Your undergraduate CGPA is quite low, but you were somehow accepted into a respected Masters and PhD program, and completed your postgraduate work quite successfully. Your undergraduate major was the same general field as your postgraduate research.

You are now beginning your academic job search. How would the low CGPA affect your chances of getting a job at a top-tiered academic institution in the US or UK?

If yes, then what else can you do in the meantime to counteract the negative effects of that low CGPA?

(btw, I am asking this for a friend, not for me as I am not in academia)

  • 5
    One of our high rep users has low undergrad GPA(2.4/4.0). He is a full professor at a top tier university in the US. I don't think undergrad GPA matters when searching for a faculty job. Your friend's research publications is the most important factor.
    – Nobody
    Mar 2, 2014 at 13:03
  • 1
    The answer to this question would be very different if you were asking about community college jobs. For those, you typically do submit an undergrad transcript (at least you do if you apply at my school), and it does matter. On hiring committees, we often weed out people whose have a masters because their undergrad grades are so poor. Don't ask me why they got into grad school; apparently there are a lot of grad schools out there with extremely low admissions standards.
    – user1482
    Mar 3, 2014 at 3:53
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    Yeah, hi. Not at all.
    – JeffE
    Mar 3, 2014 at 5:03

4 Answers 4


As you have already done Masters and PhD, your CGPA in undergraduate is least to be bothered. If you are in academia, your quality of research matters more than the grades that you have obtained long back in undergraduate studies.

As your credential will grow, your resume will be filled with much more valued contents rather than just grades.


For applications for faculty positions people would usually state only their undergrad degrees with date, subject and university. For postdoc applications, one could include more detail, but I don't think anyone would get suspicious if no grades are listed.

Thus, having low grades on your undergrad studies would have no direct impact on jobchances after the PhD, because people simply wouldn't know about them.

  • 2
    Thanks for the reply. So is the undergraduate academic transcript never given? Just the degree certificate?
    – Petr Misan
    Mar 2, 2014 at 13:27
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    Neither the transcript nor the certificate would be part of the application. It is possible, although not certain, that if a candidate is accepted all certificates are actually checked, but if only the PhD certificate is asked for, that wouldn't be too unusual either.
    – Arno
    Mar 2, 2014 at 14:09
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    In fact, I don't even know if we check that the claimed credentials are accurate via a background check. So not only do we NOT check undergraduate GPA (and not care about it) I don't think we check if the student indeed defended a Ph.D in the claimed institution (the letters are enough).
    – Suresh
    Mar 2, 2014 at 22:51
  • I think we do check the PhD, but nothing else.
    – JeffE
    Mar 3, 2014 at 5:05

What you have done since your undergraduate days is far more significant than how focused/motivated you were at that time. Everyone understands that students are still figuring out their priorities, and that adolescents are insane by definition.

If you're worried about it anyway, you may want to have an answer ready in case someone asks you about them. Mine would be a combination of:

-- I was spending too much time on student activities, mostly on volunteer projects though I admit D&D ate a great deal of my spare time as a freshman.

-- I was still figuring out what I wanted my actual career path to be. (In fact, my degree says EE but I've wound up returning to CS ... my grades would have been better if I'd stuck with my first love, but I felt I needed to balance my knowledge of software with more hardware insight.)

-- I was more concerned with learning the material than with proving I had learned the material. As a result, I tended to work hardest on homework in the classes where I was struggling, and sometimes blew off homework in classes where I felt I didn't need the practice. If you could look at my records in greater detail, you'd see a fair number of courses where my final grade was a B because my homework grade was C but I blew away the final. Obviously, I've gotten smarter about time management since then.

Note that every one of those, while true and admitting a failure, also acts as an opportunity to discuss what I learned from that failure, what strengths it demonstrates to offset the failure, and why I'm a good candidate now. Use it as an opportunity for storytelling and marketing; make lemonade out of the lemons.

  • 1
    anecdote re: "more concerned with learning the material" -- this is a good thing, and what it actually reveals is a failure on the part of the professors to correctly test who knew the material. With that experience, when applying for a teaching position you'd do well to also discuss how you would structure grading to avoid that.
    – Ben Voigt
    Mar 2, 2014 at 18:02
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    The best response when someone asks about your undergrad grades during a faculty search is a confused look, followed by "Oh, who cares? Let's talk about research."
    – JeffE
    Mar 3, 2014 at 5:06

My grandfather was famously (within the family) asked just this question (concerning poor undergraduate marks) during his interview an M.Sc. program. His answer was roughly "As an undergraduate, I enjoyed being an undergraduate; now I am ready to concentrate on my studies." He was accepted eagerly, and the subject never came up again.

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