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Canadian Grade Conversion to U.S Scale


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I am in my second year studying Information Technology at York University in Canada. 

I have aspirations to go to the U.S. For grad school in MS Data Sciences/Business Analytics. Thus far,for most universities for they require a 3.5 cGPA for admission and according to their student profile their median has been that thus far  

I currently have a cGPA of 7(B+) out of 9, how would I convert my GPA to match most of US GPA scale which is out of 4.0 for most universities.  



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There is no standard way. If the school application requires you to convert to a US GPA for their forms, then you would have to clarify with them because each school might do it differently or would want you to do it differently. However, in my field, almost all schools asked international GPAs to be presented in their original form.

However, if you just want a general comparison, there are two types of "4.0 GPA scales" that I've noticed in the US. For both types, the grade points are awarded as follows:

A = 4.0, A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, B = 3.0, B- = 2.7 etc. (A, B, C and D are integers, and +/- are 0.3 grade points)

The difference comes in the treatment of the A+ grade. In a 4.0 scale, if an A+ is considered a standard top grade, like in Canada, then it's often also worth 4.0 grade points in a 4.0 system. However, some schools consider A the standard top grade, but A+ is awarded in special situations as "bonus". In this case, a A+ would be 4.3 even in the 4.0 system as "bonus". This is rare though. There's also the 4.3 GPA system.

Note: You would not simply convert your 7/9 cGPA into a US GPA system. You would have to convert each course's letter grade into a grade point (out of 4.0 or 4.3) and then do a weighted average over all your courses, weighing by the number of credits, in order to compute your 4.0 or 4.3 GPA.

And as you would figure out by now, a 3.5 GPA is basically somewhere between a B+ and A- average.

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Thanks for your detailed reply. 

By any chance do you know how they would treat Canadian GPA, when they ask for the transcript. 

Or is there any normal rule of thumb for international applicants. 

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All I know for certain is that when I asked the US schools how I should convert my undergrad GPA (we just get grades out of 100, with a letter grade as a reference only), they said that I should not convert them and they will use their own metric. Almost all transcripts come with something on a second page (or the back) from your school stating how grades are awarded, etc.

Beyond that, I do think that Canadian applicants are very common to US schools and they will have a good idea based on previous applications. This is true for many other international countries too. Admissions committees will know that, for example, in certain countries, a grade of 70% is very good, while in Canada, it is not very impressive for a graduate student applicant.

From my limited experience, I find that Canadian schools tend to treat grades a little differently than US schools. Most Canadian schools treat grades as an indication of absolute competence (e.g. an "A" grade means you know all of the material very well) while many US schools I know about treat grades as an indication of relative ability (e.g. an "A" grade means you are one of the best students in your class). So if you are at a Canadian school that uses the "absolute competence" mindset and applying to a school that uses a "relative ability" mindset, if the admissions committee does not account for this difference, you might end up with an "inflated" GPA. I think admissions committees are very aware of this though, but I point this out because it's important for you to be aware of differences as well, if you just want to do some "ballpark" estimates/comparisons.

Finally, when percentage points are converted to a letter grade in the US, I find that US schools use a different metric. At UBC, a "first class" (A-, A, or A+) is a grade at least 80% (85% is A, 90% is A+) but in the US, a "first class" grade is 90% or higher (low 90s is A-, higher 90s is A+ etc.). However, this is a more convoluted metric, because you would also have to standardize what kind of ability is awarded "90%" as well, and this differs a lot not just between schools, but between professors too!

In the end, the GPA is one small component to the holistic graduate admissions process. Don't get too caught up in it. Schools tend to publish average or median statistics (GPA, GREs, etc.), and by definition, about half (exactly half if median) of their successful applicants are below this value!! Instead, think about it this way: schools are looking for ways that you demonstrate excellence and expertise. The GPA is just one way to do that. When they do consider GPA, they are likely looking to find students that are in the top X% where X can be a range of values depending on each school. Overall, I would say you are competitive for graduate schools if you are at least in the top half of your undergraduate class. But the converse isn't true, in my opinion.

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