Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Want GRAD school, but

  1. Feb 17, 2009 #1
    I'm math major, and math GPA is 3.1(I got many Bs, one C+, and four As) but overall GPA is under 3.0.. may be 2.8??
    Actually, I was CS major, but I changed it.
    When I was CS major, I got low CS' GPA, so my overall GPA is too low.
    Anyone think I can enter Grad. school?
    I really want...
    Actually, my school's engneering ranking is top5.
    Is it able to reason why I got low GPA when I apply some grad. schools?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2009 #2


    User Avatar

    The math subject doesnt seem to be as important so I have no idea how you are going to distinguish yourself? Any papers/publications? You could possibly get into a school not in top 100 unless you have some unknown means of distinguish yourself academically.
  4. Feb 17, 2009 #3
    is major gpa not important??
  5. Feb 17, 2009 #4


    User Avatar

    yeah but its still only 3.1 only 0.3 more than overall.
  6. Feb 17, 2009 #5
    Have you done any research? Any publications? How good do you think your letters of recommendation will be? How good is your GRE? Do your grades show a trend of improvement and/or have you done particularly well in any upper-division or graduate level courses in the last years?

    2.8 is pretty low, but the fact that you are at a top-5 school for undergrad will carry weight with many programs, and you might be able to make it if everything else is rock solid besides your GPA. You have a much better chance if it's only the first year or two that are dragging down your GPA. Research and letters of recommendation are key, as is doing well in upper-division and/or graduate courses in your jr and sr years.

    I had a 3.3 GPA at a well-regarded undergrad and got into a basically everywhere I applied including several top-20 programs and a top-10 program, so when you hear people saying you absolutely need a 3.7 or whatever, that's not true. However this is the exception and not the rule, and with a 2.8 you're going to have to aim lower. Some programs have a 3.0 minimum, so look into that before you spend time and money applying.

    In terms of applications, I would recommend to stay professional and focus on your strongpoints and how your interests fit with their program, rather than wasting precious space talking about why you did poorly. They will see the record and draw their conclusions, and you will not be able to change their minds by writing about it. Unless there were extreme circumstances like you had cancer or something, it will only make you look bad if you try to justify your low grades.
  7. Feb 17, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    To put it simply: Getting into grad school is going to be very difficult, no matter what school you attend for undergrad. Here is some advice I gave in a thread about a month back to someone in a similar situation:

    Anyway, my point is that you should realize that it will be very very tough to convince graduate schools to accept you with a GPA of 2.8, even more so if you don't have much research experience or other things to set you apart.

    Whatever happens, I wish you the best of luck though.
  8. Feb 17, 2009 #7
    It's going to be very hard to get into grad school with those grades.
  9. Feb 17, 2009 #8
    do you have any time left to improve your grades?
  10. Feb 17, 2009 #9
    Actually, I don't have time to improve my grades, so
    I'm trying to find research opportunity..
    I have seriously considered to go to grad. , but I really want..
  11. Feb 17, 2009 #10
    Maybe you could stay a few semester and get your grades up?
  12. Feb 20, 2009 #11

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    No, I think you don't. If you really wanted to go to graduate school, you'd take whatever action necessary to make that happen.

    As they say "discipline is the art of remembering what you want".
  13. Feb 20, 2009 #12
    Were you applying for math grad school, or something else?

  14. Feb 20, 2009 #13
    Math and applied math phd programs. The top 10 one was applied math.
  15. Feb 20, 2009 #14
    The thing with GPA is this. I think what everyone has agreed after years of discussion on how GPA works in graduate admissions is this:

    1. Only your major GPA matters.
    2. Only your upper year GPA matters if you have shown improvement.
    3. Course selection is as important as your GPA.

    Personally if I was ever asked to serve on an admission committee I have no idea why I would look at Calculus II grade if there was something like Analysis course, or even better, graduate real analysis course.

    I think GPA should be used to determine whether you will pass quals. People around me seem to have this point of view but I am not sure. I know students who got into top 10 programs with sub 3.5 GPA.

    Of course, this is because being able to do research and take graduate courses is more important. The only two ways to show that I am aware of is to 1. research or 2. take graduate courses.

    If you haven't done that, I am afraid it becomes quite difficult to say you are different and have talent. Because then frankly the only thing they can rely on is your GPA.
  16. Feb 20, 2009 #15


    User Avatar

    I dont think course selection\grad courses are that important otherwise you might have more cases of people with 700+ PGRE 3.0-3.5GPA being admitted instead of more cases of 500-700PGRE 3.5+GPA being admitted.
  17. Feb 20, 2009 #16
    I don't follow what you are saying.
  18. Feb 20, 2009 #17
    I disagree. I have been on graduate admissions committees (in physics). An overall GPA of less than3.0 is NOT accepted at some institutions, including the institution where I was located. This was a requirement by the Graduate Admissions office... NOT the admission committees of various departments. If you wanted to try to accept a student with lower GPA, you would have to petition the graduate office, and others here (who have been on committees) have said that sometimes it must go to the provost for approval. While it's possible, therefore, an admissions committee often won't go there.

    Our spreadsheet method computed applicant rank based on a formula incorporating GPA, major GPA, an undergraduate institution "rank" (based on in internal department ranking sometimes altered by the committee), PGRE score, qualitative and verbal GRE scores, and a committee reading (avg of three readings of letters of recommendation & transcripts & personal statement). The factors you state here -- upper-level performance, improvement & course selection -- only effect the committee reading score (mildly so, 5% or perhaps 10% with a generous reader), and while the committee score was weighted heavily, it still wouldn't completely counteract a bad GRE or bad GPA.

    Note however, if an applicant had an MS in physics or engineering, THAT GPA and institution would go in the spreadsheet. My advice to you is therefore to perhaps shoot for a quality terminal MS degree at your home institution or an institution of similar rank... and show good performance there. It will also help the committee score in future Ph.D. applications because you'll gain more research experience.
  19. Feb 20, 2009 #18
    I agree with the person who said that your major GPA is the most important. My overall GPA was pretty average (3.6), but I made A's in almost every physics and math course I took, and that really made an impression when applying to graduate school. I got mostly B's and C's in liberal arts courses.

    If you can establish a track record of doing well in upper level math classes, your chances will be much better.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook