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Schools that care much more for GRE than GPA

  1. Jan 18, 2009 #1

    I'm wondering if you can help me to search about schools that care only for the GRE score, or puts more emphasis on GRE than GPA (or at least considers them almost equally)L I think my google-ing wasn't very effective.

    I'm not a super fan of the GRE. But I do have a low GPA for grad schools that is significantly below 3.0. Trying to put a compromise strategy I am trying to work really hard for the GRE and to apply for dear and safety schools that I can match them in the best way possible.

    Thanks in advance for help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    You might want to read https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=284463" that I wrote. It describes the grad school admissions process.

    Since it's a committee that makes the decision, the relative weighting of the various factors depends pretty much on who is on the committee. Not only do schools not publish this, they don't even know it!

    There is a perception that 3.0 is the border between getting in and not getting in. It's closer to the border between "practically impossible" and "extraordinarily unlikely". As I pointed out in the thread I referenced, even one school that is close to the bottom of the rankings won't even look at applications with a GPA below 3.0. The dean won't let them admit any of these people. Exceptions are granted by the provost - i.e. it's about as hard to hire a new faculty member as it is to accept a student with less than a 3.0.

    If you search the forums, you'll see quite a few people who have tried the strategy of "I have low grades, so I'll simply ace the GRE". You won't see quite as many people who have actually done it. From this I would conclude that this is easier said than done.

    You are going to have another problem. If you do ace the GRE - and by "ace" I mean high-90's - a committee that is considering you will wonder why your grades are so low. The question on everyone's mind will be "Is he incapable of getting good grades? Or did he simply choose not to?"

    If you really want to go to graduate school, your best bet is to raise your GPA.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  4. Jan 18, 2009 #3


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    As Vanadium50 said, the schools your looking for probably don't exist. First, all schools consider multiple facets of an application. Realistically, every school is going to look at your GPA.

    Second, 3.0 is the cutoff for almost all grad schools. When I say "3.0 is the cutoff" I mean that if your GPA is less than that, most schools won't even let you apply, let alone consider you for admission. This is because any grade in a graduate course below 3.0 is considered failing. If your GPA shows that your average grade is below 3.0, then that tells the admissions committee you would be failing if you performed at the same level in the graduate courses in their program.

    If you are not a senior, my advice to you is to try as hard as you can to raise your GPA to above 3.0. Realistically, to be competitive, it should be 3.5 or above. This may be possibly if your a freshman or have several semesters left, depending on your actual GPA.
  5. Jan 19, 2009 #4
    Thank you Vanadium 50 and G01, I will try now to be more specific:

    I have a GPA of 2.65, I am currently in my last semester at uni. There is a chance or improving by GPA by around 0.1-0.3 (all numbers on a 4.0 scale)

    I am considering to apply to grad schools. I was considering to apply to programs who are much below the ranking of the programs at my school (e.g. if the program at my university ranks 45, I will try to shoot for ones between 80-100 ranking range ..etc) How effective this strategy can be?

    I think I can have strong letters of recommendations, but not exceptionally strong. One of them is from my job as I am a research assistant for a professor here.

    Another option: I can apply for graduate courses AFTER I finish my undergrad degree (again, I'm finishing this semester) then apply after proving that I can do the work.

    On another note: Some medical reasons have resulted, directly or indirectly, to this performance level. (I have withdrawn from two semesters due to medical reasons) Of course, I admit that I also have slacked off sometimes while other times I think it was beyond my control. I am considering not to mention any of this in my application to the graduate schools that I am applying for.

    (but the two semesters with Ws all over will show on my transcript)


    Should I save myself time, effort, and money and try to look for a job, then to apply after having a good work/research experience?

    I value your help as I seriously do need to listen to advice, and having limited resources I need to take the best option possible
  6. Jan 19, 2009 #5
    I think (after reading quite a few opinions here) that the 3.0 GPA is pretty much a solid thing for graduate schools because of two reasons. 1) The spots are competitive (unlike undergraduate schools that can take in more than a set norm, graduate seats are finite and that's it) and 2) graduate school requires As and Bs to pass. It'd be a waste of their time to take someone with a failing average into graduate school.

    I've heard of people who work and go to CC (community college) to boost their GPA.
  7. Jan 19, 2009 #6
    Typically masters programs don't have the 3.0 cutoff because there are no quals to pass, so that might be something to consider.
  8. Jan 19, 2009 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    gntty, on what do you base this comment? I note that in another post you say you are not in college yet.
  9. Jan 19, 2009 #8


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    I agree that GPA is more important. Some of the schools I've seen actually will waive the GRE if you have a 3.5 in the same area (i.e. BS in Electrical Engineering and applying for MS in EE).

    BTW, if you don't have at least a 3.0, it is extremely unlikely you'll get in.

  10. Jan 19, 2009 #9
    Hmm, my source isn't as reliable as I had remembered but reading this very similar post gave me that impression

  11. Jan 19, 2009 #10


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    You have said its a different ballgame when they dont have to fund you when mentioning an MBA in the thread he posted. Most MS physics students do not receive funding.
  12. Jan 19, 2009 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    MBA is a whole different kettle of fish. There are 800 or so "terminal" MS degrees in physics awarded annually. (This includes students that transfer with a MS, so it's an upper bound) This contrasts with 130,000 MBAs awarded.

    My other point is that the OP should take a close look at where he is getting his advice from. He may want to weigh the advice from someone who has not gone through the process differently than someone who has.
  13. Jan 19, 2009 #12


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    Don't underestimate the universities in the 80+ range in rankings - I started out at one that was unranked (high than 100) and transferred to another unranked. Neither of them would have considered you with a GPA under 3.0, and still expected 3.5 or better from their applicants. Sure, they aren't top physics schools, but they specialize in certain areas. They only graduate a few PhD students a year, and there's a direct correlation between your ranking and how many PhDs you graduate each year.

    I have seen a few students with low GPAs take graduate-level classes as a non-degree student, do well in those, and use them as leverage to apply to a program (state schools). Although they did get in, I have to add that none of them managed to finish a degree.

    The quals differ from school to school - some don't have them at all, other programs only require PhD students to pass the quals, others have 'masters pass' and 'PhD pass'.
  14. Jan 19, 2009 #13
    I do understand your point totally, eri. What I was trying to say is to apply to a program were it is easier to get into that the program at my school. I just used rankings as a for-example illustration. But this touches another dimension of the rankings flows, and what I like to call it the rankings politics. "Rankings" are good guidelines in general, but the substance in knowing any department is in the detailed research about it.
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