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How high a GPA is necessary for grad school?

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  1. Jun 11, 2014 #1

    interhacker

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    I am planning to attend the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Pakistan starting this September for my undergraduate degree in engineering. I understand that getting into a grad school ranked in the top 50 after getting my BS would pretty difficult, if not impossible. I also understand that admissions to grad schools depend on several factors and GPA and GRE scores are only two of those factors.

    However, how high a GPA (on a 4.0 scale) should I be looking to obtain for the next 4 years in order to have at least a fighting chance of getting accepted to a respectable international university (e.g Virginia, GTech, U of T, U British Columbia)? In addition, what is the GPA range that can potentially put institutes like MIT, Stanford, Cornell etc. at least somewhere on the horizon between the possible and the impossible?

    All the best. :)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2014 #2
    Hi there interhacker,
    Having a good GPA is good so that professors don't dismiss you outright, but what matters more is your undergraduate research/work. If you're planning on doing a Ph.D in Engineering, I mean. It's more that a specific professor you want to work under has to sponsor you, if I've got it down right. Don't narrow your schools to the top 50, because they may not have a group in what you're interested in doing, or advisors who know about your specific field (although I admit, it's likely).

    Take this with a grain of salt. But from what I've seen on here, half the battle of grad school is finding a professor at a university that wants to take you on for a Ph.D, and convincing him to take you on; if that happens, I would imagine the school itself would be a little more willing to accept you.

    (Correct me if I'm wrong, other PF members!)
     
  4. Jun 11, 2014 #3
    I think as a rule of thumb, below 3.5 is starting to be a negative rather than a positive. Physics undergrads nearly all have Phd or other grad school aspirations so they generally have high GPAs in my experience.

    But of course with a GPA in the low 3's and some published papers could better than no papers and a higher GPA. Dont let a GPA near 3.0 discourage you too much, those students do get in to grad schools.

    For a top school you should have a top GPA. 4.0 is not unheard of. (In addition to high GRE scores and publications of course).
     
  5. Jun 11, 2014 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Your target should be a 4.0.

    While I often caution people not to put too much weight on rankings, they are not entirely without merit. You are asking to move up ~1000 places in the rankings to get to MIT or Stanford, and almost the same number to get to Virginia. You are not going to get there by getting B's and C's. You need A's. You need letters that say "Best student that I have ever seen". You are not going to get there either by getting B's and C's.
     
  6. Jun 12, 2014 #5

    interhacker

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    Thank you, Vanadium. I'm not an intelligent person, but as long as hard work can make up for that I'm definitely up for the challenge. :)

    I would also be grateful if you could tell me what the best time would be to start preparing and take my GRE Tests. I was once told that taking the GRE in the final year isn't wise, it should be taken earlier. Is that true?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  7. Jun 12, 2014 #6
    Getting a 4.0 is a little unrealistic for most people, but definitely try for it.

    There seem to be two very special numbers. 3.5 and 3.0. If you get into grad school and your GPA drops below a 3.0, some schools will not award you a degree until you bring it back up, and you will go on academic probation. For this reason, they will often not accept students with below a 3.5. However, it is possible to get into grad school with as low as a 3.0, but you will need additional help in the form of publications.
     
  8. Jun 12, 2014 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    What tolove wrote is completely irrelevant for your situation. (And some of it is just wrong period) After NUST you want to go to a school that is much, much better. That means you need to convince the committee that NUST was way, way too easy for you. If you're getting B's or worse, C's, this becomes an impossible case to make.

    Your GRE tests are years away. Worrying about which session in which to take it is way premature. You need to focus on the classes you are taking now, and to ensure you get an A in all of them.
     
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