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I'm a Physics PhD student in a US university who qualified for the PhD level and waiting for the comprehensive test.

In the first year of my PhD, I wasn't able to cope up with the pressure and that caused bad grades. The result from first and second semester is below:

A, B, B ; A, B+, B+.

In the second year, I eventually understood the pressure and was able to cope up the coursework pressure along with the research pressure. And, eventually I did well in the second year. My result is:

A, A, A ; A+, A+, A

My question is how bad influence will my overall score appear to the academia and industry?

NOTE: My supervisor is pretty happy with my research work.

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My advisor told me something that influenced me greatly during my PhD career. She said "If you are not getting B's, you are not challenging yourself or leaving your comfort zone."

From my own experience, I can safely say that the B's I got in advanced statistical and computer science courses were meaningless compared to the skills I gained in those courses in securing a postdoc at a prestigious university.

Honestly, I believe I had one of the lowest GPA's in my department (social science) of doctoral students but I also took the most stats courses. In short, using those skills gained to publish papers demonstrating advanced statistical knowledge meant something. The B that I got didn't.

  • I quite like the sentiment, but depending on course offerings and one's own line of research, I think taking easier classes and learning challenging things on your own is also a viable option. – Anyon May 16 '18 at 18:55
  • This statement is quite strange -- does this imply you should avoid doing courses useful to you if rhe profesdor grades nicely? – user111955 Aug 20 at 14:10
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Academia and industry largely do not care about your grades as a graduate student. The only exceptions are certain large corporations that have cutoffs for the GPA for graduate as well as undergraduate studies. [I have worked for such a corporation, so this is not idle speculation.] Even then, such cutoffs are not absolute—if a hiring manager wants you badly enough, they can petition for the requirements to be waived.

Academia does not care about your grades: your promise as a successful researcher and colleague is the primary consideration in getting hired as a postdoc.

  • And, I guess, a disastrous GPA wouldn't allow you to graduate from graduate school... – xuq01 May 16 '18 at 5:44

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