How to Get Into Grad School With a Low GPA

August 16, 2023

how to get into grad school with a low gpa

Nearly all graduate programs require a transcript during the admissions process. Essentially, this requirement verifies the competition of your undergraduate program. In addition, your transcript also serves as a record of your academic performance. If you’re considering grad school but are worried about your grades, then you might wonder how to get into grad school with a low GPA. In addition, you might think about what GPA you need for grad school admissions.

However, most universities will look at your application through a holistic process. Essentially, this means that schools will consider multiple components of your application. So, an admissions board will look at the applicant as a whole and not just consider test scores. While your grades are an important component of graduate admissions, they are not the only factor considered for the final decision.


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Can You Get Into Grad School With a Low GPA?

Firstly, let’s discuss what a master’s program is to determine if it could be a good fit for you. A master’s program earns you a more specialized degree, focusing on advanced information in your chosen area of study. Master’s programs are designed to prepare students for a high level of expertise in their field. Essentially, grad school is an opportunity for further professional development and research in your chosen field.

Typically, master’s programs range from one to two years. However, depending on the program, you could need more time to complete the degree.

Master’s degrees offer a range of desired benefits. From a bump in salary to broadening your horizons, this decision can prove to be a positive one. Master’s degrees can also provide your application with a competitive edge once you hit the job market. These advanced degrees show potential employers your dedication to your chosen area of study. As well, a master’s degree can also help you advance in your career.

Certainty, having an impressive GPA can constitute an application boost. But, maybe you don’t feel confident in your grades and wonder how to get into grad school with a low GPA. If applying to grad school sounds like a good decision for you, then you might wonder: what GPA do you need for grad school?

What GPA Do You Need for Grad School?

Of course, each university’s requirements differ. Some institutions may not have a specific GPA requirement. However, other master’s programs might look for a specific standard. In general, if a university does have a GPA requirement, it will usually be a 3.0.

Essentially, a 3.0 GPA correlates with earning an average of B letter grades in your courses. This metric roughly correlates to earning between an 83-86% in the course. Some universities may require this standard in order to attract high-achieving students.

However, if you do not have a 3.0 GPA, then don’t worry. If you’re wondering if you can you get into grad school with a low GPA, the answer is yes.

How to Get Into Grad School With a Low GPA – Continued

If you’re wondering how to get into grad school with a low GPA, there are strategies to bolster your application.

GRE Test Scores

For example, you may have strong GRE test scores. While not all universities require the GRE, the ones that do typically look for scores of 150 and above. Earning a high GRE score will demonstrate not only your commitment to grad school but also proves your academic capabilities.

Your transcript reflects your prior standings as a student. Therefore, your GRE will offer a more current representation of you. A high score on the GRE will demonstrate your readiness for coursework at the graduate level.

Talking with Faculty

In addition, meeting with professors before applying signals your seriousness about grad school. Also, these meetings demonstrate qualities about yourself that a transcript may not. For example, by speaking with professors, you showcase your ability to create meaningful relationships, your motivation, and your proactiveness.

Within these meetings, you may also have the opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances surrounding your GPA. Some programs will factor these situations into account when reviewing applications.

It’s also important to remember that any classes not relevant to your major may not heavily influence the admissions decision. For example, if you earned a C in algebra but are going for an English literature degree, an admissions board may only prioritize the grades in your English classes.

Submit a Polished Statement of Purpose

Another way how to get into grad school with a low GPA is to utilize your statement of purpose. Within your statement, you have the freedom and flexibility to detail your future career goals and your academic capabilities. Submitting a strong statement could be the key to sway admissions boards into favoring your application.

For example, writing specifically about the research or projects you hope to complete in grad school will demonstrate your thoughtfulness. Likewise, you will also have the opportunity to prove how well you’ve researched the program and faculty. Highlighting how you will be a good fit for the program can help persuade admissions into seeing the same vision.

Regardless of your GPA, it’s important to demonstrate how well-rounded you are as a candidate. Outlining your prior academic and personal achievements can also prove helpful in strengthening your statement of purpose.

Professional Experience

Perhaps you have a recent internship or professional experience in a field relevant to your major. Don’t underestimate the value of these prior work experiences. Undoubtably, professional work experiences demonstrate not only your aptitude but also your initiative.

Entering a graduate program with relevant background knowledge could make you stand out as a prospective student. As well, you could set the groundwork for cultivating meaningful connections in your field.

Likewise, if you have not yet obtained a relevant internship or work experience, you can seek one out. It’s not too late to look for work that correlates to your interests and expertise. Furthermore, professional experience gives you the opportunity to develop any relevant skills you might need for grad school.


Additionally, once you have gained relevant professional experience, you can publish research papers on your chosen topic. Not only does research prove your commitment to your craft but also it shows your intellectual curiosity.

As well, if you are interested in a creative writing or literature degree, publishing poetry, fiction, or a critical analysis could bolster your application. Literary magazines and journals are always looking for new work to debut.

In short, publication means your writing has been vetted and approved by a third party. Passing this stage of peer review could be a huge plus to your application. As well, you may also have a head start on compiling information for your thesis.

Letters of Recommendation

Most grad programs require letters of recommendation. In these letters, recommenders highlight your best qualities and describe your preparedness for the next step in your educational career. A meaningful letter of recommendation could be another way how to get into grad school with a low GPA. Professional and creditable contacts who can vouch for your character could go a long way with admissions boards. Especially if the letter is from a contact in your field, it could prove even more beneficial.

These endorsements do not necessarily have to focus on your GPA, either. Perhaps you completed a project for a professor that was viewed as exceptional. In their letter, the recommender can focus on your prior achievements and your potential to do more of the same. Highlighting your character and work ethic are important components of the recommendation that don’t relate to your grades.


Not all graduate programs require interviews as part of the admissions process. However, some programs may schedule an initial meeting with you before finalizing a decision. If you are called for an interview, then you should arrive well-prepared.

During an interview, it’s good practice to have a few questions ready to ask about the program. In addition, you should have an outline of what you expect to accomplish while in school. For example, if you are entering a research program, you should know your research emphasis and methods.

If you’re feeling anxious about preparing for the interview, then mock interviews could be a good route to take. Have a friend or family member ask you relevant questions to practice your responses. The more you practice, the better prepared you will feel.

Choosing the Right Grad Program For You

When looking at the right graduate program for you, there are a few important factors to consider. Firstly, it’s a good first step to research each university’s requirements to ensure you meet the qualifications. Once you’ve done that, there are other components to consider.

For example, ensure the universities’ mission statement and course offerings align with your interests. Furthermore, understanding the university’s educational philosophy is also essential. If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, you’ll want to determine how courses are conducted. Perhaps you’re looking to spend more time in a lab or out in the field. Learning what opportunities and programs are offered can help you see if the school will be a good fit.

How to Get Into Grad School With a Low GPA – In Review

In the end, it would be inaccurate to say that GPA doesn’t matter at all when applying to grad schools. However, if you’re still wondering, can you get into grad school with a low GPA, you should feel reassured that it’s possible. While universities do look at your transcript, there are other components of the application process that are just as important.

Essentially, an admissions board will want to determine your ability to handle the rigor of graduate-level courses. If you have prior work experience, glowing letters of recommendation, and a stellar statement of purpose, then you’re in good shape. Hopefully, this article has helped you determine how to get into grad school with a low GPA and reassured you that you’re on the right track!