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GPA during grad school

  1. May 17, 2013 #1
    How much does your GPA during grad school matter? I understand that research is the main thing here but still I wonder. I just recently ended a semester with a B and a B+ and I am not very happy about it. I feel like I worked a lot for both classes and I expected higher grades. I am also pissed at how arbitrary some of the grades are. Some professors are really tough on grades and some others give out As as if nothing. This makes me see how little grades mean by themselves. But still I would be pissed off if a future employer asked me for my transcript after getting my PhD. I hope not. Does anybody know something about this? Thank you so much.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2013 #2
    Does your program not require a minimum GPA for continuation? I'm only familiar with the British and the Canadian systems. The former generally don't require coursework as part of a PhD; the latter, in my experience, will put you on probation if you don't maintain an A/A- average, and then will boot you if you don't immediately bring it up.

    Assuming that's not the case for your program, the quality of your thesis and other publications should be the dominating factor for assessing your PhD—especially if you stay in academia. I suspect the same is true for closely related industry jobs. For other commercial work that is farther away from your area of research, it will depend entirely on what value the employer attaches to a PhD. For example, if you're in physics and you wanted to go into finance as a quantitative analyst after graduation, your thesis will mean less. In that case, an employer would be pretty justified in wanting to know how you did in graduate level quantitative classes.
  4. May 17, 2013 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Don't focus on your grades, focus on what you've learned and whether you can really apply it to problems. Ultimately, that's where the rubber meets the road in graduate school and may be how profs will decide what project you get to work on.

    You do need to keep them at or above a B though just to stay in the program.

    Once you get your PhD, a prospective employer may ask you to give a seminar about your research and use that to decide whether you're good for the team. They may look at your grades but your research shows where your skills really are.
  5. May 17, 2013 #4


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    In my experience they matter with respect to applying for external scholarships and when competing for residency positions (I'm in medical physics). With regards to post-doctoral positions I think the weigting strongly shifts from grades towards reference recommendations, publications, and other evidence of work. With regards to non-academic work I think there is even less emphasis placed on grades.
  6. May 18, 2013 #5
    Once you have your PhD, nobody will ever ask about your grades. So they have no long term significance. I think you should focus on learning the material, and shrug it off if you end up with a grade that you do not think reflects your knowledge. What you know is the only thing that really matters in the end.

    Personally, as a fellow PhD student, I do not even know what the grading schemes are in my classes right now. The only thing I care about is learning the material, and that should be sufficient to not get kicked out, so why waste time caring beyond that?
  7. May 18, 2013 #6


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    There's some misinformation in this thread, as far as I am concerned. Intel recently had a job fair for graduate students at my university. They only accepted resumes from students with a graduate GPA 3.5 or higher. No exceptions. I'd imagine other competitors of Intel may engage in similar practices. This whole experience leads me to believe that graduate GPAs may matter for some competitive industries.

    Your milage may vary.
  8. May 18, 2013 #7
    I don't even know what my grad. school GPA was*, let alone whether or not it mattered towards the continuation of my degree. I finished, so either it was good enough or it was unimportant; certainly no one ever brought it up.

    I can see how it might matter to employers looking to hire people with MS degrees, since classwork is the bulk of an MS. I don't understand why an employer looking for PhDs would care, though - at least in physics, maybe it's different for other fields. (Given ZombieFeynman's claim regarding Intel, my guess is that they might have been looking primarily for engineers, and maybe GPA is more important there.)

    *I'm using a little bit of hyperbole here; I have a vague idea of what my GPA was given my performance in each of my classes, but I certainly never paid attention to it, nor could I quote the exact number.
  9. May 18, 2013 #8


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    The target fields were, according to the email from Intel, engineering, computer science. mathematics, statistics, and physics.
  10. May 18, 2013 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    I think in ZombieFeyman's example, Intel most likely had too many applicants to consider and so resorted to screening them first via GPA. Also this was probably MS degree applicants as PhD people usually have postdoc experience as well that would factor in much more than a simple GPA.

    In my office, they set up PhD seminars where applicants present their life work, people ask questions and they get to defend it all over again. From there the decision is usually made whether to hire or not.
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