I am a graduate masters student in the Computer Science Field in the final year of my masters program. Recently, in a particular elective course in which I had been doing quite well, I had a major falling out with the professor due to which 70% of internal marks got cancelled. The professor advised me to withdraw from the course, but in the middle of semester it's no longer possible. Since I have 70% of internal marks cancelled (Meanwhile the fault is all mine as I didn't properly cited some work while summarization of class notes resulting in plag situation) , the best I could have done was to try for a D grade; but this would have drastically reduced my GPA which I really wanted to avoid. So I instead requested an F grade so that I can take another elective next year (in replacement) by taking an extra load. This also means that the F grade won't be counted towards my GPA.

But this has resulted in me asking the question: "Did I permanently nuke my chances of getting a PhD admission now?" How will it affect my chances of graduate admission in US/UK considering the subject in question is an elective course and not a core program course?

  • 4
    How did it happen that a falling out with the professor affected your grades? It seems to me that there is an underlying problem here that can be solved to remedy the situation in a better way.
    – Louic
    Nov 18, 2021 at 7:00
  • 1
    "However I had a major falling out with the professor due to which 70% of Internal marks got cancelled." Why are you not fighting this? Are you at a place where a professor can just do this?
    – user9482
    Nov 18, 2021 at 7:15
  • 22
    @YashSinghal I find it a bad sign that you present accusation of scientific misconduct as a "falling out with the professor".
    – user9482
    Nov 18, 2021 at 7:48
  • 7
    Sounds like the problem that caused you to get an F would be more problematic than the F itself. You may want to refocus the question on what your chances would be like given that specific situation, rather than just the F.
    – Nat
    Nov 18, 2021 at 13:56
  • 6
    How does it happen that an F grade doesn't get counted in your GPA?
    – shoover
    Nov 18, 2021 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


Answering for the US, graduate admissions are highly individualized - there's no formula, and decisions are being made by human beings tasked with evaluating a stack of applications that cannot be judged objectively.

All it takes to be admitted to grad school is for at least one admissions committee at a school you apply to to decide you would make a good graduate candidate. All it takes to not be admitted is for all of the admissions committees to feel they have better alternative candidates. How exactly that shakes out depends on some mix of the content of your application, the criteria each committee member considers, and the content of every other application they review.

If a program you apply to conducts interviews, you can expect to get questions about an outlier grade like this one. If you get to that stage, whether or not you are ultimately accepted may hinge on how exactly you answer that question. Some people have good excuses for specific poor grades, such as medical or other life events, in which case honestly explaining the situation is straightforward though balancing personal privacy is another important factor.

Your reason is that you got caught cheating. You may be tempted lie or deflect about it, by not mentioning it or using wording like you originally did with this question: saying you had a falling out with a professor, or that you electively took a failing grade in order to take a different course. I think you can expect admissions committee members to see through this sort of thing, and even if they don't it doesn't exactly paint you in the best light.

Being more straightforward about what happened may be a better route, but it's important that you're sincerely contrite. Students caught cheating (or really anyone "caught" for anything) have a tendency to deflect and minimize. In your own question, you write both "I didn't properly cite some work" and "the fault is all mine" - this does not resonate as honesty with me. While you write words accepting blame, "not citing properly" is not typically the level of plagiarism that nukes your grade. "Not citing properly" sounds more like citing the wrong source, or when you break up statements during editing such that a citation for multiple items A,B,C seems like it only applies to C, or disagreements over the lines between common knowledge and what must be cited. If it's really that sort of issue, you should be contesting this at your current institution, as these are all reasons to lose marks on an assignment but not reasons to be failed in a course. On the other hand, if you have "not cited properly" by presenting work that is not your own (or partially not your own) as if it is your own, you've simply plagiarized which is cheating.

It's also possible there won't be too much attention on this one course and you will be accepted without it coming up because an admissions committee will see it as an unimportant outlier in an otherwise strong application.

  • Thank you I didnt asked for the F grade and would try to cover the low gpa . The professor decided to award marks based on writen + 50% of my internal which is still good deal considering how bad it can get Jan 9, 2022 at 13:43

If there is no trace in the transcript of that F grade or in the GPA, it will not hinder your application.

  • I doubt that the F will disappear from the transcript when the poster takes a different elective. I question whether it will be included in the GPA calculation or not, but courses you've taken just don't disappear from a transcript. Nov 18, 2021 at 15:12
  • @ScottSeidman I don't know, the OP question is unclear, for what we know as presented that was my best assesment, in some western countries university you can refuse the grade you received for an exam and try infinite times to get a better one.
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 18, 2021 at 21:51
  • @ScottSeidman That's Correct In Indian University, an F grade doesn't count towards your GPA but it does show up in the transcript .. I meanwhile decided not to ask a F grade Jan 9, 2022 at 13:45

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