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Low cumulative GPA, stellar major GPA


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Hi. I'm new.

I'm double-majoring in political science and linguistics at a top-20 public university. My original major was economics, which required me to take a bunch of calculus. Despite getting an A or a B in every math class I'd ever taken, I failed calculus. Twice. And on top of that, I got a few C's and D's in some core classes I hated, like biology. But ever since I switched my major three semesters ago, I've been loving school and doing great. So great, in fact, that I've realized that all I really want to do after I graduate is go for a Ph.D. in poli sci. But I'm really worried that those earlier screw-ups have ruined my chances at getting into a good program.

My cumulative GPA is only 2.76, and even in my best-case scenario I'll only graduate with a 3.28--but my major GPA is 4.0 for both majors.

All other application factors excluded--solely in terms of GPA--what do grad schools look at? Is my low cumulative enough to get me tossed in the reject pile all on its own, or would they pay more attention to the fact that I suddenly went from A-B-C-D-F to straight-A halfway through undergrad?

One option I'm considering is applying to a terminal master's program first. If I did that at a more realistic (read: lower-ranked) school and did really well there, might I still have a shot at a top-10 Ph.D. program? Or are Berkeley and Stanford simply out of my reach?

(edit: I won't be applying anywhere until a year from now; at this point I'm just trying to get a feel for how high or low I should aim.)

Edited by expfcwintergreen
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higher cumulative gpa definitely helps, but is not a killer if your major gpa is high - especially as high as yours. if you can maintain the major gpa and increase cumulative by as much as you can, do well in the GRE, and have awesome research experience, LoR and SoP, you'll get into any bigshot school. most admission decisions are also functions of funding, positions available and severity of ongoing research. therefore, it all depends.

going for a masters is a great idea! i have been telling this in most of the related threads around here that getting a masters boosts your gpa, research experience, and networking skills. you also get decent chances of publishing couple of papers and attending few conferences. and trust me, you'll cruise through the app/admission process after all this, than now.

good luck!

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