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Grad School Admission GPA

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Hi, I'm currently a sophomore in UC Berkeley, interested in majoring in physics. I am considering to go to grad school afterwards, and I have few questions.
First, even if I don't go to grad school, would I have good job opportunity with physics Bachelors?
Second, what is the GPA requirement for top tier school? (When I mean GPA requirement, I'm not talking about minimum! I mean GPA for competitive admission that I can safely say that the graduate school will admit me if I have the rest of the package pretty well sorted out). Could you specify in terms of overall and technical GPA, and which one is more important?
Third, what is the competitive, safe admission GPA for upper or medium high schools, and their view and importance on overall and technical GPA?

I understand the questions are a lot. So any feedback in any part of the question will be very helpful. Thank you!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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http://www.physicsgre.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3421

2011 Applicant Profiles and Results.

You can browse that thread from the PhysicsGRE.com forum and see the GPA and general stats for dozens of people, and where they were accepted and rejected from.
 
  • #3
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Gpa, gpa, gpa!!!

Hi, I'm a sophomore at UC Berkeley. I have a question with relationship between GPA and grad school admission.... Would a person with 3.5 GPA on both major and overall has a chance to get admitted to top tier universities??
 
  • #4
Pengwuino
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Yes. Namely because GPA is one out of roughly 5-10 criteria admissions committees make their decisions on. They also look at, in no particular order, research work, letters of recommendation, essays, 'good matches' within their own department, GRE scores, subject GRE, and a couple others I can't really think up right now.
 
  • #5
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However, with more than half of your college career ahead of you, I would hope you could be more ambitious than a 3.5. I think that's the most likely obstacle to your success in graduate school, because all the other things that Pengwuino mentioned will flow from that.
 
  • #6
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Hi, I'm a sophomore at UC Berkeley. I have a question with relationship between GPA and grad school admission.... Would a person with 3.5 GPA on both major and overall has a chance to get admitted to top tier universities??
I got into UTexas Austin with a 3.5 GPA.
 
  • #7
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However, with more than half of your college career ahead of you, I would hope you could be more ambitious than a 3.5. I think that's the most likely obstacle to your success in graduate school, because all the other things that Pengwuino mentioned will flow from that.
Then again you have to realize that there is life after graduate school.

One of the things that happened when I was an undergraduate was that I ended up with a GPA that was lower than it could have been, and I didn't get into the graduate schools that my peers got into. However, I "won big" after graduate school, because I ended up with a ton of skills that were useful after I got my Ph.D. Also part of the reason that I got a lower GPA was that I took a ton of graduate level classes and got B's in them, but that also helped me a lot in graduate school.

Part of the reason I "settled" for a lower GPA was that I had a ton of teachers that told me not to be obsessed with GPA. I was rather annoyed with them when I wasn't able to get into the graduate school of my choice, but it was after I got my Ph.D. that I realized why they gave the advice that they did.

One thing that I think is pretty essential for you to do is undergraduate research. It's essential for undergraduates to do research not so much because it will help them get into graduate school, but because if you do research and you discover that you hate it, then you should reconsider whether to go into graduate school at all.

One other thing that is important is to take humanities classes seriously for the same reason. Right now you can make some pretty big changes in your life without penalty, and before you ask what you need to get into graduate school, you need to ask yourself why do you want to go at all.
 
  • #8
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it was after I got my Ph.D. that I realized why they gave the advice that they did.
can you elaborate on the why? why was it only in retrospect that the advice made sense...?
 
  • #9
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First, even if I don't go to grad school, would I have good job opportunity with physics Bachelors?
Depends on what you mean by "good". There are people that I know that have physics bachelors that manage to get jobs that they like. However since I'm not them, I wouldn't like to do what they do.

The best thing to do is to try to get in touch with alumni, and see what they do, and figure out if you like it or not.

Second, what is the GPA requirement for top tier school? (When I mean GPA requirement, I'm not talking about minimum! I mean GPA for competitive admission that I can safely say that the graduate school will admit me if I have the rest of the package pretty well sorted out). Could you specify in terms of overall and technical GPA, and which one is more important?
First of all, physics graduate school doesn't work the same way as law or business school so there really isn't a strong "tier" system. I've been thinking about why physics is different from law or business, and there are two factors that I can see.....

1) law and business schools have basically the same curriculum. If you go to Harvard or Joe's Basement Law and Business School, you'll find that they basically teach the same thing in the same way.

2) there are a ton of people in law and business school. The US issues 100,000 MBA's each year. It issues about 1000 physics Ph.D.'s each year. The annual enrollment of the Harvard business school *alone* is 800.

So if you have a ton of people, and they are all basically taught the same thing, then reputation and "tiers" become vital.

Neither is true with physics

1) every physics department is different, and each physics departments has something that they are strong at, and it's possible for a small department to be better at one thing than a big department.

2) physics Ph.D.'s are rare. Just by getting a Ph.D., you are in a pretty small elite, so it matters a lot less where you get it from. Also, "personal reputation" matters a lot. If you are one of 800 Harvard MBA's, you aren't going to change the reputation of Harvard that much. If you are one of two Ph.D.'s that the department graduates each year, then your personal reputation is going to influence the department's reputation more than their reputation influences yours.

One bit of good news is that physics departments have very different entrance criterion. The departments I'm familiar with care a lot less about GPA than things like undergraduate research, but that's partly because the departments that had different priorities didn't admit me.
 
  • #10
jtbell
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Threads merged.
 
  • #12
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I got into UTexas Austin with a 3.5 GPA.
How difficult in your opinion is to get in UT, Austin in pure math, graduate school, compared to say Ivy league schools?

I know this is a very broad question, but i guess what i am looking for is the profile of a typical student who is accepted into the math graduate program at UT, Austin?
 
  • #13
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How difficult in your opinion is to get in UT, Austin in pure math, graduate school, compared to say Ivy league schools?
No idea. The physics, math, and astronomy departments are in the same building but they are quite different departments, and one characteristic of UT is that the departments are pretty siloed from each other.

I know a lot about the astronomy department, some about physics, practically nothing about math.
 
  • #15
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holy cow, all their GPAs are so high, and they're all getting rejected
 
  • #16
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Wow, when I read through Physicsgre.com's postings, it was very encouraging to me. Briefly looking over the mathematics gre scores and acceptances.. wow!
 
  • #18
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I got into UTexas Austin with a 3.5 GPA.
I got into a top 20 Physics program with an anemic 3.53 overall GPA.
 
  • #19
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holy cow, all their GPAs are so high, and they're all getting rejected
People with high GPA's are getting rejected. People with lower GPA's are getting accepted. That should tell you that people don't solely decide via GPA.

One problem with GPA is that it doesn't take into account

1) what classes you took
2) the difficulty of the school
 
  • #20
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People with lower GPA's are getting accepted.
You'll see a few people with lower GPAs being accepted to top places, but they are applying to an applied math or statistics program, or are female.

To have a realistic shot at a top 10 pure math program, it looks like GPA of 3.9+ is essentially required, even if you have taken grad courses, done research, etc.

I've given up on worrying about that, because I'm really not the type of person to get perfect grades. I'll probably pull a good GRE score, but I still can't hope to compete.

Anyway, worrying about whether you are competitive is good, if it makes you less lazy. (I'm naturally lazy, and usually feel like thinking my own thoughts. But by realizing what other kids are doing, it makes me not so lazy, and makes me read and study. This gives me better things to think about, in the end.)

But if you ever have a choice between doing something that looks good, and doing something that will teach you more, go with the latter. Do hard stuff. Everyone I know who's happy with what they're doing decided to do something hard. So even though I know I probably won't get into one of these top programs, I'll be better of for having done the hard stuff. It makes everything else seem easy.
 
  • #21
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People with high GPA's are getting rejected. People with lower GPA's are getting accepted. That should tell you that people don't solely decide via GPA.

One problem with GPA is that it doesn't take into account

1) what classes you took
2) the difficulty of the school
What do you mean? There were people with low GPAs also getting rejected lol.
 
  • #22
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To have a realistic shot at a top 10 pure math program, it looks like GPA of 3.9+ is essentially required, even if you have taken grad courses, done research, etc.
I can't say anything about math grad school. I know that astronomy and physics grad school is rather different. One thing about physics is that it's hard to define what is a "top 10" program.
 
  • #23
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What do you mean? There were people with low GPAs also getting rejected lol.
well no, two-fish is right: there's a clear GPA/acceptance discrepancy between the posters; ctrl-F "mathgrad31455" and see that he has a 3.7 overall GPA and was accepted to Cornell whereas "mrb" has a whopping 3.97 overall GPA and he was rejected from Cornell.
 
  • #24
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Yeah, but "mathgrad31455" went to an ivy (and had a 3.9 in major, mind you), while "mrb" went to a "Big state school, not a great math reputation"

The point is that even a 3.97 an was not enough to gain "mrb" admission into 9/10 of the (admittedly top-tier) places he applied to, even with a good GRE score. So even the TOP mathematics student as his university doesn't even have a chance at getting into these top schools like MIT, Columbia, or NYU.

"mathgrad31455" had a chance, at least, coming from a top tier university already. But even with 12 graduate classes, and published research under his belt, his "meager" 3.9 GPA-in-major prevented him from being accepted to over half the programs he applied to.

So in other words, even with everything else stacked in your favor, a 3.9 may not even cut it at these top places.

twofish-quant is painting an inaccurate picture. It's not like a lower GPA can be outweighed by other factors, like what classes you took or the difficulty of your institution. That's not true at all. It's not like people with low GPAs are being accepted due to being "good fits" - they are being flat out rejected, along with other people who have good GPAs. Being at a good institution, and having taken difficult classes is the absolute minimum requirement. Another absolute minimum requirement is a very good GPA. And that's not even enough - kids still get rejected with all that. But everyone who is accepted at these top programs has taken difficult classes at a top university, and has a very good GPA. There's no way around it.
 
  • #25
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Well, he wasn't saying that you could get anywhere with a 2.0 GPA; but the fact that the 3.7 guy got into the schools the 3.9 guy didn't goes to show that his two points 1) difficulty of the classes and 2) school you went to make a difference
 

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