I'm in the process of researching graduate programs, and one of the ones I'm interested in prefers their applicants to have a B average in "upper division" classes. I just want to clarify what this means. I'm in a 4-year undergraduate math program, so would "upper division" be 3rd and 4th year courses, or would 2nd year courses be dragged into the mix?

Edit: I am talking about US grad schools, but I go to a university in Canada. Right now, I have a GPA of about 3.3, which I hope to surpass in 3rd and 4th year to look better on my grad school app.

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    Can you clarify which country you are asking about. Divisions may have different meanings in different systems. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 22:03
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    Probably the question makes best sense in the U.S., where this terminology is widely used, but clarification from the questioner would help. In the U.S., indeed, it refers to typically 3rd and 4th year courses, especially in the major area, since (due to the nature of the U.S. educational system) "lower-division" courses are often far afield from the major, or designed to be easily feasible for a larger population, or have other features irrelevant to a more focused major-subject study and subsequent scholarship. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 22:08
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    @paulgarrett You elaborated that comment to the point that it is viable as an answer. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 0:00
  • Really? I would think they would prefer an A average in upper division classes. Basically they want to see you've done well in advanced classes.
    – Kimball
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


Exactly as you said. In the U.S., undergraduate courses are commonly sorted by level, or the year of study in which they are likely to be taken. See this pattern in the traditional course numbering scheme of 1-99 for remedial courses, 101-199 for first year courses, 201-299 for those of the second year, etc. In this context, "upper division" are those courses for upperclassmen, those past the midpoint of their studies: the ones numbered 301-499.

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