Does Your GPA Matter in College?

Many students are unsure whether their GPA matters during and after college. Read on to learn when your college GPA is important.

portrait of Kim-Ling Sun
by Kim-Ling Sun

Updated August 10, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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Does Your GPA Matter in College?
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Whether you enter the job market or enroll in a graduate program after college, GPA matters.

A good GPA can be a selling point to employers, demonstrating a strong work ethic. While the number of employers who assess college GPA during hiring is dropping, 56% of employers still screen college applicants using GPA, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

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Additionally, graduate school programs often evaluate college transcripts as a condition of admission.

How Important Is a College GPA?

A good GPA in college has many benefits. Students must maintain a minimum GPA for federal financial aid eligibility. Though most schools set their requirements, it's usually no lower than a 2.0 GPA.

Having a 3.5 GPA or higher also has its perks. You can qualify for honors programs at your university, earn certificates of distinction, and become eligible for merit-based scholarships.

Your GPA can also affect whether you secure an internship in college. A solid GPA indicates to the company you wish to intern with that you can handle varying responsibilities and balance multiple tasks.

Landing an internship is a great segue into applying for a job with that company once you graduate. A stellar GPA can also help you get an interview while seeking your first job.

Does Your GPA Matter for Internships?

A strong GPA can help you secure an internship in college. Internships are important because they give you hands-on experience in your chosen field. Because paid and unpaid internships are highly competitive, prospective programs often screen candidates using GPA.

With an average of 60% of students seeking internships in their field since 2013, according to Finances Online, a solid GPA shows prospective employers your ability to handle a challenging workload. Internships require professional aptitude and strong personal character, both of which can be gleaned from your academic work ethic.

The company you intern with can also serve as a reference for future employment. Completing at least one internship can improve your chances of getting a job with a great company once you graduate.

Do Employers Care About Your GPA?

Your GPA can impact your earning potential after you graduate. Although GPA often indicates intelligence and work ethic, it is not required to secure a job after college in many industries.

Google, for example, does not ask for GPAs or test scores unless you're fresh out of college. Instead, the company believes using grades as a measuring stick doesn't always work. It also believes grades are not an indicator of creativity and innovation, something needed by Google's tech company.

GPA matters, however, when applying for a job in competitive fields such as law, engineering, finance, and computer science. A stellar GPA can help you get to round one of the interviews because hiring managers often use them to screen potential candidates.

When to Include or Mention GPA in Your Job Search

When heading out into the workforce as a college graduate, it's best to learn when to include your GPA on your resume, in cover letters, and in a job interview.

GPA in Resumes

Recent college graduates with fewer than three years of experience in the field should list their GPA when it's a 3.5 or higher. Once you've worked for 2-3 years, it's unnecessary to include your GPA.

It's most relevant to include your GPA when it falls within the range of 3.5-4.0 to demonstrate high achievement levels.

GPA in Cover Letters

You should include your GPA in your cover letter if a position requests your grades. Otherwise, you should omit it unless your GPA is strong (3.5 or higher) and shows significant accomplishment.

GPA in Job Interviews

When invited to interview for a job, you should follow several rules regarding your GPA. It's best not to mention your GPA unless you graduated with honors. If asked about your cumulative GPA and it's less than ideal, address the subject briefly and move on.

If your major GPA is higher and demonstrates mastery in your field, that would be great information to share with your interviewer.

How to Enhance Your Job Prospects With a Low GPA

If you're applying for positions for which employers care about GPA — and yours is a bit lackluster — all is not lost. There are ways you can overcome a low cumulative GPA and increase your job prospects.

One way to enhance your marketability is to emphasize your other assets. For example, highlight your unique skill set and your major GPA. You can also discuss the invaluable experience gained with internships.

By discussing times you assumed leadership roles, you can demonstrate to potential employers how you'll be an asset to their team.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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