tips!

    • Bill says:


      That low of a GPA might be tough to overcome. I would consider taking several community or junior college statistics (or otherwise related) classes to boost your composite GPA. This would also give you the ability to pursue a recommendation from one of your professors. Additionally, you might consider taking the GRE Subject Test in Mathematics.

      Following the above advice will accomplish several things: first, raising your GPA will help you meet any minimum GPA requirements of the graduate program you target; second, a recent recommendation from an academic professional would serve to assuage the admission committee about any questions they may have regarding your work ethic; third, taking a GRE Subject Test (in addition to the GRE) would demonstrate knowledge and competence in the field, which would further assuage any concerns about your low GPA.

      Hope this helps!

  14. Trey says:

    If someone does make into Grad School with low gpa, how would they pay for it if they can’t pay for it and they won’t for a company that will pay for it.

    • Bill says:


      That is a legitimate concern. Yes, financial assistance will be more difficult to obtain for less competitive applicants. What will be available to you will vary based on the specific school and program you apply to. I would recommend investigating any work/study programs available at your target school, or otherwise just contacting their financial aid office to see exactly what your options are.

      Hope this helps!

  15. Becky says:

    I am applying to Community Psych PhD programs at middle tier schools in the US. I have an abysmal undergrad GPA. I received a cumulative of 2.93 but have a few F’s and W’s on my record. I was working full time in order to pay school fees and thus did not attend classes regularly resulting in some poor grades. It has been ten years since my undergrad so I don’t know if it’s worth retaking these classes (plus I don’t live in the same city anymore). I did receive my Master’s in psych however and graduated with a 4.0. I took the GRE and received a 154 (V), 4 (AW), and a 144 (Q). I am attempting the GRE again in order to hopefully raise my quant score…but am nervous that these deficits will tremendously affect me. I have been working in the social services field for eight years as well as volunteer two days a week at a research center where I have co-authored two publications and continue to produce valid and impactful research. Do you have any advice as to how to handle these deficits in my personal statement so I might have a chance?

    Thank you!

    • Bill says:


      First, your Master’s GPA will be given more weight in an admissions decision than your undergraduate GPA. Second, in the context of admissions, one of my favorite sayings is “a good score is one that will get you into your school of choice.” Yes, your composite GRE score is slightly below average; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad score – compare your score to the published average of students accepted into the program you are targeting to get a better idea of whether it is adequate or not.

      There are mixed opinions in regards to addressing these types of things in a personal statement. Some believe that the purpose of the personal statement is to address these sorts of discrepancies and that mitigating factors or circumstances should be discussed in this context. I personally believe that a strong personal statement is not one that offers excuses or explanations. My opinion is that your personal statement should reinforce the image of yourself that you are presenting to the admissions office. You should focus on your accomplishments, not your shortcomings; you should also use your personal statement to explain why you are passionate about your field of choice and qualified to pursue it through a program such as the one to which you are applying.

      If you are unsure of how best to frame your personal statement, check the webpage of the university (the specific program’s webpage) to which you are applying. Oftentimes they will tell you explicitly what they would like you to discuss in your personal statement. If their resources indicate that you should use your personal statement to address any discrepancies in your application/transcript then do so (if you have to, then do so in a way that conveys that you take responsibility for any shortcomings; again, you want to avoid sounding like you are making excuses). If university resources indicate that you should discuss something else in your personal statement then there will probably be an alternative option where you can explain any inconsistencies in your application (examples of possible alternatives might include an interview, or some other part of your physical application, or an extra optional essay).

      Hope this helps!

      • Tm says:

        Hi Bill,
        You seem to have a good insight of the education sector. Your answers seem to the point of interest of any student, who is willing to apply for higher studies.
        I wanted to apply or MASC or Meng in electrical engg. to some good canadian/US universities.
        However, my undergrad c.gpa is 2.76 in avionics engg, which includes a 1.76 in the first semester. My IELTS is 7.5.
        There is a reasonable explanation to this, i did my engineering in military setup, we were given 2 hours to study and full day punishments. Sleep and lack of food was a major factor. The engineering degree is of reputed international university, however we prepared for the papers, quizzes, assignments, labs in timings after college which were dedicated to military issues.
        This gpa easily matches to a 3.5 in any institution in easy working.
        Well my last year gpa is 3.07 which includes a project on autonomous fixed wing small UAV.
        I have also had an year experience uptil now of working in aviation industry as aircraft maintenance engineer.
        Can you suggest me what are my chances of getting into UofT, Waterloo, McGill etc.
        Thankyou for your time.

  16. Pollyanna says:


    I am seeking for graduate admission into Mechanical Engineering related courses. I finish undergrad with a gpa of 4.50/5.00, but have a gre score of 300(V-150,Q-150 & AW-3.5).My challenge is that i can’t afford to retake gre(due to financial constraints) and am hoping for admission into a moderately good college (top 40)with some level of assistant-ship/scholarship.
    What do you think are my chances?


  17. Shams says:

    I’m from Bangladesh recently graduated in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. I was totally determined to pursue my higher study in abroad.But unfortunately my CGPA came out too low (2.77) to meet the minimum graduate admission requirement. If I manage to score 320+ in GRE and 7+ in IELTS, would I be able to receive fund to pursue my Master’s ? I know my chances are very little but if I apply to 100 universities for financial aid then what could be my chance?or it’s actually impossible?

  18. Priya says:


    Just came across your blog thought you can give a good suggestion. I finished my bachelors of engineering in 2009 . I scored a GPA of 2.6 due to personal issues in family.Later i completed extra certifications like Red Hat to upgrade my resume.I was placed in IBM (India) and had a real successful career for 4.2 yrs.I finished some internal certifications in IBM was certified was trainer ,got best performer awards too. Am thinking to pursue MS as i relocated to USA.

    I came across a state college which does not require GRE . Am preparing for TOEFL . I am in dilemma to apply. is there any good chance to get admission for graduate studies. Will my experience will cover for my low GPA. My work experience was related to IT services more of IT can i handle this situation

  19. Y says:

    Hi Bill,

    I have recently graduated with a GPA of 2.34 in Environmental Science. I am not in a hurry of doing Masters in the near future, but indeed, I would love to. I would like to ask for suggestions.

    First, there is something that I am unsure of. I am also interested in getting a 1-year diploma (different subject, but continued from a certificate which I have obtained with the first major or a 2-year diploma in similar subjects (which leads to 4-year major, but for this, I will need to consider deeply if I do get into the diploma). If I go for diploma and get high GPA, will this GPA be considered for applying to Masters, even though it not part of the major? – By the way, my B.Sc is 4 year long, but I have extra 1 year credits. So even though the required credits for the graduation is 120, I have over 150 credits.

    I have done tons of volunteer work (over 3 years), but only 4-month of internship. When considered into Masters, will volunteer work be evaluated as well?

    I am currently working in completely different field but may also help the future career (business and strategy)…which I am thinking of travelling abroad and volunteer in various positions related to my background.

    What do you think?

  20. varsha says:

    Hi, i just graduated with a Bsc in Psychology and it is a british degree. When i calculated my gpa using the scheme the school gave me, i got 3.0. but now when I am inquiring for graduate assistanship in the United States, one university said that they calculated my gpa to be 2.34!..which is so much lower and not enough!! they need a minimum of 2.8..what should i do now?..should i do my gre and still try apply or are my chances way too low to get in..

  21. Sal says:

    I’m an Engineer and my undergrad GPA is 2,6. My scores on GRE are 157 in Verbal Reasoning, 162 in Quantitative Reasoning and 4,0 in Analytical Writing. (I’m a foreigner and I have never lived abroad. English is my second language).
    I have 9 years of experience and I would like to pursue a master’s degree in the US. I have studied in the most important university of my home country and I was not a bad student (even though my GPA is not good enough for the US standards).
    Unfortunately, the vast majority of universities I am interested in studying require a minimum GPA of 3,0. Do I have any chance of being accepted? What can I do to maximize my chances?

  22. DJ says:

    Hey Bill! I noticed that your advice has been most hopeful to others and I was wondering if you could help me with my own conundrum. I am a standing sophomore with a cumulative GPA of 2.96, with my Major GPA as 3.2 (philosophy) and my minor GPA 3.0 (religion), I have gotten decently close to my professors and am trying to get an academic journal published. I also tutor students at a local community college near by.
    Any advice?

    I also plan on going for my masters before my PHD.

  23. ahmed saber says:

    hi bill ;
    I have graduated from a university in egypt with a final score of 67%(approximately =2.7 gpa) in mechanical engineering(the grade ‘good’ in my college starts from 65%) but I tried to compensate my low score by joining a master program(at the same college) and taking some courses(7 courses) related to the field I am pursuing master program in and I passed them with grades ranging between A- and A+.
    I also passed IELTS test (academic) with score of 8 .I also may consider taking GRE test.moreover I have a solid backgroung at programming and mathematics.
    The inquiry is;
    I want to know if I am likely to be accepted in a master programme in germany or I will be rejected due to my lower than 70% score.

  24. Nderingo Shirima says:

    Hello Bill,
    I am a 23 years old international student from Tanzania( East Africa) with a GPA of 3.5 on a 5 scale equivalent to 2.75 on a 4 scale in Civil Engineering. I finished my degree in a top school in the country that is worldwide recognized. I have also done internship throughout my college career. Am currently working in one of the top consulting firms in the country that I once interned.
    I wish to continue my studies in the US after I am registered with the Engineering Board in my country (3 years time). What should I do in order to get admission in good school like UCIUC, USC or UCLA?
    NB: I haven’t done any GRE test.
    Please advice me!

  25. Nicole says:

    Great article. I received my b.a. 3 years ago, with a cumulative GPA of a 2.45. I had retaken classes in college, but my college has a rule that the “repeat” course form must be submitted the first week of the semester. Ironically, upperclassmen are not allowed on campus the first week. Thus, all of the classes I had retaken (I received A’s in all of them) are not calculated into my GPA or cumulative for undergraduate. Should I take a few classes at a local community college? Do those courses get calculated into the cumulative post BA? Should I take the GRE? Im a horrible test taker due to anxiety (I have panic attacks during tests). I really want to get my masters and even higher education, but it seems like I cant apply anywhere! Not even online colleges. What do you tell someone whose GPA doesn’t even fully reflect the courses that they have taken?

  26. A.zahedi says:

    I read comments, and they were so interesting and helpful. Thank you for giving advices. I have a question and i think you can help me through that. I finished a undergraduated programm with very low GPA (2) and it was very awful and embarresing experience for me but after that i went back to the university. This i made it and I could finish that program with almost 4!!!
    But i heard from lots of my friends that master GPA doesn’t really chang circumstance, and the undergraduated program really mater. After all do you think i have a shot for any graduated program, and if the answer is yes can I go to good university??
    Thank you for your help and good discussion.

  27. Yukun says:

    I hvae 2.9 overall gpa, but 3.5 major gpa in film. Do I have chance to apply successfully for good film schools?

    • Bill says:


      Depending on your field of choice and the specific program to which you are applying, many graduate programs will value your major GPA more so than your cumulative GPA. Additionally, your last 60 hours of course work (again, depending on the competitiveness of the school to which you are applying) will be more heavily considered than your cumulative GPA. Given the two data points you’ve supplied, if you are able to supplement your application well enough (recommendations, essay, related work experience, standardized test scores, etc.) I think it would be reasonable to think that you could be admitted to a graduate program. I could not speculate on how “good” of a program that might be without additional information, but keep in mind that simply because a graduate school is not prestigious does not mean it is not “good.”

      Hope this helps!

  28. Sunny says:

    Hi Bill,

    I am an international student form England getting a degree in criminal justice. I have had bad grades (GPA 1.24) in my first semester and was on academic probation However, I have been taking 18 credits every semester (which is max) since then, and got 3.05 in 2nd semester, 3.54 in 3rd semester (and made it to dean’s list), 3.0 in 3rd and this semester I am hoping to get 3.30. However my GPA still does not bump up-to 3.0 overall. In addition I am the only undergraduate research assistant conducting research with a well known Dr. in the field of juvenile delinquency, and for which I received funding too. I have work experience working for Intelligence Fusion Center (criminal investigation bureau) as part of my internship and worked with International Institute’s as GIS research assistant. With that being said I have many overseas qualification form England such as diploma and nationals in sports science and personal training, and for which some of the credits were able to transfer down here, with a cumulative GPA of 3.75 (I received award of Student of the Year for the highest GPA in the class).

    I have multiple work experience from being a personal trainer to campus ambassador, teaching assistant, peer mentor & orientation leader in the university I am attending.

    What do you think I am lacking right now (such as overall GPA) in order to apply for the top graduate schools in my area?


  29. Sujoy says:

    Hi Bill I’m from Bangladesh and just finished my graduation in Mechanical Engineering in October 2014, with a CGPA 2.47 and about 52%. I have been working in an oil refinery since November as an O&M engineer. I wanted to do postgrad in US but haven’t tried GRE yet as I’m very confused whether my CGPA can meet the minimum requirements at any schools. Can you please tell me at least one university which i can view at least? Because I have to support my family since my 3rd semester out of 8 financially so even to take for a GRE test I am bound to be worried about money. Please tell me if there are any such schools which might have the chances to go with my condition.

  30. Jack says:

    Hi, I am a senior at Purdue University, Indiana. i am graduating december and want to start my grad school in January. I will be applying with a CGPA of 2.78 with a major gpa of 3.3. I have a gre score of 320. What do you think my chances are of getting admitted to Purdue, Wisconsin, Virginiatech, University of florida and Penn state if I dont demand funding and decide to fund my grad school myself.

  31. Kashif Ahmad says:

    Hey Bill
    I am a EE graduate from LUMS, Pakistan with a cgpa of 2.93 and major gpa 0f 3.05
    My GRE scores are 151, 160 and 3. Ive got an 8.0 in IELTS.
    I wanted to pursue CS but ended up doing EE.
    I applied to canada UBC, waterloo, Victoria and Calgary. Got rejected
    Wichita state, Windsor, uni Of Amsterdam and AAchen, decisions still left.
    1 year of experience as a networks engineer

    Got any advice?
    Am i targeting the right universities. Is the 3.00 barrier quite strict. Should i do a double major?
    Any advice would be helpful

  32. April Ceng says:

    Hi Bill,

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful article on grad school application strategies.

    Here is my situation:
    I major in psychology and am applying for grad school in social/personality psychology and quantitative psychology (social psyc is my first choice)
    I have a low GPA: 3.54 for the first 3 years but 2.8 for the last 3 years (my major GPA is 2.8 as well) I have spent 6 years in undergrad studies as I transferred and lost 2 years of credits.
    However, the other components of my application package are not bad. I have a publication in psychology and 3 strong letters of recommendation. I haven’t taken the GRE yet but aiming for 330 (170 for quant and 160 for verbal).

    I am wondering what I can do to compensate for my GPA? I am thinking about taking a few additional post-baccalaureate courses before I apply but they are mainly math courses (one of the programs I am applying for is quantitative psychology so that math skills are important) however those courses are irrelevant to psychology studies. Will GRE subject in psychology compensate for my poor GPA?

    Thanks in advance!

  33. shivam says:

    hey i have 2.8 as my gpa. got 318 in GRE (Q= 168, V=150)
    and have published 3 research papers.
    I want to do MS in civil engineering. do i have a chance of getting a good college.
    thank you

  34. Rawan says:

    I am an international student. I have a Master’s Degree in Business and Finance Law from the George Washington University Law School. I’ve planned to apply to a Doctorate Degree, but because my GPA is quite low because I got two Cs in the last semester due to medical issue during the exams’ period, and a very tough personal issue before exams’ period. The graduate office knew about my personal issue and helped me to overcome it. I might not be able to get accepted, and I’m so disappointed because of that. I’ve tried to strengthen the other factors that universities rely on, such as recommendation letters, work experience, and scholarship, but I’m still so worried.
    Your suggestions will be highly appreciated!

  35. sarane says:

    my cgpa is 4.5 .. i want to apply for ms in us or uk .. need help

  36. Ravisha says:

    Hi, your post is very good!

    My undergrad CGPA is 2.8. I applied last year in MS in business analytics and got rejects from everywhere. My GRE score is 313 and I have around 2 years of work experience in a related field. I am planning to take GRE again this year and apply to colleges. Please let me know the ways in which I can overcome my low CGPA. Please note that I have no major reason for low CGPA during undergraduate.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  37. Joy says:

    I have an undergraduate GPA of 2.96 in biomedical Technology and I want to go for masters in biomedical engineering in the US,I haven’t written any English test(GRE or TOEFL),and most schools minimum GPA is 3.0.what are my chances of getting in the graduate school?

  38. Sai Bhargav says:

    Hi Bill,
    I’m a fresh graduate in Information Systems Discipline, I’m planning to go for higher studies in Computer Science and started preparations for Spring Semester. My CGPA is a major setback for me, as it is just 5.1/10, yet to convert it as per WES. My major scores are below average and have done few notable projects in Data analytics. There are 3-4 faculties who are at least Assistant Professors, but from different disciplines(departments) are ready to recommend me. I’ve already started my training for GRE, TOEFL and IELTS. My target in GRE is at least 320 and will attempt the test by mid July. What GRE scores do you think would compensate for my CGPA, if it is possible. Also I hold my degree from the top most Private University of the country and Ranks among top 5-10 colleges every year, also well known for its strict grading rules. Will this be an added advantage? A detailed explanation stressing on CGPA will be very very helpful. Thanks in advance.

  39. Md. Shahariar Newaj says:

    My cgpa is 2.4
    Bachelor in Computer Science & Enginnering in Khulna University of Engineering & Technology(KUET),Bangladesh.

    GRE score is Quan::159


    IELTS score ::6
    Speaking ::6.5
    Reading ::6
    Listening ::5.5

    1 Publication in IEEE: Link,%20S..QT.&newsearch=true

    With this low cgpa and above GRE score and IELTS and one publication in IEEE as 3rd writerWhich university of GErmany is suitable for me?.Please mention some university name for me to masters in CSE.

    Md. Shahariar Newaj

  40. Nancy says:

    So I’m an international student I have done my MSc in life science with a gpA of 2.82 I am considering changing field and now want to peruse an mba. How I’ll my gpA hold up. And what scores would I need on my gre / gmat

  41. Christy Twilight says:

    Hello, I was a Biotechnology major at my first college receiving 2 associates (over 100 credits) with a GPA of 3.92. At that time I was heavily involved with the school, and received multiple scholarships and the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. I transferred to a school for their research (I had previously already been involved in 3 research projects and provided poster presentations), but the school turned out to be falsely advertising their program. The school was highly lacking in extracurricular and the science courses were very limiting (many I had already taken at my previous college and transferred). The science program was very poor, but I etched myself into my own research projects in physics and ecology, but my GPA was 3.5 there ( I had to retake Biochemistry because the course encourage students to cheat in order to receive high grades and I refused). My GRE score was 302 (149/149/4). I have applied towards graduate schools for the second year, but was denied. I am not sure how to approach the situation.
    Last year my son was prematurely born two months after I graduated with my bachelors, and he has reached a point where I can place myself full force into seeking out graduate schools for further studies.
    Thank you for your time

  42. Morgan says:

    I am currently attending as a senior in an undergraduate psychology program in Missouri. I previously attended another university in a different city and earned a B.B.A. in Finance, finishing with a cumulative gpa of 2.4. This gpa transferred with me into the university I am currently attending now. My new school’s cumulative gpa is 3.9, major gpa is 3.8, and the average between the two universities cumulative gpa is 2.74. I am interested in graduate school in the area of school psychology. They offer the option to pursue an Ed.s or Ph.d, either way I am concerned about my chances of being admitted into a graduate school program based on my many gpas. How do you think my situation will most likely be evaluated?

  43. SM says:

    I have recently graduated double major in Supply Chain Management and Marketing and I got a low cumulative GPA 2.64. I made a horrible blunder during my senior year that lowered my GPA. I got 3.43 in my final semester and bounced back. I am interested in pursuing MBA or graduate program in marketing analytics. I have two questions :
    – should I give GRE or GMAT
    – What should be my target score for GMAT or GRE to get into a decent college for my graduate program.

    I am willing to do whatever it takes.

  44. Dike Kizito Anayo says:

    I studied Chemical Engineering in my 1st degree and had a GPA of 2.97, which University can I do a 2nd degree in Engineering with such low GPA. Please help

  45. Rana Ahmed says:

    i have a graduating cgpa of 2.05 from a very reputable computer science university in pakistan.. the university is known for its extremely demeaning strict rules of giving grades. plus we have D and D+ in our degree gpa as well which normally american universities dont have. when i get my cgpa converted to american standards from site, my cgpa rises to somewhere around 2.7 to 2.8. i have had my ups and downs.. and my aim is to get into a god university in america and pursue masters in some good reputable university. i would like you guys to please look into my case and suggest me what should i do ?.
    my plan says i work for a year in some development firm. during this year i do GRE and GRE(CS) and score well. and might be the work experience add up to my low cgpa. and then i apply for masters for sept 16 session.
    also i would like to ask, does this WES thing really does mean the gpa calculation criteria for american universities.
    i’d really appreciate your responses.
    thank you

  46. Shannon says:


    Right now I am a student at a community college with two more semester to go before I transfer. I have a 2.7 gpa, which is the result of three C’s in lit courses and a C in a math course. I took all these lit courses thinking I would want to be a literature major when I transferred, and then possibly go on to grad school and get my masters, or even phd.

    I have recently decided that studying in the field of literature is not something that I want to do. I have decided that I love History more than anything, I just have a hard time with writing A papers…at least in my lit classes. Is it dumb for me to think I can transfer with this gpa if it stays this low? Of course, with two more semesters left, I can bring the gpa up, but am I doomed?

    I love education, and could never think of my life outside of the academic world. However, my grades are lowering my self esteem. I have never made any grades below a C, but I do have more of those than I do As and Bs…what do I do?

  47. Usman says:

    I graduated with a 2.45 gpa in Electronics Engineering. There weren’t any extenuating circumstances in my case to justify my low gpa just that from an extremely young age I only wanted to go into medical and i was so focused on it that i did not find meaning to any other field. I am a hard working student and a straight A student till university. Due to family circumstances i found myself in engineering and I realised that it did not interest me at all so my grades fell. I just coasted through the university waiting for it to finish. My last two semesters had a slightly better gpa than previous semesters. After graduation I discovered the field of biomedical engineering which seems like a good way to reconcile my passion for medical with my current qualification. but since my gpa is quite abysmal I’m finding it hard to get into a program since biomedical engineering is quite competitive even among other master’s program and usually requires a higher gpa than all the other fields in master’s programs.
    I gave the GRE with a score of 326/340 with a 163 in both quant and verbal. I have one year experience in working as a planning engineer with a leading Electronics company. Could you please suggest any improvements that I can make to get into a program

  48. sruti says:

    Hi Bill,

    Where should I mention about the reason of my low undergrad cgpa? There is very low space in SOP to write about it, since I will have to write about other concerns and its not possible to mention about the reason in 2-3 lines..

  49. saad says:

    I’m Saad dar from Pakistan . I’m 23 years old.
    I got my bachelor degree(4 years)with 2.2 CGPA. I’ve to apply for Masters in computer science. I need to know that am i eligible for that. If I’m eligible ,kindly recommend me some universities/colleges , that will allow me in new York.

  50. Awais Ahmed says:

    my cgpa is 2.3 and i want to study Msc in project Management in USA. what scores of GRE and TOFEL i need to assure my admission in Usa.

  51. ali says:

    i have 57% marks in msc physics .. do i have a chance to get admission in us unversity if i score high in GRE?

  52. ali says:

    plus i have a 2 year physics teaching experience at A level .. does it help??

  53. Alan says:

    Hey Bill,

    I’ve been mulling over the thought of going to graduate school for the last two years, but I know that on paper I do not stand out as a particularly strong candidate. I finished my undergraduate career with a 2.7 cumulative g.p.a. and recently took my GRE and received a 159/154 (verbal/quant) 4 (AW).

    I was never a very focused student. I started off with cellular biology as my intended major, and somewhere along the line I added English literature. You see, I didn’t switch my major, I simply added on another, along with a minor in philosophy. Needless to say, the workload of labs and discussions piled up and I couldn’t keep up with either course of study. I floated above 3.0 in my first two years, but I steadily dropped down throughout the years. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with either degree – I just knew that I enjoyed learning both subjects. In my last year, I decided that I wanted to continue in academia and learn more in the field of literature.

    For the first time since I left high school I am actually sure of what I want to do with my life, and it really does scare me that I might not have a chance to do so. I’m wary of applying for Fall 2016 because I don’t think I stand a chance. I’m not sure what kind of advice I’m seeking either, but anything you have to offer would be helpful. Thank you kindly for the time.


  54. joelas says:

    SIR, goodday
    i am a graduate of computer science, with 2.2 but my c.g.p.a is 3.0, pls i am sacred i want to know if i can go for my with my grade.
    i am worried because of the g.p.a
    Thank You Sir

  55. Amanda Carmichael says:

    Thank you for this article! This was very helpful, but I need more information about the graduate school application process for a person who has been in the workforce with a BA for a few years. I’ve recognized a specific passion for something different from my undergraduate degree, for which I will need a Master’s to practice. Can you point me in the right direction? How does someone prepare for (or apply) to a graduate program after having been out of school for a few years? Especially when it’s different from the undergrad degree previously earned.

  56. tish says:

    Hi Bill,

    Backstory: Hispanic Female student First-Generation. Excellent High School student, not such a good college GPA. A Gates Millennium Scholar recipient (which fund undergrad, grad and phD with its limitations of course).

    I want to pursue MPH and ND degrees. I went to a top college in the country but due to extreme personal matters and illness, I graduated with a 2.4 GPA. I am looking into Bastyr University and was considering their Post-Bacc Program in Naturopathic Medicine but it seems I do not make their Post-Bacc GPA cut-off. What can I do? How can I strengthen my GPA if I can’t get into a post-bacc program? I was an excellent student in high school and went on to attend a mini-ivy league college. WARNING TRIGGERING Information ahead: I was raped and suffer from PTSD. I graduated Fall of 2013 and walked the stage during the Spring of 2014. I continue to seek treatment and have learned so much about my health, managing PTSD and have improved significantly and have now been off anti-depressants for over a year with no serious set backs.

    I have one semester with straight Fails and Ws. It was a particularly bad time in my life but I managed to survive. My grades otherwise are okay not great and graduated with good academic standing.

    Out of fear of rejection and failure, I haven’t applied to any further higher education. Since finishing my undergrad, I have worked at a Law Firm, volunteered as an HIV/AIDS Peer Educator, worked with children victims of Human Trafficking and may have my foot in the door to volunteer at UCLA World Health David Geffen School of Medicine. I am currently studying for the GREs but wonder if I should even try. I feel that if I can’t get into a post-bacc program why should I even try for a Graduate/ND program?

  57. Rajeev says:

    I have under Grad(Electronics and comm) GPA 2.8 GRE 310 and TOEFL 105 and 3 years work experience in IT sector.
    Do I have chance for admission to universities like Arizona State University for ms in cse?

  58. sam says:

    Hi, i have low(2.45) CGPA score in my bachelor in computer engineering. I havnt done GRE test yet. What you suggest me to get admission MS in computer in US?

  59. henok kiros says:

    I’m 23 my GPA is low that is 2.6 that is due hard ship I have been for last year’s but I do manage to get GRE score in verbal 153 and quantitative 163 . I have in electrical engineering

  60. john says:

    i have done bachelors in electrical engineering with 2.36/4 securing 61.36% .. i am planning for US but my consultant is saying you have low chances of getting admmission in US but pre masters will help you to get admission … please guide me ! waiting for your feed back thank you

  61. Sanjida says:

    Hi Bill,

    I have a degree in business and I have pretty low GPA when I graduated. I decided to go for honors in political science (I only had to do the major courses to graduate) and now I have gpa 7.93/9. Do you think it will be good enough to apply for the PhD program in political science at Cornell University? Although Cornell does not ask for GRE should I take the test to make my application stronger?

    Please let me know. Thanks a lot.


  62. Ashley says:

    I have 3.18 GPA overall in Electrical engineering and a 3.24 overall in my degree program. I will be taking the GRE soon. I want to know if I do great on my GRE test. Is there a chance in hell that I could be accepted in to University of Michigan Ann Arbor or Purdue West Lafayette campus for a Master’s in Electrical Engineering? This reason for my low GPA was I got a D in Matrix algebra my last term. My teacher was extremely unhelpful and could not explain anything. She is rated as one of worst teachers at the school and no one takes her class. It is so bad that people would rather wait another year just to take another teacher. Also, I had my son in 2010 and taking care of him while going to school was a challenge. I would say I still did fairly well, but after calculating my grades, if I did not take her class and got a B or an A I would have a 3.28 GPA overall. Please help me to figure out if I should even apply.

  63. Aravind says:

    Hello bill,my undergraduate GPA s around 2.4,my GRE score s 302(verbal 150;quants 152),TOEFL score s der any chance tat I could get into top 75 universities of USA.if so may I no what R all the univs.

  64. Marie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!

    A lot of this helps quell the anxiety of possibly graduating with a 2.7 gpa at most. I was able to do well in my Foreign Policy. Government structures, and History core subjects. At some point (I think in my second year), it suddenly occurred to me that I really, really wanted to continue studying and then hopefully teach similar subjects later on.

  65. Hamza says:

    I’m targeting fall 2016 (Master’s Program, USA).
    My profile:
    B.Sc. Electrical Engineering (2011-2015)
    Overall CGPA: 2.999/4.0
    CGPA (Last 60 credit hrs): 3.1/4.0

    GRE: 325 (165 Q, 160 V)
    GMAT: 720
    IELTS: 7.0
    2 internships during undergraduate studies.
    I’m fresh grad , I did my bachelor’s from oldest and most prestigious engineering institute of Pakistan (Lowest acceptance rate in my country)
    I have strong recommendation letters. I’m currently employed.

    I’m interested in engineering+business masters program. I want to study in best possible university with respect to my profile stated above.
    I will not apply for funding. My family is willing to pay all expenses.
    Please guide me!
    I look forward to hearing from you guys.
    Thanks for you patience and cooperation


  66. nina says:

    Please, I have a 2.84 GPA (Nigeria) and no GRE, but would like to study my Masters in Biotechnology in the US or Canada. I don’t mind taking a foundation course, if need be, before starting the MSc if that’s what they will need to take me on the MSc biotechnology programme since I have a low GPA.

    Please can you help me to find any school in the US and Canada that will accept my low GPA for that prgramme?

    Thank you

  67. Daniel says:

    Hi Bill,

    I have read most of your responses to other prospective students, and highly appreciate the feedback that you have provided.

    Background on myself:
    B.S Chemical Eng. UCSD 2.98 overall and 2.96 major. I transferred to UCSD from a City College with a GPA of 3.2.

    I decided to take some classes post baccalaureate with about 20 units with a GPA of 3.8 (mostly business and a couple computer science classes)

    My main question is do these GPAs count towards the overall minimum gpa required?

    For instance I wanted to get a masters at UCI, but they told me that they required a minimum GPA of 3.0.

    Any advice of the mater would help greatly, as I am mostly trying to get into UC’s

    Thanks Bill

  68. Faisal says:

    I have an average 2.7 at my dreams are too big I am BCE civil engineering student and my dream is to study in Columbia University it seems funny but it’s one of my dreams please Tell me what should I do to take admission at Columbia University??

  69. ifrah raza says:

    Hello bill.
    I have recently completed my doctor of pharmacy degree. But my cgpa is quite low.almost 2.1 out of 4. My cgpa feel during the time when my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and bring an only child it was very hard for me. It took a year fot her to be treated properly. During which my grades deteriorated.My grades deteriorated again when my long term engagement broke. Leaving me totally out of balance.
    Now as things are better I would like to pursue my studies and do either a post bacculerate pharmacy diploma prior to get a university admission into masters of pharmacy programme.

    I need guidance. Thank you

  70. Yen says:

    Dear Bill,

    I am in my senior year of my biomedical engineering degree. I’m looking at different graduate schools for Cancer Biology program (or anything similar) and so far I noticed that the GPA cut-off is always 3.0. I currently hold a GPA of 2.8-2.9, mostly because I did not do well in my junior year and I failed a one-credit class. The first semester I was going through a relationship loss and I started to get sick almost all the time. I lost interest in almost everything, except for my research project with a graduate student. (A couple months earlier I started to suspect if I was going through depression, but I wasn’t sure because I did not seek help from health services, and I feel much better now.) During the finals week of my second semester, I lost a friend, I couldn’t cope with it hence the F for that one-credit class. I want to explain this in the extra information section but I am worried that I would be dismissed as an emotional person. I am also worried because even if I were able to pull up my GPA this semester, I wouldn’t be able to show them that I improved, as the application deadline is normally between 11/1 and 12/1.

    Also, I had an internship in summer 2014 with a non-profit medical device company. After that, I started doing research with a professor at the university and I have loved it ever since. Because of my research, I was able to co-author a paper with my graduate student. I am not sure if it will be published by the time I submit my application, should I mention it in my application?


  71. Noelia Rivera says:

    I’m in my last semester to complete my BS in Communication Disorders. My actual GPA is about 2.70. Hopefully by adding my last four courses I will improve that. I’ve always wanted to be an speech therapist. I had a son two years ago; but I am very committed to complete the degree that I love. My question is, I ll be finishing my undergraduate school on December 2015. I’ve found a graduate program that requires 3.0 GPA and no GRE. I am planning to show with my letter of intent, my experience working at YMCA in the past three years with speech disability children, my passion for that job and been a single mother with a very supportive family; it is ok to apply for admission on January 2016 or wait for Fall 2016?.

  72. Ola says:

    i really need your advice..I’m from africa, 30yrs old and i finished undergraduate about 2+yrs now with a very low cgpa of 1.5. I made mistakes then which i duely regret. Now I’m keen on going to grad school abroad. Please how do i proceed.

  73. Ola says:

    i really need your advice..I’m from africa, 30yrs old and i finished undergraduate about 2+yrs now with a very low cgpa of 1.5. I made mistakes then which i duely regret. Now I’m keen on going to grad school abroad. Please how do i proceed.
    Thank you.

  74. Mary says:

    My first 3 semesters of college we terrible and graduated with a 3.0 GPA and am currently in my last year of graduate school for my working on my masters. My graduate school GPA is 3.75. How difficult will it be to get into a good PHD program? Thank you.

  75. Kristina says:

    Some background about me would be that I graduated with a BS in Nutrition program from the University of Texas at Austin with a GPA of 2.2960, Major 2.8. While pursuing my undergraduate degree I worked in a computational biology lab in the Inst, however, I did not publish while in that lab. Since graduation I have been working in a molecular biology lab that does not do computational work. At the moment, I have 4 papers (3 science related and 1 non-science related). I have solid recommendation letters from two PIs from undergrad and 1 from my current PI (and a back up on from my supervisor I’m on the non-science related paper with).

    This semester I’m taking a math and programming course at a community college (Since now I am able to get tuition assistance from my current job). Additionally, I have completed a few courses on Coursera (Data Scientist’s tool box and R programming), Introduction to Programming on MIT OpenCourseWare, and am working my way through Beginning Perl on

    In the evenings I attend three weekly meetups Women Who Code, Austin All-Girl Hack Night, and Austin Machine Learning Meetup. Within these groups I participate in study groups focused on learning Python and JavaScript.

    I intended applying for a PhD program in Molecular Biology. Also, I am taking my GRE next month.

    I have a few questions:

    It is reasonable to apply for Fall 2016 admission?
    I was wondering what else I can do to make myself a more competitive?
    Lastly, I am also considering doing a masters program in CS instead, do have any advice if I was to pursue that instead?

  76. Gaurav Sitaula says:

    I have recently taken GRE and scored 310(V-142, Q-168, W-3.0) and taking toefl soon. I have completed my BE in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Nepal. My WES GPA is around 3.9. I want to get admitted in MS in Electrical Engineering or MS in telecommunication. I am from Middle class family and want to get scholarship from US university. Can you pls suggest me the possibility of getting scholarship?
    thank you.

  77. jesica says:

    Dear Bill,

    I am last year student with GPA only 2.77 . I am willing to apply for linguistic for master degree in Sweden (this has been my dream since i was young). I had family problem for 2 years and i really regret it.
    Should i just be realistic that i cant meet the requirements or keep it going?

    Best regards, Jesica

  78. Jacque says:

    I am in desperate need. i had an undergraduate GPA of 3.01 and 2.8 in my last 60 hours.
    I also had a 540 in Gmat. am looking to pursue a masters course in business. am wondering if i have blown my chances.

  79. Joey says:

    I’m a senior (undergrad) my over all gpa is 2.0. I recently transferred from CC, I took some science classes which I mostly did really bad. Currently, I’m a government major and I’m doing pretty well but I still can’t kick that gpa up. Is it possible to release those units in order for my gpa to go up. Please help!!!

  80. Samantha says:

    Hi Bill,

    My low gpa has been haunting me especially now that I have decided to pursue grad school. I went to a community college and transferred to a CSU and graduated with overall 2.55 cum gpa, but a csu 2.44 GPA. I had switched majors to a similar major (dietetics to nutrition) my senior year because I struggled with the science courses and I was no longer interested in the major. I have a few W’s and one F on my transcript. After graduating I decided on a different career path. I enrolled in an speech assistance program (43 units) at the same community college I went to before. I did really well in the program and I even completed it a semester early. I graduated with an overall 3.24 gpa. Most grad programs want the last 60 units, does this include my assistance program? The grad app requirements include post bacc courses, I am confused if the assistance program will be considered post bacc work. The courses state they are csu transferable. I have calculated my gpa for the last 60 units (43 units from the assistance program and 17 from csu; 3.37 Gpa). I am not sure if I am doing the calculations correctly. I have been studying for the GRE in hopes of earning high scores to help my applications. One program requires a 2.5 gpa which I’m not sure if I go by my overall college gpa when I graduated 2.55 or the csu gpa 2.44. The other grad program requires a 3.0 gpa. I have been stressed about not being able to get into a program over my poor gpa.

  81. Jonathan Lam says:

    My overall GPA meets the requirement but my major course GPA is around 2.5. I would really like to make these grades up but is there any possibility of taking these classes at my local community college or do I have to take it at a 4 year university. I transferred out of my community college and graduated from a 4 year university. I would like to continue my education but is it possible to retake my courses at a community college?

  82. Harley Pitkin says:


    I have a GPA of 3.18 and my last two year courses (Junior and Senior)’s GPA is 3.45. I have two Journal Papers. I will have a GRE and TOEFL exam next month. Will these are enough to get into a good university/funded m.s program?


  83. Hajar says:

    Hi Bill,

    I am a graduate student from medical school in my home country, Egypt, from 2012. I am also a wife and a mother of a two year old (and another baby soon). I live in Fl now with my husband, who is an assistant professor in Communication Engineering in FIU.
    I intend to take masters in hospital management (i.e MPH, MPA, MHA and lastly MBA as I still don’t have any work experience) in about two years, for my son to get old enough to enter daycare.
    My GPA is 2.57. I didn’t take TOEFL or GRE yet, but intending to take them. I am also thinking about studying for the USMLE in the mean time (as I can do that from home) so I can improve my application and compensate for my low GPA. And I will try my best to have the best scores that I can in these tests.
    Do you think that could work? And do you have any more suggestions?

    Thank you so much,

  84. Sadegh says:

    i’m 31 and have a bachelor GPA of 2.59 and master GPA of 3.64. I would like to admit in grad school of mechanical engineering in University of Florida. will my Bs GPA can make my application rejected? while I have 6 ISI papers and several presentations in my master university and 3 letters of recommendation. moreover my GRE is Q 160, V 140, AW 3.5 and toefl test 90.
    I explain in my SOP the reasons of my low GPA in bachelor which was about my depression cause of my family situation and also was about medical.

  85. kobby says:

    hi Bill,
    i have read your comments and find them very helpful but my issue is still tearing me apart. i am an undergrad student in Ghana and have a low CWA (Cumulative Weighted Average) of 60% and would like to know if there are some graduate schools that do not really consider your university grades but rather more preference is given to your GRE scores for scholarship application to international students especially from developing countries. the issue is i started very well but due some financial problems, i practically lost interest in schooling and my program (Actuarial Science) as well right from my first year in the university. I now want to further my education in graduate school but cant finance it and would like to apply for scholarship. Is it possible for me to get a full scholarship abroad?? Thank you.

  86. Marc says:

    I would like to go to into a science program (specifically an MS in Toxicology, or an MS in Cell and Molecular Biology). I had an undergraduate GPA of a 2.64, and had issues with anxiety, and coming out to my family during the middle of my program definitely didn’t help. Since then, I’ve gone on to work in the biotech industry, and now work at the University of Washington as a research scientist that constructs DNA libraries for sequencing projects. I took someone’s advice while there, and took on some graduate Toxicology courses, and obtained an overall GPA of a 3,53 from the first three core Toxicology courses. I also took the GRE, and didn’t do as well as I would have liked to, getting an overall score of 302 (150V; 152Q), and a 4.0 on the AW section. I’m thinking about applying to other schools, but the Toxicology program at UW would be a little more prestigious. I’m thinking of taking another graduate course before applying. Does this (very minimal) profile sound like I might have a chance? Also, after getting an MS, would I have to take the GRE again for the PhD? That sounds horrible if that’s the case…

  87. Marcos says:

    I would like to go to into a science program (specifically an MS in Toxicology, or an MS in Cell and Molecular Biology). I had an undergraduate GPA of a 2.64, and had issues with anxiety, and coming out to my family during the middle of my program definitely didn’t help. Since then, I’ve gone on to work in the biotech industry, and now work at the University of Washington as a research scientist that constructs DNA libraries for sequencing projects. I took someone’s advice while there, and took on some graduate Toxicology courses, and obtained an overall GPA of a 3,53 from the first three core Toxicology courses. I also took the GRE, and didn’t do as well as I would have liked to, getting an overall score of 302 (150V; 152Q), and a 4.0 on the AW section. I’m thinking about applying to other schools, but the Toxicology program at UW would be a little more prestigious. I’m thinking of taking another graduate course before applying. Does this (very minimal) profile sound like I might have a chance? Also, after getting an MS, would I have to take the GRE again for the PhD? That sounds horrible if that’s the case…

  88. Chelsey says:

    My concern is that my undergraduate qpa is 2.74 and my gpa in my major field is lower 2.58. The program I’m applying to requires a qpa of over 2.5 and a 3.0 in the major field. I did receive a masters degree in another major and my qpa was 3.18. How would I proceed with my writing statement?

  89. Jo says:


    I am really concerned about getting into graduate school. When I apply this spring, my GPA will be overall a 3.07. My major (Psychology) GPA is 2.6. My minor (Biology) GPA is 3.15. I do have a solid work experience working in an Elementary School as a substitute teacher and a faculty/teacher’s assistant. I am in Psi Chi. I did a lot of community service hours. I have not taken my GRE yet, but I’ll assume that I’ll probably get a 150 on the verbal and a 160 on the quantitative. I was in a research lab for a semester. I know I will have compelling letters of recommendation.

    This is the reason my GPA is so low. I may have an undiagnosed learning disability. I went to a horrible high school and did not learn anything about study skills or about college. I screwed up my undergrad the first three years with tons of C’s and D’s. I never failed any classes with any F’s nor was on probation. I want to apply to a Masters in Counseling Program, but am worried it won’t happen. I know most accept 50, but those 50 probably have a 3.5 or above, a 400 GRE score, and likely far better work experience.

    What do I do? I want to eventually go to graduate school. If I work for a year, will that increase my chances? I do not want to do a post bac, because I am tired of undergrad.


  90. Fahami says:

    Hi, I am from Bangladesh.I m studying in architecture and I have a cgpa of 2.80 in my B.Sc. exam. Can I get full free scholarship? Is it possible? Please help me out. I am preparing for my GRE exams along with IELTS.Please suggest me what should I do.

  91. JMen says:

    Hi Bill,
    I graduated from UCLA with a 2.55 undergrad gpa. It was low due to my issues with raising my son as a single parent, attending school full-time and working alongside. After graduation, I took time off school to work for two years and decided to apply for a 2nd bacc degree at csun to raise my undergrad gap but ended up flunking out of all my classes my first semester. Seems I wasn’t as prepared to return to school as I had hoped while working full-time. It has been a year since then and I don’t want to lose my dreams of going to graduate school and earning an MPH so I am looking into taking the GRE. Aside from my issues with low gpa, will I have to disclose my semester at csun when applying to graduate school even if it was for a second bac. degree? If I include them I know it will harm my gpa even further and I may lose all chances of applying then. Please help.

  92. Elizabeth says:

    I have a 2.6, and I am currently in the 1st semester of my 3rd year as an engineering student. I had 3 semesters of bad grades due to traumatic experiences, but I’m looking at the beginning of an upward trend (based on midterms, I’m looking at getting As and Bs this semester). My concern is that it is largely unheard of to get As in the classes I have remaining in the undergraduate program I’m in. If I can manage to get no lower than a B though until graduation, and if I can do well on the GRE, do you think that writing about my traumatic experiences would make me a strong candidate for grad school? I also have research and work experience. The grad programs I’m mainly looking at have a 3.0 minimum requirement, but will listen to special cases. I don’t know how lenient these schools are or how that process works, but I’m wondering how to gauge what my chances are.

  93. Amarachi says:

    Hi, I will be applying as an international student to an MS management or HRM program. I have an undergrad degree in psychology, an FGPA of 2.85, last 60hours of 3.17, and WES 3.15. My GRE score was v:156 q:156 totaling 312 aand 4 analytical. I’m looking at schools like Georgetown, GW, Texas A&M n Penn state and they all have a minimum of 3.oo. Georgetown doesn’t require GRE and the others don’t require WES. I would like to know what my chances are and if these schools are achievable. I am considering retaking the GRE, do you think it would help?

  94. Lee says:

    I have 2 bachelors degrees one with a 2.7 final GPA in Hotel Administration and my most recent GPA in 2011 Political Science ( GPA was 2.0). During my most recent degree I attended school in a foreign country and struggled with a difficult personal situation with my ex-fiance I really struggled academically but dramatically pulled up my grades during my last 3 semesters. Unfortunately it was not enough to raise my final GPA.

    I want to attend University in the fall 2016 in the UK for my Masters in International Relations . I am already prepared to write a personal statement explaining my low GPA but don’t have the money to take any more courses as I need to prepare to attend grad school overseas. (thinking positive) I am paying off debt ….so no extra money for classes to make me look better . My degree with the higher GPA is unrelated to political science . Do universities admit students on a probationary status?

  95. Lee says:

    Bill, I also wanted to add that with my political science degree I took mostly major related classes because I was accepted at my university as an advanced standing student.

    Waiting for your feedback

  96. Bal Govind says:

    Hello Bil,
    By now everyone’s gearing up to submit their applications for ms courses in Fall 2016.
    I would appreciate your help in assessing my profile as I would like to apply to at least
    2 or 3 of the top universities of a possible 8 in the US. I have the following:
    GPA : 7.64/10 in Mechanical engg(Specialization in Energy Engg) from VIT, Vellore in2014,India.( Problem is I fell sick and couldn’t complete an exam and got an F, rewrote the exam next sem.)
    GRE: 323(verbal :156, quant: 167, AWA: 3.5) TOEFL:109/120.
    I did a bunch of projects and have 10 months work exp. as a contract engineer in manufacturing tech, and I have 3 patents pending.
    I would like to apply to the energy resource program at Stanford(suits my interest) and some other research based mech engg programs . Whats your take on my chances?

  97. Pras says:

    I am an international applicant with a low GPA in undergrad subject ( Comp Sci) that I have shifted out of. I got my Master’s in Biotechnology which is relevant to what I would be applying for — Chemistry. Not to blow my own trumpet, but… I worked hard in grad school and got near perfect grades in an institution much more reputed than my undergrad institution.
    A snapshot of my standardized test scores (all of which I took in 2015):
    GRE: 157 (V), 164 (Q), 5.0 (AWA). Percentiles are 74, 88 and 93 respectively.
    GRE Chemistry: 870 points ( 92 percentile).
    TOEFL: 112/120 ( all sections graded “high” by ETS)
    I prepared for the Chemistry subject on my own and by ploughing through the well known text books.

    Will my undergrad ( in a subject which I had no interest in and when I was immature 🙂 ) performance come to bite me bad?

    Thanks for your time

  98. Maddie says:

    I just wanted to tell my experience. I got a 2.7 GPA as an engineering undergrad. There was anxiety and depression involved, and anyway, engineering is hard! I got good GRE scores (I don’t remember the score right now, but for math I was around “average” for prospective engineers, so probably like 90th percentile), and my Verbal was really great, like 99th percentile. I got 2 years of work experience at a consulting firm, and then applied for grad schools, with recommendation letters from professors from my department and from my employer.

    I didn’t go into much detail on the reasons for my low GPA in my grad applications, it just seemed like I was whining when I tried. I just said I was very motivated and better at time management after having professional work experience.

    I applied for 5 programs, which were ranked at the 21st, 56th, 71st, 99th, and 104th best programs in the US. I was actually more interested in the latter three, since 71 was close to home, and 99 and 104 were really cool programs that integrated my interest in international development especially well. I think my life experience really showed I was a good fit for those. I was accepted, with scholarships covering maybe half the tuition, to the 99th and 104th ranked programs. The 21st and 56th rejected me. I had to contact them to get an answer, in the end. The 71st would have just rejected me for my GPA, but I attended a prospective student day and met the admissions people and all of the professors. They all really liked me, so they said if I signed up for the first semester of coursework as a non-degree student and got over a 3.0, they would accept me into the program the second semester. No scholarships were mentioned.

    Finally, I applied for the number 1 ranked engineering university in Italy, and they accepted me with a scholarship covering the entire tuition and housing. They don’t care as much about GPA, just the quality of the degree (was from the 34th best US engineering university), work experience, and the motivation. So I said thank you to all of the US programs that took me, and now I’ve completed my coursework and am finishing up my thesis, in Italy. The university I’m attending is ranked internationally as better than ALL the US schools I applied to, and it has been a really interesting experience.

    For people with anxiety and depression as reasons for your poor undergrad GPA, make sure it’s really dealt with first, if you’re planning to do a grad degree. Mine is still with me, though I’m better at pushing through and ignoring it now, and my GPA is over a 3.5. But I’ve definitely questioned why I decided to put myself through the stress of school again, and though I don’t regret it, school definitely brings out the stress!

  99. Jewel says:

    hey, I’m 28, from Bangladesh. Graduated from Economics, Dhaka University. Only recently I attended for gre and toefl and secured 335 and 116 respectively. But my cgpa is only 2.88 which is I’m very sad about. I’m very worried about getting fund for my PhD. I’ve been always hopeful over the years about my life and dream. Nowadays friends telling that there are lots of universities where I can’t even apply due my poor cgpa. Even wherever I’ll apply, it’s almost sure that my application will be kicked out at the very first screening noticing my worst cgpa. I don’t have any research publication.
    Would u please tell me what to do now. I promise, I’ll follow your suggestions.

    Thanks in advance.

  100. Mahbubul says:

    This is Mahbubul Amin Mazumder from New Delhi,India.
    Actually I’m planning to apply for my master’s in political science in a Canadian university next year.
    Currently I’m doing my BA Hons (German as a foreign language)
    I’m not doing that well since i find it very difficult to bear.
    I’m doing really well in other subjects like Human rights, Politics and Governance,History etc.
    In my high school I also had political science in which i scored exceptionally well.
    Now I would like to know if I’m eligible to apply for a master’s in political science in a Canadian university?
    Will my bad grades effect the selection process?
    Please help me out of this stress..
    Thank you.

  101. Deola says:

    Hi am deola, I want to do my msc in r us, I have low GPA 2.3 and low gre 283 tofel 83 the programme am going for did not specify the average score they want, they just wrote required.. I want to know if I should apply… Pls I need your sincere comments

  102. Joseph says:

    Hello good day,

    I had a B. Sc. in Biochemistry with a G.P.A of 2.34 on a scale of 4 after a very turbulent series of life events. After this i was only ”lucky” to gain admission into a professional M.Sc. in Food science and biotechnology from which i graduated top of my class with a 3.5 G.P.A. I wish to take a second master degree abroad but my question is, will my undergraduate record still be considered in my application to a master program like Food engineering and technology?

  103. Adam says:

    I completed my undergraduate program 2015 with a low CGPA of 2.3 of 5.0 in mechanical engineering and i intend to further my education by improving this grade to qualify for a masters in mechanical engineering which many schools have checked required 3.0 of 4.0 GPA. I would like to study abroad. How likely am I to qualify for a pre-master or Top-Up in this field?? If qualified, will I have an easy cross over for the Masters or however this works. Please help share more light to this.

  104. Tatiana says:


    I’ve done my undergrad in Econ in Brazil and a MSc in England, which transcript would be considered more important for grad admission in the US or are both equally relevant?
    It’s difficult to translate Brazilian grades into GPA and I’m a bit worried whether the admission committee would go through the trouble of interpreting it. Also, it’s very normal in Brazilian Universities – in state schools which are completely free – for students to drop out of classes and never formally cancel them which massively reduces their overall grade – which is my case. So long story short my undergrad transcript is not a pretty sight. I don’t know if this is standard behaviour in the US, dropping out, (especially with education being so expensive) but how can you go about this, if you should at all, in the statement?
    Also, do you think high scores on the GRE would make up for a patchy undergrad?
    Thanks a lot!

  105. Kevin Bang says:


    I hope I get answered from you.
    I am a graduate of the University of Toronto, receiving Bachelor of Arts with double major in Sociology and Human Geography.

    I have very low overall GPA as well as GPAs in my majors. (2.15/4.0)
    It was very difficult and hard to follow while going through family problem, personal problem and financial problems.

    Now, I am much more stablized and want to pursue a graduate school in South Korea as applying for a foreigner.
    In the guideline of Yonsei University which is the university I want to get in to, it is stated of anything about GPA for a foreigner to get into the graduate school. Hence, I am hoping to pursue my further concrete dream.

    As your article states, I will have to contact them whether there is an explicit cutoff for GPA.
    It has been more than a year that I graduated from U of T, and it is a problem for me to get two recommendation letters from professors. I have sent out an email as well as a picture of myself (just in case they don’t remember) explaining my circumstance on the pursuit of graduate school but there hasn’t been a reply from them.

    I can get recommendation letters from work but the guideline of the graduate school says reference letters from professors.

    I just need general advice from you on my circumstances, thank you for listening and awaiting your kind reply. Thank you.

  106. Kursad says:

    My undergraduate gpa is around 2.7, and my MSc gpa is 3.0 (including retaking some courses). After that I worked several years in my major and published two first author conference papers, and one second co-author paper on a top-rank international conference. My fourth paper is on the way. My GRE general score is verbal 155, quantitative 170 and writing 4.5. My TOEFL iBT score is 108. I want to apply for a good US school with scholarship for my PhD, like University of Michigan and UCLA. Of course, I will also try some other lower-ranking schools for guaranteeing my application. Do you think I have chance to get admitted with scholarship by a good university? What else suggestion you would like to give? BTW, my department is electrical and computer engineering. Thanks in advance.

  107. PT worried says:

    I am a Junior at a nation top 25 college. I am majoring in Biological Science (pre physical therapy emphasis) with a minor in Psychology. I still have three semesters, but have completed all my prerequisite classes for Physical Therapy Grad school. My GPA thus far is 3.43 and grad school required prerequisite GPA is 3.6. My GRE is 152 (v) and 156 (q) and 3.5 (aw). I have over 100 hours of volunteer/observation hours in PT clinics in both Outpatient and hospital settings (over a 3 year span). I have job experience of 140 plus hours in Occupational Therapy as well. I am a member of multiple university pre medical and academic honor societies and hold a position of office in one of them. I work a part time job at the University as well, during the school year.
    I plan to apply to Graduate school at the end of this year, In order to start immediately the fall after I graduate. I know I have time to try to get my GPA higher, but I have a rigorous schedule every semester and I just don’t know if I can get it any higher than a possible 3.5. Some of the classes I still have to take can be substituted as my prerequisite GPA, so if I make an A in one or two of those, I could possibly get my prerequisite GPA to a 3.7. If the graduate schools dissect the transcript, they will see the A’s are in classes like Organic Chem, Calculus, Biology classes, Psychology, Physics 1 & Physics 2 classes. So, I hope they look at this. I hate to think B’s in undergrad required General Ed classes like world history, Art history and multiple semesters of Spanish classes could destroy my future of getting into my life’s passion of Physical Therapy and sports medicine.
    PT schools are very competitive to gain acceptance into, with limited numbers of schools and small class sizes of around 30 students. So, I do understand why they are so selective.
    I do plan to apply to many schools as well as attempting the GRE again. I just fear that multiple attempts at the GRE will look bad though.

    This said, my questions are:
    Do my chances look good of getting into grad school?
    Will taking the GRE multiple times look bad?
    Does attending a strong undergrad school with this type of rigorous major/curriculum earn me any extra points on getting in, with my GPA and GRE being as average as they are?
    Do you have any other suggestions?
    Sincerely, PT Worried

  108. Elizabeth says:

    I have a 2.90 gpa in communication disorders and graduate with a b.a. From SFSU. I would like to get in to a grad school program but the min gpa is 3.0 and must take the GRE test. At SFSU they calculate their gpa at units earned over unit attempted. Will a grad program look at my major gpa rather than overall gpa made of general education courses and cd major courses? Because i did poorly in some ge classes but did very well in my major classes. Im not sure if its worth paying for the gre. Pleaee advise,
    Thank you

  109. Ben says:

    Bill advises people on how to get into grad school
    Bill does not crush people’s dreams
    Bill is awesome
    Be like bill

  110. Andy says:


    My undergrad GPA is 2.31 and major GPA 2.57 in finance from . After college, I went to military, and I am working full-time as an analyst for a fairly large company (about 1.5 billion dollar in revenue. I am not sure whether that matters.) for about two years now. Because my work experience is not directly related to a field of my interest, international relations, I am thinking about taking few graduate courses (maybe two or three) from state university. Not only I heard that taking classes boost admission chance, but also I want to gain some knowledge in the field.

    I have already taken GRE three times and am planning to take it one more time (this will be my last shot.) I had 320 combined score (164 math and 156 verb) and 3.5 in writing. Hopefully, I want to boost it up to 330 and 4.5~5 in writing.

    Is there anything you want to suggest?
    Thank you!

  111. sid says:

    hey i have 65% in mechanical engg. bachelors from indian univeristy. i have an ielts of 7.0. 2.5 yrs work exp and B1 level german language certificate. what are my chances of getting into a masters program in German universitites?

  112. vickie says:

    Hi Mr Bill, i finished with a low cgpa of 2.33 in pure and applied chemistry from a Nigerian univ. Of tech. Owing to depression and anxiety .Dont u think my low cgpa will dampen my morale of pursuing a masters degree in environmental chemistry in canada nxt year?
    Whats d way out?

  113. Yeahia says:

    My undergrade CGPA is 3.29, but last 60 credit hours CGPA is 3.7 , plus GRE is 294 and IELTS 6.5. Is there any chance for me to get GA or TA in a USA university? If you know some, let me know please

    • Bill says:


      Your GPA is pretty strong, but your GRE score is below average. You be able to use your IELTS for admission purposes, however you should also know that many universities in the US prefer the TOEFL. Check with the school to see if that would an issue.

      To be honest there are so many different options in terms of TA and GA opportunities that it really all depends on you! What are you interested in/studying? Which schools are strong in that subject? Do you want to live in a particular part of the country? You should ask yourself all these questions and more while researching different opportunities.

      Hope this helps!

  114. Natalie Olsen says:

    So I am currently applying for my final grad schools for SLP. I have horrible test anxiety and my gpa shows it. I have an overall gpa of 3.0 and major gpa of 3.2. My gre scores were 140 and 145. I have 5 letters of recommendations. I have 3 different volunteer experiences with 3 different groups(within my major’s field) for several years. I have management experiences and I have worked as a coordinator. I worked at 3 different jobs through out my college career. I am so scared that my scores are going to define my eligibility to get into grad school for SLP… What do you think?

  115. Akshay K Sharma says:

    I would try to keep it concise. I completed my bachelors i.e. B.E. (Hons) in Electronics and Instrumentation recently from the highest ranked private engineering institution in India (i.e. BITS Pilani, with an acceptance rate of 1.47%). I scored very low with a GPA of around 2.6-2.7 (my University uses 10 point scale, so there’s a rough estimate). I have one paper published in IEEE to my name. My academic performance before graduation has been quite good, but I feel that it doesn’t matter at this level. Anyway, I’m quite interested in pursuing a masters in Avionics and flight controls. I am demoralised because of my low GPA. Can I hope for a decent University in US for MS? What kind of universities can I target? I hope you’ll respond as with other replies here. I will be very grateful.

  116. Holly says:

    Hi Bill!

    I’m in molecular biotechnology and and considering grad school for a biotechnology or genetic engineering focus. I started off with a very poor GPA of around 2.0, but raised it to approximately 3.0 as I began to take senior level courses. I also have research experience and TA experience, and I volunteer around 200+ hours a year in various science outreach programs in my community, but I have no publications. I am attending a school with a notoriously rigorous reputation and the highest admission standards in my country, and I aim to go to a lower ranked school for any graduate studies I undergo. Most of the potential supervisors I am contacting work for schools that only look at the GPA of your last two years (I am selecting the schools for this purpose), but I was wondering if you think that my awful GPA from my first two years will inhibit my admission to any graduate programs. I have a very strong personal statement and I am receiving reference letters from two world experts in their fields, and I think these factors will supplement my lack of publications and initially poor GPA, but I am still really concerned!

    • Bill says:


      It sounds like you have an excellent application strategy. Not having any publications may hurt you. STEM departments value research greatly, as their research is typically what secures their research securing funding, so they prefer applicants who have at least one or two publications to their name. However, this concern is offset by you applying to less competitive schools and by you having secured recommendations from prominent researchers. It is also true that graduate programs tend to value your final two years of college and major specific GPA. Overall, based on this, I think you should feel confident going forward!

      Hope this helps!

  117. Zaina says:

    Hi, I have bachelor in Civil Engineering from Iraq ,I have a very low GPA (2.33). I have been in USA two years ago. I try to take master in civil engineering, but I know the requirement for Master in Civil Engineering that I should have minimum GPA 3.0 . So I want your advice to improve my GPA for undergraduate civil engineering to reach my goal.

    • Bill says:


      Really, the only way to improve your cumulative GPA is take college level classes again. My suggestion would be to enroll in your local community college or junior college. Yes, you will have to pay the cost of attendance out of pocket, but it’s really the only options to improve your cumulative GPA. If possible, I would recommend taking some version of the classes that you struggled with originally – if you can secure high grades in those classes that will help ease any wariness an admissions officer might have regarding your low grades.

      Hope this helps!

  118. David says:

    I graduated From Surveying and Geoinformatics from a University in Nigeria..and with a CGPA of 2.89 / 5..i am thinking of applying for a graduate school in the USA..i am thinking of applying for civil engineering or project management because it is related to my transcript shows that my grades fluctuated a lot ie in my year 1 I had a 3.87 /5 cgpa, in year 2 about 2.9/5, in year 3 I had a cgpa of 2.1 or so but my first semester I had a 1.7 gpa while the second was a 2.7 in my 4oo L which has only one semester I had a 1.9 gpa the second semester is used for internship and I had a my final year I had a 3.1 gpa ist semester and a 3.6 second semester..what are my chances of being selected for graduate school..

  119. David says:

    I graduated From Surveying and Geoinformatics from a University in Nigeria..and with a CGPA of 2.89 / 5..i am thinking of applying for a graduate school in the USA..i am thinking of applying for civil engineering or project management because it is related to my transcript shows that my grades fluctuated a lot ie in my year 1 I had a 3.87 /5 cgpa, in year 2 about 2.9/5, in year 3 I had a cgpa of 2.1 or so but my first semester I had a 1.7 gpa while the second was a 2.7 in my 4oo L which has only one semester I had a 1.9 gpa the second semester is used for internship and I had a my final year I had a 3.1 gpa ist semester and a 3.6 second semester..what are my chances of being selected for graduate school..also if Engineering will be difficult to get, what related courses can I get with ease and school…thank you

  120. Mama Drammeh says:

    hi, i majored biology and have a Gpa of 2.9 on a 4.3 scale in my undergraduate.. and i want to apply for a scholarship to do my masters in biomedical science.. my stress is, will i be accepted.. i lost my bro during my first year and i was completely down but i did very well in my 3rd to 4th year…

    • Bill says:


      Your cumulative GPA will impact your competitiveness as a candidate to graduate school; however, graduate schools tend to care more about your more advanced classes and your major cumulative GPA. If you improved over years 3 & 4 of college, that will definitely help you. Also, admission officers are people! They understand that a tragedy, like the loss of a relative, will impact your grades. You can explain this in your personal statement. The best thing you can do now is secure a good GRE score.

      Hope this helps!

  121. Shaun says:

    Hey Bill, I recieved my Bachelors in Civil Engineering with a 2.5 gpa. 10 years ago with the promise to never set foot in a classroom again. Well, my career has ended up being absolutely exciting, and I now am a successful construction manager. I would like to get my Masters in Constructuon Management, but the local university program asks for a mininun 2.7 gpa. I never imagined I would be this focused in my 30s and not sure what can be done to meet the minimum requirements for admission into the graduate program with such low grades from when I was last in school. I have met the minimum requirement for the GRE. Grades from 2005 are the only issue.


    • Bill says:


      Generally speaking, the farther removed you are from undergrad the less important those grades become, particularly if you have achieved professional success. You might have to jump through a few hoops – i.e. have several interviews with an admissions officer or generate a personal essay on the topic – but if you are ten years removed from undergrad it might be possible to receive an exception to this policy. I would call the school directly, attend an information session (which is a great way to meet not only faculty/staff, but also the actual admissions officers who will be reviewing your application), or contact their department via email. Reach out! Explain your situation. You might be surprised at their reaction.

      Otherwise, a common recommendation for someone in your position would be to complete a class or two at your local community college. This is a relatively inexpensive way of raising your GPA, and the classes should be relatively easy to ace. The minimum GPA requirement represents an incremental increase to your cumulative GPA, so you should be able to achieve this with two or three classes.

      Hope this helps and Good Luck!

  122. Juniper says:

    Hi, I’m not sure where else to ask: I’ve been agonizing for this for the past year. The first year of college I got just OK grades, but then things took a turn for the worse 1st semester of my sophomore year. I failed 3 classes; I was in a major that didn’t interest me but more than that I was suffering from mental illness (Depression and PTSD) that I wasn’t getting help for. After I got help and changed my major I started doing really, really well. I’m about to be a senior and this past year I got a 4.0 both semesters. I’ll be studying abroad next year and I’ve done the calculations and figured that UNLESS I stay for another semester I will be graduating with about a 3.25 Overall GPA and a 4.0 GPA in my major (which is German Studies).
    I really really desperately want to get into grad school. I haven’t done any formal research but I will have an internship at a historical society this summer and be spending the entire next year studying in Germany. I feel that I have a really decent application for my last 2 years, I’ve done really exceptionally well within my major classes. but I’m terrified about the way that my first two years are going to affect it. I just don’t know if I should scratch grad school off of my list or if I should for sure come back for one more semester when I return from Germany and try to retake the classes that I failed. The classes that I failed were 2 environmental science courses and an art course. I just am really worried because I do have an explanation as to why I failed, but my other grades for those two years were mostly B’s with a few A’s and C’s so just not great all around. I’m going to take the GRE and try to prepare really well as well as several German proficiency tests upon my return when I start working on my application. Any other advice as to what I should do or expect would be appreciated. Thanks,


    • Juniper says:

      Also to add onto this: When I applied for my study abroad program my GPA was a 2.7 and the minimum was 3.0 but I explained my circumstances in my essay and was accepted. The same thing happened when I applied for a scholarship from my major department to go abroad. So I feel hopeful that my story seems to have some legitimacy; I really did have horrible things going on those first two years and I could get multiple therapists to corroborate this if needed. But I guess my other concern is: I’m not sure that grad schools will look at this the same way as the study abroad office and German department did; I’m not sure what the precedence for situations like this is. And I’m also not sure what the best way is for me to show this on my application.

    • michael says:

      Hi Juniper! Admissions officers will definitely take a strong upward trend into consideration. 4.0s the past two semesters is definitely a good sign, especially if you have extenuating circumstances you can explain. Retaking the classes you failed may or may not help you; you may want to consult your advisors directly about it, since they’re most in touch with what’s important in admissions for your field of study. However, if you dominate the GRE, you can make up for previous academic missteps, so definitely put all your efforts into studying for the exam! As for other advice, in order to be competitive for grad school, you’ll definitely need research and publications in your intended field of study, and it sounds like you’re definitely on the right track there!

  123. Chelsea says:

    I ha e a 2.75 GPA a 334 GRE score and over 3 years of experience thru internships. I have one more semester left which I plan to excel in, and I have letters of recommendation from professors with masters in my field (communication studies, phobic relations and marketing) as well as my mentor who is a Public Relations professional of 25 years. Do I have a chance at grad school? I’m so nervous.

    • michael says:

      Hi Chelsea! With that GRE score and your strong resume, you definitely have a great shot at grad school! Though your GPA is a bit on the low side, I believe your incredibly strong GRE score more than makes up for it, assuming your quant/verbal breakdown is fairly even.

  124. Anon says:

    Currently, I have 3.23 GPA in mechanical engineering from a state school which is ABET accredited, I have 3.87 GPA in last 75 hours, and double majoring in mechanical engineering and applied math and also a minor in chemistry. I had really terrible 2nd and 3rd year had a GPA of 1.7 in one semester.

    My GRE score is 334, Q-170, V-164. I have also done 3 internships with top oil and gas companies.

    Do I have any chance of getting accepted for masters at Stanford University for petroleum engineering? Colorado school of mines, Texas A&M and UT Austin for Petroleum engineering?

    Also should I take physics GRE?

    Earth Sciences at Harvard,Cornell or MIT.

    Any honest answer would greatly help

    • michael says:

      Hi! Given your strong resume and GRE score, you definitely have a great chance at getting into the schools you listed. Though the GPA is a little on the low end, your GRE and internships should be able to balance it out. I would check directly with the schools you’re looking to apply to in order to see if they require the GRE subject test, but otherwise, you look to be in good shape.

  125. Asad Piyal says:

    I am from Bangladesh.
    My CGPA is 2.85 (Computer science and Engineering) out of 4 scale, 61%
    IELTS 7.5
    I would really appreciate your response email, if you can suggest me with few universities in Germany where i can apply and get an admit for masters in Computer Science.

    I have 1 yr of work exp as php developer

    Expecting your response email.

    Thank You.

    • michael says:

      Hi Asad! Unfortunately, we’re not familiar with German universities, so we’re not able to suggest any particular programs at the moment.

  126. Abiola says:

    Hi Bill, I received my bachelor degree in English 6years ago with a very low GPA (1.35). I was very fortunate to be employed and have been working for about 6years now. My low GPA had made it difficult for me to go for my masters. My spouse is in Canada and I intend going for my master there. I know I will have to return to undergraduate studies to build my GPA for masters. My fear is I might be rejected for undergraduate studies because of my very low GPA. Please advise.

    • michael says:

      Hi Abiola! This is a bit of a tricky situation, so you may want to consult with the undergraduate schools you intend to apply to in order to see what they recommend you do in order to be accepted for a second go-around. As for applying for a masters, focusing on your GRE score and extracurriculars may also be a good idea, in order to shore up your application all around. Best of luck!

  127. Sasha says:

    I received my bachelors degree four years ago from a private school in psychology and spanish. My GPA is 2.85. Part of it was due to depression and family matters. I also studied abroad, took a class directly with the university but was unable to take the final, (which is basically your grade since nothing else is graded) because I had to return home when my program ended and the final was way later in the summer so I ended up receiving an F (by the way, this class did not count for my major).After graduating I was able to get into a masters program to obtain my teaching credential but again, was unable to finish it due to personal problems. During this time I’ve worked for the mental health department, have been focusing on myself by receiving the appropriate treatment for my mental and physical health. Now that I’m doing much better I’ve reconsidered obtaining my masters but get discouraged because I don’t knot if I would be admitted. What steps do you recommend I should take? Would taking classes at a community college help raise my gpa? Or does it have to be from a university? Also, would I have to present my transcript from my unfinished master? I would really appreciate your input! Thank you so much!

    • michael says:

      Hi Sasha!
      In order to be admitted to another master’s program, you will want to prove to admissions officers that you have everything under control and that you are currently capable of performing academically well. You will have to submit the transcript from your unfinished master’s program, as most schools ask for transcripts from all schools attended. However, you can bring your overall GPA up by taking additional classes, preferably at a four-year university. Some schools do not accept pre-requisite courses from community college, so you may want to double check if your intended programs would accept CC credits, but many programs look somewhat down on community college courses. Since your goal is to prove that you are able to compete at the top levels academically, going down the CC route might not be the best choice, even if the schools accept CC credits. Ultimately, you will not be able to bring your GPA up to a 3.7 in a reasonable amount of time, but if you are able to show a few semesters’ worth of solid academic performance and explain your previous situation, schools may be willing to overlook your previous history in favor of your current performance.

      What is probably the easiest way to prove your academic change of heart is to destroy the GRE. If you can perform in the top tier on the GRE, you can definitively prove that your past is behind you. An excellent GRE score would further improve your chances of admissions officers forgiving your past performance, so definitely make this your top priority going forward.

      Best of luck!

  128. Surbhi Shankhpale says:

    I have just entered in my final year for engineering college.I am from NIT and doing my engineering in Computer Science I am planning to do MS in Management from a good business school but I think my too low gpa might possess a problem here. I have 4.85/10 (Indian scheme of grading), otherwise it will be 1.94/4 (I just scaled it down). But I have an experience of internships and I have been a volunteer in an NGO etc.
    So do I have nay chances of getting selected for the MS in Management program?

    • michael says:

      Hi Surbhhi!

      That GPA is indeed a bit low for many business schools, but if you have solid extracurriculars and can perform in the top percentiles of the GRE/GMAT, then you may still have a good shot at acceptance. You may look into taking a year or two of additional undergraduate courses to boost your GPA and prove you are capable of performing well in an academic environment, but I would definitely make the GRE/GMAT your top priority. By scoring in the top percentiles on these standardized tests, you can boost the odds that admissions officers will look favorably upon your extracurricular involvement. You just need to prove you will be able to keep up in a rigorous academic environment; taking additional classes and doing well on standardized tests are the way to go to prove this.

  129. Gerald says:


    I need some info and guidance here. I finished my undergraduate program in management and accounting in 1995. I am from Africa and my undergrad was in Africa also.
    Over the years I have worked as a banker for 13 years and went on to start my own businesses which have done fairly well.

    But now I want to go back to school for masters in higher education. However, my undergrad CGPA is 2.75 (which admittedly is low) though in my core courses I had CGPA of 2.9. Undergrad experience was a combination of lack of finances and dislike for accounting which accounts for my low scores.

    Firstly does the fact that I graduated such a long time ago affect my chances?Secondly, how good are my chances at such a masters in the U.S. Secondly , what GRE score would be a reasonably good score to help boost my chances. Thirdly, how do I craft my statement of purpose to better improve my chances?


    • Bill says:


      Generally speaking, the further removed from college you are, the less important your undergraduate GPA will be. In the context of your application, you should emphasize your professional achievements. The only concern stemming from the fact you graduated in 1995 would perhaps be a concern regarding your mastery of more basic academic concepts – things you might have covered as an undergraduate but have forgotten since you graduated. In this case, you are correct in assuming that your GRE score will have a large affect on what your chances of admission are to different universities; a good GRE score can reassure admissions officers 1) that your low college GPA is not necessarily indicative of a lack of ability/talent, and 2) that you are still familiar with the basic academics that are tested on the GRE, and which would subsequently be needed for success in a graduate program. As to what specific score you should seek, it really depends on the universities you are targeting. Generally speaking, anything above a 300 is considered “above average”; how far above average you would need to score to be admitted to your school of choice is entirely relative to the admission standards of that school. Certainly, though, you should seek an above average score. Lastly, in your statement of purpose, you should focus on 1) Why you want to go back to school now, after having graduated so long ago, 2) Your professional accomplishments, 3) Why you want to go this school specifically, and 4) In what ways you would be a valuable addition to this university and campus.

      Hope all this helps!

  130. Ashish says:

    I am in the final year of my undergraduate program. Currently pursuing B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from an IIT. My CGPA is 7/10, (Indian Scale). I have 3 international papers (IEEE) relevant to my field of interest. My CGPA is good, though not exceptional (as per my institute grade sheet). I doubt if it will undermine my chances of attending top grad schools. Opinions are welcome. Thank you.

    • Bill says:


      It seems like you have a good grasp on your circumstances and they might translate to admission to a good graduate school. A strong GPA, relevant published materials, and a good attitude will go a long way towards getting you into a great graduate school. The next step is take the GRE and the TOEFL exam, as two tests scores will ultimately determine your competitiveness as a candidate for graduate school.

      Hope this helps!

  131. Raimon says:

    This year I’m finishing my grade in industrial engineering in UPC in Barcelona Spain, it’s taken me 7 years instead of the expected 4 ones. My average mark is a 6 out of 10 and in percentiles I’m a little below C in the ECTS scale. I don’t know if it is relevant that in my university sometimes as low as 20 % of the people pass the subject and in general the subjects are not passed by more than a 60% of people.
    Does this affect the GPA?

    I’d like to be admitted for a master in engineering in a good university (not necessarily MIT, but if it could be, in the US or Switzerland or any place where I could start working with a better salary for an engineer than here in Spain as soon as I finish).

    My questions are:
    1 Is my GPA as low as I think it is?

    2 could you recommend me where to apply and if someway I could make them understand my marks are not that bad? (in fact, no matter if they actually are)


    • Bill says:


      Graduate schools will typically care more about your last 60 hours of coursework and your Major GPA; that is, how you performed in advanced classes directly related to your major. You should consider that when determining the schools for which you might be competitive. That said, a C average or the equivalent in the context of admission to a top tier graduate program; however, that does not mean you have no possibility of admission to a good graduate school. it is important that you have realistic expectations as you go through this process – otherwise, you would just be setting yourself up for disappointment. To your specific questions:

      1) Linked here is a very reliable international GPA calculator. I would recommend using this to determine how you would compare to in the context of application to a US school. See what your translated GPA is, and then go to the universities’ webpages to see what their average admitted GPA is. This will give you a much better idea as to whether you would be competitive to any given school.
      2) I would recommend targeting state and city colleges, as they typically tend to be less competitive than their private school counterparts. Which universities you should apply depends on so many factors that it would be impossible for me to provide you with a list of recommended schools: geographic location, cost of attendance, cost of living, average salary upon graduation, teacher:student ratio, campus culture, … the list goes on in terms of factors you might consider when deciding upon what schools to apply to. I would start broadly – like where in the US would you like to live? And then narrow down the search from there.

      Hope this helps!

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