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I am a PhD student in a physical science major. I finished ALL of my required courses. Assume my current GPA is 3.5. Currently, I am taking 'extra' courses from another engineering department. Some of these courses are indirectly related to my research, but some are completely unrelated (am taking them for pure personal interests).

Now, say I got less than 3.5 in these course. My official University Transcripts will include these courses and report a GPA of less than 3.5.

However, in my CV, I plan not to do so and exclude these courses, and report 3.5, nothing less. My stand is that these were not required in the first place, and some of them are even not relevant at all. It is not fair for me to have them included.

Is there any problem with this?

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    Graduate students have GPAs? At my school we don't bother calculating them. The quality of a student is in their PhD research, not in the courses they took in their first two years. – RoboKaren Oct 2 '14 at 5:41
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    You may want to consider taking these engineering courses on a pass/fail or audit basis, if possible. Then they will not affect your GPA at all. – Nate Eldredge Oct 2 '14 at 6:25
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    Unless your GPA would really suffer, I certainly wouldn't do anything. No matter how you twist and turn it, you are reporting a GPA that isn't the one that you actually received, and the potential fallout from that are much worse than having a GPA that is a few decimal points lower. – xLeitix Oct 2 '14 at 11:12
  • Why would you report your GPA or the courses you've taken in your CV at all? I can't imagine anyone evaluating your potential or quality as a researcher to care. – Sverre Oct 2 '14 at 11:56
  • Recent PhD graduates usually report their GPA. I know papers are more important, but still some companies/ institutions would like to see the GPA. – student1 Oct 3 '14 at 15:38
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If you write

GPA: 3.5

in your CV, this implies that your official cumulative GPA as per university records is a 3.5. So to write this is misleading, and unethical.

If you want to list your GPA only for courses in your own department, you can write

Major GPA: 3.5

or

3.5 GPA in physical science courses

  • But if I am majoring in, say, electrical engineering (EE), and applying for a job in Intel, then it is understood that the GPA I am reporting is the Major GPA. Why should anyone care about my, say, music course? I don't see why is that "unethical". – student1 Oct 2 '14 at 4:37
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    @student1 To write "My GPA is 3.5" when that isn't true is a lie. It's unethical to lie about your GPA (or any other credentials), period. (And if you're so sure nobody cares about your GPA in other courses, then you have nothing to lose by writing "Major GPA" or "Physical science GPA") – ff524 Oct 2 '14 at 4:45
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    To further what @ff524 is saying, not only is it unethical, if caught out, not accurately declaring your GPA can lead to severe academic consequences. – user21984 Oct 2 '14 at 4:50
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    @student1 then it is understood that the GPA I am reporting is the Major GPA. - no, it's not. "GPA" with no qualifiers is understood to mean "The GPA that my university would report if you asked them." – ff524 Oct 2 '14 at 4:52
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    @Omen: Not just academic consequences. If a corporation finds out you effective lied about your CV, it's grounds for termination. – aeismail Oct 2 '14 at 16:49

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