I am a senior year undergrad student from a prestigious institute in India. I intend to pursue a PhD after graduating. While researching universities, I stumbled upon the fact that many of the top schools have a minimum GPA requirement. For example UCSD has 3.4/4 as its minimum requirement.

My GPA is 7.2 on a scale of 10. It is quite above average in my school, but it translates to a 2.9 on a scale of 4 which looks pretty bad. DOes this mean that my application is likely to be rejected outright?

Also, I heard that most universities don't consider converted scores (by WES, for example) in a good light. I have research experience in my undergraduate years to offset the GPA. I really hope that the universities have a look at that.

Should I not apply to schools with such a requirement?

2 Answers 2


There's no absolute here—it really depends on the program in question. Some departments are stricter about cutoffs than others. It depends a lot on the number of applications they receive, and how selective they need to be. However, I know that many good departments don't screen on GPA alone.

However, even if you're GPA is not "elite," that's not the end of the world, so long as you have the research experience and the letters of recommendation to support you. (A student from our department was recently admitted to a top-10 engineering program in the US on the basis of his research experience—his GPA was pedestrian at best.)


Fundamentally, graduate schools are looking for evidence that you can successfully complete the program and graduate. So to get in, you have to make a convincing argument that this is the case.

Your GPA is unimpressive, but there are a few things that can make up for it. Two of them are test scores and faculty recommendations. What you need to do in both cases to rank much higher on these metrics than the typical "2.9" student. Then the fact that "my GPA ... is quite above average in my school," will start to count for something. Specifically, it may get your graduate school thinking, "This "2.9" GPA is at least a 3.2 or 3.3 on our scale, maybe more."

You're still not home free, but this is where your research comes into play. If you can convince the school that you have exceptional research potential, they may think, well, this guy is a "doer" who will "ace" the thesis, and get 3.2-3.3 in his courses, just enough to get the 3.4 average. Or it could be that the required 3.4 represents "insurance" against a graduating requirement of 3.2 or 3.3.

You'll probably want to get more and better advice from a faculty adviser. But if you do apply to the school of your choice, the above represent things to keep in mind.

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