I hereby register my detest towards the GPA calculation system of universities.

My perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA, which has followed me throughout my entire undergraduate career, has now dropped to a 3.98 because I received an A**-** in one of my classes for the quarter; my college doesn’t award the full amount to the A if the “-” is attached to it.

A couple caveats here, however. I got a full A in every other class this term (out of four total), including one nearly 600-level class and another 400-level class that almost universally awards B’s/C’s to most students who take it (and it’s a required course for the major, so that’s everybody in my department). Also, the A- is in my minor, not the major, so my GPA is still a perfect 4.0 for all my major classes. There’s also a decent chance that I’ll be presenting a solo-authored research paper at an undergraduate conference in a few months, so that’s a plus.

Question for the academics on the SDMB: Does an A- (and a sub-4.0 cumulative GPA) limit my odds of getting into a fully-funded MA/PhD program?

The above concern is the broad reasoning for my overall bitterness about this.

Nobody outside of academia gives a shit what your GPA was. Or at least that has been my experience. Even if you intend to remain in the environment and seek a tenured professorship, the attention will be on your thesis and your various research endeavors and your other published articles and papers.

I work amongst business leaders. Hugely successful individuals in massive multinationals and more doctorates than you can shake a stick at.

Never once has the subject of their academic achievements come up. Nor which university they went to, nor their GPA (to the extent that I don’t even know what a 4.0 represents) In the real business world no-one cares what the papers say, only what you do.

Don’t worry about it.

I did an undergraduate degree at University of Chicago, and got a Ph.D. at Stanford. I didn’t have anything like a 4.0 at Chicago, and got into both Stanford and Columbia. When I was at Stanford I was occasionally involved with admissions for the graduate program. I don’t remember grade point average as being much of a concern. Undergraduate work and recommendations were much more important, IIRC.

As others have said, no one cares about GPA outside of academia.

You’d be best off asking professors in your chosen field what is important for advancement there. I’m sure it depends on the field, and perhaps the school you wish to attend.

To expand upon (or maybe just reiterate) what everyone else has been saying…

The academic world may care about your GPA or where you got your last degree or even what that last degree was (I’m not an expert on graduate admissions), but with few exceptions (large law companies come to mind) nobody else cares.

I’ve been involved in the (non-academia) interview process from both sides, and the only time anyone asks about where you received your last degree or what that degree was is when you’re interviewing for your first job outside of academia. And that’s basically because you don’t have any job experience to talk about, and you have to talk about something during the interview process. I don’t recall anyone ever asking about or discussing anyone’s GPA at any time.

Academia is, or course, its own world. If it’s your intent to work in academia then maybe a GPA score is important.(When my daughter was going for her PhD her research paper count was absolutely critical as a measure of her success. She’s since become very successful in the business world, and is actually kind of disappointed that nobody in that world has ever asked about any of her her many research papers.)

I also did an undergrad degree at UChicago (far from 4.0 also), and I’d be surprised if many people graduate with a 4.0 there. The grading was fairly brutal.

For the record, I think the first post is just a long humble-brag.

I once worked with a whole buttload of PhD types, who in turn associated with a buttload squared of PhD types.

In their pecking order, it wasn’t what your GPA was, or even what university they came from. The winner was WHO THEY DID THEIR RESEARCH UNDER.

Sure, the University of A may have been overall better better than the University of B. But Professor Xavier at University C was the pre-eminent authority on widgets, so getting into his program was better than anything.

To the OP, presenting your research at a legitimate conference trumps an A-

At my university, there is maybe only one undergraduate student in ANY discipline who pulls off a 4.0 in any given grad year. Out of thousands. The last one I remember was so awesome, he got a full scholarship to Cambridge to work in the Hawking lab. Seriously.

The students I’m aware of with a 4.0 are the absolute best of the best, unmatched, award winners, brilliant and can write their ticket to any university they want for a full scholarship.

TLDR: Don’t worry.

A cop-out. You’re imperfect and that’s all there is to it.

Better to realize you’re flawed now, rather than suddenly have it dawn on you once you enter the real world, assuming that happens.

Nobody inside academia cares much about it, either. GPAs are for freshmen (and business majors) to have dick-waving contests about.

I will amend previous replies to: nobody gives a shit about your GPA, including inside academia. And if they think that there is a statistical or functional difference between a given 4.0 and 3.98, then you don’t want to work for them.

You didn’t say what kind of grad school you are interested in, e.g. if it’s STEM, they don’t give [del]two[/del] three shits about your GPA compared to your research experience. And in this case, it doesn’t matter what your analytical GRE score is, because it’s usually ceilinged out (in my experience, STEM grads have pretty mediocre verbal scores, but nobody cares).

Also, a 3.98 is actually more useful than a 4.0 for those who do look at GPAs in combination with individual applications.

4.0 says either (1) grade inflation, (2) grade-grubber, or (3) not a rigorous program (or some combination). Just possibly it says a student who is consistently so far ahead of their peers that they always earned an A, but in that case, why did this student waste four years not being challenged?

Yeah, seriously. This. Nobody expects a 4.0, and really, nobody especially wants to see one. What most grad programs do want to see is evidence of intellectual passion, which includes risk-taking, and evidence that the student has the personal qualities necessary to stay the course, which include resilience. (I don’t work in graduate admissions, but I’ve done admissions interviews for our undergraduate honors program, and one concern that comes up pretty often about students with a 4.0 high school GPA is that they’re brittle – too risk-averse, obsessive about perfection, unable to cope with setbacks, criticism, and failure. It doesn’t preclude the student being admitted, especially if the student comes across at the interview as sensible and down-to-earth, but it’s something we often worry about.)

(And, FWIW, my lousy 3.7 undergrad GPA got me one PhD offer with a fantastic funding package and one with a quite respectable one, both at top-20 programs. Granted, I’m in a humanities field where full funding is the rule rather than the exception.)

The grading was fair. It was the social milieu was brutal. It was the only time, before or since, where I was (relatively, at least) socially adept. But that was 30 years ago, before they reduced the science requirements and dropped the swimming test. Heck, they’ve now demolished allthe dorms I lived in.

Ex-prof here.

You need to chiiiiiilllll out. Do not think one more second about this.

Keep in mind that no one will care about your GPA once you get your first job out of college. And even before that it isn’t a big deal.

Note that staying in good with faculty will help you more than anything else. They will steer you to interesting opportunities, write great letters of recommendation, help you out of a jam, etc.

The last thing you want to be seen as is a whiner, and grade grubbers are the worst.

Rules are rules. Everybody plays by the same ones. Makes it easy to understand, even for non-players like hirers. Don’t like the rules? Play a different game.

Move on.

What ftg and the others said. Chill out, dude!

When i applied for PhD programs, in the humanities (US History), it was made pretty clear to me that the most important things that the admissions committees looked for were (pretty much in this order).

  1. Letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty with a reputation in the field.

  2. Quality of your writing sample.

  3. Application letter, expressing why you want to enter the grad program.

  4. GRE score (Verbal and Analytical sections; Quantitative didn’t really matter)

  5. GPA

There were, in my PhD program, plenty of grad students who didn’t have perfect undergrad GPAs, and some who didn’t even have great GREs, who have gone on to be successful academics and who have, in some cases, written prize-winning books.

At the university where i teach, we don’t have a PhD program. Our department has a terminal MA program, and we do look at GPA, but it’s certainly not the main thing. Even for our relatively small program, letters of rec, writing sample, and application cover letter are still the key things.

By the way OP, i’d be interested to know how you think the GPA system should work. You understand the mathematical principle, i assume, that determines why a score below an A reduces your GPA below 4.0?

Personally, i actually prefer the system we had in Australia, where grades were awarded in percentages, and where specific percentage ranges resulted in particular types of grades. It went like this:

85-100% HD (High Distinction)
75-84% DN (Distinction)
65-74% CR (Credit)
50-64% PS (Pass)

This might seem like a pretty easy system, right. I mean, 85% for the top grade? Passing with 51%? Shit, anyone could do that!

But, as someone who has been a student, and who has taught in both the Australian and the US system, i can tell you that, on average, fewer Australian students receive HDs than the number of A- and A grades earned in the US. Here’s a graph, produced by the university where i got my undergraduate degree, and where i worked as a Tutor for a year, that shows the comparison.

Is this the right thread to register my absolute disgust at clothing manufacturers, specifically men’s pants?

They simply cannot seem to make a pair of pants that can contain my massive shlong. I hope you all feel sorry for me.

I was fully funded for my M.A. and Ph.D. As an undergraduate I got–get this!–a couple of Cs in core math and science courses. Apparently nobody cared.

I wouldn’t be peeved about it if an A- was worth just as much as a full A in terms of GPA calculation, or Hell, if my university had an A+ grade (which it doesn’t) that could balance out the lost grade points. Now that my straight 4.0 is gone, there’s no possible way for me to reattain it, and that’s a real downer IMO. Like I also said in the OP, I’m quite nervous that anything below a perfect 4.0 will seriously harm my admissions likelihoods into potential funded MA/PhD programs.

FWIW, I’m not in a STEM field, but rather in communications.

And I’d say that isn’t worth worrying about. I’d worry instead that the grade-grubbing to insure a 4.0 average is much more likely to alienate, to some degree, the professors whom you’ll have to get recommendations from.

Nobody in any Communications program admissions committee will care about your GPA, as long as it’s not ridiculously low. How can they tell what a perfect GPA means at any institution (other than grade grubbing)?

What’s important (as others have said) is your essay or other submitted materials and your recommendations.