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GPA Requirement


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I am wondering as I cruse different platforms working to finalize my school selections it seems that all of the  enrollment data uses undergraduate GPA even though in the field I hope to continue in a Masters is almost always required. I guess I am wondering if a Masters or other advanced degree trumps the undergrad GPA or if that is really a deciding factor? 


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In the fields that I'm used to, although we report a single cumulative GPA value for each degree, that is not really how we are evaluated. Committees look at our transcripts, look for grades in specific upper level courses that relate to the work we want to do and also look for general trends in our grades. Of course, the more senior years would be more important! And for non-traditional students who took a break from school, the more recent years would matter a lot more than earlier ones!

So, when it comes students applying with Masters, it's not really a matter of one GPA vs another. Instead, just think of it as one long educational record that spans 5 or 6 years instead of just 4. The committee will be interested in how you have grown and evolved as a student over your two degrees and also look for specific instances that are examples of great academic achievement. 

Finally, be very careful when looking at enrollment data. Some platforms (in my field, gradschoolshopper is a common one) ask schools to report on a large list of arbitrary numbers. Usually it is the platform that asks for the information and decides what data to show, not the school. So, just because the information is there does not mean that every school weigh them all equally. I think you should keep in mind at least three things when viewing things like "average GPA" or "average GRE" or other stats:

1. These are generic fields that schools have to fill in. This doesn't mean that the school actually values them and it certainly does not mean there is an actual correlation between this quantity and your chances of admission. For example, if the GRE V score is not important for a particular program, while they can still compute the average GRE V score admitted, it is as meaningful as a stat such as "average height of admitted applicants". 

2. The average value is, by definition and assuming the central limit theorem/normal distribution, approximately the middle of the pack. That means half of the people admitted are above this value but also that half of the admitted students are below this value!

3. These websites try to cater to the largest population possible and therefore you will find quantities that only most people will have. Since most students in the US enter a PhD program from undergrad, everyone entering will have an undergrad GPA but not everyone will have a Masters GPA. This could explain why some quantities are not shown in these school/program profiles but that doesn't mean they aren't considered!

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