What's a Good GPA for Grad School?
Your GPA is an important piece of your graduate school application. It demonstrates your previous academic performance and shows how you stack up against other applicants. It’s important to know what GPA your program requires, and to set your graduate school goals accordingly. Check out the GPA requirements for the following types of graduate/professional school:
Top medical schools ask for an overall GPA of a 3.8+. Many schools will also take your science GPA into consideration. This GPA is calculated from your grades in your core science classes, which include organic chemistry, biology, and physics, among others. Performing well in these courses sets you up for a great GPA and preps you for a solid MCAT base. Individual schools often publish statistics about their incoming classes, which can help you identify your target GPA. The AAMC also regularly publishes data about medical school applicants and matriculants, including GPA, MCAT scores, and acceptance rates. Reviewing this data can help you set informed goals.
Law schools require both academic competency and high LSAT scores. Many law schools will accept a GPA of 3.5 or above, and top schools will expect you to have a 3.8 or higher. But in a lot of cases, a great LSAT score can balance out a low GPA. Since the LSAT is the best indication that you can think like a lawyer, law schools will seriously consider you if you have a high score. You can check out your chances of admission into select schools based on your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA by using the LSAC calculator.
Other Graduate Programs
For specialized programs, a strong GPA can be a good way to set yourself apart. Since graduate programs are so different from each other, it’s especially important that you know the average GPAs of accepted students in your specific program. Most physician’s assistant schools, for example, require a GPA of at least 3.0. The (current) average matriculant to a PhD program in English literature at Duke University is approximately a 3.9 . A Masters in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley requires at least a 3.0 to apply. Take the time to do your research and figure out the GPA that you will need to be successful. It’s also important to remember, however, that while a high GPA helps to distinguish you from other people, other factors can be as—if not more—important. GRE scores, portfolios for art programs, and research or publications for PhDs and Masters work also illustrate the skills necessary to excel in graduate school.
If your GPA is low, take heart. There are plenty of other ways to show a program that you’re a strong applicant. For example, consider other opportunities to show that you are a high-level academic performer. Scoring well on standardized tests (MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, etc) is a great way to demonstrate your intellectual abilities. If you really do need to raise your GPA, consider getting a master’s degree or enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program before you apply for your goal graduate program. You may also be able to make up for GPA deficiencies with strong work experience in your desired field.