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Low GPA for MA PRgram


redraider

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Hello all, this is my very first post. I graduated two months ago with my BA in History and a minor in English from Texas Tech University. Unfortunately my cumulative gpa is a 2.94 and my history gpa is 2.8. My gpa is horrible I know, but it's not because I'm an idiot, I was just lazy. I never made the added effort to make an A instead of a B. I really just wanted to graduate. History has always been my passion, and I'm just now realizing that I want to make it my life. I want to be a professor and I want to conduct research. I've found myself doing nothing but reading historical books and texts since I graduated. Unfortunately to make my dream happen I need an MA and a PhD. Does anyone know of any schools that will take a chance on someone with a sub 3.0? I'm looking at Harvard Extension right now for my MLA, but I really don't want to move to Cambridge. I plan on taking my GRE soon, but I fear that I may not be accepted anywhere. I'm willing to go to any and all lengths to make this dream happen. I welcome any and all suggestions! Thanks in advance.

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Which period of history are you interested in?

Perhaps, you could persuade adcoms with your research? For that you need to have some research done at some historical institute and hopefully a publication or a few.

You could also impress adcoms with languages - and you can always start learning languages on your own - provided proficiency in foreign languages applies to your field.

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you will almost certainly need to get a terminal MA before you can get into a PhD program. a strong performance in an MA program can make up for subpar undergrad GPAs and that's the most common way that sub-3.0 GPAs finally make it into history PhD programs. the only catch with this is that it's rare (though not impossible) to find terminal MA programs that will offer you funding, so you may need to find a way to pay for this degree yourself.

languages will help, always. somehow americanists and britainists can get away with having only one (or no) foreign languages, but even if you study the US or the UK, having reading proficiency in one or two foreign languages will always help your application.

you need to write a really great writing sample. these are research papers that are anywhere from 20 to 35 pages in length, depending on the page-limit each program gives you. if you haven't done a research paper based on primary sources in your program, you'll need to write that on your own. i'd suggest contacting a history prof you enjoyed during undergrad and asking if they'd informally supervise you as you write this paper. if you have a research paper to your name, take it to profs that you liked and have them help you draft and redraft and rewrite that sucker until it's damn-near publishable. (and then maybe even consider submitting it for publication). this process will not only help you write a rock solid writing sample, it'll also give you some sustained contact with professors who might've given you a B in their class.

i can tell you from experience as a TA, there are students i gave A-s to that i wouldn't recommend for grad school at all and students i gave As to that would only get a lukewarm recommendation from me. they completed the requirements of the course fully and adequately, but that doesn't necessarily make them grad material. even though you may be fully capable and may make a great scholar, a B+ or an A- from a professor means you didn't demonstrate that to them. unless you had 3 professors who always gave you As, you're going to need to take the time between now and your application to increase your contact with your potential letter of recommendation writers and prove to them that you can do good research work.

you should also seek help from your profs when writing your statement of purpose. this will demonstrate to them that you're serious about grad school and you'll get really helpful feedback.

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I was just lazy.

This, above all else, will hurt you. As important, in some cases more so, as your GRE and your GPA are your Letters of Recommendation. If you haven't put out the effort, your writes will usually find a way to put something in about that, even if it's not blatant.

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What everyone else said. What you need to do is make sure that your GPA is the one and only weak part of your application, which means studying hard for the GRE, improving relationships with former professors, making a high quality writing sample, and all that jazz.

Also, if there aren't three professors who gave you As in their courses do try to seek a letter writer from outside academia who might be helpful, namely a supervisor on a history-related project. A friend of mine recently completed an archives internship with the National Park Service - these are Americorps programs that last for about three months each. You could also volunteer at your local historical society or in a library and do some sort of awesome project. Once you've wowed your supervisor with your dedication and ability that person can be one of your three letter writers. Moreover the initiative you took in doing this independent project will help prove that you will be proactive with your studies in the future.

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Redraider, I thought my experience can encourage you.

My GPA was a 2.96 in Economics. Yet I had lots of F's in my transcript :rolleyes: . In MA applications, I made the admission committee believe that I have potential to do graduate study. Like the others said, the knowledge of a language, Persian which is essential to my area played a crucial role in getting into an MA program in History. I got a 4.0 GPA in this program. And last week I got an acceptance from NYU for PhD in History.

So I can understand you that things sometimes may not go as you expected. My warning to you would be not to be lazy anymore. Anything is possible if you really want. If you cannot get in anywhere in the US, let me know so that I can recommend you some schools in Europe in which you may have more chance.

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Another thing graduate admission committees look for is the increase in your grades. If you did poorly, but suddenly had an upsweep (B- to A-) toward the end, then this looks promising. The entire package is crucial. A high GRE score, a great statement of purpose, good recommendation letters, and of course extra work like internships always look impressive. Don't expect too much from ivy league schools. I mean, you can apply but I chances are slim, since they have so many applicants. You can save that for your PhD applications!

Edited by Milania
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