When calculating my GPA in major, should/can I only count courses that are meeting the requirement for major or should I count any course on the same topic and from the same department as my major? For example, if my major is Physics, and I have completed my major with courses A through J, but have also taken the course K after completing all the requirements as an optional course (which does not even count for graduation; a completely optional course), should I count the grade for course K when calculating my major GPA for reporting it on my CV and in applications, or can I not count that one?

2 Answers 2


If no specific guidance is otherwise provided, I would include additional courses in the same department as the major. The reason for this is that anybody looking over your transcript will assume that, unless the course is clearly marked as a graduate course, it's probably a requirement for your major.

That said, we're also not likely to check your math unless there's a gross error, and we're not likely to sweat a few hundredths of a point difference.

  • The course is a graduate course, and if the person reviewing my transcript is familiar with the course numbering system, it is numbered as a graduate-level course. But I have quite a few graduate-level courses that are being counted towards my major requirements.
    – nara
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 21:38
  • Also, the numerical difference would be clear because excluding this course, I have GPA 4.0 in major. But if there is any grade other than A or A+, my GPA could not be a 4.0, so it would be obvious without doing any math that I did not count this grade in my GPA calculation.
    – nara
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 21:40
  • If an admissions committee is going to accept you with a 4.0, odds are excellent that they won't bat an eye over a 3.95 or so.
    – aeismail
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 23:19

My university calculated my GPA for me. I did not bother to double check their arithmetic.

If your university does not calculate your GPA for you, then just imagine the GPA that you want. No one cares.

  • This is GPA in major, which the university does not calculate. The GPA for the whole degree is calculated by the university and reflected on my transcript.
    – nara
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 22:27
  • "just imagine the GPA that you want" -- not sure exactly what you're suggesting here. Intentionally misreporting your GPA could constitute fraud and lead to being expelled from the program if it is later discovered. Further, GPA matters a great deal at many universities.
    – cag51
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 4:01
  • perhaps you mean "calculate it any way you want"? Sure, absent any specific instructions, calculating it in any defensible way may well be preferable to contacting them and asking for clarification.
    – cag51
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 4:04

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