I graduated with a bachelor of math advanced (honor) with first class honor from an Australian university with a WAM (weighted average mark) of 93. My university does not have any GPA system.

I am applying for a graduate program in math in US and somewhere in their application, they say:

If you have a GPA less than 3.8, then do not apply.

I do not know if I fall below 3.8 or not. All my grades are HD (High Distinction) per the Australian system. My lowest mark is 88 (out of 100) for a course in real analysis. Other grades vary between 90 and 99. In the Australian system, if you get a mark between 85 and 100, then you get HD grade for the subject.

  • 3
    Just ask that university for advice. It would be better advice than you can get here. And it will be accurate. The US does not have a national system, so each university can make its own determination of qualifications and equivalents.
    – Buffy
    Aug 30, 2018 at 1:04
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    would this calculator help? scholaro.com/gpa-calculator
    – N00
    Aug 30, 2018 at 1:47
  • Out of curiosity, what area of math are you interested in and might I ask what University is this? I will be applying for grad schools maybe next year so was just curious. Feel free to ignore my questions if you wish.
    – Shreya
    Aug 30, 2018 at 16:06
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    Since you don't know whether you have a GPA less than 3.8, you can apply with a clear conscience.
    – JeffE
    Aug 30, 2018 at 17:59
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    Several sources around the web seem to converge that your equivalent US GPA would be 4.0: an HD is equivalent of at least an A in the US system. I find an arbitrary GPA threshold of 3.8 to be a bit of a silly system given the heterogeneity in grade assignment, but alas, sometimes systems are silly.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 30, 2018 at 19:01

2 Answers 2


The difficulty of achieving a 3.8 GPA varies widely in the United States, both from university to university, and even from program to program within a single university.

This means that the 3.8 GPA standard is not an absolute measurement of academic excellence. Instead, it is a measure of your academic dedication relative to your peers within your program at your university.

In many American universities, an A is the highest possible grade, and is worth 4.0 towards the GPA. An A- is often worth 3.7, a B+ 3.3, and a B 3.0. (Some American universities ignore plusses and minuses for purposes of GPA calculations.)

A generation or two ago, it was common for a 3.8 GPA to only be achieved by a small fraction of students (much less than 20 percent). In the past generation, there has been considerable grade inflation. I have heard of highly regarded programs where As and A-es are common, and grades lower than A- are unusual.

Is your quantified average grade higher than 80 percent of your classmates? If so, this program might deign to consider your application.


As the comments have suggested, you should consult the specific university for advice. They likely have conversion tables for most countries and major universities.

However, one way to convert a ballpark estimate is to use a grade distribution, if the university publishes one. For example, the University of Washington publishes a guideline to earning Latin honors (.* cum laude), which are based on GPA. They're a good place to check.

A math degree is in the College of Arts and Sciences, which has the following distribution (by percentile)

90th | 96.5th | 99.5th |
3.76 |   3.87 |   3.97 |

Assuming a roughly normal distribution, we find that a 3.8 GPA is the top 93.7th percentile. (This is higher than Jasper's suggestion of the 80th). If a WAM is equivalent to a percentile (or you can convert to one), it at least sounds like you're close enough to apply. I would be surprised if a university rejected a converted 3.79, since GPAs and conversions are noisy enough anyway.

  • I was allowing for a lot of grade inflation, and erring on the side of encouraging the original poster. My naïve guess would have been above the 90th percentile. By the way, the UW's College of Arts and Sciences' grading standards vary greatly between programs.
    – Jasper
    Aug 30, 2018 at 19:21
  • @Jasper I know, but a 3.8 at the 80th percentile seemed like allowing for a little too much grade inflation, so I wanted to calculate an actual value. And I'm sure they do, but this is the granularity of data I could find. I wanted to point the OP to a method of calculating it themselves, if they can find the data. Latin honors cutoffs are fairly consistently published, vs. distributions for individual departments. I don't know whether Australia has Latin honors, so now they know what to Google when they look at US universities. Aug 30, 2018 at 19:26

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