I am a third year undergraduate Computer Engineering and last summer I tried to take a course while occupied with a full-time internship. Due to a work conflict, I missed an exam and failed the class. I retook it the following semester and received an "A". My schools course forgiveness policy replaced it in my GPA, but it is still shown on my transcript. Other than that I have a pretty good GPA (3.55 Overall, 3.75 in EE/CompE). I am also currently working in one of my professors labs and will hopefully have a finished paper when I am applying to grad school next fall. My question is this. Will that grade keep me from going to a top grad school?

P.S. By "top grad school" I mean a top 10-20 masters program in Electrical and/or Computer Engineering. Preferably a UC because I am eligible for in-state tuition.

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    That by itself -- I doubt it. (I am not saying you will get into a top grad school. That would depend on many factors.) Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 19:25
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    Maybe it worth pointing that out somewhere in the application (getting out in front of it, transparency is always good). Previous contact with potential advisors would be very helpful as well... Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


You have several things going for you. The most important thing is that you retook the course and got an A, proving that the earlier grade was a fluke. Also, your college's "forgiveness" policy is encouraging, because the F doesn't factor into your grade point average. And your overall GPA is high.

One or two schools might play "gottcha" or use it as a tiebreaker, but in general, you seem to be well defended on this issue. A note from a professor explaining the circumstances would help.


I agree with Tom Au. The one F you have will very likely not make much difference. Also, strong reference letters and high GRE scores can reduce the impact significantly.

When you apply for admission to a graduate program at a university, you could also try contacting a few faculty members to express your interest in working with them. If they show an interest, that will make it all the more easier to receive an admission offer.

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