Grad School: A Fresh Start?

I tried searching on this, but of course it timed out, then said I have to wait five minutes before trying again. :rolleyes: Google wasn’t much help either.

Anyhow… a couple of months ago I earned my degree, after screwing around in college, on and off, for almost 20 years. When I was younger, I didn’t care much about my grades, and made many stupid decisions, resulting in a low GPA.

Since my return to college four years ago, I’ve earned all A’s and B’s. My current GPA at my university is 3.55, but my overall GPA is 2.48. Yuck.

In the fall I’m starting on my Master’s. My question is: do I get to start over with my GPA, or will it still be cumulative?

I think each degree is separate and should have its own GPA.

This said, however, I did all of my degrees at different universities and had no carry-over from previous schools so my opinion may be invalid.


I am just giving this a little more thought and I am wondering how it can possibly be cumulative.

Your undergraduate degree should be a qualification unique in and of itself and possibly graded by “honours”, “pass” or other status.

This should be a factor in your acceptance into postgraduate studies.

I only screwed around in college for four years but my grades were much, much better the last few semesters. Then I went to grad school.

When I get my transcript, it shows only my cumulative average for the graduate degree. Ii suppose if I got my transcript from one of my undergrad colleges (I went to three of them) it would give just what I’d earned up to there–in other words, the one where I earned my BA would relate the whole sorry tale from the previous colleges and it would look like I just hadn’t found the right fit, yet. But the grad school grades were pretty good, so I don’t even bother with the undergrad transcripts. Frankly I very rarely need the grad transcript, either.

Edited to add: Found transcript from BA, and FWIW the undergrad schools did carry it over, even though they were separate schools.

Finally, nobody really cares about your Master’s GPA (well, aside from hyper-competitive business students. Not that the people hiring them care). And probably the only people that care about your undergrad GPA are the grad school admissions people (which evidently found it acceptable).

Each degree has its own GPA.

The degree-granting institution decides whether or not earlier courses taken at another institution count towards the degree for credit, and if so, whether or not the grades in those courses count towards the GPA. Note, too, that courses may or may not have an “expiration date,” in which after a certain number of years may no longer be valid for credit. In my experience, courses are only valid for 7-8 years for a given degree.

Note that once you get into the workforce, nobody cares what your GPA was, so long as you were awarded the degree.

In particular, nobody cares what Master’s degree GPA’s are, because virtually all of the students who complete the program get all A’s and B’s. (Those who get lower grades usually quit the Master’s program.) There is therefore not much to distinguish between different GPA’s for Masters’ students. For my Master’s degree, my GPA was 4.00. Big whoop. :wink:

Add to the fact that different institutions have different standards–many don’t use the classic 0-4 scale–so accumulating them all in one metric won’t make real sense.

I am the chair of the admissions committee for my master’s program. As others have noted, your GPA for each degree is distinct. In our particular school (which is the same criteria used for all of the graduate programs at our uni) we calculate your upper-division GPA (mainly because of the issues that you mention about prereqs, being young, not being in the best natural fit of courses). Because grad school is more focused on what you’re interested in and less on general study courses, etc., we care a hell of a lot less about the early courses, but your upper-division courses suggest to us a level of rigor and engagement that is much closer to grad school. So that’s what we’re concerned with.

Grades don’t really matter a hell of a lot in a grad program, for the most part, especially if it’s the last degree you intend to pursue. In my experience, there are the flavors of A’s and B’s. You want to be sure to be in the B+ or better range, which is “meeting the standard” for grad work. B’s are a little troubling, and B-'s are not good. A lot of grad profs won’t give C’s.

When reviewing doctoral applicants, I give a cursory look at master’s grades. Basically to see how many B’s B-'s or worse I see. If I see one or two B’s I don’t care… nor do I care if you have all A’s. However, if there’s grant money to be tossed around, it might make you look better in that light.

Far better to impress your profs with intellectual curiosity and engagement in the material. That doesn’t always translate to an A.

At most universities, your GPA starts over with each degree. There are some exceptions - sometimes different Masters/PhD programs are considered to be under the umbrella of the “Graduate School”, and thus you can end up with a cumulative GPA (which might impact you if you, say, got an MS in something and an MBA, for example).

And people may very well look at your GPA in grad school. We don’t hire anyone with a Master’s in Engineering and less than a 3.5/4.0. We don’t hire anyone with a PhD unless they have a 3.75/4.0 or greater.