How to Convert a Foreign GPA

Posted By SWatts on Jun 4, 2015 | 0 comments


How to Convert a Foreign GPA

At MBA Admit.com, we work with many MBA candidates who attained their undergraduate or graduate degrees from universities outside of the United States.  A very common concern among such candidates is how they should convert their GPAs, if their GPAs are not on a 4.0 scale, to the U.S. 4.0 scale as they apply to U.S. MBA programs.

This is a concern that oftentimes causes candidates great alarm. When a candidate performs a straight mathematical conversion, the GPA sometimes looks as if it is greatly deficient, amounting to a C- or D+ grade point average on the U.S. 4.0 scale. But, if your conversion looks like a weak GPA when you know it really represents a strong academic performance, there is hope!  We at MBA Admit.com have helped many candidates whose converted GPAs looked absolutely dismal – even less than 1.0 – to gain admission to Top-10 MBA programs.  Here are key points to keep in mind.

Internal Metrics: The Top Schools Know Their Stuff!

A first and very important point is that most top MBA programs in the United States will have received many applications from other students from your school over the decades.  Some of the top MBA programs include candidates from over 50-70 countries in each of their incoming classes. They will have kept track of the GPAs in your local GPA scale and therefore they will have their own internal metrics to refer to when assessing how strong your GPA is.  If at your school, for instance, a 55% represents a top performance, it likely will not matter if that translates into a B- average according to a particular business school’s website conversion chart.  Most business schools will know whether your GPA is a top performance because they will have statistics on prior candidates from your college with whom to compare you.

Did They Instruct You To Convert?  If Not, Don’t!

Because many top MBA schools are confident they know how to interpret a GPA from your institution and country, many top MBA programs do not ask you to convert your GPA.  So, what does the business school’s official website or application form indicate?  You need not convert your GPA to the U.S. 4.0 scale unless the MBA program to which you are applying has instructed you to do this on its application form or official website.  

When The School Provides a Conversion Method

What if your target school has asked you to convert your GPA and provides a scale to employ on their website?  Use it.  Even if your GPA does not look favorable after the conversion, don’t worry.  The schools in most cases know how to interpret your GPA, as noted above.  A clear example is Columbia Graduate School of Business.  They provide a scale on their website.  For the 2015-2016 admissions year, this is the conversion prescribed on the Columbia Business School Website for translating a GPA from a 100 point or percentage scale to a 4.0 scale. See https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/programs-admissions/doctoral-program/admissions/apply-now/application-instructions

According to the Columbia conversion table, a 90-100 percentage will convert to a 4.0; 80-89 percentage converts to 3.3; 70-79 percentage converts to 2.3; 60-69 percentage converts to 1.3.  Below 60 coverts to 0.

This may strike horror in some of you who are reading this.  But truly, don’t worry if your GPA looks horrible after the conversion if in reality it represents a strong academic performance!  At MBA Admit.com, we have worked with many candidates whose GPAs appeared to convert to less than a 1.0 GPA using this Columbia conversion, but the candidates still gained admission to Columbia!  This is because Columbia knew how to interpret their GPAs and understood what GPA range from their institution constituted a strong performance.

The Role of Your Honors

Another important point is that your level of honors provides the schools with further guidance with regard to your undergraduate performance.  Did you graduate First Class with Distinction?  Second Class?  For some top MBA programs, if you graduated with Second Class honors and not with First Class or First Class with Distinction honors, your candidacy might not be viable if you are coming from a country like India.  For the same top MBA programs, graduating with high Second Class honors (2:1) in Britain might be perfectly fine for admission.  The honors levels mean different things in different countries, and they even can mean different things in different universities in the same country.  Most top MBA programs know how to interpret your level of distinction.

The Role of Your Ranking

Your class ranking can also play a role in how business schools see your undergraduate performance.  Were you ranked third in your class of 50?  Were you in the top 2%?  Top 5%?  Top 15%?  Top 20%? Often this is noted on your transcript, and if your ranking is favorable, you should draw the admission committee’s attention to this.

What Top Schools Require – A Sample

To give you a taste of what is required by top U.S. MBA programs, let’s take a look at some top MBA programs.  In recent years, these have been the policies of some of the top full-time MBA programs.

Harvard: Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Stanford: Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Wharton: Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Sloan (MIT): Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Booth (University of Chicago): Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Haas (UC Berkeley): Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Johnson (Cornell): Do not convert your foreign GPA, report it in the local scale.

Columbia: Convert your GPA. Conversion table provided on the Columbia website.

As Stanford explains on its website as of June 3, 2015:

Many applicants worry that we may not know that lower grades in one concentration, university, or educational system may be equivalent to the strongest at another. We do. A grade point average (or rank in class, or actual grade) without context, however, is not of greatest importance to us.

 By focusing on your achievements in context, we evaluate how you have excelled within your individual academic environment and how you have taken advantage of the opportunities available to you in your school and community.

 Report your undergraduate grade point average and the scale used by your institution. Only courses for credit toward your first bachelor’s degree count in your GPA. Report/calculate your GPA to the best of your ability even if your institution does not list it on your transcript. Do not convert your college/university’s scale. If necessary, you may explain how you calculate your GPA in the “Additional Information” section.

As Wharton explains on its website as of June 3, 2015:

 Students reporting grades from institutions that do not evaluate academic performance on a 4.0 GPA scale should NOT convert their scores to a GPA. Report your scores or grades as your university lists them in your official transcripts, including an explanation of the grading scheme if needed. Keep in mind that we have students from more than 70 countries in our program and have broad expertise in grading methods around the world.

As MIT Sloan explains on its website as of June 3, 2015:

 You do not need to convert your GPA for the online application. Simply enter in the grading system used by your school. We are familiar with the various grading systems and can evaluate it on our end. No need to try to translate an international GPA into a US one.

 As Cornell Johnson explains on its website as of June 3, 2015:

 Students reporting grades from institutions that do not evaluate academic performance on a 4.0 GPA scale should NOT convert their scores to a GPA. Report your scores or grades as your university lists them in your official transcripts. Keep in mind that we have broad expertise in grading methods around the world.

 As UC Berkeley’s Haas explains on its website as of June 3, 2015:

If your institution did not use a 4.0 grading scale, please do not calculate your GPA. You should check the box “Not on a 4.0 scale” on the online application. If you were educated outside of the US, complete the appropriate information in the application.

 As Booth explains on its website as of June 3, 2015:

Our admissions committee will review your grades within the context that they were awarded. We are familiar with different grading systems around the world. Please do not attempt to convert your grades to the GPA system. We will accept your transcripts in the format that your university issues them. You can send your transcripts, as they are, via scanned .jpg or .pdf version. If these are not in English, please be sure that you provide an English translation.

Using a Broadly Accepted Conversion Scale

Finally, for candidates who must convert their GPAs because a particular business school has instructed them to do so, but the business school has not provided a specific conversion chart to use, it may be the case that a straight mathematical conversion may not work best for you. You should compare a straight mathematical conversion to what is suggested from broadly used and respected organizations such as the World Education Services (WES).

On the WES website, located at http://www.wes.org/gradeconversionguide/, you can select your relevant country and view the conversion chart promoted by WES for candidates who received their degrees from your country.  For example, as of June 3, 2015, this was the suggested WES conversion for candidates with degrees from India:

 Grading Scale

Scale U.S. Grade Equiv.
70-100 A
50-69 B
35*-49 C
0-32 F

* At selected institutions, a lower grade may be considered passing.  

 

As of June 3, 2015, this was the suggested WES conversion for candidates with degrees from China:

Grading Scale

Scale 1 Scale 2 Grade Description U.S. Grade Equiv.
85-100 5 Excellent A
75-84 4 Good B
60-74 3 Average/Fair C
0-59 2 Fail F

Grading scale may vary. Please refer to grading scale on transcript.

 

As of June 3, 2015, this was the suggested WES conversion for candidates with degrees from the United Kingdom:

Grading Scale

Scale U.S. Grade Equiv.
70-100 A
65-69 A-
60-64 B+
50-59 B
45-49 C+
40-44 C
0-39 F

 

Degree Classification U.S. Grade Equiv.
First Class Honours A
Second Class Honours, Upper Division A-/B+
Second Class Honours, Lower Division B
Third Class Honours B-
Pass C

 

As of June 3, 2015, this was the suggested WES conversion for candidates with degrees from Mexico:

Scale 1 Scale 2 Grade Description U.S. Grade Equiv.
9.0-10 90-100 Muy Bien (Very Good) A
8.0-8.9 80-89 Bien (Good) B
6.0-7.9* 60-79* Regular/Suficiente (Average/Sufficient) C
0-5.9 0-59 Reprobado/No Suficiente (Fail/Not Sufficient) F

 

As of June 3, 2015, this was the suggested WES conversion for candidates with degrees from Australia:

Grade Description U.S. Grade Equiv.
High Distinction A+
Distinction A
Credit B
Pass C
Conceded, Conditional or Compensatory Pass D
Failure F

To see how WES suggests you convert the GPA from your specific country to the U.S. 4.0 scale, go to the WES website, located at http://www.wes.org/gradeconversionguide/.  Once you have this information, you can do additional research and compare their suggestion with a mathematical conversion as well as the suggestions of other reputable institutions to determine what conversion is best for you.

Hopefully the information of this article can help take anxiety out of the foreign GPA conversion issue as you move forward with applications!

Feel free to reach out to us if you would like a free profile evaluation.  Send your resume to info@mbaadmit.com or fill out the profile evaluation form on our homepage at https://mbaadmit.com/.

Best wishes,

Dr. Shel and the Team at MBA Admit.com

https://mbaadmit.com/

info@mbaadmit.com

 

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