One of the most important criteria that will be evaluated by admissions directors will be your GPA. Contrary to popular belief, this criteria can be a bit more complicated of an assessment than one would think. Now you are probably thinking how complicated can a simple GPA be? Doesn’t the GPA just have to be high? Very complicated in fact! Let us explore the key aspects MBA programs will evaluate, and why they are so important to how your GPA is received by decision makers.
Overall Undergraduate GPA
This is probably the most obvious aspect of the GPA that schools will focus on. Your overall GPA is considered a fit if it is around or above the average GPA at your target school. Now, all GPAs are not created equally so program’s will certainly factor in the prestige and perceived rigor of your undergraduate school. Same rules apply, the higher the GPA the better your application will be positioned.
Your performance in qualitative classes is really important to your overall candidacy. MBA curriculums are very quantitative in nature, particularly with regards to the traditional core curriculum that includes classes like Stats, Finance, and Accounting. So, schools put a major onus on showing a track record of strong performance in quant classes. Now, not everyone has been exposed to quant classes which is another issue. So even with a high overall GPA not having taken any quant classes, in the past, can be a red flag for admissions.
Did your GPA trend up or trend down during your time in undergrad? Your overall trend is another area where admissions will focus on. A strong trend upwards showcases maturity and a consistent focus on your studies, and also will be an indicator for future performance in b-school. Now contrary to that, a trend of low performance can signal the exact opposite. Slight dips here and there should not cause concern on your part, but major swings and a trend downward year in and year out may prove to be a red flag for admissions.
If you have already completed a graduate degree, this can be another evaluation point for admissions. Strong performance here can help elevate your candidacy. Now, generally your graduate degree performance will not outrank your undergraduate degree performance but strong performance in power degrees like law can certainly showcase your intellectual aptitude and ability to handle graduate level work.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.