Does GPA matter for grad school?

If you are thinking of going to grad school, you may be wondering if your GPA matters.  The truth of the matter is that it really does matter.  In fact, there are several grad schools that have a cutoff for your GPA.  If you are planning on going for your Master’s degree, you should plan on having a GPA no lower than 3.0.

What is the point of a GPA?

GPA, or grade point average, is the number used to show how well you performed in all your courses.  This number ranges from 1.0 to 4.0.  This number will be used to determine if you meet the criteria for being accepted into the next school, whether that be college or grad school. 

Your GPA is essential.  Some people just play it off thinking that as long as they pass all their classes, they are in good shape.  But your GPA will show how well you are doing in all your classes.  This can switch over the course of the year.  If you do excellent in all classes, but one semester you have a class that you just can not excel at, your GPA could potentially suffer from it.  

When you look at your entire GPA, it shows how successful you were during your time at high school, college, or grad school. 

GPA can also be used for financial aid, scholarships, and other assistance.  Many programs will only allow individuals that have a specific GPA to apply for this help.  

And in other cases, you may only be allowed to get into certain clubs, sororities, or associations if you have a higher GPA.  These are often great to be a part of and look great on a resume, so you do not want to miss out on this opportunity by having a lower GPA.

Finding GPA information

The best place you can look to find what schools accept as a lower GPA is the college website.  Look at the frequently asked questions page.  It may also be found on the application requirements page.  

Something else that you may be interested in learning what the average GPA is for the incoming class.  This will come in handy so you can see what type of individuals will be in your class. 

There may also be differences in your Major’s GPA.  Quite a few schools will not list this information on their website, but you can still check as there are a few that will. 

Are all GPAs the same?

Surprisingly enough, all GPAs are not the same.  Various places have different scales.  Some use letters while others use numbers.  

  • A-F is used in the US, Canada, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and others 
  • 1-10 is used in the Netherlands, Colombia, Latvia, Israel, and others 
  • 1-5 is used in Germany, Austria, Russia, Slovakia, Paraguay, and others 
  • A percentage is used in Kuwait, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, and others 

Colleges can also use other methods to rank a student.  But it is much easier for other colleges and universities if they use an average score system.  

Even though countries may use the same scale, such as using letters, they can be quite different.  Take the US and Malaysia.  They both use A-F.  However, in the United States, there is not an E.  But in Malaysia, they do use the letter E, which is noted as extremely poor.  This is given for 35 to 40%.  An F is then given for anything that is below 35%.  In the United States, an F is considered as anything 60% or below.  

Schools are also aware that not every teacher or professor will grade the same.  They understand that if the class size is larger, your GPA may be different than if you had a smaller class size.  And they fully understand that all teachers and professors have differing opinions on how students should be graded, as well as having their own personal opinions about the subject they are teaching.  

How do you calculate GPA?

No matter what grade you receive, it will be correlated to a point system.  For example, A will be equivalent to 4 or a multiple of 4 (8,16, 32, etc).  All of these points are added up, then divided by the number of credits.  The resulting number is your GPA.  

Consider this example.  Suppose someone took 3 courses: Computer Science worth 2 credits, Mathematics worth 2 credits, and English Language and Literature worth 3 credits. Your grades for these courses are:

    • Computer Science- B (B is 3.0 on the GPA scale)
  • Mathematics – C (C is 2.0 on the GPA scale)
  • English  Language and Literature- A (A is 4.0 on the GPA scale)

Therefore, for Computer Science, we multiple the 3 points by 2 since you had 2 credits for a total of 6.  Then you take your Mathematics score of 2 and multiply it by 2 credits which are 4 and your English Language and Literature score of 4 times 3 which is 12.  Then simply add up all the total scores (6+4+12= 22).  Then take the 22 and divide it by the number of credits, which is 7. That equals a GPA of 3.14.  

What is a good GPA?

A good GPA will certainly depend upon the level of education.  High school GPAs are usually easier to maintain than those for college.  Many high ranking colleges will require a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher to apply.  Other colleges have a minimum of 2.5, which some colleges even allow those with 2.0-grade point averages to apply.  

A college will also look at your GPA and the courses that you took.  A person may have a GPA of 3.0 while taking harder courses such as algebra, chemistry, and psychology.  The next person may have a GPA of 3.5 but take easier courses such as choir or advanced living.  Some may assume that the second person would get into college easier, however, the college will take into consideration the type of courses you have also taken as well. 

For grad school, it can greatly depend on if you are accepted.  Some grad schools will only allow individuals to apply if they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, while others will state only those with a GPA of 3.5 or higher will be allowed to apply.   

Maintaining a good GPA

It is much easier to start off with a good GPA and maintain it than starting with a lower GPA and trying to raise it.  However, with hard work, you can raise it.  Just continue to work hard and be mindful of where you need to make improvements.  

What happens if you have a low GPA?

If you have a lower GPA, all hope is not lost.  When applying for a school, take some extra time to write about why you have a lower GPA.  Are there any circumstances that made it difficult for you to maintain a higher GPA?  You can also take this time to mention any honors or leadership positions you had with extracurricular activities.  Maybe you volunteered at a child’s hospital or worked at a homeless shelter.  

Recommendations are always a good idea no matter what GPA you have.  But if you have a lower GPA, the recommendation can greatly assist in getting you into grad school.  

This is the time that you can describe any work experience that is relevant to what you are going to school for.  This is essential if it has been a few years since you last attended any kind of schooling. 


Your GPA is a very important part of your education.  However, you should not despair if your GPA is not perfect.  There are several things that can assist you in getting into grad school.  Add as much as you can to your application, such as extra activities and volunteering that you have done.  These experiences can often teach you a lot about your field of work and how to be a better student.  While your GPA can give you an edge, you can still stand out if you have a remarkable package to offer the grad school!