Is My GPA High Enough?

Posted By SWatts on Jun 4, 2015 | 0 comments

Is My GPA High Enough?

“I’m really concerned about my poor college performance.  Is my GPA too low to gain admission to a top MBA program?”

This is one of the most frequent questions we at MBA hear from aspiring MBA applicants.

There is no one-size-fits-all response to this query. If you conduct research about each business school’s average GPA for matriculating students, you can gain a sense about how a business school might view your academic record and where you stand in your odds for admission. But, a candidate’s specific profile matters a great deal.  When helping candidates to articulate the mitigating factors that explain their less-than-ideal GPA and to shine a light on their significant attributes and achievements, we at MBA have helped candidates with GPAs like 2.7 to get into top MBA programs such as those of Stanford, Harvard, Wharton and Columbia.

Many candidates are happy to hear that business schools can be receptive to “mitigating circumstances” and legitimate reasons why a GPA might be lower and thereby give a candidate with such a lower GPA a shot at admission.  What are examples of such mitigating circumstances?  Consider some of these:

Where did you go to college? If your school was a top-ranked college in its country, the admissions committee may be a little more lenient in accepting a lower GPA than the same GPA of a candidate who attended a much lower-ranked college.  A candidate from Yale with a 3.2 might have a strong shot of gaining admission to Harvard Business School, whereas a candidate from a low-ranked college might not.

What was your major? Some majors are known to be very difficult and time-intensive. Students in these majors often graduate with GPAs that are lower when compared side-by-side with candidates who have a GPA from a much “softer” major. Admissions committees are aware of this. For example, at many top colleges, students who graduate with electrical engineering degrees may have relatively lower GPAs than those graduating with an art history degree. If your major was known to be tough, you should point that out in the essays and recommendations.

What is your gender? Sorry guys — gals do sometimes have an easier time in MBA admissions. It is a matter of simple supply and demand in most cases. In many cases, fewer women apply to given business schools than men and admissions committees value the presence of women in top MBA programs, so women seem to sometimes receive a little more leeway on the GPA.

Did you have to work your way through school to support yourself or your family financially? Admissions committees are often sympathetic to legitimate hardships paired with a well-written explanation.

Did you simply have a bumpy start or choose the wrong major early on, only to find you blossomed in your latter years of college?  This can matter. Make sure to point this out to the admissions committee.  You will want them to believe that the performance of your latter college years is what is truly indicative of your talents, abilities and potential.

There are many other factors that can affect the GPA assessment. If you are concerned about your GPA, think about how admissions committees will view your GPA, and what mitigating factors you could use to positively affect that view. This can help you understand whether your GPA will be seen as a strength or a weakness in your MBA application.


Would you like a free profile evaluation?  Feel free to send us a copy of your resume (send to or fill out the profile evaluation form on our homepage at


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