How to Get Into Grad School With a Low GPA

Worried about your low undergrad GPA? Well, you don't have to be — learn more about how to get into grad school with a 2.5 GPA.
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Published on September 8, 2023
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  • Some graduate programs do not use an undergraduate GPA cutoff.
  • Your admissions essays and personal statement let you explain why you struggled in college.
  • Shining recommendation letters can help your graduate school application significantly.
  • Earning good grades in graduate school can help you when applying for jobs.

Many competitive graduate programs at prestigious schools like the University of California, Berkeley, require applicants to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher. This requirement may lead potential applicants to ask, Can I get into grad school with a low GPA? The answer is yes, but you will need to do some extra work.

First, consider graduate programs without a GRE requirement. These schools may also not use a GPA requirement or consider applicants with at least a 2.5 GPA. Learning how to get into grad school with a low GPA also involves making your application essays and recommendation letters shine.

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Can I Get Into Grad School With a Low GPA? 10 Tips to Help

You can get into grad school with a low GPA if you strengthen other parts of your application portfolio. Your college's academic and career advisors can give you advice.

1. Know the Application Requirements

Check all application requirements closely. A GPA cutoff may disqualify you. However, some institutions may still let you apply if you exceed other minimum requirements, such as work experience.

Contact admissions departments with questions. Advisors can help you find out if you can get into grad school with a low GPA.

2. Take the GRE or GMAT

A good GRE or GMAT score can offset poor undergraduate performance, such as a 2.5 GPA. Give yourself plenty of time to study for which exam your graduate program requires or recommends. Your college may offer free classes or study resources.

You can take the GRE or GMAT more than once. Doing so lets you focus on areas of improvement and earn a better score the second time.

3. Develop Your Statement of Purpose

An excellent statement of purpose answers how you can get into grad school with a low GPA. Use this opportunity to outline your academic and professional goals. Doing so gives admissions officers fresh insight that your GPA cannot provide.

Ask someone to read your statement of purpose and provide feedback. Their suggestions can improve your writing significantly.

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4. Write Admissions Essays

Admissions essays let you explain why you earned a low GPA. Graduate school admissions advisors want to see that you identified the cause and made an improvement plan during your undergraduate education.

The essay prompts may not let you discuss your GPA. If that's the case, focus on conveying your personal and professional maturity.

5. Consult With Your Advisor

Your academic advisor can give you more information on how to get into grad school with a 2.5 GPA. Their experience working with many students can bring new insights into your situation and provide alternatives you may not have considered. Speak with your other professors if you need more help.

6. Complete Additional Coursework

Extra coursework can help you raise your undergraduate GPA. Doing well in these upper-division classes can offset your performance as a first- or second-year undergraduate. Other potential benefits include meeting or exceeding graduate programs' prerequisite requirements.

Consider taking these classes in the summer or winter term, if possible. A lighter class load can help you focus and earn a higher grade.

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7. Submit Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation give graduate school admissions advisors a fresh look into your academic history and potential. Focus on professors who taught classes where you excelled.

Speak to professors about your GPA concerns when asking for letters of recommendation. This conversation may impact their recommendation for the better.

8. Use Professional Work Experience

Consider using your professional work experience to your advantage. You can discuss your accomplishments in your statement of purpose or essays. A supervisor may also write a letter of recommendation outlining your strengths and potential.

Professional work experience can help you overcome a 2.5 GPA in other ways, too, such as by helping you develop time management and organization skills.

9. Prepare for Your Admissions Interview

Some graduate programs require or recommend an interview. Use this opportunity to discuss any challenges you faced as an undergraduate. Also, mention that your future graduate school GPA matters to your academic and professional success.

One great way to prepare for your admissions interview involves researching testimonials from current students.

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10. Speak With Faculty

Some graduate programs ask faculty to help make admissions decisions. Reaching out to faculty before any admissions deadline lets you introduce yourself and make a good impression. You can discuss the circumstances surrounding your low undergraduate GPA, your academic goals, and how you plan to use your graduate degree to advance your career.

Why Does Your GPA Matter When Applying to Grad School?

Even for graduate programs without a GPA requirement, a 2.5 GPA can harm your application. A low GPA suggests that you lack the academic preparation necessary to excel at the graduate level. It also implies that your goals do not align with the program, especially if you want to earn a graduate degree in the same field as your bachelor's.

Fortunately, there are many universities with a low undergraduate GPA cutoff. They include:

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Into Grad School With a Low GPA

Can I get into grad school with a 2.5 GPA?

Yes, many graduate programs will let you apply with a 2.5 GPA. However, a low GPA means that you must prove your academic readiness in other ways, such as by writing a convincing personal statement or holding many years of professional experience. Your admissions essays and letters of recommendation can also help your application significantly.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement for grad school?

The answer varies among graduate programs. Some programs with a 3.0 or 3.5 GPA cutoff may still let you apply if you hold work experience or meet another requirement for conditional admission. University admissions advisors can explain these and other alternative admission pathways.

Does your GPA matter after college?

Your graduate school GPA matters in many ways, especially if you lack work experience. A good GPA shows prospective employers that you offer the knowledge, dedication, and drive they require. Excelling in your master's program also makes you an excellent candidate for doctoral programs. 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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