How much does your course load each semester affect grad school admission?

  • #1
I'm currently double majoring in ChemE and physics with the intent of going to grad school. This semester I'm taking 6 courses this semester totaling 19 hours, with about 10-15 hours per week spent in a research lab. I was considering dropping one course and taking it another semester, but I was wondering how much that affects grad school admission, especially to top ranked programs. The main reason I'm considering this is because my final three semester only require me to take 13 hours to complete the program, so I have plenty of time to take the course later.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
What matters are the classes that you take, not necessarily when you take them. I think it sounds like a good idea to hold off on taking one of those classes until later since it sounds like you will have room for it. I don't think this will affect your applications at all. Even if this course is a 4 credit class, you will still be left with 15 credits which is a normal load for the semester.

Being so early in the semester, will this class show up on your transcript as having dropped it? If it doesn't, then admission committees will never even know you made this decision. If it does, then you can briefly explain why you dropped the course in your SOP. I think this sounds like a perfectly legitimate reason.
  • #3
Gold Member
In most cases, it should matter very little. Even GPA doesn't matter very much at all (as long as your application gets to the point where it's carefully read).

Basically, you have to have some course load if you're going to graduate in 4 years anyways, and people aren't going to care as long as it isn't obvious that you're trying to stay in college for 6 years while doing the absolute minimum required. Even *that* isn't that bad if you show them that you did research in your time instead.

But in a few cases, you can impress adcoms if you can manage to hold your own while taking 20+ credit loads in a single quarter.

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