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Mention low undergrad GPA in SOP? PhD Reapplication


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This next round of applications will be the second time I'm applying for a PhD.

I had a pretty low GPA in my undergrad (3.3 from a "public ivy"), which was I feel the main reason my PhD applications didn't work the first time around (I applied for admission in 2014). I therefore did an MS in Economics from one of the best masters programs around (top 15 econ department in the US), very technical, and I have a good GPA this time around (3.85). However, this will be my second time applying for a PhD, and I will be applying to a lot of the same schools.

In my SOP, should I mention or "excuse" my low GPA in undergrad, or should I just ignore it? I really have no solid reason for the low GPA, except that I was doing physics and then transitioned to economics (majored in both eventually), which meant there was a period where I had lost interest in physics but wasn't very good at economics.

I'm targetting tier 2 schools (Michigan, UCLA, Wisconsin, etc.) right now.

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Does your school retain rejected applications? If so, they probably will not know you ever applied to it before so you would not need to worry.  But you already proved yourself with them with your MA in econ unless PhD requirements are different so you need to check that.


I am in a somewhat similar situation - BS in engineering gpa 3.2 ms policy 3.7 now applying for MA econ but for engineering, 3.2 is good because it is incredibly difficult with a high drop out rate.  Any rational member on the graduate application team would understand that (same is true for physics). I am proud I graduated with such a difficult degree with a gpa higher than 3 and didnt wuss out and change majors to something significantly less challenging like most people in my freshman class did.

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  • 2 months later...

I agree with what was said above. What matters to admissions committees in the "momentum". Have poor grades and then getting better ones is a lot better than having good grades and then getting poorer ones. I wouldn't mention the undergrad GPA at all. They have your transcripts so they can see what happened. There is no need to reinforce negative aspects of your application.

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