Suppose that I am submitting my application form for admission to a PhD program in USA/Canada. When I am asked to declare my GPA, should I declare it the same original way that my university has calculated it in my transcript?

Here's the thing: I have a failed course in my transcript that was retook the next semester and I have passed it with a good grade. According to my university's policy, when a student retakes a failed course, only the most recent grade is considered in their GPA. So, the GPA that my university calculates is a little bit higher than just averaging all my grades. Should I declare the GPA that my university has calculated as my GPA? Or should I write down the average of all my grades and calculate it on my own?

  • 2
    I have seen many schools with the policy of replacing grades, so I don’t think it will look strange. Sep 8, 2018 at 12:30
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    Not all universities have a grade replacement policy, at some (mine included) both failing grade and retake grade factor into the GPA. Regardless, the OP should be reporting their GPA the way their university reports it, and leaving the judgment to the graduate school.
    – Daveguy
    Feb 23, 2020 at 23:25

3 Answers 3


You should declare the GPA that is written on your transcript and provide the transcript. You should not compute the GPA yourself. This would only introduce confusion. If someone asks, you can simply give the explanation you just gave us. You can even preemptively include an explanation somewhere in your application, with the simple explanation you wrote.

  • Yeah. I thought so. But what if they misunderstood me and thought that I did it on purpose to declare a higher GPA and increase my admission chances? Won't they disqualify me then for dishonesty or whatever unpredictable reasons? Sep 8, 2018 at 7:53
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    @stressedout You have the transcript, don't you? They can ask your university to confirm that the transcript is authentic if necessary. If you can find this policy written somewhere in an official document on your university's website, for example, this would be good too. I also think that in the US it's not uncommon to ask your previous university to send the transcript (for a fee...) so that you don't even have the chance to doctor it.
    – user9646
    Sep 8, 2018 at 7:55
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    +1 whatever the transcript says is the official and correct value.
    – Thomas
    Sep 8, 2018 at 18:38

when a student retakes a failed course, only the most recent grade is considered in their GPA

In my US experience, this is the most common way to compute GPA. Report the GPA as it appears on your transcript (as the university reports it). NEVER calculate it on your own as the University's calculation is what it will be checked against.

  • Schools very commonly instruct applicants to recalculate their GPA according to the criterion they want. For example some will say to treat all A+'s as 4.33, or 4.3, or just 4, and so on. Don't recall if they gave instructions regarding failing grades though. Sep 9, 2018 at 19:53
  • @SimpleAlgorithm - I've never heard of a school instructing an application to calculate their own GPA. That seems wildly insecure. Universities do examine transcripts, and may do their own GPA calculation, but they should NEVER ask an applicant to do this work for them. Oct 19, 2018 at 15:50
  • mine does. And schools I applied to did, just as I described above. Do a google search for "calculating gpa graduate admissions". Of course you should check that they seem plausible. And yes I have caught students trying to pull a fast one in their calculation in applications. Oct 20, 2018 at 2:58

Always do it the way your university calculates it. When applying to graduate schools, they are aware that different universities will have different ways of calculating GPA, and often will make minor recalculations to fix your GPA against other applicants. So don't waste your time fretting about this.

Of course, if you feel it's necessary, you can explain somewhere (either via recommendations or your statement of purpose) regarding the failed grade, but if it happened in your first semester or two, generally it's understood as long as the rest of your application is good.

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