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Admissions EU grading system -> GPA for US grad school admissions?

  1. Feb 2, 2012 #1
    Is there anyone here that can shed some light on the equivalence between Spanish/EU (ECTS) grades and American GPA? I have been researching this for a while but I haven't found anything official. So far I've come up with these 2 pages, showing similar grade equivalences:

    Matrícula de Honor (with Honors) A (10/10 and must be in the top 5%)
    Sobresaliente (Outstanding) A (9-10/10)
    Notable (Notable) B+ (7-8.9/10)
    Aprobado (Pass) B- (5-6.9/10)
    Suspenso (Failure) F (<5/10)

    By choosing Spain - 10 point grading system, a B- is considered a 2.7 GPA, B+ (7-8.9/10) is considered 3.3 GPA, and an A is a GPA of 3.5. So according to this site, anyone coming from this grading system can only have a GPA between 2.7 and 3.5.

    I keep hearing a gpa<3.5 substantially decreases chances of grad school admissions in the US. Are graduates from foreign institutions at a serious disadvantage with American graduates? Visa-sponsorships aren't an issue, as I am a legal US resident but I'm studying abroad. Does the pGRE score assist foreign students in getting past a GPA barrier? Is a 3.0 equivalence still a requirement (as continually mentioned in threads) regardless of a pGRE score?

    I'd love to hear from EU graduates in American (and Canadian, if any) grad schools and people in charge of admissions at US institutions. Thanks in advance.

    PS: Another question: In calculating the average, is each individual course grade first converted to GPA and then averaged? Or does the 10-point scale grade get averaged before converting to GPA?
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2012 #2
    This is not correct. An A shows a GPA of 4.0, not 3.5. The way the GPA calculator works is it converts 9-10 to A and then A to 4.0. You are not at a disadvantage.

    Any GPA 3.0 or above is good enough for graduate admission. There are many other factors that universities take into account.

    To answer your last question, each individual course grade must first be converted to a US grade, and each US grade is converted to points from D (1.00) to A (4.00).
  4. Jun 9, 2012 #3
    I'm reviving this thread because I've yet to find official or semi-official info on Spain-US grade equivalences. I hope someone on a grad school admissions committee who has come across applicants from Spain gets to see this, because I'd really appreciate any scrap of info on my chances.

    I am confident I can compensate substantially on the pGRE and will be getting rec letters from profs (3 so far) and can probably get one from final year thesis advisor (which is a head of department at the big UK institution I'm going to next year as an exchange student), but I want to know if -transcript-wise- something like a 7/10 in my country's grading system looks a red flag to admissions committees.

    I'm planning on applying to some state schools (thinking FL, OR, MA, MN, OH, WI, WA, NH, UT, not necessarily in that order nor all of them) in the field of physics/astrophysics, and I've heard from my faculty secretary that there have been a few students from my uni that have gotten into said programs (namely the first three), but I have no idea of what grades they got in their undergrad degree.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  5. Jun 9, 2012 #4
    Lavabug, I myself am from Spain and have studied in US so I might be of some help.

    Having a Sobresaliente would already be considered 4.0. Forget about the so called 'Spanish GPA'. I have also seen this kind of GPA being used in Spanish scholarships (e.g. La Caixa); but it's just a national grading used to differentiate those who get matrículas de honor. In fact, if you have a matrícula de honor, you could –apart from calling a 4.0 in that course– also state that you got such and such 'honour distinction' for that and that class.

    That said, a 7/10 in Spain is nothing to sneeze at. One should also consider the difference in how lectures are given in EU and US. Generally, it's more theoretically-biased in the EU, thus making the 'average' grading of students lower than their US counterparts. I could discuss on the EU-US teaching topic for hours, but I don't think this is the appropriate thread.
    The Universities you stated all have really good physics dept and their admissions committees surely know about the difference in gradings. To put an example, in France, you may have students who score as low as 12/20 and once they study in the US get straight A+. So just make sure to not use the 'spanish scale' as ritik mentioned and you will be fine. It would also be a good idea to contact those universities or even the past alumni who have attended there. Hmm also, when applying, you should also give brief descriptions of the courses you have taken (if possible, also state the books used).

    From which University are you from, may I ask?
  6. Jun 9, 2012 #5
    Many thanks! I sent you a PM. I'll definitely try to get a hold of the alumni that went to the grad schools I mentioned and follow your advice when application time comes. I always thought it was probably a good idea to mention that I used graduate-rated texts like Cohen's (QM), Landau/Goldstein's (CM), and Kubo's (Statmech) for many of my courses.
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