How to Calculate Your GPA in College
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Reviewer & Writer
Editor & Writer
Reviewer & Writer
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- Learning how to calculate your GPA can help you track your academic progress.
- A minimum GPA may be required for certain undergraduate programs and scholarships.
- Falling below a certain GPA can result in academic probation and loss of financial aid.
In high school, a strong grade point average (GPA) can demonstrate your academic abilities and increase your chances of acceptance to your dream school. Even though colleges consider many factors when making their admission decisions, a high GPA can help you stand out from other applicants.
Maintaining a good GPA is just as important in college, but for different reasons. While your GPA is still a useful metric to assess your academic performance, it also factors into your eligibility for certain scholarships and academic programs. In addition, falling below a certain GPA threshold can have serious academic consequences.
For these reasons, it's important to learn how to calculate your GPA in college.
What Is a GPA?
Your GPA is a metric that measures your academic performance. In college, your GPA is often a major consideration for scholarships, financial aid eligibility, and program admission. When it comes to defining a good college GPA, the answer depends on your program and academic goals.
Generally, you must earn a cumulative 2.0 GPA to maintain good academic standing and stay on track to graduate. In addition, many undergraduate programs require you to hold a minimum GPA to gain admission. This is more so the case for competitive graduate school programs.
Falling Below Minimum GPA Requirements
If your GPA falls below the minimum, you could be placed on academic probation, which can result in a loss of financial aid and dismissal from your academic program. Failure to raise your GPA within a certain time frame may even result in dismissal from your school entirely.
College GPA Scales
Most colleges use a 4.0 GPA scale, on which letter grades correspond to certain numeric equivalents. How colleges use this scale may differ from school to school. Some colleges may not give an A+ letter grade, and others may utilize the full GPA scale instead of skipping, for example, between a 3.7 and 4.0.
You should check with your university registrar to learn about your school's specific GPA system, but you can refer to the table below to help determine your GPA point value.
|Letter Grade||Percentage Grade||GPA (4.0 Scale)|
How to Calculate Your College GPA
Calculating your college GPA allows you to track your academic progress toward meeting requirements for scholarships, undergraduate programs, and even graduate school. Depending on your prospective field, your GPA can also impact your marketability and job prospects. Many colleges have GPA calculators on their websites that you can use, as well.
Here are the steps to take to calculate your GPA in college:
- Determine your letter grade for each course.
- Using the 4.0 grading scale in the table above, convert your letter grades into point values.
- Determine the number of credits assigned to each course.
- Multiply the number of credits assigned to each course by its corresponding point value to determine how many quality points it's worth.
- Divide the total number of quality points by the total number of credits.
|Course||Grade||Credits||GPA Point Value||Quality Points|
|Chemistry||B||3||3||(3 x 3) = 9|
|Lab||A||1||4||(1 x 4) = 4|
|Psychology||B+||3||3.3||(3 x 3.3) = 9.99|
||(9 + 4 + 9.99) = 22.99
Total GPA From the Formula Example
22.99 / 7 = 3.28 GPA
What Are Quality Points in College?
All college courses are assigned credits. Every college measures credits slightly differently, but, in general, core courses are worth three credits, while electives are usually worth one credit.
Quality points show the relationship between your grade in a class and the number of credits you earn. Your college first awards you points based on your letter grade. The school then multiplies this number by the class' credits.
The total amount of credits attempted and the total amount of quality points earned are the two components used to calculate GPA. Each letter grade you receive in a course corresponds to a point value, normally on a scale that ranges from 0.0-4.0.
How Failing a Class Affects Your GPA
If you fail a class, you receive a 0.0 point value; however, the credits assigned to that course will still count toward your total credits attempted. This is why your GPA falls when you fail a course.
If you retake a failed course, most colleges will only calculate the new grade into your GPA, but the first grade usually remains on your official transcript.
How Pass/Fail Classes Affect Your GPA
The same applies to classes that use a pass/fail grading system. If you receive a failing grade, a 0.0 point value will be factored into your GPA. However, a passing grade typically does not impact your GPA at all.
Frequently Asked Questions About Calculating Your GPA
Do colleges use weighted or unweighted GPAs?
Weighted GPAs take into account the level of a course and typically use a 5-point scale. Unweighted systems use a 4-point scale and calculate all grades the same way regardless of how difficult a course is. Most colleges do not use weighted grading systems.
However, many schools do look at weighted GPAs during the admissions process. In regard to which scale colleges tend to favor, the answer is a bit tricky.
While weighted GPAs provide more contextual information than unweighted GPAs do, colleges generally don't take your GPA at face value. Instead, admissions officers rely on your full transcript to identify your academic drive and abilities.
What GPA is magna cum laude?
The GPA that correlates to the middle tier of Latin honors, magna cum laude, varies depending on your school. Some schools may require a 3.4 GPA or higher, while others require a 3.6 or higher. Your school may also use class standing to calculate Latin honors. Even so, learning how to calculate your GPA in college can help you meet or exceed your academic goals.
Earning magna cum laude can help you stand out to prospective employers, especially if you attended a prestigious school or completed many upper-division classes as an undergraduate.
What GPA is summa cum laude?
At many schools, summa cum laude means you earned at least a 3.7 or 3.8 GPA, and some schools may require as high as a 3.95. Graduating summa cum laude can help you in ways besides job hunting. A near-perfect GPA makes you a competitive applicant to master's and doctoral programs.
Does your GPA matter for graduate school?
In most cases, yes. While a poor GPA doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of admission, many graduate schools like to see at least a 3.0 GPA. More competitive programs, such as engineering, often maintain even higher minimum GPA standards for admission.
For example, if you're planning on applying to an engineering program that requires a minimum GPA of 3.5, you may need to calculate your GPA in advance to make sure you're eligible for admission. If you only have a 3.4, you'll know you must earn an A- or higher in your current class(es) to meet the minimum 3.5 GPA requirement.