I am currently studying undergraduate school in Europe and am toying with idea of applying to a U.S. collage for graduate school.

So I‘ve read a bit online about GPA requirements and there it says that one should have a score of at least 3.0. My current GPA would be way below that and I‘m not a crazy outlier at my school. All of my friends have grades similar to mine. At the same time I know a few friends in America who all never have grades worse than a B.

So do I just coincidentally know two absolutely non-overlapping groups on either side of the Atlantic is it easier to get good grades in America?

  • 1
    Your title question doesn't really match the body Mar 3, 2020 at 15:29
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    Of course admission committees for graduate schools in the US have experience with grading systems from other countries. So there is no need to "compare" two grading systems.
    – GEdgar
    Mar 3, 2020 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


I have received my undergrad degree in Eastern Europe, and my GPA was below 3 when I graduated. Of course it was a disadvantage while applying the grad school in the US because the admission offices usually check the GPA of an applicant first, and I was rejected directly. Yes, it was difficult to get accepted but not impossible. Here are some things that helped me:

  1. Even though I had lower GPA than my US counterparts, I had a very good lab experience and internships from my undergrad years. I made sure that I highlighted those in my statement of purpose and in emails I sent professors.
  2. Speaking of professors, I found and emailed professors whose research area was a good fit for me and told them that I was interested in joining their groups. It particularly helps because the professors can accept you as a grad student even though admission offices not. It happened in my case, and I was accepted for PhD even though I applied for MS.
  3. In my country, we had to take 8 courses per semester whereas in US, most students take max 4 courses. It affects the performance, and I made sure to indicate it in my documents and conversations in a positive way.
  4. Even though I am not a supporter of GRE, I made sure I get a good score to increase my chances for acceptance as it was required.
  5. I also used transcript evaluation services to define my education in US terms. It is common to see GPA increase with those services. But of course it is not a guarantee.

Overall, I recommend being aware of your strengths and advertising them. Good luck on your applications.


It is hard to answer this question as the educational systems in the US and the EU are very different at the undergraduate level. A bachelor's degree, say in mathematics, in the US includes many other courses such as writing, history, philosophy, etc. Only about half of the program is mathematics. In the EU the degree is normally much more focused on maths. But for any given course in maths, I'd guess that the level of difficulty is about the same, though this varies widely from place to place.

So, a GPA (overall) in the US means something quite different from one in EU. The GPA in field is a more comparable number.

But, with more focus in the EU, some courses that would be taken in graduate school in the US show up earlier in the EU.

You have to work hard on both sides of the pond to achieve success. Don't expect lower standards in either place.

  • Is there a reason you focus on the EU instead of whole Europe?
    – user111388
    Mar 3, 2020 at 18:06
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    @user111388, no, just that EU seems to have fairly unified structures. Bologna Process countries is a bit wider. But I don't know about everywhere.
    – Buffy
    Mar 3, 2020 at 19:01

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