I'm sure this question has been asked before but probably not to the extreme degree of my situation. I am nearing the end of my undergrad experience (Electical Engineering and Mathematics) and I want to at least apply to some solid grad/PhD programs in pure math. The problem is that while I have a top notch GPA in all of my math classes from Calc I to my graduate level real analysis class, I have a very poor GPA in just about every non-math or EE class I ever took. To quantify this more precisely, I get almost all A's with one exception (B+ in abstract algebra) in math classes but I get mostly C's and the occasional B in all of the useless gen-ed classes. For my electrical engineering classes, I also get mostly A's but a few more B's sprinkled in. I also got a "C" in chemistry for whatever that is worth.

I have been fearing that my distaste for the "liberal arts" might greatly restrict my choices for grad school. I'll say that I am at a state school that has a solid reputation for technical (think something along the lines of NC State) studies but is much more focused on the applied side of things. My main interests are in functional analysis and as you might guess from my user name, I really like wavelets. I was thinking about applying to somewhere like Rice, which might be a stretch given my mediocre overall GPA but perhaps with the right recommendations, I might have a chance. Can anyone with some experience in this area tell me if I am living in a fantasy land or if I have a realistic chance?

Edit: Just to make this more clear, lets say hypothetically that my overall GPA was 2.8 but my math GPA was a 3.95 and my EE GPA was a 3.75.

Edit: This question is a little bit different in the sense that my situation is probably more extreme and specific. I was hoping to get some feedback from people who have been in my shoes or known other people in my shoes. While the answers to the other question were somewhat enlightening, I am not a foreigner/ESL and I do not have that excuse for why I did poorly in the humanities.

  • The short answer is that your math GPA is much more important than your overall GPA.
    – user37208
    Jul 28, 2016 at 3:10
  • 1
    The answer to the marked duplicate is a very comprehensive and thorough answer, and applies 100% to your situation. You're not going to get a different or better answer. (Note that it is not only about ESL students; at the end, it describes a variety of possible explanations for poor grades, including but not limited to language issues, and what to do about them.)
    – ff524
    Jul 28, 2016 at 3:50
  • Did you notice the sentence This kind of poor performance would be exacerbated by a subpar GRE verbal score, and conversely a high GRE verbal score would partially offset it. in the answer of the linked question?
    – Nobody
    Jul 28, 2016 at 4:22


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