1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How does one get into graduate school with bad grades?

  1. May 7, 2010 #1
    E.g. around a 2.7 GPA? Can one still go in the future? Or is one doomed.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2010 #2


    User Avatar

    Most physics grad schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0 to apply, but expect much higher. What you can try to do is find a program (probably a lower-ranked state school, or at least lower-ranked in physics - or your own school, if possible) that will consider admitting you if you can prove you can do well in graduate coursework. You can take a few grad-level classes as a non-degree student (you don't have to be enrolled to do this, you pay by the credit hour) and if you do well in those (I'm talking A's) they might consider admitting you. I've seen a few people with low GPAs get in this way, but they all had a good research background to justify taking the chance (and none of them actually finished the PhD in the end).
  4. May 7, 2010 #3
    The question that all grad schools are going to have is "Why does someone who did poorly as an undergraduate think that they will be able to do better with more advanced work?" You'll need to show them that your undergraduate grades were an aberration and you'll do *much* better now because you've grown and are a much different person. I totally agree with eri... take a few grad-level classes as a non-degree student and ace them, and you might be on your way.
  5. May 7, 2010 #4

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    True, but it's deeper than that. They will also ask "why should we take a chance on this guy, when we have plenty of other applicants we don't have to worry about?" Remember, the admissions committee's job is not to validate one's worth as a person - it's to select which N applicants to offer positions to.
  6. May 7, 2010 #5
    Hey, not sure if this would help or apply to your situation but if you could retake some of the courses that you got the worst grades in and get better grades(hopefully A's) often schools will replace your old grade on your transcript with the new one thus raising your GPA and showing that your previous performance in the class was possibly due to other reasons or that you are more focused now. They do tend to leave some mark on your transcript that you have retaken the course but it will help raise the GPA.
  7. May 7, 2010 #6
    Get a second degree is a different field, and get a better GPA next time.
  8. May 8, 2010 #7
    That's why I said that the OP has to show that things are much different now... sort of "You can trust me, I'm not the unfocused kid I was as an undergraduate, I know how to buckle down and get the work done." The OP really has to get A's... getting a 3.2 GPA just isn't going to cut it.

    It's definitely going to be an uphill fight... and the ship to the top grad schools has sailed. But I think getting into *some* grad school is definitely possible, with work.
  9. May 8, 2010 #8


    User Avatar

    Taking a few graduate courses for credit couldn't hurt, especially if you do very well. Also, try and do your best on the GRE and subject GRE.
  10. May 8, 2010 #9
    I got in with a 3.01 where the hard policy cutoff was 3.0. I had strong allies in the deaprtment who knew I could do really good work. If you get bad grades because you are bored by your classes and don't put in the time to master them then you have a chance. If you get bad grades even though you are working your tail off then graduate school might not be for you. (I scored in the top 1% of the GRE and that did help overcome the low GPA for the admission comittee.)
  11. May 8, 2010 #10
    I have a few questions.

    If someone chooses to take grad level courses as a non-degree student, would they still be able to get credit for those courses once they apply as a degree student?

    If someone is in their final year of undergrad and they have a low GPA, wouldn't it be a good idea to hold off on graduation and retake the courses he/she did bad in?
  12. May 8, 2010 #11
  13. May 11, 2010 #12
    Maybe try to get some research experience and get published.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook